The Scripps National Spelling Bee is back, fully in person at its usual venue outside Washington for the first time since 2019. But the pandemic continues to affect kids who've spent years preparing to compete for spelling's top prize. Schools and sponsors have dropped out of the bee pipeline, regions have been consolidated and the bee has fewer than half the spellers it had three years ago. Scripps had 245 regional sponsors in 2020 for the bee that was ultimately canceled because of the pandemic. That number is down to 198 this year, meaning some kids faced a tougher path to the bee in super-sized regions.
A person familiar with the negotiations tells AP that David Njoku has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Cleveland Browns. Njoku, who figures to have a more prominent role in this season, will be among the NFL’s highest-paid tight ends, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the sides were still finalizing the package. Financial terms were not immediately known. A first-round pick in 2017, Njoku has had an eventful stay in Cleveland. Two years ago, he asked to be traded but has become a dependable player and now a core piece for a team with Super Bowl ambitions.
A week filled with goodbyes continues for family and friends of victims of the racist attack on a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Funerals were held Friday for Geraldine Talley, Andre Mackniel and Margus Morrison. They are among the 10 people killed and three wounded May 14 when a white gunman opened fire on shoppers and employees at a Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly Black neighborhood. The final funeral is scheduled for Saturday. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to attend as 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield is memorialized.
The Los Angeles Chargers concluded the first week of organized team activities with first-round pick Zion Johnson signing his rookie contract. The guard got the standard four-year deal with the team holding a fifth-year option. The 17th overall pick in last month’s NFL draft, Johnson is expected to start at right guard when the Chargers open the season at home against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 11. The Chargers have signed six of their eight draft picks. Safety JT Woods, a third-round pick, and running back Isaiah Spiller, a fourth-round selection, remain unsigned.
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan is embracing his new role with the club. Khan was recently promoted to take over for Kevin Colbert, who is retiring after a long run with the team that included a pair of Super Bowl victories. Khan is no stranger to the Steelers. He has been with the team for more than 20 years, most recently serving as a vice president of football operations and business administration. Khan says he's excited about the trajectory of the team, adding that while he is bringing in some new faces to the team's front office, the club's high standards will not change.
The four men who smashed the race barrier in professional football in 1946 have been selected to share the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Ralph Hay Pioneer Award. The Canton, Ohio,-based organization announced that Kenny Washington, Woody Strode and Hall of Famers Bill Willis and Marion Motley — often called the Forgotten Four — will be celebrated during the Hall’s enshrinement week in August. The award is named for the former owner of the Canton Bulldogs who hosted the NFL’s formational meeting in Canton in 1920. It is presented in recognition of “significant innovative contributions to professional football.”
New coordinator Wink Martindale is going to try to make the New York Giants defense more aggressive this season. Speaking Thursday before an organized team activity at the Giants headquarters in the Meadowlands, Martindale said he wants his units to dictate what opposing offenses can run. The 59-year-old former Ravens coordinator is known for running a defense that relies a lot on blitzes. However, he plays to use multiple schemes to force opposing quarterbacks and coordinators to adjust. New York is coming off a 4-13 season under new head coach Brian Daboll. It hasn't made the playoffs since 2016.
Marcus Mariota already has shown he's willing to serve as a mentor for Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder. Mariota also says he's hungry to beat out Ridder and earn the job as the Falcons starting quarterback. Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and the Tennessee Titans' starter, has been a backup the past three seasons. He has an opportunity to revive his career as the successor to Falcons' 14-year starter Matt Ryan, who was traded to Indianapolis. Mariota says he is enjoying his reunion with Falcons second-year coach Arthur Smith, the Titans’ former offensive coordinator.
The Baltimore Ravens have signed quarterback Brett Hundley. The Ravens announced the move Thursday. Hundley appeared in two preseason games with the Indianapolis Colts last season. The previous time he played in a regular-season game was in 2019, when he appeared in three for the Arizona Cardinals. He also played in 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016 and 2017. He made nine starts in the latter season.
Jacksonville Jaguars center Luke Fortner has signed a four-year contract worth $5.5 million. He's the last of the team’s seven draft picks to sign. Fortner was a third-round selection, No. 65 overall, in the draft. The former Kentucky standout could be a plug-and-play starter for the Jaguars, who lost veteran center Brandon Linder to retirement last month. The 6-foot-4, 307-pound Fortner, who turned 24 earlier this month, started all 13 games at center last year for the Wildcats. He previously started 23 games at guard.
NCAA rules remain clear when it comes to gambling on sports: Don't do it. Those rules are unlikely to change for athletes and athletic department employees even as legal sports betting becomes more pervasive. College conferences are expected to tap into the gambling business as a new revenue stream. An expert in integrity monitoring says college sports are uniquely ripe for potential scandals.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The NCAA stance against gambling on sports by its athletes and those who work in college athletics is summed up simply by …
The NFL says it will appeal a ruling denying the league’s request to move former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit over leaked emails from a public courtroom into closed-door arbitration. In a statement, the NFL denied Gruden's claims that league officials or Commissioner Roger Goodell leaked racist, sexist and homophobic emails by Gruden to force him to resign last October. Judge Nancy Allf in Las Vegas refused requests to dismiss Gruden’s claim outright or move it to out-of-court talks that could be overseen by Goodell. Gruden emerged from the courtroom declaring “Go Raiders” and saying he was going to let the process take care of itself.
Deshaun Watson was impossible to miss in his orange jersey, pants and helmet. As he showed off his right arm, engaged in friendly trash talk and interacted with new teammates, the Browns quarterback didn’t look distracted by the storm swirling around him. Hours after two of the massage therapists accusing him of sexual misconduct gave graphic descriptions to a national TV audience of sessions they claim scarred them, Watson practiced with Cleveland. The Browns signed him to a controversial, $230 million contract in March. Watson is waiting to find out if he'll be suspended by the NFL, which is investigating whether he violated its personal-conduct policy.
Colin Kaepernick is getting his first chance to work out for an NFL team since last playing in the league in 2016 when he started kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Two people familiar with the situation said Kaepernick will work out for the Las Vegas Raiders on Wednesday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hadn’t announced the workout plans. ESPN first reported that the Raiders were bringing in Kaepernick. Kaepernick hasn’t played since the end of the 2016 season when he was cut by San Francisco.
For 15 years, Aaron Glenn was an outstanding NFL cornerback, a team leader, and a coach in the making. Teammates, fans and coaches of the New York Jets, for whom he spent eight seasons as a shutdown defender, recognized it. Same thing when Glenn went to Houston and Dallas. He retired as a player after the 2008 season, and since 2014 has served as an assistant coach in Cleveland, New Orleans and, the past two years as defensive coordinator in Detroit. He believes he’s ready for a head-coaching gig. The problem? Not many of the people making such decisions know much about Glenn — nor the other African American and minority candidates in the pipeline.
Jordan Love acknowledges having mixed emotions when he learned Aaron Rodgers was returning for an 18th season with the Green Bay Packers. Love said he was “super happy” for his teammate while realizing that it likely meant at least another year of watching from the sideline. Love gets to experience a small taste of what it’s like to be a starting quarterback for now. Love is getting the majority of first-team reps with Rodgers among several notable Packers veterans sitting out voluntary organized team activities this week.
Omar Khan is the new general manager for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Khan is replacing Kevin Colbert, who is retiring at the end of the month following more than two decades with the club. Khan has been a longtime member of Pittsburgh's front office, most recently serving as senior vice president of football and business operations. Khan's immediate goal will be helping to make sure the Steelers stay competitive following the retirement of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who stepped away in January after 18 seasons.
Jadeveon Clowney didn’t even want to visit the Cleveland Browns as a free agent a few years ago. Now, he won’t leave them. Coming off one of his best seasons, Clowney re-signed with Cleveland to once again chase quarterbacks alongside All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett. The Associated Press was one of several outlets to report Clowney agreed to terms on a contract worth up to $11 million last week. He’s now officially back on the roster as the team continues its offseason program. Clowney had one of his most productive and healthiest seasons in 2021 with Cleveland with nine sacks in 14 games. He finished with a flurry, getting 5.5 sacks in his final three games.
The NFL and NFL Players Association are partnering with Mythical Games for the first blockchain-enabled NFL video game. The game — which will be called NFL Rivals — is slated to launch early next year. Players will run a team as a general manager and compete against others with their rosters and teams. Players can own, collect and trade NFTs of their favorite players as part of the game. Before the game’s launch, 32 exclusive NFTs of NFL players will be released in a series of drops called “Rarity League.” This collection will provide owners access to special events, in-game rewards and other features.
Von Miller's presence was apparent while making his practice debut with his new team, the Buffalo Bills. Miller looked at home after previously acknowledging he was torn in leaving the Super Bowl champion Rams and the bright lights of Los Angeles for Buffalo. Miller spent his first practice grooving to music on the sideline, providing tips to his younger teammates while also bursting off the line to collapse the pocket in the non-padded sessions. The two-time defending AFC East champion Bills made a major splash by signing Miller to a six-year contract in March to add muscle to what had been a middling pass rush.
Trey Lance took the practice field this week for the San Francisco 49ers in a far different state than his rookie campaign. The nagging finger injury that limited him all last season has healed, his knowledge of the offense has grown and he has emerged as a leader now that he is set to take over for Jimmy Garoppolo as starting quarterback in San Francisco. After starting just two games as a rookie, Lance is set to take over the role he has been groomed for since San Francisco traded three first-round picks to draft him last year.
An enlarged spleen, a blood clot and a steady dose of blood thinners kept Vinny Curry off the football field last season. The defensive end was diagnosed by New York Jets team doctors with a rare blood disorder that required the removal of his spleen last July. He was hoping to return to the field at some point last season but developed a blood clot and needed to take blood thinners the next few months. The 33-year-old Curry is healthy now and his issues behind him. He's back on the football field and thankful to be with his teammates again.
In Dallas, Steve Kerr and Jason Kidd did not want to talk about basketball. LeBron James made no effort to hide his anger. Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, a young father, called the news “devastating.” The sports world reacted swiftly Tuesday to the news of an 18-year-old gunman opening fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killing at least 19 children. It was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago.
One of the women accusing Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct while she gave him a massage says she felt “scared” and threatened by a comment he made following a therapy session. Appearing on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Ashley Solis provided graphic details of an encounter with the three-time Pro Bowler. She also says she felt frightened after an encounter with Watson, who told her he knew she didn't want anyone “messing” with her career. Watson is facing civil lawsuits by 22 women alleging various sexual acts during massages he received while playing for the Houston Texans. He has denied any wrongdoing.