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Is it time for Packers to finally use a first-round pick on a WR?

McShay has been on the receiver-to-the-Packers campaign since his first mock in December, when he had them taking DeVonta Smith (who later decided to remain at Alabama). Since then, he’s jumped to Jefferson and most recently Clemson’s Tee Higgins.

Now is a good time for a history lesson: The most recent time the Packers drafted a wide receiver in the first round, Higgins and Jefferson were 3-year-olds. It has been since 2002, when the Packers picked Javon Walker at No. 20 overall. Since 2003, the Packers have selected 14 defensive players in the first round, tied for the most (with the Jets) in that span. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, they’re the only team not to draft a receiver, tight end or running back in the first round in that same time frame.

When one longtime NFL scout was asked if this was finally the year the Packers broke that streak without a first-round receiver, he didn’t hesitate.7

“Yes, and I’m shocked they didn’t sign [Robby] Anderson,” the scout said of the Jets free agent who signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the Panthers last month.

McShay took the offensive additions a step further in his two-round mock that included the Packers taking Florida State running back Cam Akers.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“Paired with [Aaron] Jones, [Akers] could do some damage in the backfield and potentially become the guy if Green Bay moves on from Jones after the season,” McShay wrote.

The Packers haven’t selected multiple offensive skill-position players in the first two rounds of the draft since 2008, when they took both wide receiver Jordy Nelson and quarterback Brian Brohm in the second round.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“I think any time you look at the running back position, it’s such a long season, and those guys take on a ton of punishment,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said this offseason. “I think that’s one of the more tougher positions to play in terms of physicality, and I think you always need multiple guys to get to that finish line.

“Certainly we’d like to play one more game than we did last season, and we’re going to need not only those two guys [Jones and Jamaal Williams], but I do think we’re going to need a third guy to put into that mix moving forward.”

Elton John almost let slip about Mark Viduka’s secret contract talks with Manchester United

Former Australia captain Mark Viduka has said Elton John nearly told an entire stadium of concert-goers about secret contract talks he had with Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

Viduka, who was playing for Leeds United at the time, was in the city for talks with Ferguson when he was invited to attend one of Elton John’s concerts.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“I was in Manchester and my agent at the time also had a lot to do with Elton John,” Viduka told ESPN.

“He said stay for the night and come to the show, he had backstage passes and I’d get the chance to meet the man for myself. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.8

“So I’m there with Jacob Burns, my Leeds teammate and fellow Aussie, as we got ushered into his dressing room.

“As we enter Elton swings are on a swivel chair and says: ‘Mark Viduka, you’re from Melbourne — I love that place!’

“I was nervous, so I babbled on about my meeting with the Red Devils that day and a possible move.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“Instead of going to our seats to watch the concert, Elton gets us to watch it at the side of the stage. About three songs in he says: ‘I want to dedicate this next one to my good friend Mark who is in Manchester today to make a big decision.’

“I’m thinking: ‘S—, please don’t say any more!’

“Thank god he didn’t. I didn’t sign for Man United — I think I loved living in Leeds too much at the time.”

Viduka spent four years at Leeds before playing for Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

Mark Viduka breaks his silence on Leeds, the Socceroos and Lucas Neill

Twenty minutes out of Croatia’s capital, nestled upon a hill called Sestine, sits a cafe called Non Plus Ultra, or “No Higher Point.”

It’s a busy establishment. The smell of coffee fills the air as businessmen, politicians and mother’s groups sit rugged up, chatting inside, underneath the heaters or braving it in the frosty conditions.

Behind the counter, a barista has a familiar look. Former Premier League star and Australian captain Mark Viduka spent his whole career in the spotlight, front and centre. Now, he seems worlds away. As his wife, Ivana, waits tables, Mark goes at a slower pace, which suits him down to the ground.cheap nfl nike jersey

“It’s great to do something different,” Viduka tells ESPN in an exclusive interview. “You make a bad coffee, you throw it in the bin. I try and make the best coffee as I can, though. I think I’ve become pretty good at it.”7

The man many Australians affectionately know as the V-Bomber now calls Croatia home, and the cafe is his focus. It’s a busy life, but surely there isn’t as much pressure to pour a good latte as there is to score a winner for the Socceroos?

“Well, actually, you’d be surprised. Lots of people take their coffee seriously these days!” he says with a laugh.

Viduka is somewhat of an enigma to football fans. Perhaps the most talented Australian striker in history, Viduka stepped away from the game as a 33-year-old without so much as a goodbye. Relegation from the Premier League with Newcastle United in 2009 was the closing chapter of his career.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

More than a decade on, the former Socceroo seems genuinely interested in what is happening in the country he once called home, but his prickly relationship with some journalists in the past suggests that he is not one who seeks out the limelight. The word “reclusive” is often associated with the big man.

born in Melbourne to a Ukrainian-Croat mother and a Croatian father, it didn’t take long before football became his sporting epicentre.

Melbourne Croatia — now the Melbourne Knights — are the only Australian team Viduka ever represented. He joined the club at age 6.

“My only goal in life was to play for them one day, if that was possible. Play for Melbourne Croatia,” he says. “My dad took me to a game when I was about 3, and from there I was just crazy about it. That was the club to me which meant the most.”

Given Viduka’s pride in his heritage, the club founded by immigrants symbolised much more than football to him. It was also a window to the rest of the world.

“The club was a symbol of the struggle of free Croatia — free from communism, free from Yugoslavia — and that, for me, meant everything,” he says. “It was a torch to the rest of the world to say: ‘Look, there’s a place in Europe called Croatia. It’s not called Yugoslavia, and one day we’d like to be a free country.'”

Big league vets on minor league deals may get up to $50,000 from union

About 370 players who were at big league spring training with minor league contracts will get advance payments of up to $50,000 each from the Major League Baseball Players Association.

The money approved Friday by the union’s executive board will be in addition to $400 weekly allowances being paid to all minor leaguers through May 31 by Major League Baseball.

Among the players eligible for payments from Friday’s allocation are Felix Hernandez, Matt Kemp, Pablo Sandoval, Neil Walker, Derek Holland, Jerry Blevins, Edwin Jackson, Chris Iannetta, Brandon Morrow, Jonathan Lucroy and Trevor Cahill.cheap nike nfl jersey

Players can receive $5,000 if they have at least one day of major league service. The amount increases to $7,500 for one year of service, $15,000 for two, $25,000 for three and $50,000 for six.8

Any player may opt out of the money, which is being advanced against salaries. Players are eligible if they were at spring training on March 13, the day after play stopped.

Veteran big leaguers who go to spring training with minor league deals usually are trying to earn big league roster spots, agreements that leave teams with little financial exposure. Most players find out during the final week of spring training whether they will be added to a 40-man roster.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Players on 40-man rosters, 60-man injured lists and on outright assignments to the minor leagues with big league deals are covered by the March 26 agreement between MLB and the union. They each will receive $286,500, $60,000, $30,000 or $15,000, depending on their contract. That money comes from a $170 million advance fund paid by MLB over what was to have been the season’s first 60 days.

If games are played this year, that money would be offset against salaries. If the season is scrapped, players would keep the advances.

Nets’ Kevin Durant leads field of 16 in NBA 2K20 tournament on ESPN

The NBA, National Basketball Players Association and 2K have partnered to produce an NBA 2K tournament that will air on ESPN and ESPN2 starting Friday, it was announced.
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The NBA 2K20 Player Tournament will run through April 11, according to a statement, and will begin airing on ESPN on Friday with a half-hour preshow at 7 p.m. ET. The tournament will run on ESPN until 8:30 p.m. and then is scheduled to transition to ESPN2 until 11:30 p.m.8

Sixteen NBA players will compete, including Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Hassan Whiteside, Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker.

The winner of the event will receive $100,000 to give to a charity in support of the coronavirus relief efforts.nfl nike jersey cheap

“We’re thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times,” said Jason Argent, 2K senior vice president, sports strategy and licensing. “Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together — including athletes, fans and families — and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament.”

Players were seeded based on their player rating in NBA 2K20, with Durant, a 96 overall in the game, as the No. 1 seed. Players who were tied in overall rating were seeded based on tenure in the league.

Aquarium names penguin chick after Zion Williamson

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans announced Tuesday that its new penguin chick has been named Zion, after New Orleans Pelicans rookie sensation Zion Williamson.nfl nike jersey cheap7

Williamson received acclaim in the New Orleans area in the days following the suspension of the NBA season by announcing he would cover the salaries of the Smoothie King Center workers for 30 days. Shortly after Williamson said he’d step up, Pelicans and Saints owner Gayle Benson committed $1 million to establish a COVID-19 fund while also pledging to help workers separate of that.

The Aquarium said it chose the name to honor Williamson, adding in an Instagram post that “Zion embraced the New Orleans community with a truly remarkable act of generosity.”
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Aaron Rodgers applauds Packers’ hiring of sports psychologist

Count quarterback Aaron Rodgers among those who like the Green Bay Packers’ decision to hire Dr. Chris Carr as Director of Performance Psychology and Team Behavioral Health Clinician.

Shortly after the announcement was made on Thursday, Rodgers applauded the move on Twitter with hand-clapping emojis.

It’s not the first time Rodgers has commented on Carr, who has served as a consultant to the Packers since 2018.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

In December, Rodgers brought up Carr’s name unprompted, saying: “We also have a sports psychologist on staff now who’s a great resource. That is finally across all sports becoming a more ‘accepted’ position, maybe? I don’t know if that’s the right word. But there’s less of a stigma, I think, really countrywide about how getting help is not a weakness; it’s actually a sign of strength that you’re able to get help and ask for help and set your pride and ego aside. But I’ve done a lot of research on that stuff.”5

In January, during the Packers’ run to the NFC Championship Game, another player brought up Carr’s name on his own. Cornerback Kevin King mentioned Carr when talking about the mental side of the game.

“Just trying to be consistent with it, just trying to maintain and find that sweet spot to where I like,” King said. “Try to bottle up that feeling of how I felt when I was at that sweet spot. Talking to Dr. Carr, our psychologist, and figure out how to get back to that.”

Carr joins the Packers full time now after working as a sports and performance psychologist at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis since 2006. He also served as a consultant to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Among other teams, the Carolina Panthers also have a full-time, in-house psychologist on staff. A 2018 story on ESPN.com said the Panthers at the time were believed to be the only NFL team that had a full-time staffer in that position.

Carr told ESPN for that story that he was one of five full-time members of a Division I college athletics department in his role when he finished his Ph.D. at Washington State University in the early 1990s.

“Now over 50 to 60 schools have sports psychology and mental health provided in-house for athletes, but it’s really been the last five years where the NCAA has made it a priority,” Carr told ESPN in 2018. “In some ways this is a transitional shift in the culture of sports where we realize these are real issues and you need to have really good, competent providers to take care of those athletes.”

Broncos’ Harris sees positive side of 1-year deal amid pandemic

Maybe, a month ago, defensive end Shelby Harris did believe he would get a multiyear windfall in free agency instead of the one-year deal he signed with the Denver Broncos, but he said Friday that now is not the time to worry about such things.

“At the end of the day, we can go back and forth about, ‘Why this’ and ‘Why that.’ You know, I’m just happy to have a job,” Harris said on a conference call. “There’s millions of Americans right now who have lost their jobs. I rather just focus on the fact that I have a job, more than, you know, if ‘you want to talk about numbers.’

“… We should be happy, should be blessed, that we are able to be employed. That we have a job. It’s bigger than that right now. And I just think the important thing is that I actually have a job and I’m able to provide for my family. There are people who can’t.”

Harris appeared poised for a multiyear deal with another team after finishing the 2019 season with career-bests in tackles (49), sacks (6) and passes defensed (9). However, after not signing with a new team in the opening days of free agency, he accepted a one-year deal with the Broncos that could be worth up to $3.095 million, including incentives.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

That’s slightly less than Harris made last season with the team.6

“I can’t get mad about why things happened, when there are so many people in the world and in America right now who can’t … who don’t even have a job because of the coronavirus,” Harris said.

Harris, who had been waived six times in his first three years in the league before arriving to the Broncos as a “futures” player in 2017, said he hopes the NFL will be able to resume in some fashion this year.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

However, he said there are bigger issues to consider.

“I think that eventually there will be,” Harris said. “I don’t know how much. … Obviously, you want to go back out there and work, but you want to be safe, you want to do your part for the community. They’re doing their part for us — the social distancing — so however long this needs to go, I’m all for it.

“And, you know, it’s about the masses, not just the individual person. … There are people putting their lives, putting their family on the line so we can somehow live. Out of respect for them, we’ve got to do what’s best for the community and not try to rush anything.”

Nationals’ spring facility latest sports venue to be repurposed in response to pandemic

Sports venues are an emerging asset in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. From staging grounds to drive-thru testing facilities to makeshift hospitals, the once-empty stadiums have become a bustle of activity again.

The Washington Nationals’ spring facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, is the latest to be turned into a testing area. For now, there will be medical personnel in the parking lots instead of players.

“Our [spring] complex is being used as a coronavirus testing site until further notice,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Monday. “So we’re going to shut it down to all players and staff completely while the county and National Guard use it for testing.”

“The news of probably the week is that we’ve totally closed the facility here in West Palm Beach,” Rizzo said.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Scenarios like the one there are playing out all over the country.8

Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, FedEx Field in Washington and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, are just a few of the others that have been turned into testing centers. The US Army Corp of Engineers, along with FEMA, have agreed to deploy a military field hospital at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Event Center, and a soccer field in Seattle is building its own makeshift hospital as well.

The United Center in Chicago became a staging area last week.

“As Illinois goes through this together, the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, is proud to be playing a critical role with our city, state and federal response to the pandemic,” the Center said in a statement. “Our arena and outside campus will be transformed into a logistics hub where we will be assisting front-line food distribution, first-responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.”

Stadium personnel say their wish is that their venues remain mostly testing centers and not makeshift hospitals — or even morgues; those scenarios would mean the situation across the country had become much worse. For now, and for the foreseeable future, sports stadiums have a new purpose, with team owners pitching in wherever they’re able.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Jacksonville Jaguars’ TIAA Bank Field has been operating as a drive-thru coronavirus testing site since March 21.

“The Jaguars … are glad to do everything we can to assist the federal government and local health care workers in offering a testing site outside of TIAA Bank Field,” Jaguars senior VP of communications Dan Edwards said. “Right now, there’s no better use for this venue than caring for the people of Northeast Florida.”

It’s a sentiment being echoed from coast to coast, while more facilities are folded into the fight against the coronavirus.

The inside story of the first MLB player traded during the coronavirus pandemic

With everything happening in the world, with Major League Baseball shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, with his minor league income suddenly up in the air, Pereda couldn’t believe he’d just been traded from the Chicago Cubs. As he sat in his Mesa, Arizona, hotel room holding his infant daughter, Carlotta, Pereda received a second call from Boston Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero, confirming the news he’d just gotten from the Cubs.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

That’s when his new reality set in.

“I was just hoping and looking forward to the beginning of the season and to start making money,” Pereda, a 23-year-old from Aragua, Venezuela, told ESPN through a translator. “I have to give support to my family. When I found out that the season was over, my first thought was, ‘What am I going to do?'”7

Boston acquired Pereda from the Cubs last Monday, completing a trade finalized in January that sent righty Travis Lakins to Chicago — making Pereda the first player traded during the worldwide pandemic. When MLB decided last week to freeze rosters due to the suspension of the season, Pereda was joined by Rays minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz as the only players traded.

The terms of the Lakins trade required a player to be named later to be agreed upon by March 24. Last season, Pereda won the Gold Glove at the catcher position for all of minor league baseball, throwing out 50% of runners. Left unprotected by the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft, Pereda re-signed with the organization on a minor league deal this offseason before being dealt to Boston.

“We had to complete the trade by the 24th,” said Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran. “Nobody was sure how things were going to go with the negotiations when the potential transaction freeze might take place. We were sort of resigned to the fact that it was unusual, but we were going to acquire a player that we couldn’t see in person and that we couldn’t have report to Fort Myers [Florida] and we just had to treat him as best as we possibly could.”

His world now flipped upside down, Pereda’s mind raced. What should he do next? He wondered if he needed to fly to Fort Myers to join the other minor leaguers in the Red Sox organization. Like many players from Latin America, Pereda thought too about his family back home, who depend on his baseball salary.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Coming from a third-world country where everything is very hard and tough, with the entire situation, I just wish that MLB and other people can help the minor leaguers [more] than they are doing right now because we need that money to live and provide for our families,” Pereda said. “I think I can speak for all the Latin-American players, coming from there to the States, when we arrive to this country, it is because we are going to work and we are trying to make money to provide for our families.

“Of course being in the big leagues, you have all of the attention of the fans and people sometimes don’t realize how hard the struggle we have to go through. Only the players know how hard it is to get there because being in the business, you have to go to the minors first.”