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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.

Heat’s Goran Dragic says he’s not going to Slovenia during layoff

Goran Dragic of the Miami Heat said Tuesday that he is prepared to forgo his annual offseason move back to his native Slovenia if that is what the NBA schedule necessitates.

Dragic, his wife and their two children are in Miami and have no plans to leave for Slovenia amid the global coronavirus pandemic. His parents recently left Miami to return home, but the Heat guard says he’s staying.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“Three days ago they flew back home because they had to — the government said that all the Slovenian citizens needed to get back,” Dragic said, referring to his parents, adding that they wore masks and gloves on their not-very-full flight back to Slovenia. “But my situation is different. Here is my home. We have health insurance in America and we have a home to go to, so we’re going to stay here.”

Dragic and his family have gotten a firsthand global view of the pandemic.7

He’s in Miami, and so is his uncle — who is staying in the U.S. because he cannot get back to his native Serbia; Dragic said that country has essentially locked its borders over health concerns. Dragic’s brother Zoran, a former Heat guard, was quarantined while playing in Spain, then returned to Slovenia recently and is under quarantine again, unable to leave his hotel room for a couple of more weeks.

“It’s a really crazy situation over there,” Dragic said, detailing what his brother went through in Spain — one of the hardest-hit nations, with more than 94,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 8,000 deaths attributed to the virus, the second-highest total worldwide behind only Italy. Slovenia has confirmed 802 cases through Tuesday, with 15 deaths.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

In Miami, though, Dragic is trying to keep some sense of normalcy.

Dragic said the Heat are participating in a daily team workout on Zoom most mornings, those sessions often including strength and conditioning coach Eric Foran and Heat assistant coach Chris Quinn, among others.

“We try to work together, in isolation,” Dragic said.

Dragic has also been working out individually at his waterfront home, trying to stay fit. He’s hopeful that the season resumes at some point and said he hopes the league has teams play no more than a handful of games before starting the playoffs.

“I’m running around the house. I’m going to be in good shape,” Dragic said.

Dragic is averaging 16.1 points and 5.1 assists this season for the Heat, coming off the bench in all but one of his 54 games.

Harry Kane won’t stay at Tottenham ‘just for the sake of it’

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane said on Sunday that he could leave the Premier League club if the team does not progress in the right direction as he wants to win trophies “sooner rather than later.”

Kane has scored 181 goals for Spurs in all competitions — averaging 30 goals a season since his breakthrough into the starting lineup in 2014 — but he is yet to win a trophy with the London club.

The England striker signed a six-year contract extension in 2018 that would keep him at Spurs until 2024 but admitted in an Instagram Q&A with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp that he could not guarantee he would stay if the club was not successful.

“I’ll always love Spurs, but it’s one of them things. I’ve always said if I don’t feel like we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there just for the sake of it,” Kane said.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve and become better. I want to become a top, top player, so it all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team.8

“So, it’s not a definite ‘I’m going to stay there forever’ but it’s not a no either.”

The closest Kane has come to winning a trophy was in the League Cup final in 2015 and the Champions League final last season, with Spurs losing to Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively.

The England striker signed a six-year contract extension in 2018 that would keep him at Spurs until 2024 but admitted in an Instagram Q&A with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp that he could not guarantee he would stay if the club was not successful.

“I’ll always love Spurs, but it’s one of them things. I’ve always said if I don’t feel like we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, I’m not someone to stay there just for the sake of it,” Kane said.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve and become better. I want to become a top, top player, so it all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team.

“So, it’s not a definite ‘I’m going to stay there forever’ but it’s not a no either.”

The closest Kane has come to winning a trophy was in the League Cup final in 2015 and the Champions League final last season, with Spurs losing to Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively.

FSU freshman Patrick Williams declares for NBA draft

Florida State forward Patrick Williams announced Thursday he will forgo his sophomore season to enter the NBA draft.

Williams made the announcement in a statement posted on Twitter.

“Words can’t describe how blessed I am to be in this position,” Williams wrote as part of his post. “… To my teammates, thank you for being more than just teammates. The love, support, and authenticity we show one another has honestly made this season a dream come true. The entire year has been filled with moments I will truly never forget.”cheap nike nfl jersey

He is the 20th-ranked prospect in ESPN’s draft prospect rankings.8

Williams is the second FSU player to declare his eligibility for the draft. Sophomore guard Devin Vassell, who led the Seminoles with 12.7 points per game this season, also has said he’d enter the draft.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The NBA draft is scheduled for June 25, but following worldwide suspensions of basketball activities amid the coronavirus outbreak, NBA front-office executives and others in the industry told ESPN they are bracing for the potential impact of a delayed 2020 draft with a heavily reduced pre-draft process.

LeBron James says there’s no excitement, crying or joy without fans

Speaking extensively for the first time since the NBA announced it was suspending its season during the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James outlined some of the challenges facing the league as it hopes to get back to the court.

“So what happens when a guy who is tested positive for corona and you’re out there on the floor with him and it’s a loose ball?” James said as a guest on the Road Trippin’ Podcast hosted by former Cleveland Cavaliers teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye and current Lakers studio host Allie Clifton.

The podcast, presented by James’ multimedia platform Uninterrupted, was released Thursday, the same day James and the Lakers were scheduled to be in Cleveland to play the Cavs. Instead, the NBA’s hiatus ticked past two weeks as there have been 14 reported cases of COVID-19 involving players and personnel — including two Lakers.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“It’s always special going back there and looking up there and look at that banner,” James said, referring to the 2016 championship banner James, an Akron, Ohio, native who played 11 of his 17 seasons in Cleveland, helped earn. “Think about all the great memories that we had. And then being able to play in front of my friends and family again. That would have been so cool. … I’m kind of bummed out about that.”7

He was also disappointed at the thought of returning to play in a league that, at least temporarily, would likely be forced to play games with no fans in attendance.

“What is the word ‘sport’ without ‘fan’?” James asked. “There’s no excitement. There’s no crying. There’s no joy. There’s no back-and-forth.

“… That’s what also brings out the competitive side of the players to know that you’re going on the road in a hostile environment and yes, you’re playing against that opponent in front of you, but you really want to kick the fans’ ass too.cheap nike nfl jersey

“So to get back on the floor, I would love it. I’m not going to sit here and say nothing. Like, if it’s get out there and get back on the floor 5-on-5 … but like, we can do that in scrimmages. Let’s just go to each other’s practice facility, put out a camera, just scrimmage and livestream it. … I just don’t know how we can imagine a sporting event without fans. It’s just, it’s a weird dynamic.”

James and the hosts also addressed the logistical concerns regarding what it would actually take to turn the lights back on for the league. When Jefferson, who also works as an ESPN NBA analyst, suggested that teams could be isolated in a league-selected hotel for the duration of the postseason as a safety measure, James objected.

Packers’ Aaron Rodgers details frenzied departure from Peru

Aaron Rodgers and his travel party that included three other people got out of Peru nine days ago, within minutes of the airport closing due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Green Bay Packers quarterback revealed Friday on a radio show.

Rodgers told Pat McAfee and former Packers teammate A.J. Hawk, who co-hosted the show, that it was “quite the ordeal.”cheap new nike nfl jerseys

“Have you seen the movie ‘Argo’?” Rodgers asked. “The scene at the end where they’re racing to the airport. Nobody was chasing us, thankfully, or holding us. We didn’t have to speak Farsi to get back into the country, but there were some moments where we worried we were not going to get out. It was absolute pandemonium at the airport.”7

Rodgers returned to his home in Malibu, California, and has followed stay-at-home guidelines along with girlfriend Danica Patrick. He said that of the four people on the trip, none had any symptoms at the time or in the days since.nike jersey nfl cheap

He said he had planned other parts of his trip to South America, but they cut it short. The group flew via private plane, which Rodgers said helped them get out of the country quickly. Had they flown commercial, he said, he does not think they would have gotten out when they did.

“Probably not, not right away,” Rodgers said. “I know there’s been some planes and some folks who were down there who’ve gotten brought back [since then]. … When we rolled up to the airport at, like, 7 in the morning, it was wall-to-wall people, and you couldn’t move. I was thinking, ‘This isn’t very safe.’ Not many masks on, and there was definitely a panic in the air. But somehow [we] made it down, and then they shut the airport down because it was really bad weather. They had a drop-dead time where they were going to shut the entire airport down. We made it by about 15 minutes.”

Rodgers said his group was in remote areas near Cusco, Peru, where there are not any reported cases of the coronavirus.

TE Jimmy Graham responds to critics of Bears’ move: ‘I’m still fast’

The Bears’ decision to sign veteran tight end Jimmy Graham to a two-year contract that included $9 million guaranteed and a no-trade clause — on the heels of him being released by division rival Green Bay — was arguably the most universally panned move in free agency, but Graham insisted on Thursday that he still can perform at an elite level.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

“I’m still fast. … I still have the ability to make big plays,” Graham said during a conference call with Chicago media.

A third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 NFL draft, Graham quickly emerged as the game’s most feared pass-catching tight end, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl in just his second season (2011) with 99 receptions, 1,310 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Graham, 33, would eventually be named to five Pro Bowls over stints with New Orleans (2010-14) and Seattle (2015-17) before agreeing a free-agent deal with Green Bay in 2018.
Green Bay released Graham on March 12.6

“Obviously, it was a tough pill to swallow,” Graham said. “It was the first time I lost my job. And I work extremely hard. I’ve sacrificed everything for this game. I’ve given it everything I have, and obviously to go through that, it was difficult. Now I have the opportunity to win a bunch of games this year and I’m very grateful for that, and I’m obviously grateful for the opportunity and the friendships I did make just up north there. But for me, it’s lit a fire.

“I know what player I am and I know what I can do. I think I was able to show a little bit of that in the playoffs with some of the opportunities I was given. And after being 10 years in, I’ve only missed six games. That’s coming off of, at times, all kinds of injuries … at times I’ve kind of been on ice the last two years, so my knee right now is the best it’s felt in four or five years. This is the best that I’ve ran, this is the fastest I’ve been in the last four or five years. I’m going to get back to being me. I’m going to get back to making big plays and scoring touchdowns because I think I’m somewhere in the top of scoring touchdowns and I want to continue that. I want to continue climbing that list and get to where I’m supposed to be.”

Chicago had the NFL’s least productive group of tight ends in 2019. The Bears did not have a tight end reach 100 receiving yards — J.P. Holtz led the team with 91 — or 15 receptions as Chicago, overall, ranked near the bottom in total offense, points scored, rushing offense and passing offense.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

Graham joins a tight end room that includes often-injured Trey Burton (guaranteed $6.7 million in 2020), 2017 second-round pick Adam Shaheen (26 career catches for 249 yards), Ben Braunecker and veteran Demetrius Harris, whom Chicago added in February.

The Bears are also in the midst of a quarterback competition. Chicago traded a fourth-round compensatory draft pick to Jacksonville for veteran quarterback Nick Foles, who is expected to challenge 2017 second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job.

Man United optimistic of keeping Pogba beyond summer- sources

Manchester United are optimistic Paul Pogba will remain at the club beyond the next transfer window and doubt whether any of Europe’s elite clubs can afford the midfielder, sources have told ESPN.

Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, has said he “wants to take a great player to Real Madrid” sparking more speculation the Spanish giants are set to bid for the France international.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Juventus are also interested in re-signing Pogba but there are significant doubts over whether either club could finance a deal, even if the 27-year-old insists he wants to leave Old Trafford.7

Pogba has a contract until June 2021 but United can also trigger a clause to extend it for another 12 months until 2022.

Real Madrid were put off by the £180 million asking price last summer and while privately United accept Pogba’s value will dip with time running out on his contract, they still value their record signing at more than £100m.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

As well as the transfer fee, Real Madrid and Juventus would have to put together a hefty wage packet of around £300,000-a-week to seal a deal.

The issue is complicated further by concerns surrounding finances in football relating to the coronavirus crisis and the implications for broadcasting deals while major league and European club competitions are suspended indefinitely.

Pogba is training at home while United’s Carrington training base remains off limits to the majority of players and staff.

The squad were due to return on April 10 but that is now unlikely after the British government imposed a nationwide lockdown on Monday night that will last for the next three weeks.

Pogba has been limited to just eight appearances in all competitions this season after suffering metatarsal and ankle injuries. He has not played a competitive game since United’s 4-1 win over Newcastle on Boxing Day but was due to return to first team training just before the Premier League was suspended on March 13.

New UAB coach Andy Kennedy braces for ‘most unusual’ basketball season

Andy Kennedy acknowledged the bizarre nature of an introductory news conference without any media in attendance.

It wasn’t even the strangest scene the new UAB coach has experienced because of the coronavirus.nfl nike jersey cheap

“We’re living in unusual times, hence a press conference with no people,” Kennedy said Monday, when he was formally introduced as the new coach of his alma mater, replacing Robert Ehsan.

UAB allowed only 10 staffers inside the Green and Gold room at Bartow Arena, with a moderator and live stream on Facebook in an attempt to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Kennedy was introduced by athletic director Mark Ingram, and then he fielded a few questions from radio announcer David Crane, who relayed several taken in advance from reporters. The men sat at opposite ends of a small table, with their chairs pulled back and a 2015 Conference USA tournament championship trophy between them.6

Kennedy, who was living in suburban Birmingham after his 12-year run as Mississippi’s coach, jokingly noted that they might not have the full 6 feet of separation recommended by health officials during the pandemic.

It was a strange scene, but less so than what happened last week — or what Kennedy fears could lie ahead.

Kennedy was working at the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville for ESPN and the SEC Network when the remaining games around the country — including the NCAA tournament and many other sporting events — were called off. Suddenly, the arenas were empty.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

“It felt surreal, like, is this actually happening?” said Kennedy. “This is certainly not the introduction that we wanted. I can’t wait for this room to be filled and to see many familiar faces.”

Normally, introductions for new coaches at UAB and elsewhere would include some fans, prominent boosters and a number of reporters and cameras.

But not this time. Kennedy was joined in the room by Ingram, media relations officials and the production crew.

Kennedy, whose hiring was announced Friday, received a six-year contract and an unconventional situation that coaches and athletic programs around the country are confronting.

Selection of Jordan Love in first round would be decisive move for Bill Belichick, Patriots

The New England Patriots have three quarterbacks who account for less than $3 million in salary-cap space in Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler, easily the lowest financial total at the position in the NFL.

The top question facing the budget-conscious team is obvious: Which low-cost option rises up? With the Patriots so snug to the salary cap, they are limited in what type of significant free-agent addition they might be able to make, which leads to another question: Could a high 2020 NFL draft pick be an avenue they consider?nfl cheap jerseys nike

The Patriots haven’t selected a quarterback in the first round since 1993, when Drew Bledsoe (No. 1 overall) was the pick. That was a different era, when Bill Parcells had just arrived as coach, and hope was restored to a region starved for winning football.4

Under coach Bill Belichick (2000-present), the highest quarterback selected was Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014 — in the latter portion of the second round (No. 62 overall). Third-rounders Kevin O’Connell (2008, No. 94), Ryan Mallett (2011, No. 74) and Jacoby Brissett (2016, No. 91) are next in line.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

So if the Patriots follow through on what ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. says is possible in his latest mock draft — tabbing Utah State quarterback Jordan Love with the No. 23 pick — it would be a decisive move that breaks the Belichick mold.

In that scenario, the Patriots would have to be confident Love is an upgrade from Stidham, who in 2019 had the best preseason of any rookie quarterback under Belichick. They would also have to be willing to concede that Love projects more to 2021 than 2020; considering there will be limited practice time in the offseason — if any during the coronavirus pandemic — relying on any rookies for big things this season seems like risky business.

The Patriots also have several other needs to address, and going with a quarterback would push the team’s opportunity to focus on other spots into the late third round (No. 87), which is when they pick next.