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Wednesday Night Feature | 2021 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl 1.13.2021 – FloRacing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1R2fPdVFEp0

Wednesday Night Feature | 2021 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl 1.13.2021 - FloRacing
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Five takeaways from Vikings GM Rick Spielmans press conference Wednesday – Vikings Wire

https://vikingswire.usatoday.com/lists/takeaways-from-vikings-gm-rick-spielman-2021-free-agency-draft-cousins-barr/

Five takeaways from Vikings GM Rick Spielmans press conference Wednesday - Vikings Wire

The Vikings announced on Tuesday that they have released long-time tight end Kyle Rudolph.

The move didn’t come as much of a surprise considering the Vikings saved more than $5 million.

During his 10-year career with the Vikings, Rudolph made $50.87 million per Spotrac. More than $16 million of that came in the last two seasons.

We’ll see if Rudolph, 31, decides to sign with a new team and add to that total.

In the meantime for the Vikings, we can expect to see 2019 second-round pick Irv Smith Jr. get the majority of the reps at tight end.

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Katie Ledecky wins by 21 seconds to open first full swim meet in one year – Home of the Olympic Channel

https://olympics.nbcsports.com/2021/03/03/katie-ledecky-swimming-san-antonio/

Katie Ledecky wins by 21 seconds to open first full swim meet in one year - Home of the Olympic Channel

Katie Ledecky said the one-year break between full-on swim meets didn’t impact her goals for the Tokyo Olympics. She backed up that statement on Wednesday.

Ledecky, in her first broadcasted race since last March, crushed most of the other top U.S. 1500m freestylers, prevailing by 21.37 seconds to open a four-day Pro Series meet in San Antonio.

“I didn’t set too many expectations coming into this first race,” she said. “I knew getting the first race out of the way would kind of be a milestone in this journey back into real racing.”

Ledecky, who owns the 10 fastest times in history in the event, clocked 15 minutes, 42.92 seconds. She is the overwhelming favorite in the 1500m free this summer, when it’s on the Olympic program for the first time as a women’s event.

Her world record is 15:20.48. The second-fastest swimmer in history, retired Dane Lotte Friis, had a best time of 15:38.88.

ON HER TURF: Simone Manuel reflects on how her own story is told

Ledecky lost one 1500m freestyle in her life — when she was 13 years old in 2010. She also withdrew ahead of the event final at the 2019 World Championships with an illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win in 15:40.89.

Ashley Twichell, who in 2019 made the Tokyo Olympic team in the open-water 10km, was second on Wednesday, followed by Erica Sullivan. They came into the meet ranked second and third among Americans since the start of 2019.

Ledecky and Stanford training group partner Simone Manuel are racing in their first top-level meet since last March.

They spent last spring training in at least one backyard pool, then passed on meets last fall and earlier this winter while getting back into more normal practice. They did race within their group and against those who train at nearby Berkeley.

The San Antonio meet also includes Caeleb DresselRyan MurphyRyan Lochte and Regan Smith as swimmers prep for June’s Olympic Trials, where the top two per individual event are in line to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

The San Antonio meet continues the next three nights at 8 ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Ledecky is entered in her other best events — the 400m, 200m and 800m frees — the next three days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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NFL cuts expected to be a ‘massacre,’ ‘bloodbath’ next week – prideofdetroit.com

https://www.prideofdetroit.com/2021/3/3/22312452/2021-nfl-cuts-cap-casualties-massacre-bloodbath-next-week

NFL cuts expected to be a ‘massacre,’ ‘bloodbath’ next week - prideofdetroit.com

Forgive some NFL pundits for being a little overdramatic, but the league is about to enter uncharted territory in the next couple weeks. With the start of the new league year less than two weeks away, teams will have to get under the mandated salary cap, which has yet to be set, but is expected to be somewhere between $180 and $185 million.

Because of this expected decrease in salary cap—it was $198.2 million last year—teams will almost certainly have to cut players they may not have been intending to part ways with in order to comply with the league’s limit. As a result, predictions for the future of the league are dire.

ESPN’s Diana Russini got a text from an NFL head coach who described the situation as follows:

“It’s going to be a massacre next week all around the league.”

Not to be outdone by the violent imagery, NFL insider John Clayton told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, “It will be a bloodbath around the league.”

Given that the Detroit Lions are currently projected to be over the cap after assuming Matthew Stafford’s dead cap and Jared Goff’s contract, they are expected to cut several players in the upcoming days, and head coach Dan Campbell has already hinted that two cornerbacks could be released as early as this week.

Around the rest of the league, the damage has already started. Kyle Van Noy will not be back with the Dolphins. The Saints released both Jared Cook and Josh Hill on Wednesday. Oh, and this familiar face will be hitting free agency early:

  • T.J. Hockenson joined his friend and former Iowa teammate George Kittle on the Bussin with the Boys podcast. I can’t vouch for the appearance, as I haven’t watched it yet, but I have to say, I do enjoy the 1960s look from Hockenson.
  • Couple of interesting notes on soon-to-be Lions wide receiver Tyrell Williams. He’s a very similar threat to Marvin Jones Jr. in terms of where he’s most dangerous:

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Sam Darnold twisting in the wind after Jets about-face – New York Post

https://nypost.com/2021/03/03/joe-douglas-leaves-sam-darnold-twisting-in-the-wind/

Sam Darnold twisting in the wind after Jets about-face - New York Post

Once upon a time, and not that long ago, the phone would ring in the office of Jets general manager Joe Douglas, and a GM from another team might initiate a conversation that would go something like this:

“Hey Joe, congrats on the news gig. … Uh, wondering if Sam Darnold might be available (nervous laugh).”

(Laugh) Click.

Fast forward to now:

“Hey Joe, we’re in the QB market, can we talk about Sam?”

“Sure can! We have no untouchables on our team, not after a 2-14 season. We still love Sam, make no mistake about that, but go ahead, make me your best offer, and we’ll see where it goes.”

Sam Darnold, the would-be savior of the Jets three short drafts ago, is twisting in the wind these days, resigned and reduced to waiting on Douglas to make his franchise-altering decision on the quarterback decision.

Douglas on Wednesday: “I will answer the call if it’s made.”

It means Darnold is in a different boat than three of his 2018 quarterback classmates. The Bills will not answer the call if it’s made on Josh Allen. The Browns will not answer the call if it’s made on Baker Mayfield. The Ravens will not answer the call if it’s made on Lamar Jackson. Darnold is in the boat with Josh Rosen.

“Our stance on Sam hasn’t changed,” Douglas said.

Nice try, Joe.

Yes, it has.

“He’s an extremely talented player, he’s very smart, very tough. … We have no doubt that Sam is gonna achieve his outstanding potential,” Douglas said on Wednesday.

That is GM-speak, of course, designed to inflate his asset’s value for would-be suitors. Because (wink, wink) that outstanding potential can be achieved in a different uniform.

“Obviously we’re in the process of gaining as much information as we can leading up through free agency and the draft, but our stance on Sam has not changed,” Douglas said.

Sam Darnold's NFL future is unclear.
Sam Darnold’s NFL future is unclear.
Getty Images

Again, GM-speak designed to keep the poor kid hopeful he can resuscitate his career with the franchise that drafted him.

The NFL can be such a cruel business. It was just 11 months ago, prior to the 2020 draft, when Douglas said:

“When I first met Sam’s parents in the first preseason game [August 2019], I promised them I was going to do everything in my power to take care of Sam with protection and playmakers.”

Alas, even with left tackle Mekhi Becton, Sam required more protection, and even with injury-ravaged wide receivers Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman, he needed more playmakers (and less Adam Gase), and here he is now:

Wondering whether Douglas will use the second-overall pick on BYU’s Zach Wilson, or Ohio State’s Justin Fields, and reset the quarterback financial clock, and trade Darnold.

Wondering whether Douglas will enter the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes should the Texans cave and entertain his trade desires, and trade him.

Wondering whether Douglas will trade out of the second pick and build around him with his two first-rounders this year and six of the top 98 picks … not to mention a pair of first-rounders in 2022.

For Darnold, it must feel like a nerve-racking game of musical quarterbacks knowing only that he won’t be left without a chair, but maybe not the chair he prefers.

It seems a lifetime ago that former GM Mike Maccagnan and his staff took Darnold out to dinner in Morristown a week before the 2018 draft and left deflated because they were convinced the Browns would use the first-overall pick on him.

It seems a lifetime ago when then coach Todd Bowles named Darnold the opening night starter in Detroit and euphoric Jets fans began their “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!” chant behind the Lions’ bench after the kid shook off a pick-six on his first NFL pass and engineered a 48-17 victory. And then hugged his proud parents outside the visiting locker room.

Finally, the long-lost answer to Broadway Joe Namath.

Those headlines:

Sam’s Club.

Samsational.

Samazing.

Sam The Man.

Mononucleosis wasn’t going to stop him.

Gase was going to be his quarterback whisperer.

No one imagined he would be seeing ghosts on national television against Bill Belichick.

No one imagined he would regress in his third season (nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions, head-scratching decision-making) and see his career TD-INT ratio to fall to 45-39, and his win-loss record to fall to 13-25.

Nothing gives a fan base more hope than a young franchise quarterback.

Sam Darnold was the Golden Boy.

He has no idea whether he still is.

Wilson’s Pro Day is March 26. Fields’ Pro Day is March 30. The Jets will be at both in force.

Douglas’ phone will be ringing. The GM will be answering the call.

As well he should.

If Douglas has the same conviction on Wilson or Fields that Maccagnan had on Darnold, he should draft him.

Watson will cost a boatload, but is worth it, and Douglas has plenty of draft capital, and $80 million in cap room.

March Madness for Sam Darnold. And maybe beyond.

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Thomas Davis announces retirement, homecoming – Panthers.com

https://www.panthers.com/news/thomas-davis-announces-retirement-homecoming

Thomas Davis announces retirement, homecoming - Panthers.com

Davis was beginning to establish himself when the injuries hit in 2009, but setbacks during minicamp in 2010 and Week Two in 2011 made his football future uncertain. After all, no one had done what he was trying to do.

All he did was come back as a more complete linebacker — a craftsman instead of a mere athlete, a man whose knowledge of the game grew to compensate for anything he lost physically.

It’s somehow appropriate that all three of his Pro Bowl berths and both All-Pro honors came after the injuries — and they weren’t just sympathy votes. Outside linebackers in 4-3 defenses often lag behind in recognition since they don’t have the flashy sack numbers of their 3-4 counterparts, but what Davis did in his second act was impossible to ignore.

He came back. All the way back.

And on March 11, he’s coming back again.

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