Gary Bettman Confirms December Start ‘Under Consideration’ For 2020-21 NHL Season

With the NHL pause getting longer by the day, many questions begin to surround the start of next season.
Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said the league doesn’t want to compromise any of the 2020-21 season and starting it later may be an option. And a report surfaced about the possibility of it beginning in December.
And the NHL commissioner confirmed as much Thursday night.
“We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start,” Bettman said, via NHL.com’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika. “There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration.
“We’re going to try and make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back. When we come back, we want it to be at the right time, for the right reasons, under the right circumstances.”
Assuming the league wants a full 82-game schedule, teams who make the playoffs this year could be looking at a shorter offseason should they play into June or July. Of course, that’s all contingent on the current season restarting and finishing.
More NHL: League, NHLPA ‘Have Not Made Any Decisions’ Or ‘Set A Timeline’ For Return

Peter King ‘Mystified’ By One Major Decision Patriots Made In NFL Draft

Much has been made about the New England Patriots not selecting a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft.
But what about Bill Belichick’s decision to not pick a single wide receiver?
“I’m pretty much mystified by that,” NBC Sports’ Peter King said on the latest edition of “The Michael Holley Podcast.”
This year’s wide receiver class was considered one of the best in NFL history, with elite top-level talent and incredible depth. Yet the Patriots didn’t dip their toes into the receiver pool, even though the position was an obvious weakness for New England in 2019. It represents a strange strategy, to say the least.
“Look at where the game is going,” King added. “Last year, the 49ers with the 36th pick in the draft take (wide receiver) Deebo Samuel. You watched the Super Bowl, he’s one of the five best players on the field in the Super Bowl. And now you look this year, and they trade up from 31 to go get Brandon Aiyuk (at No. 25), another receiver they felt was the best all-around receiver this year in the draft … So, they have expended great draft capital in the last couple of years on the receiver position, and that to me is where the game is going.”
More Patriots: What Did Scouts Say About Top Pick Kyle Dugger Before Draft?

The Patriots, in their defense, selected N’Keal Harry in the first round last year, marking the first time in the Belichick era that New England drafted a wide receiver in Round 1. It’s possible he could make a huge leap in his second season after a rookie campaign marred by injuries.
Still, the Patriots wound up adding 10 players via this year’s draft: a safety, three linebackers, three offensive linemen, two tight ends and a kicker. It’s perplexing they didn’t add a single wideout to a depth chart currently highlighted by Harry, Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Meyers and Marqise Lee.
“When I saw what the Patriots did in the draft this year, the first thought that went through my mind is, ‘Bill’s trying to build a team that will win games 16-13,’ ” King said.
Maybe the formula will work. After all, as King acknowledged, Belichick deserves the benefit of the doubt based on his track record.
But steering clear of a quarterback and a wide receiver is a bold decision by the Patriots as they prepare to navigate life without Tom Brady and potentially hand the keys to an unproven second-year signal-caller in Jarrett Stidham, especially when you consider New England’s offensive struggles last season.
More Patriots: Biggest Winners, Losers Of New England’s 2020 Draft

Premier League Star Sergio Aguero: Most Players ‘Scared’ To Return To Action

If Sergio Aguero is correct, the Premier League must overcome a significant psychological hurdle.
The Manchester City star claimed Thursday a “majority of players” are “scared” to return to action following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Having suspended play March 13, the Premier League hopes to resume its 2019-20 season but also awaits notice from the U.K. government about when it might be safe or prudent to do so. However, Aguero offers a compelling explanation for his reluctance to return to the field and he insists other players share his feeling.
“The majority of players are scared because they have children and families,” Aguero told Argentinian TV station El Chiringuito, per The BBC. “I’m scared but I’m with my girlfriend here and I’m not going to be in contact with other people. I’m locked in my house and the only person I could infect is my girlfriend.
“They’re saying that there are people that have it and don’t have any symptoms but still infect you. That’s why I am here at home. Maybe I have the illness and I don’t even know.”
Aguero, other players and everyday people might be experiencing similar fears about the prospect of returning to work.
“When one person is ill we will think ‘oh what’s happening here?’” he said. “I hope a vaccine will be found soon so that this all ends.”
Despite its 25-point gap behind Premier League-leading Liverpool, second-place Manchester City still has plenty to play for in whatever remains of the 2019-20 campaign. City already had won the Carabao Cup, had reached the FA Cup quarterfinals and leads Real Madrid halfway through their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 series. Furthermore, Aguero was enjoying a stellar season, scoring 23 goals in 30 games in all competitions.
But the prospect of further individual and collective glory has taken a back seat to the clear and present danger COVID-19 presents.
More Premier League: Why Ex-Liverpool Star Believes Timo Werner Is Bad Fit For Reds

Nick Wright Calls Out 49ers For ‘Baffling’ Honesty About Tom Brady

The San Francisco 49ers have been remarkably open about their interest in Tom Brady prior to the six-time Super Bowl champion signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency this offseason.
Both general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have confirmed the Niners had internal discussions about whether they should pursue Brady before ultimately deciding to stay the course with Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback.
The decision makes sense, for a number of reasons, which is why Nick Wright can’t figure out the science behind San Francisco’s top decision-makers being so candid about considering Brady.
“This is so dumb,” Wright said Thursday on FS1’s “First Things First.” “I can’t believe that Lynch and Shanahan are just admitting to the world, ‘Yeah, we had to seriously consider getting rid of our 28-year-old for a 43-year-old because who wouldn’t?’ Well, I’ll tell you who wouldn’t: The Chiefs wouldn’t. The Seahawks wouldn’t. The Texans wouldn’t. The Packers wouldn’t — well, the Packers who knows at this point. The Saints wouldn’t. You want me to keep going? Philly didn’t. Dallas didn’t. The Titans could’ve, and they chose Ryan Tannehill over him.
“You know who does think about bringing in Tom Brady? Teams that don’t like their quarterback. Because he’s 43 years old, coming off the worst year of his career. And if you’re going to have these discussions privately, so be it. To admit them publicly is lunacy.”

"I don't understand why the 49ers are publicly giving these flowers to Tom Brady at the expense of Jimmy G." — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/dAyubpVsg0
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) April 30, 2020

The idea of Brady joining the 49ers always seemed farfetched, although it sure was a fascinating hypothetical, especially if it paved the way for Garoppolo to rejoin the Patriots.
Yet instead of sweeping the speculation under the rug, both Lynch and Shanahan have publicly acknowledged their due diligence, inherently raising questions about how the organization views Garoppolo moving forward.
“The only possible explanation is they want Jimmy G to be more motivated or know he’s on the clock,” Wright said. “He should be at peak motivation, anyway, since he had the game-winning Super Bowl pass in his hand and he overthrew it by seven yards. But also, he knows he needs to upgrade a level or two to get them to where they want to be. I don’t understand at all why they are publicly giving these flowers to Tom Brady at the expense of their quarterback. It’s just baffling to me.”
In any event, the 49ers will look to bounce back from losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, while the consistently mediocre Bucs will look to establish themselves as legitimate championship contenders after landing both Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
As for the Patriots, well, it appears they’ll hand the keys to second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham barring an unforeseen development — like signing Andy Dalton or Cam Newton?

NFL Rumors: Cheifs Looking To Lock Up Patrick Mahomes During Offseason

The Kansas City Chiefs are looking to lock up their Super Bowl MVP for a while.
According to a report by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the team at least will have him through next year, but still are hoping to sign him to a lengthier deal this offseason.
Obviously.
“The Chiefs have exercised the fifth-year option for star QB Patrick Mahomes, source said,” Rapoport on Thursday tweeted.
“Now under contract through 2021 … and the team hopes for much longer. The biggest no-brainer imaginable.”

The #Chiefs have exercised the fifth-year option for star QB Patrick Mahomes, source said. Now under contract through 2021… and the team hopes for much longer. The biggest no-brainer imaginable.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 30, 2020

With the deadline on Mahomes’ extension soon approaching, this was just a formality. The question is when they will pay him. And, how much.
Last week, Chiefs general manager said the team was looking to get a deal done with the Pro Bowler before training camp begins, per NFL Network’s James Palmer.
Rapoport previously reported that what we’ve already seen Mahomes do in the league could earn the 24-year-old up to $40 million per season.
Regardless, with the Chiefs retaining much of its starting lineup from last year including this invaluable piece, they’re going to be a problem in the NFL.
NFL Coaches, Execs Believe Packers Sent Aaron Rodgers This Harsh Message

NHL Player Gaming Challenge Live Stream: Watch ‘NHL 20’ Competition Online

Are you ready for some (virtual) hockey?
The NHL Player Gaming Challenge — a four-week “NHL 20” competition — kicks off Thursday with two Week 1 matchups and continues Saturday with one additional matchup. All 31 NHL teams have at least one player representing them in the virtual competition; Seattle’s future franchise is represented by Seahawks tight end Luke Wilson.
Electronic Arts, the company response for “NHL 20,” and the NHL Foundation are donating a combined $100,000 to support COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts.
Here’s the full Week 1 schedule:
Game 1: Noah Hanifin and Matthew Tkachuk (CGY) vs. Brady Tkachuk (OTT) — Thursday at 5 p.m. ET
Game 2: Stephen Johns and Jamie Oleksiak (DAL) vs. Zach Aston-Reese & Bryan Rust (PIT) — Thursday at 5 p.m. ET
Game 3: Filip Forsberg (NSH) vs. J.T. Compher (COL) — Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.
And here’s every participant:

Take a peek at all the players participating in the NHL Player Gaming Challenge, presented by @Honda! #HockeyAtHome
New streams every Thursday at 5p ET & Saturday at 3p ET. pic.twitter.com/2SfI7xxUEd
— NHL (@NHL) April 29, 2020

NBC Sports Network will air each matchup on TV. Fans have a variety of options to live stream the games, but the NHL’s official Twitch account is the easiest.
When there aren’t Player Gaming Challenge matchups taking place, the NHL Twitch page regularly features NHL players playing games like “Call of Duty” in their living rooms. That’s pretty cool, if you ask us.
Here’s how to watch Week 1 of the NHL Player Gaming Challenge Online:
When: Thursday, April 30 at 5 p.m. ET and Saturday, May 2 at 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: Twitch l NBC Sports
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Should Patriots Take Flyer On Andy Dalton? Adam Pellerin Gives His Take

After nine years in Cincinnati, Andy Dalton is a free man.
The former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback was released by the squad Thursday as the team prepare’s to begin a new era with the 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick Joe Burrow under center.
Over nine seasons in the orange and white, the Red Rifle racked up 31,594 passing yards, to go along with 204 touchdowns and 118 interceptions en route to a 70-61-2 record.
With Tom Brady seeing greener pastures in Tampa Bay, the New England Patriots are left with 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and perennial backup QB Brian Hoyer on the roster.
With Dalton available all of a sudden, should New England jump at the opportunity to grab him for a cheap price? NESN anchor and reporter Adam Pellerin gives his take in the latest edition of “Up & Adam.”
Check out the new segment above!

LeBron James Emphatically Responds To Rumors Of Canceling NBA Season

What the grapevine tells LeBron James differs from a message the rumor mill has churned out.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar refuted reports about an increasing wish to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season. James used Twitter on Thursday to take umbrage at a rumor, which claims NBA executives and agents of players want to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season, and express his desire to resume the campaign.
“Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season???” James wrote. “That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything. ”

Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season??? That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 30, 2020

The Lakers were leading the Western Conference standings with a 49-14 record when the NBA suspended play March 11 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
While the NBA is considering a number of options for resuming play in the coming weeks or months, none seem to have emerged as a front-running scenario.
James’ emphatic response to the rumor undoubtedly will gain attention and might influence power-brokers’ decision-making. That alone won’t bring back the NBA, but the chances of it happening might have inched upward following his tweet.
More: How Michael Jordan Changed Kemba Walker’s Life As NBA Player

Red Sox Offer Fans Chance To Create Personalized Video Board Messages

The Boston Red Sox have come up with a fun, new way to raise money for charity.
The team announced Thursday it’s offering fans a chance to create their own personalized message on Fenway Park’s John Hancock center field video board.
Funds raised will benefit the Red Sox Foundation, the team’s public charity that has been maintaining operations and programming during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure consistent and necessary support and resources to hundreds of other non-profits and youth throughout New England.
“We typically offer fans the chance to have a message on our New Balance right-field video board during games as a fundraising tool for the Red Sox Foundation,” Senior Vice President of Fan Services and Entertainment Sarah McKenna said in a press release. “With the baseball season on hold and our front office working from home, we figured out a way to operate the main centerfield video board using remote technology. We’re now able to safely provide fans with a way to mark a special occasion, like Mother’s Day or an upcoming graduation, during this unique period of social distancing.”
Fans can visit redsoxfoundation.org/scoreboard to place an order and will receive a digital photo of their message within seven to 10 days.
For a tax-deductible donation of $50, fans will receive an image of their personalized text message displayed on the video board. For $100, fans will receive messaging that also includes an image of their choice displayed on the board.
More Fenway Park: Red Sox Offering Refunds, Credits, Exchanges For Games In April, May

NFL Coaches, Execs Believe Packers Sent Aaron Rodgers This Harsh Message

Was the Green Bay Packers’ drafting of Utah State quarterback Jordan Love all about a power play?
Seems like an irresponsible way to run a franchise. Nevertheless, some around the NFL reportedly believe the Packers’ polarizing decision in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft was all about sending a harsh message to their franchise quarterback.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman likened the move to when the Denver Broncos used a first-round pick to draft quarterback Tommy Maddox in 1992, when John Elway was 31 years old.
From his column published Wednesday:
An AFC coach this week told B/R that the Broncos situation wasn’t so dissimilar to the Packers’ choice to draft Love and then not pick a single wide receiver in the entire draft.
“The Packers couldn’t have sent a clearer message to Aaron,” the coach said.
“We run this, not you.”
Now, this is one coach’s opinion, and it’s entirely possible the Packers just did what they believed was right for the organization. Nothing more, nothing less.
However, the coach is not alone in his sentiment, as has been expressed to me privately from multiple team executives and coaches across the league.
Make of that what you will.
At the end of the day, it’s possible the Packers simply were preparing for the possibility that Rodgers doesn’t age as well as Tom Brady. However, if there was a nefarious ulterior motive, then the organization deserves legitimate criticism.
More NFL: Twitter Convinced Andy Dalton Will Go To Patriots After Bengals Release