Florida Governor’s Memo Offers UFC A Chance to Return Sooner Than Expected

WWE was deemed as an essential business late on Monday night. It allows the sports entertainment company to resume live television episodes from its Florida locations. These are the Orlando Performance Center which played host to Wrestlemania 36 and the Full Sail University. ESPN Combat reporter Marc Raimondi put forth a question regarding the status of boxing and UFC events

Florida offers a ray of hope to the UFC

The decision outlined in a memo from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said, “The memo does not specify sports, as long as the event is closed to the general public.” 

It provides a day of hope to a host of other sports including the UFC. The memo deems “employees at a professional sports and media production with a national audience — including … athletes, entertainers, production team, executive team, media team” and others as essential.

WWE will return to running live shows behind closed doors after weeks of airing pre-taped shows. And the UFC could follow suit if they shift to Florida as it offers the Las Vegas-based mixed martial arts company an option to hold fights on the mainland.

Dana White wants to hold fights in an effort to bring back normalcy to the country. However, he isn’t as bullish about having fans in the arena. The UFC President held UFC Fight Night 170 in Brasilia behind closed doors. He was prepared to do the same for further fight nights as well as the UFC 249 event. 

UFC had secured that Tachi Palace Casino Resort on tribal land in California. This was to serve as the venue for UFC 249. But, a call from higher-ups at ESPN saw Dana White pull the plug on the event. Further events are suspended for at least a month. This because White says it will take him that long to set up the infrastructure on Fight Island.

Dana White said he would need a go-ahead from his broadcaster with whom the UFC has a good relationship to go ahead. However, one just assumes that securing a go-ahead will be much easier if the location in on mainland United States rather than an offshore location.

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Harry Gant extends 1991 streak at Richmond

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Harris Lue | NASCAR Creative Design

Harry Gant has a few nicknames in and around the NASCAR garage. “Handsome Harry” is one, and another is “Mr. September.”

The latter was earned in the fall of 1991 when the then 51-year-old drove his No. 33 Skoal Bandit Oldsmobile to four straight wins in the NASCAR Cup Series. Gant kicked things off with a victory on Sept. 1 at Darlington Raceway. He then won at Richmond Raceway, Dover International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.

RELATED: Full race results | Classic Race Replays | Where have you gone ‘Mr. September?’

Up until the race at Richmond, Gant had never won back-to-back races in his career. Gant led only 27 laps that day, but he led for the final 19 circuits after passing Davey Allison on Lap 382. Allison led a race-high 150 laps but finished second with Rusty Wallace, who led 124 laps, coming in third at the .75-mile track.

Last week, NASCAR named Gant as one of 10 nominees on the Modern Era Ballot for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021.

Today at noon ET, relive part of Gant’s amazing run in this Classic Full Race Replay of the 1991 Miller Genuine Draft 400 from Richmond.

 

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CFP director: We’re planning for playoff

Find out the latest on COVID-19’s impact on the sports world and when sports are returning by subscribing to Breaking News push notifications in the Sports and COVID-19 section.

College Football Playoff staff is planning for normal regular-season and playoff schedules despite the COVID-19 pandemic that’s halted all college sports.

“We’re planning on a CFP,” executive director Bill Hancock told ESPN’s Heather Dinich. “That’s what our staff is doing as we speak. Planning for it on time.”

Hancock wouldn’t discuss what would happen if there was no 2020 football season.

“It’s only April,” he said. “It’s just too soon. It’s premature. The decision about whether to have a season and a CFP won’t be made by the coaches and commissioners. It will be made by the medical people. We have to be prepared, and we will be prepared, to have a CFP.”

Hancock revealed the CFP has yet to create a coronavirus committee for the purposes of monitoring the pandemic and forming contingencies plans.

It’s been speculated that a shortened or lost season could lead to an increased push for CFP expansion to help compensate for COVID-19’s financial impact on college sports. However, Hancock thinks it’s too early to predict if the much-debated change to the playoff’s format will happen.

“People can speculate anything about this, but no one knows exactly what will happen,” Hancock told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel. “It’s fun for people to speculate, but no one can see the future for sure.”

How Do Injuries Affect The Seahawks’ Plans At Running Back?

The NFL Draft is set to take place, digitally, beginning on April 23, and as things stand now, the Seahawks are scheduled to pick 27th in the first round, and hold seven picks overall. Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where things currently stand on the Seahawks’ roster, as well as the top prospects at each position. We’ll also look at Seattle’s draft history at each position under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.

So far we’ve looked at quarterbackcornerbackreceiver, and safety and today we turn our attention to running back. Check back tomorrow for a look at where things stand at linebacker.

Seattle’s 2020 Draft Picks: Round 1, No. 27 overall; Round 2, No. 59 overall; Round 2, No. 64 overall; Round 3, No. 101 overall; Round 4, No. 133 overall; Round 4, No. 144 overall; Round 6, No. 214 overall.

Draft History Under Carroll & Schneider: Robert Turbin (No. 106 overall, 2012), Christine Michael (No. 62, 2013), Spencer Ware (No. 194, 2013), Kiero Small (No. 227, 2014), C.J. Prosise (No. 90, 2016), Alex Collins (No. 171, 2016), Zac Brooks (No. 247, 2016), Chris Carson (No. 249, 2017), Rashaad Penny (No. 27, 2018), Travis Homer, (No. 204, 2019).

Where the Seahawks Stand

When healthy, Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny represent a very dynamic one-two punch at running back, a duo that should have Seahawks fans excited about the potential for their team’s running game. The problem, however, is that neither was able to finish the season healthy, putting in to question just what the Seahawks’ depth at running back will look like when training camp begins. Carson, who is coming off of his second straight 1,000-yard season, ended the year on injured reserve with a hip injury, while Penny tore his ACL a couple of weeks before Carson’s Week 16 injury. While Carroll and Schneider expressed optimism that Carson will be ready for the start of the season, that doesn’t necessarily mean he would be a full-go at the start of camp, and Carroll indicated that Penny could have to open the year on the physically unable to perform list since his injury occurred so late in the season.

Asked at the NFL Scouting Combine if Penny could be ready for the start of the season, Carroll said. “It would be an extraordinary accomplishment if he was ready by the time we got to camp and all that. So we will see what happens. We’re not going to set any deadline on it, just see how he develops. But this is the kind of timing that might take in the PUP thing.”

The Seahawks liked what they saw in Travis Homer late in his rookie season, but whether it’s in the draft or via free agency, the Seahawks almost certainly need to add to that group given the injury status of Carson and Penny. 

“We have to make sure that we have enough depth,” Carroll said at the combine. “Chris should be absolutely fine. We won’t overdo it with him, he’s had two great back-to-back seasons. We’re going to take care of him throughout all the way to game time when it comes up, so that means we’ve got some spots available for guys to compete for, so we’ll see how that goes.”

NASCAR driver suspended after using racial slur during sim race

NASCAR driver Kyle Larson has been indefinitely suspended by the series after he said the n-word during a sim racing stream over the weekend.

It’s the latest example of how the pandemic-inspired shift to online racing is still resulting in real-world consequences for some drivers. Just last week, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace lost a sponsor after he quit a sim race following a virtual crash.

Larson was driving in a special event held Sunday in iRacing, a leading sim racing platform that has become one of the de facto places for drivers to compete in the absence of real-world events. He said the n-word on a public drivers’ channel while apparently trying to privately communicate with a friend.

Larson apologized in a video message on Monday. “I made a mistake and said the word that should never, ever be said. There’s no excuse for that,” he said. By the time the 27-year-old driver had posted the video, he had already been suspended by his team, Chip Ganassi Racing, without pay. Credit One Bank, which was one of Larson’s main sponsors, released a statement saying it “support[s] the quick actions taken by NASCAR and the Chip Ganassi Racing Team,” and has since dropped the driver.

NASCAR suspended Larson for violating an entry in the series’ rule book that warns punitive action can be taken against drivers following any “public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”

iRacing itself has even suspended Larson from the service indefinitely. “iRacing considers itself to be a welcome and inclusive community for racing enthusiasts all around the world,” the Massachusetts-based company said Monday. “We have strict policies against offensive behavior and language. Kyle Larson’s language last night during a streamed online race was both offensive and inappropriate, and in violation of our sporting code.”

Like all other sports around the world right now, racing is on pause while the world battles the novel coronavirus pandemic. But thanks to years of grassroots online racing and the rise of realistic sim platforms like iRacing, pro drivers have quickly taken to running in virtual races to help fill the gap left by the cancellation of real-world events. Fox and NBC have even started broadcasting many of these competitions on TV, and many drivers stream their own view of each race on Twitch or YouTube.

The sim race Larson was part of on Sunday night was not one of the more official or heavily promoted events. But it was a race that featured a field of more than 60 drivers from all sorts of different motorsport disciplines, so there was a particular spotlight on the event.

The ability to take part in these sim racing competitions from the comfort of your own home is one of the many reasons for the surge of involvement by pro drivers in recent weeks. But as Larson demonstrated, it’s possible to get a little too comfortable.

Formula 1: UK-based teams receive more than 20,000 orders from NHS

Mercedes F1 teamed up with University College London to produce 10,000 breathing-aid devices

The seven UK-based Formula 1 teams have contributed to the supply of more than 20,000 orders from the NHS for devices to treat coronavirus patients.

A consortium involving all the teams and several other manufacturers has had more than 10,000 ventilator orders.

This is as well as 10,000 breathing-aid devices being produced to a new design invented by the Mercedes team and University College London Hospital.

A third F1-related project has been ended as the devices were not required.

The new orders with which all the UK-based teams are involved are for a device known as a Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RMVS).

The RMVS was developed by clinicians and the medicines and healthcare products regulator agency (MHRA), and has now received formal orders from the government in excess of 10,000 units for the NHS.

The UK-based F1 teams embarked in March on a collaboration known as ‘Project Pitlane’ on three different workstreams after co-ordination with the Government on requirements to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

The project that has been discontinued was known as BlueSky and was for a portable ventilator design invented by Alastair Darwood, a junior doctor and inventor on the NHS young entrepreneur scheme.

Red Bull and Renault engineers worked with Darwood, clinical experts and other parties to deliver prototypes for the design within three weeks with help from the other UK-based teams.

But the NHS decided this relatively simple model was no longer required because the treatment of Covid-19 patients required more sophisticated devices than it was originally thought were needed.

The Mercedes design – known as the ‘continuous positive airway pressure’ device (CPAP) – is a breathing aid to help patients with lung infections breathe more easily when an oxygen mask was insufficient but a full ventilator was not required.

Mercedes have turned over their entire UK engine base in Brixworth to the production of the CPAP device and are producing up to 1,000 units a day.

An F1 spokesman said that “The F1 team project leads for BlueSky – Red Bull Racing and Renault F1 Team – have shown brilliant dedication and skill throughout the project and should feel proud of the work they have undertaken”.

He added: “The seven teams continue to focus their collective efforts on the two remaining workstreams, while standing ready to respond to any further calls for help.”

Ex-NFL QB Tarvaris Jackson dies at 36; NBA HORSE competition falls short of expectations

Jackson’s three most memorable seasons are 2007, 2008 and 2011. The 2007 season, Jackson led the Vikings to an 8-4 record in 12 starts. The team went 0-4 when Jackson didn’t play, which led to them missing the playoffs. Jackson’s elusiveness made him a tough quarterback to bring down and he was the perfect complement to the Vikings’ two-headed rushing attack that featured Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. The Vikings led the league in rushing that season.

NFL teams that need offensive linemen: Here’s how the Dolphins, Bucs and other teams can address the issue

In the modern NFL, passing is king. Which means that the offensive line is also king, because your quarterback is generally not going to be able to have much success if he’s lying on his back after being sacked. It’s no secret that it’s become more and more difficult for teams to get quality offensive line play in recent seasons, which means that just a week before the 2020 NFL Draft, there are still plenty of teams that have obvious or glaring needs up front. 

Most of the veteran free agent market has been picked over already, but there are at least a few players who could conceivably be starter-quality still available: Jason Peters, Ronald Leary, Mike Iupati, Demar Dotson, Michael Schofield, and more. But perhaps the rest those players are still unsigned is because the draft seems stocked full of offensive line prospects who could potentially come in and be long-term answers — especially at tackle. 

With all that in mind, let’s take a look into a few teams who still clearly have needs to fill in front of their quarterbacks. 

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are perhaps the team that most obviously needs a new anchor along the offensive line, and also the team best-positioned to land that player. Miami has three first-round picks: No. 5, 18, and 26. 

How they land that player probably depends on how they decide to approach the quarterback position. If Tua Tagovailoa is on their minds, then it’s unlikely they’ll be taking a tackle at No. 5; but if he’s not, then they could have their pick among the group of tackles that are generally considered the five best in the class: Andrew Thomas, Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, and Josh Jones

In the unlikely event that none of those five players make it to No., 18, well, there’s still Austin Jackson, Ezra Cleveland, Isaiah Wilson, and more who could potentially be available at those spots and/or No. 39. Whatever else happens, the Dolphins seem incredibly likely to come away from the draft with at least one of those players. 

Cincinnati Bengals

We know with a degree of relative certainty that the Bengals will be drafting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. We know they’ll get Jonah Williams — last year’s first-rounder — back from injury this season, and that they signed Xavier Su’a-Filo to upgrade at one of the guard spots. But there’s still a need for more talent up front, and the Bengals should start thinking about adding a tackle in either the second or third round. The same group of players that could be under consideration for the Dolphins, should be under consideration for the Bengals. 

Houston Texans

The way the Texans have approached the offensive line during Deshaun Watson’s career is practically criminal. Even after trading for Laremy Tunsil (who has somehow still not been signed to an extension and probably has more contract leverage than any player in the league at the moment) and drafting Tytus Howard last season, this is still a pretty clearly below-average unit. The Texans do not have a first-round pick and thus don’t come on the clock until pick No. 40 (received from the Cardinals in the disastrous DeAndre Hopkins trade), but with two picks in the second round, they should be looking at both tackle and interior line prospects, depending on how they decide to approach Howard’s future. (He played tackle last season but could conceivably kick inside to guard.) 

Arizona Cardinals

After landing Hopkins in the aforementioned trade, the best thing the Cardinals can do to help Kyler Murray take the next step in his development is ensure that he is far better-protected than he was last season. He was one of the most-pressured quarterbacks in the NFL during his rookie season, and though some of that is because as a mobile quarterback he tends to hold the ball a bit longer than most as he tries to extend plays, a ton of it was due to the obvious lack of talent up front. With the No. 8 overall selection in their pockets, the Cards should be able to land a premier tackle to protect Murray for the next several seasons. On our mock draft hub, you’ll see that six of the seven experts have the Cardinals taking a tackle with that pick, with Wirfs and Wills being the most popular fits.

Cleveland Browns

Let’s just copy/paste the paragraph above but replace all references to “Kyler Murray” with “Baker Mayfield.” The Browns come on the board at No. 10 and like the Cardinals, seem like an obvious candidate to land one of the top tackles in the draft with that pick. Wirfs, Wills, Thomas, Becton, Jones, take your pick.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Despite promises that free agents would be flocking to Tampa Bay to follow Tom Brady, that has not really happened just yet. Joe Haeg is probably the most notable player they’ve signed since landing the GOAT, and he’s not exactly a realistic answer at right tackle, where the Bucs have an obvious hole. Tampa has the No. 14 overall pick and could be in a position to land one of the aforementioned top tackle prospects, but if there’s a run on tackles before they come on the clock, that might not be the best idea. Still, they should be highly interested in finding a tackle at some point, and if they can’t, they should give Dotson a call about coming back for one more season.

Los Angeles Chargers

After trading Russell Okung to the Panthers for Trai Turner, the Chargers opened up a need at the left tackle spot. Lucky for them, they have two top-40 picks and should be able to land one of the top tackle prospects, assuming they are as comfortable with Tyrod Taylor under center as they have publicly claimed to be. If they’re not, and thus decide to go move up for Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert, then Jason Peters seems like an obvious call to make.