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Is Jameis Winston the most baffling player in the NFL?

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Jameis Winston, once again, started a game on the worst possible note. For the fifth time this season – and the 10th time in his career – he threw an interception on the game’s opening drive, this one to the Detroit Lions’ Jahlani Tavai. It looked like it was going to be one of those Jameis Winston Games, but it ended up being the other kind: he bounced back to throw four touchdowns in a 38-17 victory for the . It was yet another chapter in the up-and-down career of a quarterback who continues to show tantalizing flashes of being an elite signal-caller while also showing a frightening predisposition for ugly turnovers.

In Sunday’s win, Winston became the first quarterback in history to throw for at least 450 yards in consecutive games. He’s also thrown for over 4,573 yards on the season, which currently puts him ahead of the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott for the league lead, to go alongside his 30 touchdowns. Sounds great, right? Here’s the problem: the interception increased Winston’s season total for picks to 24, with many of those giveaways avoidable. He’s also incredibly sack-prone – he’s been sacked 43 times on the year – and has shown a frustrating inability to learn when he needs to throw the ball away. At no point during his pro career, has he shown any sign of improving all-important ball security.

Ultimately, as much as the Bucs must love games such as the one Winston gave them on Sunday, those strong performances may be making it more difficult for them to figure out what to do at the end of the season. Do the Buccaneers hand an extension to a young quarterback capable of putting up monster numbers? Do they place the one-year franchise tag on him and hope that he becomes more consistent in his sixth year as an NFL starter? Or do they let another team take up his services and find a replacement quarterback in free agency? It’s not like they have had a tremendous amount of success with Winston – he has yet to lead them to the playoffs.

Winston’s troubled history may make that third option more attractive. The Buccaneers drafted Winston out of Florida State University, where he was the subject of a high-profile sexual assault allegation, one that eventually ended with him coming to a (he was not charged over the allegations). There were also several other less serious incidents that occurred during his college career: a citation for shoplifting and a suspension for shouting vulgarities in the campus cafeteria. Tampa Bay took a risk with Winston but hoped that he would keep out of trouble once in the NFL.

He didn’t. In 2018, the NFL suspended him three games after he was accused of groping an Uber driver (Winston was never charged over the incident ). The NFL report : “As a result, the investigation had concluded that Winston violated the Personal C club great quit Roma last summer after feeling isolated in his front office role.”My withdrawal was a bit unexpected, but correct. Now I accepted it, but I needed two years, because it was not my decision. In any case, I never regretted my decisionsonduct Policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.”

The Buccaneers clearly have a conundrum. Winston can win games for the team, he can lose games for the team and there’s a chance that legal or personal issues could prevent him from taking the field altogether.

In a league where starting quarterback options are plentifuLoftus-Cheek has revealed how he has endured a tough season.The 24-year-old has been sidelined since May with an Achilles injury, but he has recently returned to first-team training.”Tough times are definitely hard to stay motivated,” he told the clul, it would be an easy decision for Tampa Bay to move on and let another team take on the risks. That doesn’t describe the modern NFL, however, where teams seem to be constantly installing and discarding proven mediocrities. Because of this, there must be an temptation within the organization to stick with the Devil They Know and hope that he keeps coming up with games like the one had had on Sunday.

. After Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown at least one interception against 31 NFL teams. In other words, . In fact, in what was likely his last game at MetLife Stadium, he ended up throwing three to various Dolphins defenders. Manning also, however, threw two touchdowns and led his team to a 36-20 victory, which was well appreciated by the hometown fans who rewarded him with a standing ovation.

. Congratulations to every fantasy football player who had Drake on their roster: he managed to score four touchdowns in a 38-24 Cardinals win over the Cleveland Browns. As you can imagine, Drake also accumulated plenty of carries (22) and a ton of yardage (137) in an Arizona victory that essentially sealed Cleveland’s playoff fate.

“Walking in here with Stretch (assistant to the head coach, John Streicher) I said one idiot was going to ask me that question” – Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel, LeShaun Sims’ punt return at the end of the Titans’ 24-21 loss to the Houston Texans.

You can’t blame Vrabel for coming into the press conference a little bit heated. His team’s record, after all, fell to 8-6 thus putting the Titans in second place in the AFC South behind the 9-5 Texans. To be fair to the reporter in question, it wasn’t an entirely ridiculous question, as the Titans would have had better field possession, and slightly more time on the clock, had Sims not returned the punt during their final drive of the game. Vrabel, however, had a point by emphasizing that was hardly the key play in what ended up being a frustratingly close loss, one that puts their .

The Cincinnati Bengals’ execution – or lack thereof– on this onside kick was emblematic of their 34-13 loss to the New England Patriots. The Patriots improved to 11-3 thanks to the general ineptitude of the 1-13 Bengals, who are still successfully pursuing the No1 pick in next year’s draft. Given how poorly the Bengals have been playing all season, it feels baffling that the Patriots would decide that they would need to resort to underhand methods to defeat them.

Or, it would be baffling if this were any other football franchise we were talking about. Before the game, footage of a Patriots employee videotaping last week’s game between the Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. The videographer, who is heard sheepishly offering to delete the potentially-illicit footage, has been suspended. The NFL is currently investigating the incident and suggests that this story is not going away any time soon.

— The Oakland Raiders played their final game at Oakland Coliseum before the franchise relocates to Las Vegas next season. It was not the storybook ending that the hometown fans were hoping for. The Jacksonville Jaguars snapped a five-game losing streak with a 20-16 comeback win. Who knows, however, maybe there was something fitting about the Coliseum hosting .

— The Baltimore Ravens on the back of a ridiculous performance by MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson, who broke Michael Vick’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Jackson now has put together 1,103 yards on the grounds to Napoli on Sunday made it four winless friendlies in a row for the Reds.But Dutch star van Dijk believes the return of the club’s stars, including Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Salah Mane, will be important for Sunday’s Community Sh to go along with his 2,889 passing yards and, frighteningly enough, he’s only in his second year in the NFL.

— Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears ended up doing the exact opposite of clinching on Sunday. With their 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, combined with the Minnesota Vikings’ 39-10 win over the increasingly hapless Los Angeles Chargers, the Bears were officially eliminated from postseason contention.

— The Philadelphia Eagles beat Washington 37-27. They now have a 7-7 record, which keeps alive hopes that whoever wins the NFC East – and gets home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs – could end up having a winning record at the end of the regular season. Their divisional rivals, the Cowboys, are also 7-7 after they beat the Rams on Sunday.

— Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner made this athletic grab to intercept Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen. It was among three interceptions that Allen gifted Seattle in the 30-24 Seahawks victory. It was a dazzling reminder of just how great a defensive player Wagner is, which made it even rougher when he later . There was better news for the Seahawks later in the afternoon, as the Atlanta Falcons’ 29-22 upset road win over the San Francisco 49ers meant that Seattle ended the day as the top seed in the NFC.

NBA 2019-20 predictions: The rise of Los Angeles and the era of the super duos

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This season will be defined by …

How things . The Lakers brought in LeBron James last season and still missed the postseason, so this time around . They had hoped to add Kawhi Leonard and become the new Golden State Warriors. Then the Clippers . Now the Lakers may not even be the best team in their own building.

The end of the superteam era means . The star-studded paradigm favored by the Celtics, Heat and Warriors over the last decade has given way to a two-star model co-opted by more than a dozen teams. Increased league-wide parity promises an improved nightly product and a much-needed injection of suspense at the business end.

The regular season will mirror the offseason, with the NBA’s best duos dominating the headlines in the same way they did this summer. Leonard and George with the Clippers, James and Davis with the Lakers and James Harden and Russell Westbrook with the Rockets are just a few of the superstar combinations that are sure to own the months to come.

. Every team is one bad spill away from watching their championship dreams swirl down the drain. Take the 2019 NBA finals, for example, when Golden State lost Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to back-to-back injuries, greatly interfering with their hopes of beating Toronto. Talent is nothing without health.

Rate the NBA’s handling of the China situation out of 10

If NBA commissioner Adam Silver is about resisting China’s demands to force Daryl Morey out from his role as GM for the Houston Rockets for in Hong Kong, feel free to bump this up to a 3/10 for taking at least one clear stand. Strike me as not giving the commissioner the benefit of the doubt on this one.

. The controversy has in many ways awakened the broader public to the scale of Chinese censorship – and the degree to which US corporations are willing to play along with it in pursuit of their bottom lines. The NBA has shown it’s no different than in recent years, but Silver has done an admirable job by standing steadfastly behind his players.

The NBA took a benign tweet and turned it into an international fiasco. Representatives at every level of the NBA overreacted, as LeBron, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and Silver all scolded Morey and created a media firestorm.

. The NBA learned that it can’t have it both ways. In Silver’s first statement he toed the line, angering many people who thought he was supporting a totalitarian regime which happens to generate huge revenues for the league. After the backlash, he released another statement clarifying that the league supports free expression, later adding that Money won’t be disciplined. With millions on the line, Silver was in a tough position – but he ended up doing the right thing.

Which team had the best off-season?

If were gettea have announced they recorded a loss of nearly £100million for the year ending June 30.The loss was revealed in the club’s latest financial results but, after two profitable years, the Blues insisted they are still compliant with UEFA’s Financial ing a healthy Durant alongside Kyrie Irving, they would have a case. But Durant’s likely out for the entire season, so it’s clearly the Clippers for luring Leonard and George to California.

could go down as the best summer for any NBA team since the Miami Heat signed Chris Bosh and James in 2010. The addition of a lengthy superstar wing player who can create for himself or his teammates off the dribble, make threes and play lockdown defense would have been enough to lift the longtime Los Angeles afterthoughts into the title conversation. Adding two of them, while managing to retain their depth, makes them overnight frontrunners in a loaded Western Conference.

It wouldbe utterly insane to argue in favor of any team other than . Leonard’s decision to skip town on the Raptors and link up with the Clippers’ veterans was a win from the jump. The surprise addition of George took things over the edge, separating their summer from the rest of the pack in one of the biggest off-seasons in recent memory.

secured the biggest free-agent on the market in Leonard and also acquired George. That’s enough to transform a team that have never made it past the second round of the playoffs in their 49-year franchise history into instant title contenders. Leonard led the Raptors to their first-ever championship last season, perhaps he could do the same thing this year with the former laughing stocks of the league.

One bold prediction

The than they did last year despite the losses of Irving and Al Horford. The Celtics won’t be able to replace everything Horford gave them but Kemba Walker could end up being a better fit for the Celtics than Irving, even if he’s somewhat of a downgrade at point guard.

. The No 2 pick in the 2017 draft has resurfaced with the Pelicans after a pair of injury-hit seasons with the Lakers and he should thrive away from the drama and pressure of playing alongside LeBron. New Orleans has some interesting pieces in place, and it all should add up to plenty of opportunities for Ball to shine in his natural point guard role.

Many are expecting the Nets’ newest member to cause a talented team to crumble from the inside out. But I think Irving learned a lot about himself and the potential pitfalls that leaders face in the locker room and in front of the media last season. Irving has close friends around him in Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan and a strong leadership in Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks. We can expect Irving to play just as well on the court and comport himself much better off it.

. Sure, Durant bolted and Thompson is out at least until February with a torn anterior cemouth captain Simon Francis has hailed the work ethic of manager Eddie Howe.Francis is one of those who have made the journey from League One with Howe.He told the Daily Express: “I did think I would love to be a coach and do it the way he managesruciate ligament, leaving the Warriors with a 47.5-point scoring hole. But Stephen Curry is in top shape and D’Angelo Russell is awfully talented too. Not to mention, the team needed a challenge after five-straight NBA finals appearances and three championships. No more going through the motions.

Rookie of the year

has this one locked up if – and it turns out this could be a big if – he’s healthy and doesn’t miss more time once he’s back from the knee surgery that has . Expect the New Orleans Pelicans to be extremely cautious with the Future of the Franchise, but here’s hoping that we aren’t denied what could be a rookie season of the ages.

Zion Williamson’s bully ball won’t immediately translate to the NBA, so I expect the No 1 pick to endure some growing pains as a rookie. He’s also surrounded by an intriguing mix of young and veteran talent, which could make it difficult for him to stand out even if he plays 30 minutes a night. Instead look to , who put up PlayStation-like numbers at Murray State and will get plenty of opportunity running the point for the rebuilding Memphis Grizzlies.

A rare lockhe’d like to sign Real Madrid youngster Vinicius Junior.Vinicius has battled for minutes this season, with Ronaldo making an attempt to sign him on-loan over the summer.He told Fox Sports Brasil: “He is a great player, he made a fantastic last season in a season that is otherwise impossible to predict. Williamson’s game is built for New Orleans, a team full of young guards who are sure to get up and down the floor. If preseason and Summer League serve as any indication, Williamson will be productive and efficient every night.

. causing problems down the line, Williamson should make an immediate impact on the league when he returns to action. He’s strong, agile and unstoppable around the hoop.

MVP

. If Zach Lowe , who am I to argue? The Bucks star’s main rival should be Davis, but it’s hard to get the votes when you’re on the same team as LeBron James.

. The best shooter in the history of basketball first earned the NBA’s highest individual honor in 2015, then became the first-ever unanimous winner in 2016. Only Curry’s willingness to accept a scaled-back role to accommodate the addition of Durant loosened his stranglehold on the trophy. But with Durant out of the picture and Thompson sidelined all or part of the year with an ACL injury, Golden State will be relying on Curry more than ever – and his numbers will reflect it.

The Lakers wanted as badly as he wanted them. The worst kept secret in the NBA paired Davis with one of the best passers in league history, LeBron James. While they have two of the most transcendent basketball players in history, the Lakers are still top heavy and they’ll need career years from Davis and James. If the Lakers are to make good on their lofty expectations, Davis must be the best player in Los Angeles – and the league.

. We all know the saying ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ Well, I believe that saying – gender notwithstanding – now applies to a certain 6ft 8in, 250lbs player from Akron. He missed the playoffs last season with the Lakers after eight-straight finals appearances. Not reaching the postseason was embarrassing for the four-time MVP, and you better believe he’ll be playing with a chip on his behemoth shoulders this time around.

Western Conference playoff teams

LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs.

LA Clippers, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder.

LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks.

LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs.

Eastern Conference playoff teams

, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic.

Philadelphia 76ers, , Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets.

Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors.

Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers.

Western Conference finals

LA Clippers 4-3 LA Lakers.

LA Clippers 4-2 Denver Nuggets.

LA Clippers 4-2 Denver Nuggets.

LA Clippers 4-3 Golden State Warriors.

Eastern Conference finals

Milwaukee Bucks 4-2 Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers 4-3 Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee Bucks 4-3 Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia 76ers 4-2 Milwaukee Bucks.

NBA finals

. The Bucks were the best team in the East last season but they lost to Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in the Conference finals. Leonard’s in the West now, which means their biggest challengers in the East are an oddly-constructed Philadelphia 76ers team and whatever the post-Kyrie Boston Celtics end up being. The bad news? They may end up facing Leonard again eventually. The Clippers will have a tougher road to the finals, but if they make it they will have a clear advantage over whoever comes out of the East.

. The superteam era may be over but Philadelphia may have the closest thing resembling one. The Sixers lost Jimmy Butler in free agency but added Josh Richardson and the still-underrated Al Horford to a lineup that includes Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris. This is a team that’s built their identity around size, versatility and defense and one of the few outfits equipped to counter the Clippers’ two superstar wings. One year after pushing Kawhi and the Raptors to the limit in a , look for Philadelphia to go further and capture their first NBA title since 1983.

With the Warriors’ dominance drawing to a close, this season feels like one of the hardest to predict. The star power is heavy across the league but so are the issues. The Clippers, Warriors and Nets have injury issues, the Lakers and Bucks have short rotations and the 76ers and Nuggets are still green. Equipped with the best stars and the strongest supporting cast, the Clippers are essentially my pick by default.

. Leonard and George are going to be an incredible duo, and they’re going to be hungry. Coached by Doc Rivers, this team is going to go far. As for the 76ers, it’s quite tough to bet against a team that added Horford to a roster with Simmons and Embiid. It will be an exciting series, with the Clippers coming out on top.

Gardner Minshew and Jaguars’ defense stand tall in win over Tennessee Titans

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Minshew Mania is gaining momentum.

Gardner Minshew threw two touchdown passes and should have had a third, Calais Campbell spearheaded another defensive gem and the handled the Tennessee Titans 20-7 in sloppy conditions Thursday night.

Jacksonville (1-2) ended a four-game losing streak in the AFC Sis attracting big foreign interest.Gibson has found himself sidelined this season as he struggles to break into manager Sean Dyche’s first team plans.Sky Sports says German clubs Eintracht Frankfurt and Cologne are interested in signing Burnley defenouth series and avoided the franchise’s second 0-3 start in four years.

“This felt good,” defensive tackle Abry Jones said. “We needed this.”

With all eyes on star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who may have played his final game for Jacksonville, Minshew and a second stellar defensive outing in five days captured the spotlight.

A sixth-round draft pick starting his second consecutive game in place of injured Nick Foles (broken collarbone), Minshew completed 20 of 30 passes for 204 yards. He found James O’Shaughnessy wide open for a seven-yard score, which came one play after Adoree’ Jackson’s muffed punt. Minshew was more precise with a 22-yard touchdown pass to DJ Chark, who was blanketed by Malcolm Butler.

Fans chanted Minshew’s name each time the offense took the field, and fans everywhere adorned fake mustaches and bandanas to mimic his signature look.

Marcus Mariota got no style points in this one. Jacksonville sacked Mariota a whopping nine uth America’s elite international football competition.The ng Norwich City striker Emiliano Buendia.Sky Sports says the 22-year-old Norwich City forward has attracted the attention of Villa boss Dean Smith ahead of the January transfer window.Argentine Buendia has started all 12 of Norwich’s matches in the Ptournament will be staged between June 12 and July 12 next year, jointly hosted by Colombia and Argentina. FFA chairman Chris Nikou, chief executive David Gallop and Mark Falvo, the organisattimes, including three by Campbell.

“You seen what the D-line did,” Ramsey said, declining to talk about his potential trade. “Today was their day. Everybody got a piece of it. I was excited to see those guys have a huge game.”

The Jaguars played well enough to win at Houston last week, especially on the defensive side, but came up inches short on a two-point conversion and lost 13-12.

Ramsey then gut-punched a franchise already reeling from the loss of Foles by requesting a trade hours after the loss to the Texans. He asked to get out following his sideline confrontation with coach Doug Marrone.

Ramsey later insisted he didn’t want to be a distraction. He wasn’t, at least not on the field.

The Jaguars enjoyed a 14-point lead in the first quarter for the first time since Week 2 of last season against New England and just the third time in the last five seasons.

Ramsey hugged several teammates after the game, but didn’t say any goodbyes in the locker room.

“He didn’t have to say anything,” Jones said. “He may be going to another team, but no one’s going to be hurt by that. It’s a business decision.”

The Titans (1-2) struggled to play from behind.

With his team trailing 14-0 early in the third, coach Mike Vrabel passed on a short field goal and went for it on fourth-and-6 at the 11. Campbell abused backup guard Jamil Douglas, and Mariota had no time to get rid of the ball.

“That’s not how you want to play that football team, from behind,” Vrabel said. “We talked about that. This football team, you don’t want to play from behind. They can really rush the passer.”

Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard with Derrick Henry’s one-yard plunge early in the fourth. Henry finished with 44 yards on 17 carries, a far cry from his last game against Jacksonville. Henry ran for a franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns, including the second 99-yard run in history (Tony Dorsett, 1983), in December.

Jacksonville wasn’t going to let it happen again, stacking the box and doing a much better job tackling the 247lb back.

Even Ramsey got in a couple of shots on the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner.

Antonio Brown loses grievance after reported threat to quit NFL over helmet

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receiver Antonio Brown has lost his grievance with the NFL over his use of an old helmet that is no longer certified as safe to use.

An arbitrator issued the ruling on Monday after a hearing with Brown, representatives from the league and the players’ union. Brown had reportedly told the Raiders last week that if he could not use his old helmet.

However, on Monday he said he was keen to return to the field. “While I disagree with the arbitrator’s dason.The Brazilian is now one of the senior members of the team, given the youth injection fris fast making a name for himself.D’Margio Wright-Phillips made the most of his amazing solo goal for Blackburn in the FA Youth Cup.The 18-year-old is currently on a youth loan from Manchester City and his goal helped set up a semi-final tie against om manager Frank Lampard this summer.And Willian is happy to pass on his knowledge to the youngsters. But he insists that he has a lot to offer on the pitch ecision, I’m working on getting back to full health and looking forward to rejoining my teammates on the field. I’m excited about this season appreciate all the concerns about my feet!,” he wrote in a post in Instagram.

Brown has not participated in a full practice for the Raiders after starting training camp on the non-football injury list with injuries to his feet suffered while getting cryotherapy treatment in France.

Furthermore, Network’s Mike Silver reported tentriker’s 94th minute spot-kick kept alive Norway’s hopes of qualifying for Euro2020.King told fotball.no: “It was lovely that it (the penalty) went in.”The crowd helped us. They gave us an extra push for the last 10 minutes.”We put up a good fight insion between Brown and the Raiders, who acquired the wide receiver via trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason. According to Silver, Brown has been chronically late, uses Instagram during team meetings and does not communicate with team officials and coaches.

Brown, 31, has been one of the league’s most prolific players. He was an All-Pro four straight years from 2014-17 and is the first player with at least 100 catches and 1,200 yards receiving in six straight seasons. His 686 catches and 9,145 yards since 2013 are the most for any player in a six-year span. But despite that production, he wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh and in March for picks in the third and fifth round of the 2019 draft.

Antonio Brown set for New England Patriots debut despite rape lawsuit

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Antonio Brown is eligible to play Sunday when the visit the Miami Dolphins.

Brown, the , was under consideration for the Commissioner’s Exempt Lismmer are wide open.Speaking with AD, Van de Beek denied claims of an agreement with Real Madrid and left the door open to joining Manchester United.On Real, he stated: “That is said and written, people take over, and then it starts to lead its own t, according to USA Today. But commissioner Roger Goodell will not enact his authority in the matter at this time.

USA Today reported Goodell is reserving the right to place Brown on the exempt list should criminal charges be brought against Brown.

Whether Brown wilWenger has revealed Arsenal made an attempt to sign Lionel Messi as a Barcelona youth teamer.Wenger discussed the move when asked about Arsenal’s failed attempt for current Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo.When asked on beIN SPORTS if Arsenal were verl be active and on the field for the Patriots at Miami after three days of practice is up to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Multiple reports indicate the Patriots were not aware of the civil suit Saturday when they agreed to a one-year deal with Brown hours after he was released by the .

Brown, 31, that includes a $9m signing bonus and a $20m team option for 2020.

After bailing on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2018 regular-season finale and sitting out Week 1 this year, Brown could pay for the first time since 23 December if he faces the Dolphins.

Belichick downplayed Brown’s past, responding to a question about Brown returned to the first-team fold after a long injury lay-off.And he has spoken of his pride of still being able to represent the Red Devils.”Honestly, to just sign to play for Man United is a dream,” Bailly told ESPN FC.”To be part of a team this big being a disruption with a name from the past that worked out pretty well.

“That’s the same thing you (the media) said about Randy Moss when we brought him in,” Belichick said Tuesday.

St Louis Blues silence Boston Bruins to move to brink of first Stanley Cup

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Jordan Binnington stopped 38 shots, and Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron scored for St Louis on Thursday night to give the Blues a 2-1 victory over the and a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Blues have won two straight since a and return to St Louis with a chance to clinch the first NHL championship in franchise history. Game 6 is Sunday night and the Blues are riding a red-hot goalie of late.

“Unbelievaaccording to reports.The former Gunners midfielder is currently with the general co-ordinator of the Brazil national team, who won the Copa America final against Peru on Sunday.He has been granted permission to speak with the club’s hierarchy and wilble. He won one for us,” defenseman Colton Parayko said of Binnington.

Tuukka Rask stopped 19 shots and Jake DeBrusk scored for Boston. The Bruins were lifted by the return of captain Zdeno Chara, who left dripping blood after taking a deflected puck off his face. He wore a full-face shield on his helmet, but was unable to provide more than an emotional boost.

Chara followed Rask onto the ice for the pregame skate, and he got a lengthy cheer for his introduction. The Bruins played a video of his highlights during an early whistle, and he went out of the way to deliver the game’s first hit, just 15 seconds in, on Brayden Schenn.

When things United striker Romelu Lukaku has been offered to Napoli and Juventus.The Belgium striker held talks last week with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and told he is no longer first-choice at Old Trafford.But a £75million dream move to Inter Milan with Antonio Co went bad later, the crowd tried to spur the team on with chants of “Chara!”

But the 42-year-old defenseman’s toughness could only carry so far.

O’Reilly scored in the opening minute of the second period, backhanding in a rebound for his third goal in his last five periodsb at Juventus ahead of their Champions League clash at Lyon.Lyon host Juve in the first-leg of their Champions League round 16 tie on Wednesday night.Sarri said, “I feel frankly even more responsibility in Italy to achieve every result. You all see. It was still 1-0 midway through the third when the referees disregarded a leg sweep by Tyler Bozak that knocked Noel Acciari out of the game.

Perron followed with a shot that banked off Rask’s pad and into the net. The fans responded with a vulgar chant and a shower of rally towels; the public address announcer eventually asked them to stop.

Boston did seem inspired – or at least desperate – and cut the deficit to one goal on a delayed penalty with about six and a half minutes left. Torey Krug took a high stick to the face at the blue line but he played on, straightened his helmet and dished the puck to DeBrusk for a one-timer past Binnington.

Boston pulled Rask with a little more than a minute left and earned several chances, but couldn’t get the puck past Binnington.

‘I am truly sorry’: Patriots owner Robert Kraft breaks silence over prostitution bust

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owner Robert Kraft has broken his silence for the first time since he was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution in Florida.

“I am truly sorry,” Kraft said in a statement. “I knng eight goals yesterday.Speaking after the match, Foster conceded his side were far from their best, but said at times he could only stand and admire the way City were playing during the thrashing.”It’s probably a bit of shock, embarrassment,” said ow I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”

Kraft, the billionaire businessman whose Patriots won the Super Bowl last month and who is one of the most powerful figures in American spij says there’s no reason to dwell on their preseason defeat to Manchester United.The Nerazzurri opened their International Champions Cup campaign in Singapore with a 1-0 reverse.“Manchester United have a lot of quality, we tried to play with organorts, was said he had remained silent since the charges “in deference to the judicial process.”

“Throughout my life, I have always tried to do the right thing. The last thing I would ever want to do is disrespect another human being. I have extraordinary respect for women; my morals and my soul were shaped by the most wonderful woman, the love of my life, who I was blessed to have as my partner for 50 years,” Kraft said in the statement.

“As I move forward, I hope to continue to use the platform with which I have been blessed to help others and to try to make a difference. I expect to be judged not by my castle United supporters have not seen the best of him.The winger has spent three years at St. James’ Park, but he believes his body hasn’t been 100 per cent.Atsu said: “The biggest thing for me this season is to be consistent. I have had some good pwords, but by my actions. And through those actions, I hope to regain your confidence and respect.”

Big Game review: Trump, Kaepernick and the NFL as political football

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The National Football League bills itself as a non-taxable trade association that promotes the “”. These days, it may need to add the title of America’s favorite tackling dummy. From the president to to worried parents, the NFL is under a never-ceasing, bone-crushing blitz. Nike’s swoosh hits harder than any middle linebacker.

The game pits Donald Trump, his supporters, predominately white owners and fans, against a labor pool that is 70% black. In the words of the late Tex Schramm, the Dallas Cowboys’ first president and general manager, to the late Gene Upshaw, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and executive director of the players’ association: “You guys are cattle and we’re the ranchers … And ranchers can always get more cattle.”

Into this morass dives the New York Times reporter . His book is an entertainingly informative bird’s-eye take on the country’s still-favorite sport in the age of uncertainty and never-ending culture wars. As Leibovich observes, professional football has become “a proxy for our national divisions”, adding that “no one buys tickets to watch a morality play”. Apparently, the choice is binary.

A Patriots fan, Leibovich chronicles the five-time champions from the beginning of their 2014 season through their defeat in Super Bowl LII last February. He treats the reader to Tom Brady’s training regimen, football’s concussion problem, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ affinity for Johnnie Walker Blue in 24oz stadium cups, and steaming dollops of Trump. Make no mistake, smooth scotch goes down easier than a teetotaling president.

, NFL headquarters. Quoting fellow author Jeff Pearlman, Leibovich writes that Rozelle saw Trump as “this scumbag huckster” and a “New York fast-talking kind of con man”. Even Tony Soprano got more respect from Johnny Sack’s crew.

Roger Goodell – the current NFL commissioner, a Rozelle protege and the son of an anti-Vietnam Republican senator from New York – is more circumspect in describing Trump. Still, drizzles of disdain are in the air.

When asked about Trump, Goodell volunteered that we live in “interesting times” and smirked when asked if he maintained a back channel to the president. For good measure, Goodell added: “Our focus is on what we do … Our focus is on the game itself.” Yes, we’ve heard that line before. For his woes, Goodell is comforted by $40m annually even without holding any actual equity interest in the game.

On top of the president wishing Ivanka Trump had paired off with Brady instead of Jared the Middle East negotiator, Big Game spells out that Trump always coveted an NFL franchise but was never viewed as financially worthy. ; in 2014, his gambit for the Buffalo Bills went nowhere.

In particular, Trump lacked the requisite liquidity and transparencm their 2-1 defeat to Manchester City.City trailed to an early James Ward-Prowse goal and did not equalise until Sergio Aguero scored with their first shot on target on 70 minutes, with Kyle Walker hitting their late winner.Vestergaard said, “It’s a y to shoulder a team. “Football owners,” Leibovich writes, “… get a much closer look at a candidate’s finances than electorates do.” Indeed, in a with the Securities and Exchange Commission, , Trump’s liquid assets clocked in at $250m, nothing to sneeze at but also not the kind of cash needed to roam the halls alongside the NFL’s titans, who include Paul Allen, a Microsoft founder and owner of the Seattle Seahawks.

For the statistically inclined, Forbes pegs Allen as on its rich list while , the Pats owner, is 281 and the a mere 321. , dropping 200 in a year. Indeed, in the midst of the 2016 presidential race, that his father-in-law was cash-strapped.

Executive time, the Robert Mueller investigation and Stormy Daniels have come with a hefty price. To paraphrase the president, vice and emoluments are expensive.

Actually because of its nuggets, yucks and giggles, Big Game is a dead serious work. Leibovich agonizingly depicts the toll the sport exacts on the life expectancy, mental capacity and health of those brave and talented enough to make it to the pros. The book records the reactions of NFL Hall of Famers whose short-term memories are addled and a front office whose relationship to brain injuries and the truth is all too reminiscent on loan for the rest of the season by the Hornets.However, multiple outlets – via the Watford Observer – in the UK are reporting the move is not sitting well with the Clarets.They do not want to lose Gibson unless they can secure a replacement.He on of Big Tobacco’s approach to cigarettes and cancer.

Ultimately, Leibovich is focused on the question of how long “peak football” can stay on top of its game. He offers no simple answer.

He notes that last season the NFL suffered its lowest Super Bowl viewership in almost a decade and its highest number of concussions in six years. Thursday night’s opener between the champion Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons saw the air during the second half. Michael Bennett, an Eagles defensive end, .

Even as the league’s revenues , interest in pro football has . In 2014, nearly three in five registered voters closely followed it. Now the figure is barely half. Like organized religion, the NFL is larco Silva after signing a three-year contract with the Toffees.And he wants to make sure the club are aiming to qualify for Europe’s top competition.”I am excited to be here at one of the greatest clubs in England, really excited, I enjoy the place,osing its luster.

All this spells “another nonstop Christmas for the NFL doomsayers”. Yet as Leibovich notes, the “league just kept printing money to buy presents … They don’t make doomed sports leagues like they used to.” The fact that football legends Troy Aikman and Brett Favre have voiced concerns about their “hypothetical sons” following in their footsteps barely registers as a footnote on a balance sheet. Yet.

How does it all end? As the story fittingly concludes: “We await the replay.”

Liz Cambage breaks WNBA scoring record with 53-point outburst

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Liz Cambage scored a single-game record 53 points to lift the Dallas Wings to a 104-87 win over the New York Liberty on Tuesday.

The Australia international shot 17-for-22 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from three-point range, and 15-for-16 from the free-throw line, adding 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The 6ft 8in center broke the record with a wide-open three-pointer with 44 seconds remaining in regulation.

“It’s pretty big,” Cambage said. “I’ve had big numbers in China, I’ve had big numbers in Australia, and I’ve heard a lot of people say I could never have big numbers here in the WNBA. So I guess this game is for y’all.”

The previous mark of 51 was set on 8 September 2013 by Riquna Williams, who did it for the Wings’ franchise when it was located in Tulsa.

Glory Johnson and Allisha Gray each added 13 points for Dallas, which won its first home game against New York since 2016.

Dallas coach Fred Williams was ejected from the game with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter. New York took its first lead of the game, 70-6ker Leandro Trossard has revealed Arsenal and VfL Wolfsburg are going head-to-head fUnited.The Cumbrian midfielder agreed terms with the Magpies shortly after celebrating his 17th birthday last month, having already trained with Steve Bruce’s first team squad and broken into the under-23s team this term.His grandad, Peter Hampton, por the youngster.Rated in the €20m class, Trossard has managed a stunning 22 goals so far this season.”There is still no agreement with any club. But I think that G9, on the next possession, but Dallas opened the fourther is working towards a return from groin surgery.Lampard said, “He’s getting closer, he had a really good week’s work. The reality is he’s not played for a very long time so it’s a mini pre-season. Now the injury hopefully is over, we need to get hi quarter on a 12-3 run and cruised from there.

The 26-year-old Cambage outscored the Liberty’s entire starting five by 10 points.

Kia Nurse scored 25 points, with four 3-pointers, for New York (7-15), which saw its two-game winning streak snapped. Tina Charles added 19 points.

Cambage, who helped lead Australia to an Olympic bronze medal at the London Games in 2012, returned to the Dallas franchise this year after sitting out the past four seasons. She was drafted by Tulsa with the second pick in 2011 behind Maya Moore.

Moore is third in the WNBA for most points in a game, scoring 48 in a double-overtime game in 2014. Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi had 47 points in a three-OT game in 2006.

Steve Bartman, America’s most infamous fan, receives Cubs redemption

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Steve Bartman, the fan vilified and blamed for ending the team’s championship hopes in 2003, has been awarded a World Series rinew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.The young pair were outstanding in their Champions League triumph last season.”Both Andy and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] on the other side had incredible seasons,” Warnock told Liverpoolfc.com.”I think last seasong to commemorate Chicago’s title win last year.

The Cubs were mired in their legendary title drought – – when Bartman made his mark on history in 2003. The team appeared to be headed for the World Series when he stretched out to catch a foul ball with the Cubs leading late in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Miami Marlins. Bartman instead deflected the ball away from a Cubs fielder, the Marlins came back to win the game and then sealed a place in the World Series with victory in Game 7.

Bartman’s name later appeared online, and he and his family were given police protection. The governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, . The incident was infamous enough for ESPN to make a in 2011. Bartman, still scarred by the abuse he had received, chose not to appear.

Cubs management and players have repeatedly stated that Bartman was not to blame for the incident, and on Monday the team’s owner, Tom Ricketts, presented him with a championship ring.

“On behalf of the entire Cubs organization, we are honored to present a 2016 World Series Championship Ring to Mr Steve Bartman,” Ricketts and the Cubs said in a statement. “We hope this provides ardi is successfully rebuilding his relationship with the Inter Milan locker room, it has been revealed.The striker angered many senior teammates over the way he refused to take part in training for over a month after being sacked as captain in Februclosure on an unfortunate chapter of the story that has perpetuated throughout our quest to win a long-awaited World Series.

“While no gesture can fully lift the public burden he has endured for more than a decade, we felt it was important Steve knows he has been and continues to be fully embraced by this organization. After all he has sacrificed, we are proud to recognize Steve Bartman with this gift today.”

For Bartman, who has been haunted by the incident, and has kept a low-profile for the last 14 years there was relief. “I humbly receive the ring not only as a symbol of one of the most historic achievements in sports, but as an important reminder for how we should treat each other in today’s society,” he said in a statement. “My hope is that we all can learn from my experience to view sports as entertainment and prevent harsh scapegoating, and to challenge the media and opportunistic profiteers to conduct business ethically by respecting personal privacy rights and not exploit any individual to advance their own self-interest or economic gain.”

The move was also welcomed by players. The former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster toldndan Rodgers has admitted to being disappointed by their January transfer window.The Foxes manager was hoping to bolster his squad as they push to finish in the top four of the league.Rodgers knows that his team will face tough tests in the second ha the Chicago Tribune: “I guess that is closure at its finest … To do something like that for Steve Bartman, who got ridiculed for something that any fan would have done, is pretty awesome.”

Serena Williams confirms pregnancy and expects her first child ‘this fall’

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is pregnant with her first child, her spokesperson has confirmed.

The tennis star hinted at the good news when she posted a photo of herself on ain coach Robert Moreno hailed Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga after victory over Romania.For the fourth successive international match, Kepa Arrizabalaga was selected over David de Gea as the starting goalkeeper and Robert Moreno has explained Snapchat wearing a swimsuit and revealing what appeared to be a large baby bump with the caption “20 weeks” on Wednesday. The snap was deleted less than a half hour later.

top-four after beating Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday.The Red Devils moved up to fifth with the 2-1 victory, taking them five points behind Chelsea.”The top four is in sight but we need to look after our own results and keep trying to get

However, Williams’ team confirmed the implications of the photo later in the day.

“I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall,” a spokesperson for Williams told the Guardian by email.

The Women’s Association, which listed Williams as scheduled to enter next month’s Madrid Open as recently as Monday, said they had yet to be contacted by anyone from the American’s team regarding her status.

“We have not been informed, nor do we have confirmation,” a tour spokesperson told the Guardian. “We will let you know once we have further information.”

Williams, 35, to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in December. The announcement left the sport’s chattering class wondering to what degree she was looking ahead to life after tennis.

She answered that speculation with brio at the Australian Open, capturing her 23rd major singles title without dropping a set, to eclipse Steffi Graf’s record for grand slam titles in the Open era and regain the No1 rankingteta does not need his help.The Spaniard left Guardiola and his job as City’s assistant coach to join Arsenal as their manager midway through the season.As the two sides prepared to meet on Wednesday, with the match since cancelled due to coronavirus she had ceded in the fall to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.

But she has been inactive since her win over elder sister Venus in the final at Melbourne Park. Last month, Williams pulled out of Indian Wells and Miami, citing a left knee injury. That enabled Kerber to retake the top ranking, though Serena is assured a return to No1 in next week’s table when the points from last year’s Porsche Grand Prix drop off.

The announcement comes one week after Victoria Azarenka, the former world No1 and two-time grand slam champion, announced she will return to the tour after 14-month layoff that included the birth of her son, Leo, in December.

Williams’ win at Melbourne Park made her the oldest player to win a major singles championship in the Open era, breaking a record she set herself last year – and again the year before that. She has won grand slam titles in her teens (one), 20s (12) and 30s (10, more than triple the previous mark). No one could think less of Williams, now closer to 40 than 30, if she called it a career.

But there’s equal if not more reason to believe Williams has unfinished business.

She remains tantalizingly close to the all-time grand slam record held by Australia’s Margaret Court, whose 24 major titles were split between the amateur and professional eras. She still plays at an extraordinary high level, having won 125 of her 138 singles matches since Wimbledon 2014. And while there are no shortage of young lions on the tour, among them Garbiñe Muguruza, Karolína Plíšková and Madison Keys, none has offered a sustained challenge of Williams’ dominance the way Monica Seles swiftly ended Graf’s stranglehold on the sport.

Nor would Williams be the first mother to excel on the tour.

Kim Clijsters was already a borderline Hall of Famer when she retired abruptly at 23, having won the 2005 US Open and spent 19 weeks atop the women’s rankings. But the Belgian was even better after a 28-month layoff that included the birth of her daughter, winning once more at Flushing Meadows as an unseeded wild card in only her third tournament back. That made her the first mother to win a major singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980, setting the stage for a final act that included two more grand slam titles and a return to the No1 ranking.

Sergio García shines at Masters to raise hopes of end to major drought

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If the weight of experience lurking with intent did not pose such a threat, this Masters could be characterised as a weekend chase for major number one.

Charley Hoffman, , Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler head the event at half way on four under par. At differing ages, positions in world ranking and career victory levels, their combined major haul? Zero. Hoffman is the surprise package, Pieters the surly young pretender, García the routine bridesmaid and Fowler the form horse. Cases can be made for each of them but, crucially, for another 25 competitors, too.

The cavalry in pursuit includes Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. Ths always confident the Barcelona starlet would make it.Fati made his debut at 16 for Sunday’s 5-2 defeat of Real Betis.Luis Pérez Mena, the director of the Seville-based Escuela de FútbolPeloteros, coached Fati as a junior and told Efe: “I’ve been e leaders are not likely to enter relaxation mode.

García’s case, in his 71st consecutive major, is without question the most fascinating. The late, great Seve Ballesteros, who lit up Augusta National when claiming two Green Jackets and triggering a European stampede on the Masters, should be celebrating his 60th birthday on Sunday. If García, forever linked to Ballesteros not only on grounds of Spanish nationality but the level of mesmerising talent as demonstrated from his youth, were to prevail here, one of the great golf storylines of our time would have unfolded. does have a habit of throwing them up.

García returned a terrific run, of 21 opening tournament holes without dropping a shot. On Friday he birdied Augusta’s first three for the first time. At the 12th he conjured up a bunker shot from a plugged lie that he considered “hands down, the best of my career”. So far, so good.

One must, nonetheless, give strong consideration to an alternative outcome, the sort García has become ominously accustomed to. García has never made much secret of his indifference towards Augusta National as a venue despite, it must be stressed, always insisting he tries his best to win here. Essentially García believes the Augusta set-up means even good shots are occasionally not properly rewarded.

Matters seemed to be conspiring against him on Friday as a scoreboard error meant he was awarded a seven rather than the five he did produce at the 10th. “The most important thing is I knew where I stood,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t one under for the tournament, I knew I was three.

“Shane Lowry hit two balls to the left and we were looking for one, we couldn’t find it, we found the second one. We are all dressed light coloured pants and blue sweater, so I can see why they might have made the mistake. But it was fine.”

The number was duly amended, Garcia later signing for 69. It should have been better but for a lame birdie attempt from all of 4ft on the 18th.

Further bad news arrives for García from a key statistic. His third-round scoring average at the Masters is the worst of anyone in three decades, at close to 75. Perhaps if he can get through Saturday, when conditions are predicted to be far more favourable than days one and two, even García himself will take his Augusta challenge seriously. Part of the intrigue around the 37-year-old is that, for one so gifted, he never appears fully confident in his own ability.

“In a lot of these shots there’s such a thin line between a good shot being next to the hole and a good shot being 40 feet away and then having a very difficult two putt,” García explained. “You try to not think about those and try to be as positive as possible.

“Things are happening at the moment. I want to make sure that I keep riding that wave and go out there tomorrow and be positive, be like I’ve been the first two days.”

There is a parallel for García to dratheir clash with Villarreal.The Croatian has started just once this season — at Granada — and has now been replaced by Carles Aleña. “Every week I am asked about those not called up,” the coach said. “If Rakitic is not [in the squad], it’s becausew on. Danny Willett, last year’s Masters champion, had claimed the Dubai Desert Classic two months earlier. It was García who lifted that trophy in the Middle East a matter of weeks ago. García is not carrying the Spanish flag alone. Jon Rahm’s outstanding 2017 shows no sign of slowing down, the rookie signing for a 70 to sit at one under par.

McIlroy was the victim of dreadful misfortune on the closing hole. An apparently perfect approach shot from 140 yards r Milan are ready to slap in a bid for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.Off contract in June, the Dane has refused to consider new terms proposed by Spurs and is ready to leave the Londoners.PSG have been in contact, however Corriere dello Sporhit the pin, causing the ball to bound back down the fairway. McIlroy could understandably barely conceal his rage at making a bogey from there, meaning a 73 and plus one aggregate.

The Northern Irishman has not fully kicked into gear, a fact that should give him confidence given a position within touching distance of the lead with half of the Masters to play.

McIlroy has his mind set on a big Saturday move. “I’m a little disappointed with what happened at the last but these things happen and, if I can get off to a fast start tomorrow, a couple under through three, I’ll be right there,” he said.

“There are still 36 more holes left to go, a long way in this tournament. I know what can happen, good and bad, around this golf course.”

Willett was among those to encounter the negative, with a defence that ended on Friday at plus seven. A quadruple eight on the 1st fatally impacted on his cause.

A year ago Ian Woosnam insisted his Masters playing days were over on what marked the 25th anniversary of his victoryhere.

The Welshman, now 59, duly returned for 36 holes, his Friday 78 meaning a missed cut at 10 over par. “My wife made me come back,” Woosnam said. But will he – or she – do so again? “I haven’t ruled it out.” Wonderfully confusing.

England didn’t beat Australia in the Four Nations. Will Great Britain do better?

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League fans envious of in a row when their national team hasn’t beaten the Kangaroos for a decade, have something to look forward to. Great Britain are coming back. Yes, I know, you’ve heard it all before. But this time it’s true – apparently. As union’s British and Irish Lions gear up to dominate the media next summer when they head to New Zealand, a relaunch of the League Lions is being planned, at last.

It’s nine years now since Richard Lewis brought the curtain down on the Great Britain story after 60 (at times) glorious years, 10 since GB played down under and 24 since an Ashes series was held in Australia. But I am reliably informed that plans are evolving for the return of Great Britain & Ireland and the Ashes, last competed for on these shores in 2003 when Great Britain contrived to turn three laighted with their 2-1 victory over Sampdoria on Wednesday night.Cristiano Ronaldo jumped 71cm off the ground to nod in Alex Sandro’s cross and win the game, after a Paulo Dybala volley had been cancelled out by Gianluca Caprari’s effort.“Dybala’s gte leads into three narrow defeats.

With World Cups down under next year and up here in 2021, an Ashes series in 2018 would most likely be in the UK. Alternatively, Great Britain could go back to Australia in 2020. With Australia’s players union still demanding a fallow year between World Cups, it will be one or the other, not both.

So what would a modern Ashes tour look like? The whole point of bringing it back would be to give players and fans a different experience to the Four Nations or World Cup. It would mean warm-up or midweek matches at provincial venues, and three Tests. While it would not go on any longer than the current four to five weeks, more could be packed in.

But how could Great Britain & Ireland look any different to England? Assuming they took the traditional rugby union Lions’ philosophy of having every home nation contributing, there would be management and players from all four camps, surely led by a British coach. If you were choosing it now, a Lions squad could include Scotland’s Matty Russell, Danny Brough and possibly eays the Armenian is the Gunners’ fourth best-paid player but has flattered to deceive at the Emirates since his 2018 swap deal with Alexis Sanchez, who moved to Manchester United in Mkhitaryan’s place.The 30-year-old, who earns £180,000-a-week, is cven Adam Walker, the Welsh flavour could come from Lloyd White, Ben Flower or Rhys Evans, and from Ireland, possibly Ben Currie and the Kings brothers from Warrington. None of these players would be guaranteed a spot in a GB XIII picked on merit alone, but the Lions should be more than that.

The main reason Great Britain was mothballed in 2007 was that it had become an all-English team anyway. Other than Tony Smith’s bizarre selection of Samoan Maurie Fa’asavalu in 2007, as far as I can fathom, Irishman Brian Carney is the only Great Britain player not born in England since Welshman Rowland Phillips played in Papua New Guinea in 1996, bringing to an end a century of union converts from the celtic nations.

Nowadays the celtic contribution to Great Britain – or rather the “British Isles XIII” as the crest on my cherished old GBRL shirt declares – will most likely be English-born. But they could certainly bring the spirit and grit missing from Wayne Bennett’s England side last month.

Goal-line drop-out

So that was the 2016 season. Farewell rugby league; see you again in February. Unless that is you live in or near Yorkshire, are into the women’s game or have Wednesday afternoons free. In which case, the season is just getting into its stride!

The 14-team Hull League remains in winter while the Pennine League may have shrunk a little since the RFL’s bizarre “summer season” campaign yet still has 54 teams up and running this year. That’s just one more than the number of university teams playing now, from Northumberland to Brighton. There are 41 sixth form and further education colleges playing, including newcomers Leyton Sixth Form and Sir George Monoux in Walthamstow, neighbours in east London.

I feel I need to find out more. Add 12 women’s teams (including Liverpool University), the Girls League and the Yorkshire Junior League and there’s rather a lot of competitive league being played in December and January after all.

Foreign quota

While our professionals are back in pre-season training, across the channel the action never stops – especially for Toulouse and Catalans. Both have their reserves in Elite 1 again, providing a testing ground for their best young talent which, in theory, will emerge into the sunlight in spring. Catalans’ reserves, coached by Jerome Guisset, have dispensed with the name Saint-Estève-XIII-Catalan, ending about 80 years of those two historic clubs, and want to be known as Catalans U23, a sorry and unnecessary Anglicisation. Les Baby Dracs pushed table-toppers Carcassonne all the way recently, coming from 26-6 down to lose just 28-20, with Belgium rugby sevens winger Marc Sowell Tchangue among their scorers. They will continue playing once the Elite 1 season ends in May, facing British reserve teams.

While Catalans’ second team are looking strong, Toulouse Broncos – AKA Toulouse Olympique’s reserves – are without a win in their opening seven games. Coach Sylvain Houles will no doubt fish out some exciting young talent as 2017 unfolds. Look out for a full-length interview with Houles here on the Guardian in the bleak mid-winter. Lezignan look strong again and have gone top, while Catalans play Toulouse in a friendly on 21 January.

Clubcall: Toronto Wolfpack

The Wolfpack are the club that keep on giving. Press launch, media release, new signing, breaking story; repeat. Who knows what will happen when they actually start playing. Since I was last with you they have signed a deal with cool Italian kit manufacturers Kappa; abandoned plans to share Bradford Bulls’ Tonge training base and instead decided to set up camp at Brighouse Rangers; announced pre-season fixtures at Hull FC and against Wigan; and signed a second American-born player, with 19-year-old Gold Coast Titans prop Jerome Veve joining Virginian flyer Ryan Borroughs in their ranks, alongside some chap called Fui Fui Moi Moi. The 18 trialists they are bringing over to Brighouse from the Americas include a 17-year-old from Vancouver Island and USA internationals Terrance Williams from Georgia and Casey Clark of Montana.

The Wolfpack might also cause a stir expected to replace Maurizio Sarri in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.”After the season he has had with Derby and with Chelsea’s transfer ban in place, there is no-one better equipped than Frank to succeed at Chelsea,” the 38-year-old was quoted in Chel in Manchester. They will play home Challenge Cup ties and any play-off games at Manchester Regional Arena, next to the Etihad. On 5 February, Wigan will provide the first visitors to the home of Manchester Rangers, the amateur club who the RFL apparently lined up to replace York City Knights in League 1 before former London Skolars GM Jon Flatman rescued York on Thursday night. Intriguing.

Fifth and last

The confirmation that USA and Canada have been granted hosting rights for the 2025 World Cup went down well. However, we will not have to wait that long to see major international action over the pond. Despite the Kangaroos supposedly bringing down the curtain on the Four Nations, there is discussion over there being one more – in 2019… in the US!

This would act as a first test of the Moore Sports International’s capabilities in hosting a major tournament and prove a leg-up for the professional league they hope to launch that year. Expect the fourth team to be a top Pacific nation or the US Hawks. The US are also in the running to host the first Intercontinental Cup, which looks like being delayed until 2022 to avoid Rugby Union World Cups in 2019 and 2023. That would be a practice run for the 2025 World Cup.

Alex Rodriguez to be released by Yankees, ending controversial career

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Alex Rodriguez, one of the most talented and controversial players in the history of baseball, will be released on Friday by the effectively ending his playing career.

He will take up an advisory role with the team after his final game on Friday night.

The New York Yankees slugger announced the news at a press conference on Sunday morning, bringing an end to in which he recorded 696Paul Pogba about the public criticism from his agent Mino Raiola.Raiola recently held an inteBesiktas are pushing for Burnley defender Ben Gibson.Sky Sports says Burnley have rejected a loan offer – with a view to buy – from Besiktas for Gibson. The former Middlesbrough captain struggled to force his way into Sean Dyche’s team last season after suffering two separate hernia injuries. Gibson arrived from Boro for £14m last summer.rview with Italian publication La Repubblica, in which he stated he would not send any of his other clients to United.He also insisted United are “a club out home runs (), 2,084 RBIs and a batting average of .295. He was a 14-time All Star, a three-time American League MVP and led the AL in home runs on five occasions. He won his sole World Series with the Yankees in 2009.

“We all want to keep playing forever,” said a tearful Rodriguez on Sunday. “But it doesn’t work that way.”

Rodriguez also reflected on the game he is stepping away from. “This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team,” he said. “And today I’m saying goodbye.”

However, the 41-year-old has been in a slump this season, batting just .204 with nine home runs in 216 at-bats. The signs that Rodriguez’s career was coming to an end have been clear since the end of last month. He has started only once in 14 games since 22 July, and has homered just twice since 3 June. He is owed $21m this season and was due to make $21m in 2017, the final season of a $275m, 10-year deal with the Yankees. It is believed the Yankees are contractually obliged to pay Rodriguez his full salary for both 2016 and 2017.

Many considered Rodriguez’s deal, the biggest in baseball history when it was signed, an albatross round the neck of the Yankees who have been paying a huge salary to an ageing player.

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain a part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which I know he can flourish,” said Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner in a statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as an organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to directly contribute to their growth and success. runs through his blood.

“He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a er Tuesday’s Champions League win.Saul Niguez’s fourth minute goal was enough to hand Atleti the advantage in the last-16 tie.Liverpool were left fuming when Diego Simeone’s men celebrated wildly at the final whistle.And on Wednesday Atletico were kewilling and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees.”

But while Rodriguez’s talents are undeniable his career will always be associated with performance enhancing drugs, something that will always raise questions about the legitimacy of his remarkable achievements. He for his part in , in which MLB players were accused of involvement with performance enhancing drugs allegedly supplied by the now defunct South Florida anti-aging clinic.

“No matter what happens, I’m at peace with myself,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday. “I think I can contribute. I think I can help out in the clubhouse but if not, I have two beautiful daughters waiting for me in Miami.”

Rodriguez returned last season, and enjoyed initial success before a late slump left him with a .250 average for the year with 33 home runs and 86 RBIs.

USA’s Kayla Harrison wins second straight Olympic judo gold

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This time was nothing like 2012. But nothing would ever be like 2012. For on that July day in London when Kayla Harrison went from unknown to American judo sensation, everything exploded inside her: the sexual abuse from of a previous coach, the years of fighting to prove herself strong and the realization that she was the first US woman to win a judo gold. She ran. She jumped. She screamed. She cried. Rare has been the Olympian who celebrated the way Kayla Harrison celebrated when she got her first gold medal.

On Wednesday she still ran and jumped and screamed. Just not as much. Instead, she stood on the medal stand and sang the Star Spangled Banner. The women beside her must have heard. Half the arena might have heard. But she has long shed any sense of shame. The anthem was playing, she wanted to sing, what elloway has hit out at criticism of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.Holloway thinks that any criticism of the United boss has ‘unbelievably harsh’.He told the TheSackRace: “I’m a bit sick and fed up of it to be honest. He’s earned his slse would you expect from a friend of Ronda Rousey, who might soon join her in the UFC?

“I’m a woman of many talents and singing is one of them,” she said. “You should have seen me dancing.”

Harrison is the kind of story every parent of every girl should want to tell their daughters. Like Rousey the UFC star who won a bronze in the 2008 Beijing Games, she is a survivor, a fighter and a woman who refuses to believe gender defines anyone in a combat sport. Before London she repeatedly told the story of how a former coach, Daniel Doyle, sexually abused her and how she finally reported the abuse and moved away to Boston where the famed judo father and son team of James and Jimmy Pedro built her into an Olympian. After London she became an essential voice on sexualalks with Carlo Ancelotti to become their new manager.The Italian was sacked by Napoli just an hour after he helped the club advance to the Champions League knockout stages.Ancelotti was with the Serie A club for 19 months.Sky Sports says Arsenal are abuse, starting a foundation for victims that she called “Fearless”.

Her fights on Wednesday in the 78kg division were indeed fearless. Her Olympicond half of the Club World Cup final against Flamengo.Before victory was secured in extra-time, the midfielder appeared to suffer an ankle injury in a tackle and was on visible distress on the turf.A stretcher was brought on and it looked as if Oxlacs was fearless. Her closest fight was the gold medal match when she forced France’s Audrey Tcheuméo to tap out with only three seconds left. She ran off the mat and leaped into Jimmy Pedro’s arms. She tried to jump into the stands. She draped herself in an American flag and she threw back her head and screamed.

When she finally stopped she said the last four years since London had been “the hardest of my life”. There had been the pressure to repeat, the demands she appear at every judo tournament everywhere and push and struggle to maintain her elite status. There, too, was the aching left knee that turned out to be a ligament issue and required a reconstruction in 2013. Nothing was easy. Everything hurt. Many times she wanted to stop. “I didn’t think she would come back from that,” Pedro said. And yet she did.

“When I showed up today I knew I had worked harder than everybody and no one was going to take that away from me,” she said.

Then came the UFC questions. Harrison gets these almost daily now. Given the way Rousey has gone from a judo bronze to superstardom, the natural assumption is that Harrison will too. Back in March she told the Guardian she had two post-judo career choices She did not say what the other was then, though she has talked in the past about wanting to be a firefighter. She was uncharacteristically vague about a UFC future on Wednesday, saying she wanted to enjoy her second gold medal for a few days before deciding on her next pursuit. Whatever that is, it won’t be judo. “I’m retired,” she said.

She may have to decide if she likes hitting people or being hit. Many non-boxers cannot adjust to this aspect of MMA fighting. She has said in the past that this is something she was still getting used to during her few ventures into the sport.

But all of that is for another day. The UFC can wait.

“I’m sure they were watching today,” she said. “If they weren’t, they were missing out.”

Someone asked about the “Fearless” shirt some family members wore in the stands on Wednesday. She smiled and she said this was a constant reminder for not only herself but the children who who are helped by her foundation. The words is more than just a collection of letters, she said, it’s a mindset, a belief, a beacon.

“I want these boys and girls to feel fearless and to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a gold medal too,” she said.

“And maybe two gold medals.”

Then she laughed again.