The Washington NFL team is shedding the "Redskins" name effective immediately. The change comes less than two weeks after owner Dan Snyder launched an organizational review amid pressure from sponsors to make a change. FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston.
A new name for one of football's oldest franchises must still be selected and it's unclear how soon that will happen. Native American experts and advocates have long protested the name they call a "dictionary-defined racial slur." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has fielded questions on the topic for years, said he supported the review.
Meantime, the Atlanta Braves say they have no plans to follow Washington's lead and change their team name. The tomahawk chop chant used by Braves fans, however, is under review.
In other NFL news:
With training camps set to start at the end of the month, the league believes it is one step closer to addressing player safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. It has come up with face shields for the players' helmets. The face shield was designed by Oakley, which already provides visors for the players. The union's medical director had suggested that players wear face masks to help control the spread of the virus, but players shot down that idea. The face shield has received a better response than the mask suggestion.
The Detroit Lions have signed first-round pick Jeff Okudah. The Lions also announced Monday that they signed second-round selection D'Andre Swift along with fifth-round picks Quintez Cephus and Jason Huntley. Detroit drafted Okudah, a former Ohio State standout, with third overall pick and made him the highest-drafted cornerback since Shawn Springs was selected from the same school by Seattle in 1997. The Lions are hoping he becomes a game-changing talent to help a defense that ranked No. 31 in the league last season.
Major league teams are working out in mostly empty ballparks, mindful the long-awaited start to the season is barely a week away and fans won't be coming. So teams are trying as best they can to ramp up the competitiveness of summer camps conducted in isolation. Several teams announced upcoming exhibition games, including Houston at Kansas City, Kansas City at St. Louis, and Cleveland against Pittsburgh. The Milwaukee Brewers will play intrasquad games for several nights starting Tuesday and are dubbing them the Blue and Gold World Series, a nod to manager Craig Counsell's alma mater, Notre Dame.
In other MLB news:
Charlie Blackmon has returned to the Colorado Rockies after recovering from the coronavirus. The All-Star outfielder was the first major league player known to have contracted COVID-19. Blackmon says he's trying to regain his physical fitness and hopes to be ready for the start of the pandemic-delayed season July 24. Blackmon says he was fortunate not to get too sick from the virus. He says he was only ill for 36 hours and it wasn't as bad as the flu he came down with a couple of years ago.
Hard-throwing St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks has opted out of playing this season, citing pre-existing health concerns. The 23-year-old Hicks was diagnosed in high school as having Type 1 diabetes. Hicks, who routinely throws over 100 mph, is recovering from Tommy John surgery on June 26, 2019. The right-hander's availability for this season was uncertain. Hicks had been taking part in workouts at Busch Stadium, leading up to the Cardinals' opener on July 24 at home against Pittsburgh.
The NHL says 43 players tested positive for the coronavirus from June 8 through the end of the league's optional workouts. That number announced Monday includes 30 who tested positive at team facilities and 13 the league is aware of who tested positive outside the league's protocols for its Phase 2. The NHL opened Phase 3 Monday with the start of training camps for the 24-team playoffs, scheduled to open in two hub Canadian cities — Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta — on Aug. 1. Players had until Monday evening to elect to opt out of competition without penalty. All players who tested positive self-isolated. The NHL is not sharing names of the players who test positive or the teams involved.
Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets says he has tested positive for coronavirus, and that he plans to eventually join his team at the restart of the NBA season. Westbrook made the revelation Monday on social media. As recently as Sunday, the Rockets believed that Westbrook and James Harden — neither of whom traveled with the team to Walt Disney World near Orlando last week — would be with the team in the next few days. In Westbrook's case, that now seems most unlikely.
Elena Delle Donne's request to be medically excused from the WNBA season has been denied, according to the league's reigning MVP. The Washington Mystics star said in a statement Monday that the independent panel of doctors the league and union agreed upon to decide whether players should be medically excused deemed her not to be "high risk, and should be permitted to play in the bubble." Had Delle Donne been medically excused, she would have earned her entire salary for the season. Now, if she chooses not to play, the defending WNBA champion Mystics wouldn't have to pay her. Delle Donne has battled Lyme disease since 2008. The disease is not included on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of underlying conditions that could put someone at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Delle Donne's new teammate Tina Charles also was waiting for a decision from the medical panel. If both players miss the season, the Mystics would be down to 10 players on the roster.
Union College in Schenectady says it will not have intercollegiate sports this fall due to COVID-19. The private college says the decision comes after careful consideration. Union says plans for the winter and spring athletic seasons will be announced by September 15. The college will hold some in-person classes this fall.
In other college sports news:
The Patriot League has joined the Ivy League and called off fall sports. The league's 10 Division I schools will not compete this fall in football, soccer and women's volleyball.
Southeastern Conference athletic directors met in person Monday at league headquarters in Alabama to discuss the prospects for a football season with COVID-19 cases spiking throughout much of the South. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement afterward that it's "clear that current circumstances related to COVID-19 must improve." The Big Ten and Pac-12 have said they would only play conference schedules this fall in football and other sports. Sankey said SEC leaders "believe that late July will provide the best clarity for making the important decisions ahead of us." The group met in the large Kramer-Moore Conference room to allow for social distancing. Other groups and individuals participated by videoconference. Among topics discussed were possible scheduling options for holding athletic competition this fall, along with game management at events.
Ken Church, who rode over 2,000 winners during a 20-year career that included four mounts in the Kentucky Derby, has died at age 90. Church was diagnosed with pneumonia a week ago at the retirement facility where he lived in Reno, Nevada, and was taken to a hospital. His daughter, Debbie Anderson, says he contracted COVID-19 there and died. Church's best finish in the Kentucky Derby was fifth place in 1950 aboard Oil Capitol. The Canadian-born jockey won five straight races in one day at Chicago's old Washington Park on June 10, 1952.
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