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Arizona Cardinals DE J.J. Watt activated from IR ahead of Monday night game vs. Los Angeles Rams

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- The Arizona Cardinals activated defensive lineman J.J. Watt off injured reserve on Monday afternoon, just hours before playing the Los Angeles Rams in the last NFC wild-card game of the weekend. It was the next formal step for Watt to play Monday night, completing another fast recovery from a major injury. Watt suffered a shoulder injury on Oct. 24, and after having surgery on Nov. 3 was told he'd be out four to six months. If he plays Monday night, only 13 weeks would have passed since the injury. Watt's last step to taking the field Monday will come 90 minutes before the game when the inactives are announced. If he's active, it's likely he'll play. Watt has teased the idea that he would return Monday night through various social media posts. On Friday, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph told reporters: "Don't be surprised if he's ready to go." Watt's return would be welcomed by the Cardinals. They were 7-0 with him but 4-6 without...
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Alabama Crimson Tide LB Christian Harris says he's entering NFL draft

Alabama linebacker Christian Harris, a semifinalist for the Butkus and Lombardi awards, announced Monday that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. lists Harris as the third-best inside linebacker in the draft. Harris had 79 tackles this season, 12.5 of which were for a loss. He also had 5.5 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. While Harris won't return, fellow inside linebacker and Alabama's leader in tackles, Henry To'oTo'o, said last week that he would come back for his senior season. Safety Jordan Battle will also return. Cornerback Jaylin Armour-Davis, offensive tackle Evan Neal, defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis, running back Brian Robinson Jr. and receivers Jameson Williams, John Metchie III and Slade Bolden all previously announced that they would be turning pro. Alabama has lost several players to the transfer portal as well, including reserve linebacker ...
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Onetime Clemson football recruit QB Hunter Johnson transfers back to Tigers after career at Northwestern

Dabo Swinney has finally dipped into the transfer portal to bolster his roster, and he did it by bringing back a former Clemson football player. Quarterback Hunter Johnson, a onetime top recruit, will return to Clemson after spending the past four seasons at Northwestern. The move was first reported by 247 Sports. The move adds needed depth to Clemson's QB room a year after D.J. Uiagalelei struggled and the team lost three games, in addition to failing to take home the ACC championship for the first time since 2014. Clemson also signed four-star quarterback Cade Klubnik, who figures to compete for reps this spring. Swinney has long avoided adding transfers and was vocal in his frustrations this season at being asked repeatedly why he didn't use the portal to add depth to a team that lacked experience in several key areas, particularly on offense. "I wouldn't do anything differently," Swinney said in October 2021. "I'm not opposed to the transfer...
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Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash on Kevin Durant injury: 'We can't feel sorry for ourselves'

CLEVELAND -- As the Brooklyn Nets prepare for life without Kevin Durant for at least the next month, coach Steve Nash wants them to do so with as positive an outlook as possible. Durant sprained the MCL in his left knee during Saturday's win over the New Orleans Pelicans. While Nash said Monday that the Nets don't have an exact timeline for when Durant will return, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Sunday that the franchise expects a four- to six-week rehabilitation. No matter how long Durant is out, Nash is hopeful his team can stay afloat until the star forward returns. The Nets' big three of Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have played just two games together this season because of a combination of injuries, COVID-19 protocols, and the fact that Irving is not vaccinated and therefore not allowed to play in home games because of the New York City vaccination mandate. "If they get a bunch of games together, great," Nash...
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Bruce Arians: Likely to come down to wire whether Tampa Bay Buccaneers RT Tristan Wirfs can play Sunday

TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs, who suffered a right ankle sprain in Sunday's wild-card game against the Philadelphia Eagles, is in a walking boot this week, coach Bruce Arians said Monday. Arians added that "there's a chance" he can play this week in the divisional round, but it will likely come down to the wire. Wirfs suffered the injury on the opening series when he got rolled up on blocking for running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn. Wirfs played one more snap, and as he dropped back to pass block, his foot shot up in pain. The 2020 13th-overall pick had not missed a single snap in the regular or postseason over the past two years. He attempted to return late in the second quarter, playing three snaps before it was determined that he could not finish. "As tough as he is, I think there's a chance," Arians said. "He and [center] Ryan [Jensen] will probably go all the way till Friday before we know anything true, so we'll just...
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January 17

Star pass-rusher Nolan Smith returning to Georgia Bulldogs for senior season

Georgia's top-ranked defense won't look the same next season, but it will feature the return of gifted pass-rusher Nolan Smith, who announced Monday that he plans to come back for his senior season. The former No. 2-ranked player in the Class of 2019, Smith had 55 tackles, 3.5 sacks and an interception this past season. Smith's sack of quarterback Bryce Young was the final play of Georgia's win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship earlier this month. Fresh off the program's first national title in 41 years, the Bulldogs have lost several key players from their defense, which ranked first in points per game (10.2), as cornerback Derion Kendrick, safety Lewis Cine, linebacker Nakobe Dean and defensive lineman Travon Walker have declared for the NFL draft. Georgia defensive back Latavious Brini, who started 11 games for the Bulldogs this season, entered the transfer portal on Monday as a graduate....
January 17
January 17

Beijing 2022 Olympics: Tickets won't be sold to public due to COVID-19

Opening ceremonies is set for Friday, Feb. 4.
January 17
The Chinese national flag flies behind the logo of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Jan. 14, 2022.
January 17

Novak Djokovic could be barred from French Open as France passes new vaccine law

Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in the French Open as things stand now after the Sports Ministry said Monday there would be no exemption from France's new vaccine law. World No. 1 Djokovic arrived in his native Serbia on Monday after being  deported from Australia on Sunday because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused the Australian government of "harassing'' the top-ranked tennis star, who lost a legal battle to overturn the decision to revoke his visa. Vucic urged Djokovic to return where he would be welcomed. But even as he flew home, doubts arose over whether Djokovic would be allowed to play at Roland Garros.  France's vaccine pass law, approved by parliament on Sunday, will require people to have a certificate of vaccination to enter public places such as sports venues, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and long-distance trains. "The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is...
January 17
January 17

Novak Djokovic could be barred from French Open as France pass new vaccine law

Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in the French Open as things stand now after the Sports Ministry said on Monday there would be no exemption from France's new vaccine pass law. World No. 1 Djokovic, who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, was deported from Australia on Sunday before the first Grand Slam tournament of the year after losing a court case to have the cancellation of his visa overturned. France's vaccine pass law, approved by parliament on Sunday, will require people to have a certificate of vaccination to enter public places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas and long-distance trains. "The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass," the ministry said. "This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this until further notice. "Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it's in May. The situation may...
January 17
January 17

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggests Novak Djokovic could return to Australian Open next year 'in the right circumstances'

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to compete at next year's Australian Open despite the tennis superstar facing an automatic three-year ban from entering the country. The world No. 1 player left Australia late on Sunday after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa, capping days of drama over the country's COVID-19 entry rules and his unvaccinated status. Under immigration law, Djokovic cannot be granted another visa for three years, unless Australia's immigration minister accepts there are compelling or compassionate reasons. "I'm not going to precondition any of that or say anything that would not enable the minister to make the various calls he has to make," Morrison told 2GB radio on Monday as Djokovic was en route to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. "It does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for [a person] to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered...
January 17
January 17

Naomi Osaka, 'just happy to be here,' posts first-round victory at Australian Open; Coco Gauff upset by Wang Qiang

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Defending champion Naomi Osaka posted a relatively trouble-free 6-3, 6-3 victory on Monday over Camila Osorio in the first round of the Australian Open. Osaka, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion, won at Rod Laver Arena and did so by taking the first five games of the match, before Osorio finally scratched one out herself. Osaka will take on Madison Brengle -- the American player beat Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-1, 0-6, 5-0, ret. -- in the second round as she looks to build some momentum for what could be a lengthy tournament run. The former No. 1 player in the world, Osaka slid down the rankings last year after taking time off following her withdrawal at the French Open. She is seeded 13th at the Australian Open, where she won in 2019 and 2021. "It always feels special to come back here," she said after Sunday's victory. The early success seems promising for Osaka, as Osorio is ranked 50th in the world but was...
January 17
January 17

Australian PM Scott Morrison suggests Novak Djokovic could return to Australian Open next year 'in the right circumstances'

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to compete at next year's Australian Open despite the tennis superstar facing an automatic three-year ban from entering the country. The world No. 1 player left Australia late on Sunday after the Federal Court upheld a government decision to cancel his visa, capping days of drama over the country's COVID-19 entry rules and his unvaccinated status. Under immigration law, Djokovic cannot be granted another visa for three years unless Australia's immigration minister accepts there are compelling or compassionate reasons. "I'm not going to precondition any of that or say anything that would not enable the minister to make the various calls he has to make," Morrison told 2GB radio on Monday as Djokovic was en route to Dubai. "It does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for [a person] to return in the right circumstances, and that will be considered at the time." The...
January 17
January 17

Rafael Nadal opens quest for 21st Grand Slam with first-round win at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia --  Rafael Nadal has renewed his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam singles title with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over American Marcos Giron at the Australian Open on Monday. "Growing up, I've looked up to him,'' said Giron, a 28-year-old from the U.S. "He's one the absolute legends of the game.'' Nadal is tied with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer with 20 major singles titles each, the most in the history of men's tennis. Nadal won the Australian Open in 2009 and is the only past champion in the men's bracket after Djokovic's late withdrawal Sunday because he was forced to fly out of the country when a court upheld the cancellation of his visa. Federer is skipping the tournament to continue recovering from right knee surgery. Monday was Nadal's first appearance at a major since he lost to Djokovic in the semifinals of the French Open. He missed Wimbledon because of fatigue, skipped the US Open because of a painful left foot and, after...
January 17
January 17

QB Ben Roethlisberger reflects on Pittsburgh Steelers legacy, looks forward to next chapter after season ends in wild-card loss to Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. --  Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn't use the word retirement following Pittsburgh's season-ending 42-21 playoff loss to the  Kansas City Chiefs but called his 18-year career with the franchise "an honor'' and said he is "looking forward" to the next chapter.  Roethlisberger and the Steelers did not get to extend their season as they had hoped in Sunday night's AFC wild-card showdown at Arrowhead Stadium, one in which he finished 29-of-44 passing for 215 yards and two second-half touchdowns after the game had long been decided. Afterward, most involved acted, and spoke, as if they had seen Roethlisberger play for the final time for the only team whose uniform he has worn in his NFL career. "Man, he was [No.] 7. It's been an honor and a pleasure, man,'' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. Describing his emotions coming out of the game and walking off the field, Roethlisberger said, "Yeah it's tough, but I'm proud to play...
January 17
January 16

San Francisco 49ers pull off road upset at Dallas Cowboys in 'roller coaster' matchup between old rivals

ARLINGTON, Texas -- On a sleepless Thursday night before Sunday's showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan did the only thing that allows him to relax: He watched more football. Shanahan didn't turn on any ordinary game when he awoke this time. Instead, he flipped on coach's footage of the 1995 NFC Championship Game, which just so happened to be the last time these two historic rivals met in the postseason. Motivated by what he saw, Shanahan showed the clips to his players on Friday, hoping to ignite some inspiration and help his young team see just how much it meant to play the Cowboys on such a grand stage. Apparently, it worked. In a finish befitting the rivalry, the 49ers and Cowboys battled to the bitter end of their nostalgic NFC wild-card meeting. But the Niners -- buoyed by a dominant defense, a strong rushing attack and myriad Cowboys mistakes -- emerged with a 23-17 victory that ensured Shanahan sweet dreams for...
January 16
January 16

Dallas Cowboys' Mike McCarthy defends QB draw play: 'Shouldn't have had problem getting ball spotted'

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A once promising season for the Dallas Cowboys ended in chaotic fashion Sunday after a 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC wild-card game at AT&T Stadium. To secure the win, the 49ers had to withstand a final-second comeback that saw the Cowboys reach the San Francisco 41-yard line with 14 seconds to play and at least seemingly in position to throw a final pass to the end zone to conjure up memories of Roger Staubach's Hail Mary to Drew Pearson in the 1975 playoffs. It never happened. With 14 seconds left and no timeouts, Prescott ran 17 yards on a quarterback draw, but the ball was not spotted quickly enough for Dallas to spike it before time expired.   Prescott thought he should have had a chance for a final throw to the end zone. Coach Mike McCarthy thought there would be a review from New York. Both defended the final playcall despite the risk of having the game end the way it did. According to referee Alex Kemp, there...
January 16
January 16

San Francisco 49ers pull off road upset at Dallas Cowboys in 'rollercoaster' matchup between old rivals

ARLINGTON, Texas -- On a sleepless Thursday night before Sunday's showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan did the only thing that allows him to relax: He watched more football. Shanahan didn't turn on any ordinary game when he awoke this time. Instead, he flipped on coach's footage of the 1995 NFC Championship Game, which just so happened to be the last time these two historic rivals met in the postseason. Motivated by what he saw, Shanahan showed the clips to his team on Friday, hoping to ignite some inspiration and help his young team see just how much it meant to play the Cowboys on such a grand stage. Apparently, it worked. In a finish befitting the rivalry, the 49ers and Cowboys battled to the bitter end of their nostalgic NFC wild-card meeting, but the 49ers -- buoyed by a dominant defense, strong rushing attack and myriad Cowboys mistakes -- emerged with a 23-17 victory that ensured Shanahan sweet dreams for at least...
January 16
January 16

San Francisco 49ers pull off stunner on road, hand mistake-prone Dallas Cowboys early playoff exit

ARLINGTON, Texas -- On a sleepless Thursday night before Sunday's showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan did the only thing that allows him to relax: He watched more football. Shanahan didn't turn on any ordinary game when he awoke this time. Instead, he flipped on coach's footage of the 1995 NFC Championship Game, which just so happened to be the last time these two historic rivals met in the postseason. Motivated by what he saw, Shanahan showed the clips to his team on Friday, hoping to ignite some inspiration and help his young team see just how much it meant to play the Cowboys on such a grand stage. Apparently, it worked. In a finish befitting the rivalry, the 49ers and Cowboys battled to the bitter end of their nostalgic NFC wild-card meeting, but the 49ers -- buoyed by a dominant defense, strong rushing attack and myriad Cowboys mistakes -- emerged with a 23-17 victory that ensured Shanahan sweet dreams for at least...
January 16
January 16

Underdog San Francisco 49ers pull off stunner on road, hand mistake-prone Dallas Cowboys early playoff exit

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- As they have so often -- and in a finish befitting their historic rivalry -- the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys battled to the bitter end of Sunday's nostalgic NFC wild-card meeting. Ultimately, a strong Niners defensive effort combined with myriad Dallas mistakes allowed San Francisco to emerge with a 23-17 victory in the first postseason meeting between the teams since 1995, and the first-ever matchup between two franchises with at least five Super Bowl victories apiece. In the process, the 49ers became the first underdog and road team to win in this postseason. It's a victory that comes 40 years and a week after "The Catch" in the 1981 NFC Championship Game, and will hold special meaning for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, whose father, Mike, was the Niners' offensive coordinator for some of the famous meetings between these teams in the 1990s. The Niners' win moves them to 3-5 all time against Dallas in the playoffs and sets up an...
January 16
January 16

Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni endorses Jalen Hurts after playoff loss, confident quarterback 'grew throughout the year'

TAMPA, Fla. -- Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni gave quarterback Jalen Hurts a strong endorsement following Sunday's 31-15 playoff loss to the  Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as attention turns to whether the team will address his position this offseason. "He didn't play his best game, as we all know. But you don't take the body of work that he had, 15 weeks, and ... put everything on this game," Sirianni said of Hurts, who went 23-of-43 for 258 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the NFC wild-card loss to Tampa Bay. "I know we're all judged on the last game that we played, I fully get that, but I felt like Jalen grew throughout the year. And he got better as a passer, he got better reading the defense, getting the ball to the right place. He developed so much in his ability to extend plays, not only making plays with his feet but also making plays downfield on the scramble. "I feel really good with what we have in place right here at the...
January 16
January 16

Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green (calf) out at least 2 more weeks

Golden State Warriors star forward Draymond Green will be out at least two more weeks after evaluations indicated that the soreness in his left calf is tied to "the involvement of a disc in his lower back," the team announced prior to Sunday's 119-99 loss to the  Timberwolves. Green left last Sunday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers early because of a sore left calf. He was on the court for the opening tip to honor Klay Thompson's return but exited moments after and has missed the past three games.  The Warriors said Green underwent an MRI the night of that game and has been evaluated by several specialists throughout the week. The Warriors said Green will continue to receive physical therapy in the coming days before being reevaluated in two weeks "The main thing is to be really safe and cautious," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said before Sunday's game. "It's a long season. That's my sense, that we're very cautious. We'll just see where it goes from...
January 16
January 16

Tight end Jahleel Billingsley transferring from Alabama Crimson Tide to Texas Longhorns

Former Alabama tight end Jahleel Billingsley announced on Sunday that he's heading to Texas. The move will reunite him with Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian, who was Alabama's offensive coordinator in 2020 when Billingsley emerged as a playmaker with three touchdowns as a sophomore. Billingsley's former position coach, Jeff Banks, is also an assistant at Texas. A dynamic athlete, Billingsley was named to the preseason All-SEC team in August but struggled to stay in Alabama coach Nick Saban's good graces and wound up starting just one game this past season. Billingsley, who is from Chicago, finished with 17 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns in 15 appearances. Texas is scheduled to host Alabama on Sept. 10 in Austin. Billingsley is one of many Alabama players who have entered the NCAA transfer portal since the end of the season. Backup quarterback Paul Tyson announced that he will transfer to Arizona State, and linebacker ...
January 16
January 16

Coach Zac Taylor delivers game ball from 'first of many playoff games we win' to frenzied Cincinnati Bengals fans at bar

CINCINNATI -- Bengals coach Zac Taylor wanted to give a game ball to the city of Cincinnati after the franchise won its first playoff game in 31 years. Taylor made sure he delivered that honor personally. On his way home from Saturday's 26-19 win over the Las Vegas Raiders, the third-year coach popped into a local bar and delivered a white and brown honorary football with the team's logo as a symbol of thanks for the city's support. "It was great," Taylor said the day after Cincinnati's historic win. "It was honestly kind of how you picture it when you want it to happen." Taylor said he had thought of the idea from the time he was hired as the team's head coach in 2019. He said that during his work commute to and from Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati, he often thought about the type of gesture he wanted to make after the team's first playoff win since January 1991. The one bar he drives past in particular, Mt. Lookout Tavern, is often populated with...
January 16
January 16

Kirk Ferentz disbands diversity group, says decision unrelated to leader's suggestion to move on from Iowa coach

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz has disbanded an alumni advisory committee that was created after a 2020 investigation found evidence of racial bias against Black players in his program and bullying behavior by some of his assistants. The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, reported that Ferentz's decision to end the committee came shortly after its leader, former offensive lineman David Porter, suggested it was time for Iowa to cut ties with its coach. But Ferentz said he had decided to overhaul the committee last fall before Porter made his comment to other committee members in a text message. "I have come to a decision that this is an appropriate time to dissolve our committee as it stands currently," Ferentz wrote in an email to the 10-member committee Tuesday. "As we start a new calendar year and prepare to move forward with our preparation for the 2022 season, I am giving thought to how we restructure the committee/board in a way that best serves our program moving...
January 16
January 16

Philadelphia Eagles DE Josh Sweat misses playoff loss after hospital stay

TAMPA, Fla. -- Philadelphia Eagles starting defensive end Josh Sweat did not play in Sunday's 31-15 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after undergoing a medical procedure to address what the team described as a "life-threatening situation." "On Tuesday night, Josh Sweat was admitted to the hospital. He underwent an emergency procedure due to the severity of the matter. The doctors addressed a life-threatening situation," the Eagles said in a statement. "In the following days, Josh and our medical team did everything possible to help him return to play. He improved every day but it was determined by the doctors today that he was not quite ready. The fact that Josh came so close to playing is a credit to his toughness and our medical staff." Sweat had been listed on the injury report with an illness this week. On Friday, coach Nick Sirianni said Sweat had been dealing with abdominal pain earlier in the week but had since returned to the facility and was...
January 16
January 16

Source: Pete Carroll's job security not a topic in routine meeting with Seattle Seahawks GM, owner

Pete Carroll's job security as Seattle Seahawks head coach was not discussed during a routine end-of-season meeting Thursday with team chair Jody Allen and general manager John Schneider, a source told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. The meeting reviewed the Seahawks' 2021 season -- their first losing campaign since 2011 -- and looked ahead to 2022, according to the source, who told Mortensen that all systems are go with Carroll, Schneider and quarterback Russell Wilson moving forward. Carroll is under contract through the 2025 season and Schneider through the 2027 draft after both signed extensions within the past year and a half. Both report to Allen, who has been the team's de facto owner since her brother Paul Allen died in 2018. Carroll, 70, expressed his expectation at the end of the season that he would be back in 2022, answering "no" when asked whether there's any question in his mind about his future with the team. That was after the Seahawks beat the ...
January 16
January 16

Shakur Stevenson, Oscar Valdez working to finalize title unification fight, sources say

Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez are in the process of finalizing a deal for a 130-pound title unification fight on April 30 in Las Vegas, sources told ESPN on Sunday. Sources said no financial agreement has been reached for the proposed ESPN main event. After Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) scored a brutal knockout of Miguel Berchelt in February to claim a junior lightweight title, Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) publicly lobbied for the title opportunity. Instead, Stevenson settled for a shot at Jamel Herring, another 130-pound titleholder promoted by Top Rank. Stevenson, 24, seized his chance with the best performance of his career, a 10th-round TKO of Herring in October. Long dogged by criticism that he doesn't fight aggressively, the Newark, New Jersey, native applied nonstop pressure during the one-sided beating. Now, Stevenson is on the verge of landing the fight he wanted all along but with two belts on the line. While the Olympic silver medalist enters the potential fight with momentum...
January 16
January 16

Sources: Brooklyn Nets expect Kevin Durant to miss 4-6 weeks with sprained MCL

After the Brooklyn Nets diagnosed All-NBA forward Kevin Durant with a sprained MCL of his left knee, the franchise expects a four- to six-week rehabilitation before his return, sources told ESPN. Durant underwent imaging on Sunday morning after Saturday night's injury, and a realistic benchmark for Durant could be a return following the All-Star break (Feb. 18-23), sources said. Nevertheless, the organization will err on the side of caution when it comes to Durant's return. There was relief around the Nets that the injury wasn't more serious, and hopefulness that he will make a full return to health in plenty of time for the playoffs. Durant left Saturday night's game after teammate Bruce Brown fell into his knee on a play in the second quarter. Brooklyn plays 11 of its next 14 games on the road, and thus it expects to have a Kyrie Irving- James Harden backcourt together for those games. Irving is playing only road games because of his...
January 16
January 16

Philadelphia Eagles DE Josh Sweat out vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers after hospital stay

TAMPA, Fla. -- Philadelphia Eagles starting defensive end Josh Sweat will miss Sunday's playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after undergoing a medical procedure to address what the team described as a "life-threatening situation." "On Tuesday night, Josh Sweat was admitted to the hospital. He underwent an emergency procedure due to the severity of the matter. The doctors addressed a life-threatening situation," the Eagles said in a statement. "In the following days, Josh and our medical team did everything possible to help him return to play. He improved every day but it was determined by the doctors today that he was not quite ready. The fact that Josh came so close to playing is a credit to his toughness and our medical staff." Sweat had been listed on the injury report with an illness this week. On Friday, coach Nick Sirianni said Sweat had been dealing with abdominal pain earlier in the week but had since returned to the facility and was...
January 16
January 16

Brooklyn Nets say Kevin Durant diagnosed with sprained MCL

After having an MRI,  Kevin Durant has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL in his left knee, the Brooklyn Nets announced Sunday morning. The Nets did not disclose an estimated timetable for their star forward's return, only saying he "is expected to return to full strength following a period of rehabilitation" and that updates would be "provided as appropriate." A source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, however, that there is optimism within the Nets that it will be a four-to-six-week rehab and return for Durant. The Nets come out of the All-Star break on Feb. 24 and that's a realistic benchmark for a Durant return. Durant suffered the injury in the second quarter of the Nets' 120-105 victory over the Pelicans on Saturday as Pelicans guard Herb Jones drove to the basket and collided with Nets guard Bruce Brown, who fell backward into Durant, who was standing behind the play. The injury overshadows what had been a strong return for the former...
January 16
January 16

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick plans to continue coaching as he approaches 70

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Bill Belichick, who turns 70 in April, said he still wants to coach in 2022 and will begin the process of moving forward after his New England Patriots team was rocked by the Buffalo Bills  47-17 in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs Saturday night. Belichick, the NFL's longest-tenured head coach, notably once said he didn't plan to coach into his 70s like former Bills coach Marv Levy. He later softened those remarks. Asked Sunday morning whether it's safe to say he wants to return next season, he replied: "I'd say that would be accurate." Upon the team's return home from Orchard Park, New York, Belichick held a 30-minute season-ending video conference in which he reflected on the Patriots' 10-8 campaign, his 22nd as head coach. He said he planned to take "a longer view" while noting that the blowout loss was troubling. "You could argue there were elements of last night's game in some other games, but last night's game was the...
January 16
January 16

Jerome Boger, officials from Raiders-Bengals game not expected to work again this NFL postseason

Referee Jerome Boger and the crew that worked the AFC wild-card game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals are not expected to officiate again this postseason after their problematic performance Saturday highlighted by a controversial whistle. The NFL grades officials after each game, and Boger and his crew are not expected to receive high marks for Saturday, when they ruled that a whistle occurred after Cincinnati's Tyler Boyd caught a touchdown from Joe Burrow -- although replays appeared to show otherwise. The league usually takes officials assigned to the divisional round -- not the wild-card round -- to work the Super Bowl. But officials that earn high grades this weekend could and would be under consideration for the Super Bowl. One league source did not express surprise at Boger's performance; others around the league have commented on it during various points of the season, and the NFL has received mixed reviews for...
January 16
January 16

Novak Djokovic leaves Australia, 'disappointed' after court dismisses deportation appeal

MELBOURNE, Australia --  Novak Djokovic's final bid to avoid deportation and play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated against COVID-19 ended Sunday when a court unanimously dismissed the No. 1-ranked tennis player's challenge of a government minister's decision to cancel his visa. Djokovic said he was "extremely disappointed" by the ruling but respected it. He released a statement shortly after three Federal Court judges unanimously upheld a decision made Friday by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel Djokovic's visa on public interest grounds because he is not vaccinated. Djokovic, 34, has won a record nine Australian Open titles -- including three in a row -- but he won't get the chance to try for a 10th this year. Hawke confirmed Sunday that Djokovic "has now departed Australia." A masked Djokovic was photographed in a Melbourne airport lounge with two government officials in black uniforms. He left at approximately 11 p.m. local time on an Emirates...
January 16
January 16

Novak Djokovic 'disappointed' as court dismisses deportation appeal in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia --  Novak Djokovic's final bid to avoid deportation and play in the Australian Open despite being unvaccinated for COVID-19 ended Sunday when a court unanimously dismissed the No. 1-ranked tennis player's challenge of a government minister's decision to cancel his visa. Djokovic said he was "extremely disappointed" by the ruling but respected it. He released a statement shortly after three Federal Court judges unanimously upheld a decision made Friday by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel the 34-year-old's visa on public interest grounds because he is not vaccinated. Djokovic has won a record nine Australian Open titles, including three in a row, but this time won't even get the chance to try. Hawke confirmed Sunday that Djokovic "has now departed Australia." A masked Djokovic was photographed in a Melbourne airport lounge with two government officials in black uniforms. He left at approximately 11 p.m. local time on an Emirates flight to Dubai,...
January 16
January 16

Novak Djokovic loses deportation appeal in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia --  Novak Djokovic's hopes of playing at the Australian Open were dashed Sunday after a court dismissed the top-ranked tennis star's appeal against a deportation order. Three Federal Court judges unanimously upheld a decision made on Friday by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel the 34-year-old Serb's visa on public interest grounds. The decision likely means that Djokovic, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, will remain in detention in Melbourne until he is deported. Deportation usually occurs as soon as possible after an order unless prevented by court action. The government has not said when Djokovic will leave. A deportation order also usually includes a three-year ban on returning to Australia. Djokovic issued a statement shortly after the ruling was announced, saying he would be "taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this." "I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss...
January 16
January 16

Los Angeles Lakers' Russell Westbrook says no reaction after Magic Johnson rips team's effort

DENVER -- After the Los Angeles Lakers' 37-point loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, the second-biggest defeat of LeBron James' 19-year career, another franchise great weighed in with his disgust. "We as Lakers fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency," Magic Johnson tweeted to his 5.1 million followers. "Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better." James, who had a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds but shot 9-for-23 (including 2-for-8 from 3), exited the arena without speaking to reporters. That left Russell Westbrook to be asked about Johnson's tweet. "I do not have a reaction," said Westbrook, who scored 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting, an improvement from his recent shooting slump. "Everybody is entitled, in this world, to their opinion. Regardless of what that it is. You can either take it and run with it or you can take it and put it in one ear and out the other or you...
January 16
January 15

Buffalo Bills make playoff history with 7 touchdown drives in blowout win vs. New England Patriots

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills didn't just beat the New England Patriots on Saturday. They made a statement to the entire NFL. The Bills dominated the teams' third meeting in 41 days, winning 47-17 to move on to the divisional round of the playoffs. Buffalo scored a touchdown on all seven of its possessions outside of a kneel-down at the end of the game, becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to score a TD on each of its first seven drives of a playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Bills also became the first team in NFL history to go an entire playoff game without a punt, field goal or turnover. "It's not often in coaching you can enjoy the last six minutes of a game and kind of look up in the stands and see the fans enjoying it and at home," coach Sean McDermott said. "I'm happy for them more than anything. For us as a team this year, it's one game. That's a good football team and they've been at the top for so long. So,...
January 15
January 15

Derek Carr, Maxx Crosby want Rich Bisaccia back as Las Vegas Raiders' head coach: 'He held it together'

CINCINNATI --  Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby both heartily endorsed Rich Bisaccia retaining the head-coaching job permanently following Las Vegas' season-ending 26-19 loss to the  Cincinnati Bengals in the opening round of the playoffs on Saturday night. Bisaccia was promoted from special teams coordinator to interim head coach following Jon Gruden's resignation on Oct. 11.  "I think we can all think that he's the right guy," Carr said of Bisaccia. "He's proven that people listen to him. Our team listens to him. And I love him so much, I'm thankful for him. All those things will be decisions that I don't make, I don't get to make. I just play quarterback ... but with everything that went on, if you really look at what happened, all the pieces missing, everything that changed, yeah, he held it together." Carr referenced the Raiders losing starting guards Richie Incognito and ...
January 15
January 15

Cincinnati Bengals' Zac Taylor rewards team's patience with first playoff win in 31 years

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals showed patience with Zac Taylor after just six wins in his first two years as their head coach. Following Saturday's 26-19 wild-card win over the Las Vegas Raiders, Taylor said the opportunity to coach a third season, one that produced an AFC North title and the franchise's first playoff win in 31 years, likely wouldn't have happened elsewhere in the NFL. "Personally, if I coached at any other organization in football, I probably wouldn't be here right now in the third year," Taylor said. "That's the truth." Taylor said he gave a game ball to team president Mike Brown, who stuck with Taylor after two seasons filled with losses. The third-year coach said he and the coaching staff owe so much to Brown for the patience he exhibited despite 25 losses in their first two campaigns. After the Bengals went 4-11-1 in 2020, Brown issued a statement offering a vote of confidence in Taylor and said the franchise was "bullish" on Taylor's...
January 15
January 15

Kevin Durant (left knee sprain) set to undergo MRI, while Brooklyn Nets 'hope for the best outcome'

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant injured his left knee during the second quarter of his team's 120-105 win Saturday over the New Orleans Pelicans. The team called it a sprain, and it occurred with just under six minutes left in the quarter as Pelicans guard  Herb Jones drove to the basket and collided with Nets guard Bruce Brown, who fell backward into Durant, who was standing behind the play. Nets coach Steve Nash said Durant would undergo an MRI Sunday morning. "Of course it would be tough to lose him," Nash said after the game. "No one wants to see that and we'll obviously hope for the best outcome, but regardless of the outcome we have to continue to work, build and grow and get better and compete." Durant left Barclays Center about midway through the fourth quarter, walking with a limp on his way to a waiting car. He sounded hopeful that the injury wasn't too serious, but was unsure at this point if he would be able...
January 15
January 15

Calvin Kattar shuts out Giga Chikadze in unanimous-decision win at UFC Fight Night

LAS VEGAS -- Coming off a year of inactivity and the worst loss of his career, Calvin Kattar proved he's still a major player in the UFC's featherweight division. Kattar (23-5) became the first man to hand Giga Chikadze (14-3) a loss inside the UFC Octagon on Saturday, as he dominated the Georgian contender over the course of a five-round unanimous decision. All three judges scored it a sweep for Kattar, via scores of 50-44, 50-45 and 50-45. The 145-pound scrap headlined UFC Fight Night inside the Apex. The victory came almost one year to the day after Kattar, 33, absorbed 445 total strikes in a devastating loss to former champion Max Holloway. "I feel great," Kattar said. "He's a tough fighter, 7-0 in the UFC. They all counted me out in this fight. Like I've been saying, everybody counting me out doesn't matter. As long as you believe in yourself that's all that matters." Going into the weekend, Chikadze had looked like a serious title threat. A karate...
January 15
January 15

Brooklyn Nets lose Kevin Durant to left knee sprain in second quarter vs. New Orleans Pelicans

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant injured his left knee during the second quarter of his team's  120-105 win Saturday over the New Orleans Pelicans. The team called it a sprain, and it occurred with just under six minutes left in the quarter as Pelicans guard Herb Jones drove to the basket and collided with Nets guard Bruce Brown, who fell backward into Durant, who was standing behind the play. Durant will undergo an MRI on Sunday, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Brooklyn's leading scorer attempted to stay in the game for a few moments, walking around, trying to loosen the knee up, but he headed over to the bench and checked himself out shortly thereafter. Durant went straight back to the locker room to be checked out. Durant left Barclays Center about midway through the fourth quarter, walking with a limp on his way to a waiting car. He sounded hopeful that the injury wasn't too serious, but was unsure at...
January 15
January 15

No. 1 Baylor Bears make men's college basketball history with second home loss in week

WACO, Texas -- Baylor became the first AP No. 1 team in men's college basketball history to lose two home games in a week after Oklahoma State stunned them Saturday with a 61-54 victory. Baylor (15-2, 3-2 Big 12) had won a national-best 21 games in a row dating back to last season before its loss Tuesday night at home to  Texas Tech. The reigning national and Big 12 champions led for only 16 seconds Saturday against an Oklahoma State team playing its third Big 12 road game in five days while traveling more than 3,200 miles.  After trailing by as many as 17 points in the second half, the Bears were within 55-54 with 1:21 left when  LJ Cryer made two free throws to cap a 14-2 run. They didn't score again. "They're not very happy,'' Bears senior Matthew Mayer said when asked the mood of the coaches. "We dug ourselves in a big hole. ... If the hole wasn't that big, then we would have been able to win the game,'' said Cryer, who had 18...
January 15
January 15

Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp fails to clear concussion protocol, will miss playoff game

Los Angeles Rams free safety Taylor Rapp did not clear concussion protocol this week and has been ruled out for Monday night's wild-card playoff game against the visiting Arizona Cardinals. Rapp suffered a concussion in the Rams' overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. They also lost strong safety Jordan Fuller to a season-ending ankle injury in that game, meaning they'll be without both starting safeties. The team lists backup running back Buddy Howell (hamstring) as doubtful. Receiver Van Jefferson (shoulder) is listed as questionable, but coach Sean McVay expects him to play and said everyone else should be available. McVay called Rapp's absence a "big loss" and added that "he's doing everything in his power to get back as quickly as possible." Fuller (113) and Rapp (94) were the Rams' top two tacklers this season while playing 16 and 17 games, respectively. Rapp shared the team lead in interceptions (four) with...
January 15
January 15

Former Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Mario Williams announces transfer to USC Trojans

Former  Oklahoma wide receiver Mario Williams is transferring to USC, where he will reunite with coach Lincoln Riley, he announced Saturday on social media.  Williams signed with Riley at Oklahoma as part of the 2021 class. He was the No. 17 prospect overall and the No. 1 receiver, according to ESPN's rankings. In his true freshman season, Williams had 35 receptions, 380 yards and 4 touchdowns in 12 games. He entered the transfer portal on Jan. 4, a day after freshman quarterback Caleb Williams announced his intention to transfer from Oklahoma as well. Caleb Williams visited USC and UCLA recently while his family was on vacation in Los Angeles, but he has not yet announced his next destination. Mario and Caleb Williams are among Oklahoma players who have elected to transfer since Riley's departure. That list includes quarterback Spencer Rattler and tight end Austin Stogner, who both transferred to South...
January 15
January 15

Pittsburgh Steelers activate wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster ahead of wild-card game at Kansas City

PITTSBURGH -- What seemed impractical in October is a reality in January. After suffering what was thought to be a season-ending shoulder injury against the Denver Broncos in Week 5,  Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver  JuJu Smith-Schuster was activated off injured reserve on Saturday. Smith-Schuster is expected to play against the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card matchup Sunday night. Running back Najee Harris (elbow) -- previously listed as questionable -- was also removed from the Steelers' injury report and is expected to play Sunday. "God answered my prayers [and] I've recovered from my season-ending shoulder injury earlier than expected," Smith-Schuster tweeted Saturday afternoon. "I can't believe I get another chance to take the field with this team and play in a playoff game to keep our season alive." Though he is available to play, Smith-Schuster will likely be on a snap count. Still, his addition is a boost for the...
January 15
January 15

Former Oklahoma Sooners WR Mario Williams announces transfer to USC Trojans

Former  Oklahoma wide receiver Mario Williams is transferring to USC, where he will reunite with coach Lincoln Riley, he announced Saturday on social media.  Williams signed with Riley at Oklahoma as part of the 2021 class. He was the No. 17 prospect overall and the No. 1 receiver, according to ESPN's rankings. In his true freshman season, Williams had 35 receptions, 380 yards and 4 touchdowns in 12 games. He entered the transfer portal on Jan. 4, a day after freshman quarterback Caleb Williams announced his intention to transfer from Oklahoma as well. Caleb Williams visited USC and UCLA recently while his family was on vacation in Los Angeles, but has not yet announced his next destination. Mario and Caleb are among Oklahoma players who have elected to transfer since Riley's departure. That list includes quarterback Spencer Rattler and tight end Austin Stogner, who both transferred to South Carolina, as...
January 15
January 15

MRI shows no structural damage to knee of Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine

CHICAGO -- Bulls guard Zach LaVine is not expected to miss significant time after an MRI on Saturday morning showed no structural damage to his left knee.  LaVine will be reevaluated early next week, the team said. LaVine did not travel with the team for its game Saturday night in Boston, and he will begin targeted therapy on his knee before the Bulls can offer a more definitive timeline. LaVine landed awkwardly while grabbing an offensive rebound during the first quarter of Friday's game against the Golden State Warriors. He took an intentional foul on the next play before taking himself out of the game. The Bulls were optimistic after Friday's game that LaVine had avoided a major injury, but wanted to proceed with caution considering LaVine tore the ACL in the same knee in 2017 while playing for the Timberwolves. In 38 games for Chicago this season, LaVine is averaging 24.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 49% from the...
January 15
January 15

Dallas Mavericks get Kristaps Porzingis, coach Jason Kidd back from health and safety protocols

DALLAS -- Mavericks power forward/center Kristaps Porzingis has cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols after missing the past seven games and is expected to play in Saturday night's home game against the Orlando Magic. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd also cleared the protocols. Dallas won six of the seven games missed by Porzingis, who is averaging 20.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. The Mavs went 3-1 during Kidd's absence, when defensive coordinator Sean Sweeney served as the acting head coach. A source said Porzingis felt well in recent days and had been able to do individual workouts. Porzingis' clearance makes center Marquese Chriss ineligible to play for the Mavericks while he remains on a 10-day hardship deal that expires Thursday. Sources said the Mavericks are considering their options to sign Chriss for the remainder of the season, which would require a move to create an open roster spot. Chriss has played in 12 games over three...
January 15
January 15

Black college basketball coaches hopeful over recent hiring trends for minority candidates

Some of America's top Black men's and women's college basketball coaches said they're hopeful about recent hiring trends for minority coaches but also know they'll face pressure to win for those trends to continue. After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, schools around the country vowed to do more to invest in diversity. Last year, more than 51% of the coaching vacancies in men's basketball and 47% of the coaching vacancies in women's basketball were filled by Black coaches. "I'm confident it's going to stick in the years to come because my expectation is that we're going to be successful," said Duke women's basketball coach Kara Lawson, as part of ESPN's Martin Luther King Jr. roundtable that aired Saturday on College GameDay. "So I have a lot of confidence in the men and women around the country that have gotten these opportunities. And I think, although success has been ignored in the past, I think it's getting harder and harder to ignore the success...
January 15

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