The armed robbery case involving Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker and Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar has allegedly taken another turn.
A New York Daily News report alleges Baker and Dunbar were involved in a payoff of four witnesses to change their initial statements that allegedly implicated them.
An attorney for Baker took to social media late Friday night to dispute the report, and Bradford Cohen, who represents Baker, said his client “never paid anyone.”
Dunbar’s lawyer, Michael Grieco, denied the allegations and told the Seattle Times that Dunbar and Baker are each victims of an extortion attempt by four people.
Baker, 22, is charged with four counts of armed robbery with a firearm and four counts of aggravated assault stemming from an alleged May 13 house-party incident in Miramar, Florida. He is facing a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison for each of the four armed robbery charges.
Dunbar is charged with four counts of armed robbery with a firearm. Both have been released on bond.
Baker was told by the Giants to stay away from their virtual offseason program and focus on his legal issues in Florida when news of the incident surfaced in May. Giants coach Joe Judge has withheld comment on Baker, whom he has not met, insisting the team would allow the legal proceedings to play out.
But the former Georgia star’s roster spot with the Giants appears tenuous at best. The team is expected to report for training camp in New Jersey on July 28, and even though Baker was granted permission to travel from Florida for work by the court, the possibility remains that the Giants will part ways with the player before that happens.
Citing a warrant obtained from the Broward County Clerk of Courts, the Daily News report states Baker had Instagram direct message exchanges with a man named Dominic Johnson, indicating Baker and Dunbar paid off four witnesses a total of $55,000. Detective Mark Moretti of the Miramar Police Department wrote in the warrant about what could be construed as a damning direct message from Baker to Johnson.
The Giants traded up in the 2019 NFL Draft to select Baker, the third of their first-round picks last year. He played in 16 games as a rookie, starting all but one, and had his share of on-field struggles. Still, the Giants had been counting on Baker as an important piece of their defense and projected starter at cornerback opposite free agent signee James Bradberry.
The alleged incidents involving Baker and Dunbar are subject to review under the Personal Conduct Policy and the NFL would act at the league level if warranted. The legal outcome aside, the charges levied at Baker and any disciplinary rulings under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement would be made by a neutral party appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association and not by commissioner Roger Goodell.
Follow Art Stapleton on Twitter: @art_stapleton
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers may have little trouble culling their season tickets list for the limited number of seats that will be available this season at Lambeau Field.
More than half of fans responding to a Green Bay Press-Gazette survey said they would not attend a game this year, the majority because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, although politics, health-safety requirements and the cost of attending games also were recurring reasons.
In a letter to season ticket holders last week, the Packers said Lambeau Field attendance will be limited this year because of the pandemic. Social distancing and masks will be required at games. Season ticket holders can opt out without losing their tickets for future years; those who opt in have a chance at limited game tickets, but those aren’t guaranteed. Ticket holders can get refunds for games or credit for next year.
In an unscientific social media survey and separate interviews with season ticket holders, 54.7% of 1,207 respondents said they would not attend a game in person this year. Broken down, 42.5% said they would not attend because of the virus; 9.6% said they would not attend because of the NFL’s decision to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often called the Black national anthem, and the possibility players will kneel during the “Star Spangled Banner”; and 7.8% gave other reasons, most frequently being that they would be required to wear masks or that games would not be as much fun with diminished crowds.
“Another reason I am opting out this year is because the NFL and sports in general has become too political,” said season ticket holder Nate Hoernke of Mosinee, Wisconsin. “The only good thing that has come from the virus shutdown is how much I realized that I don’t miss professional sports. I can easily quench my thirst with amateur sports and was happy to see the return of the Northwoods Baseball League.”
Of the respondents citing kneeling and the song, most weren’t as polite as Hoernke, although one said he would not attend because the NFL blacklisted former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who popularized players taking a knee during the national anthem to draw attention to police brutality toward Black citizens.
Fans who want to attend games made up 45.3% of respondents. Of those, 2.8% said their attendance would be conditioned on there being adequate safety measures. However, the majority said they’d go no matter what.
“I’m opting in,” said season ticket holder Troy Pflum of North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. “I’ll wear a mask and I’m guessing the Packers don’t want people to get COVID on their watch, so I’m sure they’ll do what they can to keep us apart.”
Concern over coronavirus is by far the most common reason people said they won’t attend games.
“Until there is a vaccine, I have zero interest in attending any games,” said season ticket holder Scott Barker of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “I don’t believe it is possible to social distance in a stadium that holds 80,000+ people, and it is unrealistic that people will follow the rules and wear face masks.”
A number of those who said they would not go to games cited their distrust of other fans to follow safety precautions or take the virus seriously. Given the number of respondents who called the virus a hoax or overblown, they probably are on to something.
Of the nearly 8% who said they would not go for reasons other than the virus, the sense that games wouldn’t be as much fun came up a lot. That’s the reason Wayne Sargent of Campbellsport, Wisconsin, who bills himself “The Ultimate Packers Fan,” will forego games this season.
“Going to a football game at Lambeau Field, or any stadium for that matter, is not just to watch the game. It’s the tailgating, meeting up with seasonal friends and enjoying the camaraderie of others that makes it a special day. With all of the precautions set in place for COVID-19, I just don’t see that happening in an enjoyable way,” Sargent said.
“All considered, my opinion is that either it’s all or nothing, and I’m going with nothing for this season.”
The Packers have not said how many fans will be allowed in Lambeau to meet social distancing requirements, but it likely will be less than 50 percent of the stadium’s capacity of 80,000. Average attendance in 2019 was 77,845.
Here are other comments from season ticket holders:
“As of now my inclination would be to opt-in, but first I need to see the Packers’ detailed plan for fan attendance. The games need to still be fun. How will they balance safety and fan experience? Will the restrictions inhibit the thrill of being there? If yes, I would rather stay home.” — Jeff Albrecht, Silver Lake, Wisconsin.
“I’m going to opt in and hopefully get a few games and then get the rest of my money back. I’d be curious how many people opt out. My guess is that it would be hard to do social distancing at much more than 30% capacity, so maybe we get 2-3 games?” — Jay Bushmaker, Apple Valley, Minnesota.
“It looks like not much has changed as far as making the games safer, so no, we won’t be going. It’s going to be a weird football season, but what’s not weird these days? Hopefully, next year there’ll be an effective vaccine and the games will be safe again.” — Nancy Selinsky, Green Bay.
“I will be opting out of games this year. It’s not that I’m fearful of the coronavirus. I just can’t justify paying all that money for a reduced fan experience. Making masks mandatory was the deal breaker for me. That will be impossible to enforce … Fans should have been left to decide for themselves their tolerance for risk and possible exposure.” — Nate Hoernke, Mosinee.
“I will be opting our of tickets this year. It just won’t feel the same with only a minimum number of fans at the game. If the league keeps up with the political stuff too, I’ll just be selling my tickets from now on to make money.” — Bobby Christensen, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“I am leaning toward opting out. My gut tells me we won’t be allowed to attend games anyway, and even if we are, I feel like the gameday experience will be very different and not much fun with limited crowds. I will probably wait until the last minute to decide.” —Aaron Panko, Allouez, Wisconsin.
“As of now, I plan on opting out. Yes, partially out of virus concerns, but also because if it’s going to be reduced capacity, then it just won’t be nearly as fun without the regulars that are around me every year. And I’ll be honest here as well, if I could count on all the fans to wear a mask, I might feel differently, but unfortunately, I don’t trust them and I have no idea how they can enforce it.” — Erik Norlund, Minneapolis
“I plan on opting out. I just don’t think that I would be comfortable attending games in person at this time. Honestly, I will be surprised if they are able to pull off playing at all. The thought of fall/winter without football makes me sad.” — Daniel Spoentgen, Green Bay.
“I am likely to tell the Packers that I’d like a refund and we’ll try again in 2021. If I need to go to a game this year, I have plenty of friends with seats better than mine.” — Ken Ritterbusch, Orlando, Florida.
“We will be opting out. Our decision is based more on not wanting to tie up money without any clear idea whether or not we’ll be able to go to games. Another factor is that I am less than happy about some of the political stances the Packers seem to be taking. I expect there will be some form of demonstration over the national anthem and I’m not interested in witnessing or being part of that.” — Joe Boehm, Wausau, Wisconsin.
Follow Richard Ryman on Twitter at @RichRymanPG, on Instagram at @rrymanPG or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RichardRymanPG/
The N.H.L.’s owners and players union announced on Friday that they had officially approved a new labor agreement that will last through 2026 and, more immediately, will allow them to proceed with plans to complete the 2019-20 season.
The deal was formally approved after separate votes by the owners and the league’s players. The season will resume Aug. 1 with an expanded 24-team playoff at two hubs, in Edmonton and Toronto, and will end in Edmonton in early October. The draft is tentatively set to take place Oct. 9 and 10, and a full 2020-21 campaign will begin in December.
The existing collective bargaining agreement was set to expire in 2022, but the new agreement overwrote the final two years of that deal and extended it at least four more seasons. The new deal addresses safety measures to ward off the coronavirus during the upcoming playoffs, opens the door for a return to participation in the next two Winter Olympics and addresses how the economic effects of the pandemic will be dispersed between players and owners.
The final approval ended an unusually condensed negotiation process that began in earnest after the N.H.L. halted competition on March 12. The previous three labor negotiations had not gone so swimmingly: In 1994-95 the league lost nearly half a season to a labor dispute, as it did in 2012-13, and in 2004-5 it lost an entire season.
“I don’t think a normal C.B.A. situation goes this quickly, but both parties wanted it done and it got done,” Carolina Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams, a 20-year veteran who sat out the first half of the season before returning in January, said during a conference call.
The N.H.L. is set to enter the third of four phases in its return-to-play plan, with the 24 teams who qualified for the expanded playoffs beginning training in their home markets next week. Players have until Monday to decide if they want to opt out of the season, as several players have already done in M.L.B., M.L.S., the N.B.A. and W.N.B.A.
Hours after the agreement was announced, Calgary defenseman Travis Hamonic announced he would opt out, becoming the first N.H.L. player to do so publicly. Hamonic cited the health of his daughter, who was hospitalized last year with a respiratory illness.
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Thirty-five N.H.L. players tested positive from June 8 to July 6, with only about half of the returning players undergoing regular testing thus far. The league has said “isolated cases” would not interfere with play, but the agreement stipulates broadly that an outbreak could interrupt or cancel the rest of the season.
Williams said he felt players were willing to make sacrifices such as living inside the contained environments in Edmonton and Toronto, isolated from social life and their families until the conference finals, when family visits will be permitted.
The N.H.L. considered shortening the conference quarterfinals and semifinals so families could arrive sooner, but Mathieu Schneider, a special assistant with the union, said players largely rejected that idea.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that testing would be constant. Daly said there were no “hard and fast numbers” that would lead the league to alter or shut down play, but that it would rely on the advice of medical professionals and experts.
Williams expressed concern earlier in the week about the possibility of a disruption in play and the virus’s potential impact on competition.
“What if there’s an outbreak on the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 and seven of us or 10 of us can’t play?” Williams said. “What happens to the team? Is it a forfeit? Do we wait a couple weeks?”
Eastern Conference clubs will travel to Toronto, and Western Conference teams will head to Edmonton on July 26. (The Canadian government waived the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for players and staff crossing the border from the United States.) Edmonton, which had 203 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday, will host both conference finals series, as well as the Stanley Cup finals.
The games will be played without fans, but the broadcasts of the games may include simulated noise and other adaptations.
“We have some very special things planned. You’ll just have to wait to see them,” Bettman said.
With the N.H.L. facing an enormous budget shortfall because of the pandemic, the agreement keeps the salary cap at its current level, $81.5 million, through next season. Ten percent of player salaries will be deferred, and 20 percent will be placed in escrow — an increase of more than 50 percent from this season’s escrow payments.
Deferred salaries will be repaid over the course of the agreement. The salary cap and escrow figures are set to become less restrictive in ensuing seasons.
“What we tried to do was structure something that everybody could live with over time, but it’s important to understand that it’s over time. If revenue is less, revenue is less,” N.H.L.P.A. Executive Director Donald Fehr said, adding that the idea was to “get back to normal as soon as possible.”
The agreement also helps clear the way for N.H.L. players to return to the Olympics in 2022 and 2026. They had participated in five straight Olympics from 1998 to 2014, but the N.H.L. did not allow participation in the 2018 games, much to the chagrin of the players. The remaining hurdle is an agreement between the league and the International Olympic Committee.
Williams acknowledged plenty of uncertainty in the league’s near future, but was still able to look forward to a return to the ice.
“Nobody knows how the game is going to come back next year when it does come back,” he said. “Is it going to be half fans, is it going to be no fans, is it going to be full houses? So you don’t know what the numbers are going to be like next year. All we know is that we’re going to be playing hockey and there will be labor peace.”
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey will meet with the league’s athletic directors on Monday to discuss various scenarios about the 2020 football season but sounded a grim note on Saturday that there was a reasonable possibility of no season at all without significant changes in the current coronavirus numbers and pandemic-related behaviors.
“Yep … that’s exactly what I said … and have been saying,” Sankey wrote on his Twitter account after an appearance on the Marty & McGee radio program on ESPN. “I want to provide the opportunity for college athletics to be part of the fall, but we need to all consider our behavior to make possible what right now appears very difficult. “The direct reality is not good …”
Asked about his level of concern for the upcoming season, Sankey said it was “high to very high.”
Sankey said the SEC continued to work toward a final decision regarding the season in late July, some two weeks away. He said that this week’s decisions by the Big 10 and Pac-12 to play conference games only — a decision that has canceled the Alabama-USC game on Sept. 5 in Dallas, among others, would not accelerate the SEC timetable.
“We put a medical advisory group together in early April with the question, ‘What do we have to do to get back to activity?’ and they’ve been a big part of the conversation,” Sankey said in the radio interview. “But the direct reality is not good and the notion that we’ve politicized medical guidance of distancing, and breathing masks, and hand sanitization, ventilation of being outside, being careful where you are in buildings. There’s some very clear advice about — you can’t mitigate and eliminate every risk, but how do you minimize the risk? … We are running out of time to correct and get things right, and as a society we owe it to each other to be as healthy as we can be.”
The SEC meeting was scheduled before the Pac-12’s decision Friday to play conference-only games in 2020.
Alabama’s game against Southern California on Sept. 5 will not be played. Alabama was set to receive a $6 million payout for the game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
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Alabama director of athletics Greg Byrne indicated on Friday that Alabama would await a decision from the SEC before pursuing options in the wake of the USC game cancellation and a $6 million loss of its appearance fee for that game.
“As I’ve said before, USC AD Mike Bohn and I had multiple conversations over the last several months, and we were both planning on playing the football game on Sept. 5 in Arlington,” Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne said in a statement Friday. “With the Pac-12′s decision to move to a conference-only schedule, we will do our best to adjust. What that looks like is to be determined.”
An official in the ACC told USA TODAY Sports that the league has discussed playing conference-only games, and while those talks had been ongoing the Big Ten’s statement on Thursday should move ahead the ACC’s timeline for a decision.
In a statement released on Friday, the ACC said it would make a decision regarding the 2020 season by the end of July.
“As we continue to work on the best possible path forward for the return of competition, we will do so in a way that appropriately coincides with our universities’ academic missions,” commissioner John Swofford said. “Over the last few months, our conference has prepared numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season.”
Contributing: Paul Myerberg of USA TODAY
It was four months ago today that the sports world changed, most likely forever. On the evening of March 11, the alert went out to phones and TVs across the nation: the NBA was suspending operations due to a player’s positive coronavirus test.
To a country whose president had called the pandemic a “hoax,” to a massive population mostly unaware of the impending viral tsunami, the news was shocking. If the NBA was shutting down, would the country follow?
The answer of course was yes.
On March 11, few if any of us would have given a thought to July 11, much less wondered what life would be like then. But if we had, what would we have guessed our sports world would look like?
Could we possibly have imagined this?
Fall college sports on the verge of collapse. Our biggest pro leagues starting up soon, with questions about how their testing programs will hold up, and what happens if they don’t. The NBA and WNBA gamely planning to play in bubbles in Florida, a state where the virus is exploding long after its governor declared victory and opened up too soon.
MLB stars such as David Price, Buster Posey, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman opting out of a truncated baseball season. Three pro soccer teams – two in the MLS and one in the NWSL – forced out of their tournaments because of a rash of positive coronavirus tests. NASCAR embroiled in a fraught discussion about Black Lives Matter and racism while thankfully, finally, banishing the Confederate flag.
Men’s golf moving along nicely without spectators, thanks to the game’s built-in advantage of being all about social distancing before there was social distancing. Even it, though, has seen big names withdraw because of positive tests or an abundance of caution. The women’s game is still sidelined, scheduled for a return in Ohio soon.
Oh, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologizing for not listening to protesting players for years and now encouraging them to speak out and peacefully protest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder on Memorial Day. Goodell didn’t mention Colin Kaepernick, which was a glaring omission, but it was clear he was talking about him.
“I personally protest with you, and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country,” Goodell said in a video.
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All this while 134,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, while cases are alarmingly spiking around the nation.
In some ways, things could hardly be worse. Due to an appalling lack of national planning, the country appears disorganized and uncertain, and sports do too, even though they actually do have plans. We once could rely on sports for definitive answers, rock-solid results and clearly defined boundaries. Now, almost everything seems to be up in the air.
Few have articulated this extraordinary situation better than pitcher Sean Doolittle, one of the stars of the Washington Nationals’ 2019 World Series championship season.
“We’re way worse off as a country than we were in March when we shut this thing down,” he recently told reporters. “And look at where other developed countries are in their response to this. We haven’t done any of the things that other countries have done to bring sports back. Sports are like the reward of a functioning society. And we’re trying to just bring it back, even though we’ve taken none of the steps to flatten the curve.”
It has been four months of fits and starts, hope and despair. The next four months will tell us if the United States has the ability to support its myriad sports leagues and conferences, from high school to college to the pros, or if it will all come crashing down. We hope for the former and fear the latter. We’ll have our answer Nov. 11.
The quest for the Stanley Cup is scheduled to resume Aug. 1 as the NHL sets up shop with a 24-game tournament in secure hubs in Toronto and Edmonton.
Eastern Conference teams will be in Toronto and Western Conference in Edmonton. The top four teams in each conference will play a round robin to determine seeding while the remaining eight teams will play a best-of-five series to see who advances to the 16-team playoff pool.
After reseeding, there were be the usual four rounds of best-of-seven series to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup in late September or early October.
Times are TBA, though there will be five games on opening day.
Best-of-5 in Toronto. x-if necessary
N.Y. Rangers vs. Carolina
Aug. 1: Carolina vs. N.Y. Rangers
Aug. 3: Carolina vs. N.Y. Rangers
Aug. 4: N.Y. Rangers vs. Carolina
x-Aug. 6: N.Y. Rangers vs. Carolina
x-Aug. 8: Carolina vs. N.Y. Rangers
Florida vs. N.Y. Islanders
Aug. 1: N.Y. Islanders vs. Florida
Aug. 4: N.Y. Islanders vs. Florida
Aug. 5: Florida vs. N.Y. Islanders
x-Aug. 7: Florida vs. N.Y. Islanders
x-Aug. 9: N.Y. Islanders vs. Florida
Montreal vs. Pittsburgh
Aug. 1: Pittsburgh vs. Montreal
Aug. 3: Pittsburgh vs. Montreal
Aug. 5: Montreal vs. Pittsburgh
x-Aug. 7: Montreal vs. Pittsburgh
x-Aug. 8: Pittsburgh vs. Montreal
Columbus vs. Toronto
Aug. 2: Toronto vs. Columbus
Aug. 4: Toronto vs. Columbus
Aug. 6: Columbus vs. Toronto
x-Aug. 7: Columbus vs. Toronto
x-Aug. 9: Toronto vs. Columbus
Determines Stanley Cup playoff seeding
Aug. 2: Boston vs. Philadelphia
Aug. 3: Tampa Bay vs. Washington
Aug. 5: Boston vs. Tampa Bay
Aug. 6: Philadelphia vs. Washington
Aug. 8: Washington vs. Boston
Aug. 9: Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia
Best-of-5 in Edmonton. x-if necessary
Chicago vs. Edmonton
Aug. 1: Edmonton vs. Chicago
Aug. 3: Edmonton vs. Chicago
Aug. 5: Chicago vs. Edmonton
x-Aug. 7: Chicago vs. Edmonton
x-Aug. 8: Edmonton vs. Chicago
Winnipeg vs. Calgary
Aug. 1: Calgary vs. Winnipeg
Aug. 3: Calgary vs. Winnipeg
Aug. 4: Winnipeg vs. Calgary
x-Aug. 6: Winnipeg vs. Calgary
x-Aug. 8: Calgary vs. Winnipeg
Arizona vs. Nashville
Aug. 2: Nashville vs. Arizona
Aug. 4: Nashville vs. Arizona
Aug. 5: Arizona vs. Nashville
x-Aug. 7: Arizona vs. Nashville
x-Aug. 9: Nashville vs. Arizona
Minnesota vs. Vancouver
Aug. 2: Vancouver vs. Minnesota
Aug. 4: Vancouver vs. Minnesota
Aug. 6: Minnesota vs. Vancouver
x-Aug. 7: Minnesota vs. Vancouver
x-Aug. 9: Vancouver vs. Minnesota
Determines Stanley Cup playoff seeding
Aug. 2: Colorado vs. St. Louis
Aug. 3: Las Vegas vs. Dallas
Aug. 5: Dallas vs. Colorado
Aug. 6: St. Louis vs. Las Vegas
Aug. 8: Colorado vs. Las Vegas
Aug. 9: St. Louis vs. Dallas
Buster Posey’s decision to skip the 2020 Major League Baseball season for the safety of his recently-adopted newborn twins served as a stark reminder of the human toll the coronavirus has taken on athletes.
Though the San Francisco Giants catcher said the choice was “relatively easy” from a family perspective, Posey admitted that it was tough from the standpoint of someone who has spent his whole life playing the game.
“I’m going to miss that the most not having that challenge of overcoming hurdles and obstacles, and being able to celebrate the good times and being able to share some of the down times,” Posey said.
At 33 years old, the six-time All-Star may be in the later stage of his career, but is undoubtedly one of the best all-around catchers in the history of the game. Posey helped the Giants win World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and was the NL MVP in 2012.
Posey’s contract with the Giants runs through 2021 (with an option or buyout for 2022) — and who knows what will happen beyond that — but his legacy is already secure. The only question is whether or not he will be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame once his playing days are over.
Here’s a closer look at his Hall of Fame candidacy:
The case for
Winning three World Series is no small feat, but it’s even more impressive for an everyday catcher. Each of those teams was unique and Posey’s role in handling the pitching staffs can’t be overstated. Considering the storied Giants franchise hadn’t won a title since 1954 – when they were still in New York – the dynasty resonated nationwide and had deep meaning for multiple generations of fans.
Posey’s current .302 career average is sixth all-time among catchers (minimum 1,000 games with at least 75% of time spent at the position) and his 41.8 WAR ranks 16th.
The case against
Catchers are held to a different standard for longevity due to the physical toll of the position, but Posey’s greatness may have been too short-lived for some voters. He certainly has a few more years left, but it will be tough for Posey to offer the kind of production he did earlier in his career.
Sports video of the day
On this day 10 years ago, Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 after extra time in the 2010 World Cup Final. The match in Johannesburg, South Africa, featured 14 yellow cards – the most ever in a final – and was scoreless until Spain’s Andres Iniesta scored in the 116th minute.
LEEDS, England — Jack Charlton, a soccer star who was a central part of the England team that lifted the World Cup on home soil in 1966 and who would later go on to transform Ireland’s national team as a manager, has died. He was 85.
His family said in a statement issued on Saturday that Mr. Charlton had “died peacefully” the day before at his home in Northumberland, in northern England. “We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life,” the statement read.
Mr. Charlton had received a diagnosis of lymphoma last year and had suffered in recent years from dementia, according to the BBC. Leeds United, the club where he spent most of his career, said in a statement that it was “deeply saddened” to learn of his death, describing him as a “club legend.”
Mr. Charlton spent all of his playing career at Leeds, making 773 appearances for the club as it was transformed from a makeweight into one of English soccer’s powerhouses in the 1960s and ’70s. It was his international career, though, that cemented his legacy.
Mr. Charlton was born in Ashington, a mining town in Northumberland, in 1935, the eldest of four boys in a family of famous soccer stock: His mother, Cissie, was a cousin of Jackie Milburn, a famous striker for Newcastle United.
Though Mr. Charlton started work in the town’s colliery as a 15-year-old, he left soon after, deciding to take up the offer of a contract at Leeds. One of his younger brothers, Bobby, would make a similar journey three years later, leaving Ashington to join Leeds’s great rival, Manchester United.
ImageCredit…Hulton Archive/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images
Whereas Bobby, widely regarded as one of the finest players England has ever produced, was a powerful and prolific scorer of goals, Jack was a towering, imposing and gnarled defender. Together, both were part of the team that led England to its first, and thus far only, World Cup victory in 1966.
In the final, England beat West Germany 4-2 after a long, grueling game. After congratulating Geoff Hurst, who had scored the decisive goals, the Charlton brothers embraced, and Jack sank to his knees, providing one of the defining images of the victory. “I don’t remember if I was saying a prayer or if I was knackered,” Mr. Charlton would say later.
After his retirement as a player in 1973, Mr. Charlton coached Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle, his hometown team, as well as applying to take charge of England in 1977. He never received a reply. Instead, almost a decade later, it would be in Ireland that the second act of his professional life reached its climax.
Under Mr. Charlton’s aegis, Ireland qualified for the 1988 European Championship and the World Cups in both 1990, in Italy, and in 1994, in the United States, playing a style that was rudimentary, but effective. Mr. Charlton once admitted that his team’s strength was “stopping other people playing” soccer; once, he threatened to substitute a player who dared to pass the ball short.
That did not diminish the affection in which he was held. Mr. Charlton was credited with turning Ireland from one of European soccer’s minnows — until he took over, it had never previously qualified for a major tournament — into a rising power, a transformation that foreshadowed the growth of the Celtic Tiger economy in the 1990s.
ImageCredit…Press Association, via Associated Press
“He changed everything about Irish football,” said Ray Houghton, one of his former players. “His legacy is absolutely huge.” After he retired from the role in 1995, Mr. Charlton was made a freeman of the city of Dublin.
Prime Minister Micheal Martin of Ireland wrote on Twitter that he was “saddened to hear of the passing of Jack Charlton who brought such honesty and joy to the football world.” The Football Association of Ireland said the country had lost “the manager who changed Irish football forever.”
Mr. Charlton is survived by his wife, Pat, whom he married in 1958, and by their three children: John, Deborah and Peter.
As much as his achievements, both as a player and a coach, it was Mr. Charlton’s character — “larger than life,” as Mr. Houghton put it — that endeared him to players and fans alike on both sides of the Irish Sea. Mr. Charlton’s love for the outdoors — hunting, shooting and fishing — never waned, and he encouraged his teams to bond as much as possible, advocating the health benefits of Guinness over beer.
He had an ear for an anecdote and an eye for a one-liner, all delivered in the distinctive Northumberland brogue that he never lost. During the 1990 World Cup, Mr. Charlton had taken his Ireland squad to the Vatican to meet John Paul II. The pope, an amateur goalkeeper in his youth, had struck up a conversation with Ireland’s goalkeeper, Packie Bonner.
When Ireland was eliminated at the quarterfinal stage — by Italy, largely because of a shot spilled by the Irish goalie — Mr. Charlton did his best to console his players in the locker room. He told them that they had exceeded expectations and done their country proud. As they packed their bags, ready to fly home, the mood somber, he turned to his goalkeeper. “And by the way, Packie,” he said, “the pope would have saved that.”
Rory Smith reported from Leeds, and Elian Peltier and Mark A. Walsh from London.
Along with the rest of the world, athletes have had their careers upended by the coronavirus pandemic. They are giving The New York Times an intimate look at their journeys in periodic installments through the rest of the year. Read Lewis’s first installment here.
Kyle Lewis never thought about sitting out baseball’s return.
Major League Baseball is set to open its truncated season on July 23, and 58 players are known to have tested positive for the coronavirus. San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price and Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman are among the game’s stars who have opted out of playing this summer and several others, including the reigning American League most valuable player Mike Trout, are considering it.
Lewis, a powerful and promising 24-year-old outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, knows he has an unusual vantage point amid the uncertainty.
He had a stellar 18-game major league debut late last season and is slated to become a starter for his rebuilding team. Lewis is also one of 10 African-American players expected to be on Seattle’s 40-man roster on opening day — an eye-popping number in an era when American-born Black players in the big leagues are rare.
With his Mariners convening in Seattle for workouts at T-Mobile Park, Lewis said he has never wavered on his commitment to play, even as he’s watched colleagues contract the coronavirus and helped protest racial injustice.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
I’m definitely tuned-in and paying attention to the guys who are deciding not to play. I want to know about the decisions that guys are making and understand their reasoning. Me as a ballplayer going back to the game, Covid-19 is something I think about every day. And the fact that there are players that are getting sick is something I think about seriously.
I’ve never thought about sitting out. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to confuse that with me not thinking about the risks of it. I’m fully aware of the risk and I am definitely not comfortable with everything, but at the same time baseball has laid out a health and safety protocol and they are trying to do their best to keep us safe. I’m going to trust in that.
ImageCredit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
The plane situation, flying from my home in Atlanta to Seattle, was interesting, for sure. I just put the mask on and the hoodie on and tried to stay out of the way. When I got to the concourse, I tried to sit where I could have distance from people and I tried to get to the airport as close to departure time as possible, so I didn’t have to hang around. My boarding pass was on my phone, so I didn’t touch anything. I was trying to stay aware and not put myself in a compromising position. That’s sort of like how I’m approaching this whole thing. It helped to know that when I got here I was going to get tested immediately by the team. Having that test information was going to be helpful, just so I wasn’t going to be in the dark or unsure about anything.
That first day back was sort of bizarre. It had been over 100 days that we’d been apart, so to see what everybody had been doing and reconnect after that break, it was just really something. The reunions with teammates were kind of tough, though. You want to give a big hug, but you stay away.
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The masks? After a while out there on the field, wearing them kind of starts to blend in with the regular routine. It doesn’t even feel like you have a mask on anymore. It’s a learning process. I’ve been toying around with wearing them more and more throughout the stretching and all of the activities.
In the clubhouse you have to have the mask. In our lunchroom you’ve got to wear it until you get to your table and every table is spread out. All of the players are at their own individual tables.
There are some interesting rules that ban things baseball players normally would do, like licking your fingers and spitting, high-fives and what not. We’re all trying to get a feel for that, because once the game starts our competitive nature is going to kick in, and we’re going to have to really stay mindful of some of those rules.
The high-five thing is weird, but we actually have a handshake that doesn’t really require a handshake. It was kind of convenient that we’re able to still keep that.
At 24, I’m now in the position to play the game at the highest level, and that is something I can’t ever take for granted. When I have an opportunity to play, I want to be a part of it. That’s why I’m here. My love for the game.
I think there are a lot of variables to consider when deciding whether to play. Everybody has their own life to live, their own situation. Age is a variable, financial status is a variable, family situation — they all play into it. So, everybody’s situation is different, and players are ultimately going to do what is in their own best interest.
We talk about these situations. A lot of guys, when you go to the ballpark, we’re trying to get our work in, we are trying to enjoy playing the game, but we definitely communicate about the climate of the sport, the way certain players are opting out, certain players are opting in, and certain players are kind of on the fence. That is definitely part of the discussion, because that’s the nature of the world right now, we are just an extension of that world and everything that’s happening in it.
ImageCredit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
So much has changed in the world in these last few months. The George Floyd video, that was so hard to watch, man. Frustrating and painful, because you know we’ve been speaking on these things for a long while now, so for this kind of injustice to keep happening comes off as a lack of care.
That video. You knew that was going to be what we considered the last straw before it really got serious.
Atlanta got really passionate about protesting for justice. I wasn’t able to make it out to the protests, but we were able to do some things. Me and a few of my friends made posters and tried to put them up around the city. They said ‘LOVE ALL,’ in gold lettering. We put the posters up around the city, trying to spread the message.
In the minor leagues, my Double-A team was in the playoffs, and we were in Tulsa, Okla. From the stands, the fans on the other team were kind of getting after me a little bit but it seemed like it was just normal, in good fun, because I had been doing well. Then I came back to the locker room and there was a ball in my locker and when I looked at it I saw someone had written something. It said, “Learn to swim” [a reference to a racist trope that Black people have difficulty swimming because of their physiology].
That stung. I asked an African-American teammate if he knew where the ball came from, and he had no idea. I asked some of my white teammates, and they said they had no idea. I threw that ball in the trash and never brought it up again.
Naturally it made me suspicious. Not many people had access to that locker room. Was it a teammate? Was it a clubhouse worker? I think it just puts you on guard socially to where you can’t just open up to everybody the way you would think. You realize that everybody is not just going to look out for you the way you might think they would.
Since the protests began, the Mariners have been great. A lot of teammates, coaches and staff have checked in with me, people from all backgrounds. It’s been encouraging to be able to feel a sense of community, to get support to speak out on situations that, to be honest, we African-American baseball players would probably not have spoken on before.
You don’t have to necessarily like everybody, but you have to give them respect. Growing up, this is what my parents preached. I have always tried to live by that.
I try to keep on not looking at race and just see if I can make a good connection with somebody. If I can make a good connection with somebody, then we can be homies. Unless you give me a reason to think that my race is doing something negative to you or your perception of me, I am not going to just assume that it is. I am just always going to try to make good connections with people from every background and try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced Friday that they are penalizing DeSean Jackson for “conduct detrimental to the team,” following anti-Semitic posts the veteran wide receiver made on Instagram.
Jackson accepted the consequences and apologized, the Eagles said.
“In our many conversations with him, it has also been made clear that this is only the beginning. We have discussed a concrete plan for how he and we can heal moving forward. He understands that in order to remain on the team, he must also commit to supporting his words with actions,” the Eagles’ statement read in part.
Because the Eagles are not announcing a suspension, it’s likely they have fined Jackson. Teams typically don’t announce the amount when they fine players.
Jackson had initially posted a fake quote attributed to Adolf Hitler over the Fourth of July weekend. He reposted the fabricated quote on his Instagram story Monday attempting to clarify why he posted it.
Following significant backlash to the posts, Jackson issued two apologies (one a video on Instagram, and one on Twitter), saying he would work to educate himself.
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Earlier Friday, Jackson virtually met with Edward Mosberg, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor. “I’m taking this time to continue with educating myself and bridging the gap between different cultures, communities & religions,” Jackson wrote in his post about the meeting on Instagram.
“I know he’s under the fire,” Eagles teammate Lane Johnson said of Jackson.
“With everything that’s happened in the past months, I know his heart’s in a good place as far as helping the community and helping his people. Ultimately, whenever you make mistakes, you have to own up to it and I think the best thing about it now is get educated and try to make all the wrongs you did right. That’s all you can do.”
“We appreciate (Jackson’s) desire to educate himself, but we all understand there is still a lot of work to be done,” the Eagles said in their statement.
“We will continue to assist DeSean in this process, and we also know all of us in our organization need to listen and learn more about things that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable to us.
“We must continue to fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination, while not losing sight of the important battle against systemic racism.”
Contributing: Scott Gleeson, Mike Jones, Jori Epstein