The NFL is back! Kind of (kind of is good enough for me!) The Jaguars and Raidersface off in the Hall of Fame Game tonight, marking the start of the preseason. Both teams look very different than they did at the end of last year.
The Jaguars hired Doug Pederson as their head coach after the Urban Meyer disaster that was last season. While last year’s No. 1 overall pick, QB Trevor Lawrence, won’t play tonight, we may see this year’s No. 1 pick, OLB Travon Walker.
The Raiders, meanwhile, hired Josh McDaniels and brought in several big-name veterans, including Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. They’re looking to make the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2000-02.
These teams were selected to play in the Hall of Fame game because former Jaguars tackle Tony Boselli and former Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch are being inducted into the Hall of Fame over the weekend. You can see the whole class here.
Listen, this won’t be the highest-quality football you’ll ever see. Teams have only been in training camp for a couple of weeks, and most starters (in fact, likely all starters) and even some established back-ups won’t play. But, hey, there’s NFL football on TV for the first time since February. I’ll take it.
And not such a good morning for…
PAIGE BUECKERS, THE UCONN HUSKIES AND COLLEGE BASKETBALL AS A WHOLE
UConn women’s basketball will be without its brightest star, and women’s college basketball will be worse off because of it. Paige Bueckerstore her ACL in a pick-up game Monday and will miss the entire 2022-23 season.
The rising junior missed a significant chunk of last season after suffering a tibial plateau fracture in December.
She returned late in the year and helped lead UConn to the national title game, where the Huskies lost to South Carolina.
Back in 2020-21 as a freshman, Bueckers averaged 20.0 points, 5.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds and became the first freshman to win AP Women’s Player of the Year. She also won the Naismith Award.
Bueckers is an absolute joy to watch, and when she has it rolling offensively, she’s nearly impossible to stop thanks to her silky-smooth mid-range shooting, terrific handle and passing and the ability to knock down the 3-pointer. In the Elite 8 — one of the best games of the year — Bueckers poured in 27 points on just 15 shots as UConn topped NC State in double overtime.
This is undoubtedly a huge loss for UConn and for women’s basketball as a whole. Bueckers is truly irreplaceable in every sense of the word.
Not so honorable mentions
NFL appeals Deshaun Watson suspension. What happens next? 🏈
The NFL has filed an appeal regarding Deshaun Watson‘s six-game suspension that was handed down Monday by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.
The ability to appeal is guaranteed in the league’s collective bargaining agreement; Watson and the NFLPA had said prior to the decision that they would not appeal and urged the NFL to do the same.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal. Goodell can choose himself.
Per reports, the NFLPA is preparing to sue the NFL in federal court following the league’s decision to appeal. The NFLPA has two business days to file a response to the appeal.
Here’s a key passage from the NFL’s statement:
“Under the 2020 NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA’), the factual findings of the Disciplinary Officer are binding and may not be appealed. Judge Robinson found that Mr. Watson violated the NFL’s personal-conduct policy on multiple occasions and suspended him for six games.”
Robinson found Watson engaged in “sexual assault; conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person; and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL.” While the NFL has held firm in seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year, Robinson wrote she was “bound ‘by standards of fairness and consistency of treatment among players similarly situated.'”
There’s no specific timetable for a decision from Goodell or his appointee.
LIV golfers are suing the PGA Tour ⛳
You thought the LIV vs. PGA drama was over? Think again. Phil Mickelson is among a group of 11 LIV Golf League players who are filing an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour with a potential goal of being reinstated by the PGA Tour. Here are the key details:
The PGA Tour suspended players who left for LIV Golf back in June. The PGA Tour had suspended Mickelson back in March after his comments regarding Saudi Arabia and LIV Golf.
The PGA Tour normally allows up to three waivers per season to allow members to play on other tours; that was not the case for LIV events.
LIV has been readying this lawsuit for a while, per reports, saying that the PGA Tour has a monopoly in the golf market and is using that power to stop a start-up league from joining the market.
Players such as Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson — who resigned from the PGA Tour — are not part of this lawsuit.
There is a potential solution — at least in the short-term — for all of this, writes our golf expert Kyle Porter.
Porter:“Whether players are allowed to play both tours remains to be seen, but we should have an answer quickly on whether players are allowed to play in next week’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. There’s recent precedent here, too. Ian Poulter and two other golfers were allowed to play in the Scottish Open despite being banned by the DP World Tour. A stay was granted just before that tournament started. Perhaps the same thing could apply in this situation.”
Will Juan Soto be MLB’s first $500-million man? ⚾
Now that the dust has settled on Juan Sotojoining the Padres — he made his team debut last night — we turn our attention to the biggest question long-term: What kind of contract will he get?
Remember, Soto rejected a 15-year, $440-million extension from the Nationals earlier this season, which led to Washington listening to trade offers in the first place. That $440 million would have made Soto the highest-paid player in MLB history in terms of total money. Does that mean he’s headed toward the once-unthinkable $500 million mark?
Our MLB expert Dayn Perry has four reasons why he could be, including…
Perry: “Soto’s career OPS+ of 160 is the fourth-highest ever for a player age-23 or younger and a minimum of 500 games played. … When a player combines excellence with youth – particularly as free agency looms – he’s going to make a great deal of money. That’s because he already promises an established level of high performance, and he figures to sustain that level or thereabouts for many years to come. When you’re as young as Soto is, there’s also the tantalizing possibility that he’s still pre-peak. Teams will pay for that.”
What we’re watching Thursday 📺
🏀 Mercury at Sun, 7 p.m. on ESPN 2 ⚾ Rays at Tigers, 7:10 p.m. on FS1 🏈 Hall of Fame Game: Jaguars vs Raiders, 8 p.m. on NBC