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Los Angeles Rams’ Sean McVay wishes communication with Jared Goff was better ahead of trade to Detroit Lions

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Nearly nine months after the Los Angeles Rams agreed to trade Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions , and with a pending reunion at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, coach Sean McVay expressed regret about how the deal went down with his former quarterback.

"Yes, I wish there was better, clearer communication," McVay said Monday. "To say that it was perfectly handled on my end, I wouldn’t be totally accurate in that. I’ll never claim to be perfect, but I will try to learn from some things that I can do better, and I think that was one of them without a doubt."

The Rams are 5-1 and heavily favorited against the 0-6 Detroit Lions in the Week 7 matchup, but plenty of intrigue surrounds the game as McVay and Goff prepare to face off after a conflicted ending to their four-year run.

"I think he’ll be received well," McVay said about Goff’s return to L.A., where he spent five seasons after the Rams traded up 15 spots to select him first overall in 2016. "I think the L.A. fans and I think the Rams fans know what a great job he had done and how much — I think how much he meant to the Rams organization both as a football player and also the community."

After McVay was hired in 2017, he and Goff won two division titles and an NFC championship. However, following a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams offensive production declined, and they missed the 2019 playoffs.

Following a divisional playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers last season, Goff’s status as Rams starting quarterback appeared in question when neither McVay nor general manager Les Snead committed to him. Days earlier, quarterback Matthew Stafford requested a trade from the Lions, and a chance run-in between Stafford and McVay — both were vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico — marked the end of Goff with the Rams, as he was traded along with two first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Lions in exchange for Stafford.

In the aftermath, Goff told reporters that McVay and the Rams had no contact with him from the time the season ended to when he received the phone call about the trade. Goff claimed he was blindsided by the move.

"You don’t want to catch guys off guard," McVay said. "It came together a lot faster than anybody anticipated, but yeah, of course I think that any time that tough decisions and things like that where people are affected, you always want to be as understanding, as empathetic as possible, think about it through the other person’s lens and there’s certainly things that I know I would do it a little bit differently if — when those situations arise in the future."

McVay insisted Monday that there was no tipping point in his relationship with Goff and that the chance to acquire Stafford was too great to pass.

"That was why that decision was made and that was […]

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Lakers’ LeBron James adamant limiting workload won’t shield body from injury: ‘Feel worse when I play low minutes’

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — LeBron James does not buy that monitoring his minutes will have any effect on his health as the Los Angeles Lakers are about to start their new season this week.

"I don’t play the game thinking about injuries," James said Monday, ahead of L.A.’s regular-season opener against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. "And I also feel worse when I play low minutes."

In what has become a near annual ritual for the 19-year veteran, James — already sixth on the all-time minutes played list — flatly rejected the notion that limiting his playing time can shield his body from potential harm.

The fact is that even though James logged a career-low 33.4 minutes per game last season, he still suffered a severe high ankle sprain that caused him to miss 26 games and derailed a potential MVP campaign.

While James played on the right ankle in all six games of the Lakers’ first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns , he averaged just 23.3 points on 47.4% shooting, 8.0 assists and 7.2 rebounds, performing below his usual postseason standard.

James, who will turn 37 in December, said his injury dragged on well into the offseason.

"It took a while," he said. "I didn’t do much basketball stuff for probably the first two months of the summer, which is very rare for me, because my ankle wasn’t responding how I would like it to respond.

"And the best thing about the summertime was I had time. I had time to just really get ready when my ankle was ready to go. I was always training, just wasn’t on the basketball court much. Always doing other stuff, training, pushing, seeing if I could do other stuff with my ankle, and until I got to a point where I didn’t feel any sharp pains anymore, and my flexibility was back to where it was before. That’s when I knew I could get back on the floor."

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he plans to abide by a scripted rotation that would keep James on the court in the range of 34 to 36 minutes per game.

Vogel also explained what James meant about feeling better the more minutes he plays.

"Actually in some ways if he stays over there [on the bench] too long and he gets cold, it’s worse for him to get back in there [on the court]," Vogel said. "Especially since he’s been playing this type of rotation for so long."

Beyond that, Vogel does not have a rigid plan to manage James’ workload as he embarks on what he hopes will be the 11th trip to the NBA Finals of his stellar career.

"Obviously, it’s probably don’t want to have him play 82 games," Vogel said. "But we’re not going to pre-script X amount of nights off. We’re going to take it as it comes throughout the year."For James, coming off the only first-round exit of his career, there is no hangover from last season’s disappointing title defense."It’s definitely a completely clean slate," he said. "And […]

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Inside the unraveling of Ed Orgeron’s LSU tenure in just 21 months

BATON ROUGE, La. — Some of the waitstaff at TJ Ribs wore shirts with "It’s O time" across the front, but there was no escaping the feeling Wednesday night that Ed Orgeron’s time at LSU was coming to an end. When the embattled head coach walked in for his weekly radio show a few minutes before 7 p.m., he passed a grim reaper among the Halloween decorations in the lobby and received little more than a golf clap.

For the next hour, he spoke about fighting through the losses, through myriad injuries, through all the bad breaks that keep piling up.

"Our fans are tired of hearing this," he said, "but we’ve had great practices."

A middle-aged woman standing near the bar shook her head.

"Wait till next year," she whispered to a friend. Then she paused and lowered her voice: "But there’s probably going to be a new coach."

Orgeron didn’t let on, but the conversations about him stepping down were already underway. After an embarrassing 21-point loss to Kentucky on Oct. 9 dropped LSU to 3-3, he met with director of athletics Scott Woodward. Both of the Louisiana natives agreed that it was time for a change and by Sunday, it was official.

Twenty-one months after going undefeated, winning a national championship and putting together perhaps the greatest single season in college football history, LSU announced that it had reached an agreement to part ways with Orgeron at the end of this season.

The high-flying offense of quarterback Joe Burrow and coordinator Joe Brady was long gone. A once close-knit locker room had been broken by a head coach who had lost his way — from making bad coordinator hires, fumbling social justice issues, allegedly mishandling legal allegations against his players, and making public outbursts that left administrators questioning whether he was the right man to lead the program.

Here’s how things unraveled so quickly for Orgeron, from a championship high in 2019 to the athletic department agreeing to pay him nearly $17 million just to depart. When Joe Burrow and 13 other players left for the NFL draft after the 2019 season, it created a leadership vacuum on the team. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports DURING LSU’S CHAMPIONSHIP run in 2019, Orgeron spoke to ESPN about the new identity he’d forged, having gone from the interim coach few people believed was qualified for the job to the leader of one of the most accomplished teams in the history of college football who would soon be rewarded with a lucrative six-year contract extension.

Gone was the control freak who once struggled to delegate and the screamer who would often chug cans of energy drinks and work his staff to the bone. That guy, he said, "broke people" and "broke the team."

It took getting fired at Ole Miss in 2007 and not getting the job at USC in 2013, but Orgeron said he’d learned the hard way to loosen his grip.

It was a process, he explained, in which "I had to learn to be a head coach."

Three years […]

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Transfer Talk: Barcelona want Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak if Erling Haaland not possible

The summer transfer window was unlike any other; see all the major deals and check out how we graded the biggest signings. And just because the window is shut until January, that doesn’t mean the rumours won’t keep coming. Here is the latest gossip and speculation. TOP STORY: Barca see Isak as Haaland alternative

Barcelona are interested in Real Sociedad striker Alexander Isak , according to Spanish outlet AS .

The Catalonian club are eyeing a move for the 22-year-old as a cheaper alternative for Erling Haaland in an attempt to add more firepower in the striking department.

Haaland, 21, is available in the summer through a £75 million release clause that has put a lot of Europe’s top clubs on alert for a potential move. While Barcelona were a club interested, it is reported that their current financial situation would prevent a move for the Norway international.

Just a year older at 22, Isak has shown his strength in LaLiga with Real Sociedad, who reached the top of the table at the weekend with victory over Mallorca . He has struggled to score this season, interfered by a hamstring injury, he has scored 34 goals for Sociedad since joining from Borussia Dortmund .

A potential move could occur as Barcelona made room in their wage budget, moving on the likes of Antoine Griezmann , Lionel Messi and Miralem Pjanic . Reports claim that such movements would give the club some more room to work some arrivals in either the January window or next summer.

Another player who has been linked with the club is Raheem Sterling on a potential loan, as Ronald Koeman’s side look to step up their scoring in front of goal in the upcoming windows.

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– Manchester City are considering Ansu Fati as a possible replacement for Raheem Sterling, if the England international leaves. According to journalist Ekrem Konur , Pep Guardiola’s side view the 18-year-old as a potential successor to Sterling. The winger has one year left on his deal with the club holding an option for an extra two-years, however they have recently opened negotiations for an extension.

– Manchester City are set to reach a verbal agreement over a contract extension with midfielder Phil Foden , according to journalist Fabrizio Romano .The prolific 21-year-old has seen a rise in his game time and influence at the club and will reportedly be rewarded with a new deal until 2027 with an increased salary.

– Borussia Dortmund have decided upon Sebastien Haller as the successor to Erling Haaland next season according to Calciomercato , in the likely event that the Norwegian leaves the club next summer. The ex- West Ham United striker has impressed since his switch to Ajax, scoring five goals in two Champions League appearances and is on the radar of the Bundesliga club.

– AC Milan are interested in a deal for Marseille ‘s Boubacar Kamara on a free […]

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San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane suspended 21 games by NHL for ‘established violation’ of COVID-19 protocol

San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane has been suspended for 21 games without pay by the NHL for an "established violation" of the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 protocol.

Sources confirmed earlier this month that Kane was being investigated over allegations that he submitted a fake COVID-19 vaccination card to the NHL and the Sharks. While the NHL and the NHLPA do not have a vaccine mandate for the 2021-22 season, vaccinated players have far fewer restrictions on them than do unvaccinated players — including the ability to play games in Canada without a mandatory quarantine.

According to the NHL, Kane was suspended for "an established violation of, and lack of compliance with, the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 Protocol." The money he’ll forfeit goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, per the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols," said Kane in a statement released by the NHLPA. "I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey."

The NHL was also investigating allegations of domestic assault made by his estranged wife, Anna Kane, in a recent divorce filing. In announcing the 21-game suspension, the NHL said that "its concurrent investigation into allegations of domestic abuse made against Kane by his estranged wife, Deanna, could not be substantiated."

The suspension continues a tumultuous year off the ice for Kane. He was accused by Anna Kane of betting on NHL games, including his own games with the Sharks, whose outcome she claimed he intentionally sought to influence for his benefit. The NHL investigated the claims and cleared Kane last month, saying it found no evidence that he bet on hockey.

"The NHL has advised our organization that Evander Kane has been suspended without pay for 21 games for an established violation of, and lack of compliance with, the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 protocols," the team said in a Monday statement. "While we are encouraged by Evander’s commitment to moving forward, we are extremely disappointed by his disregard for the health and safety protocols put in place by the NHL and the NHLPA. We will not be commenting further on Evander’s status prior to the conclusion of the NHL’s mandated suspension."

Kane did not take part in Sharks training camp and has yet to appear in a game for them this season. He’ll be eligible to return to the team on for San Jose’s Nov. 30 game at the New Jersey Devils .

This is Kane’s fifth suspension in the NHL. He was banned for two games for an illegal hit while with Winnipeg in 2014; one game for a violation of team rules while with the Buffalo Sabres in 2018; one playoff game for an illegal check in 2019 […]

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver wanted vaccine mandate, says Kyrie Irving’s status is issue with New York City

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Monday that he would have "preferred" that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association come to an agreement on a vaccine mandate, in part to avoid it becoming an "adversarial" issue for the league’s players, as it has for Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving .

"I won’t try to speak for [the NBPA], other than the view that some players had, I think — including maybe some players who are vaccinated — that it should be an individual choice among the players," Silver said during his annual preseason news conference, which was conducted virtually because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"I would have preferred that ultimately that the players’ association agreed to mandatory vaccinations. The officials union agreed to mandatory vaccinations, despite opposition from some of their members. But ultimately I think we could have avoided a lot of the adversarial nature of these issues for our players. It’s not so much with the league. I think that gets confused in some cases.

"This is between Irving and New York City right now. This is not a league issue … but I think it would have been best for everyone if every player were vaccinated."

Irving is the lone NBA player who, as of Monday, is unable to play this season because of a vaccine mandate. New York City enacted a mandate last month that requires anyone going to a public gym, such as Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, to get at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. San Francisco passed a similar law that went into effect last week but that required individuals to be fully vaccinated.

While Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins eventually got vaccinated, clearing him to play, and the New York Knicks are fully vaccinated, Irving is the lone Nets player who has decided not to get the vaccine, and therefore he is ineligible to play games at either Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden. It’s a decision that, if he sticks with it for the entire season, could cost him close to $20 million.

Visiting players, however, are exempt from the law, meaning that Irving is the only one who is unable to play as a result. Silver said he has heard nothing about the possibility of the vaccine mandate in New York being eased at any point this season.

When asked if it is "fair" that Irving is unable to play while other unvaccinated players — including Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal — are able to play without issue, Silver said that the framing of the question was off.

"I’m not sure if fair is the right way to approach it because there’s nothing fair about this virus," Silver said. "It’s indiscriminate in terms of who it impacts, and I think it’s perfectly appropriate that New York and other cities have passed laws that require people who both work and visit arenas to be vaccinated. That seems to be a responsible public health decision made by those locales, and those are the […]

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ESPN’s Dick Vitale announces lymphoma diagnosis

ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale announced on Monday that he has been diagnosed with lymphoma.

In a statement, Vitale said he plans to treat the cancer with steroids and six months of chemotherapy.

The 82-year-old said he’ll manage the treatments around his work schedule for the upcoming season. Thanks so much to all of you for your prayers and support as I plan on fighting with all my heart to win this battle. Please know I appreciate so much that you care. https://t.co/kw7y2oeywI — Dick Vitale (@DickieV) October 18, 2021 In August, Vitale announced he had multiple surgeries over the summer to remove melanoma. The Basketball Hall of Famer said doctors believe that diagnosis is unrelated to his lymphoma.

"If you see me, please just give me a fist bump and say a prayer that I can return from being 82 years old to acting like I’m 12. Thanks so much for your love," Vitale wrote in his post .

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Nick Rolovich out as Washington State football coach after refusing state-mandated COVID-19 vaccine, source says

PULLMAN, Wash. — Nick Rolovich is out as the Washington State football coach after refusing to become vaccinated for COVID-19, a requirement for all state employees, a source confirmed to ESPN on Monday.

Monday was the deadline for state employees to become fully vaccinated or receive an approved medical or religious exemption as part of a state mandate that was announced in August. Rolovich was seeking a religious exemption, but it is not yet clear how the university committee assigned to evaluate religious exemptions ruled.

Defensive coordinator Jake Dickert is expected to be named the team’s interim coach, the source said.

Rolovich was hired in January 2020 after a four-year stint as the head coach at Hawaii , where he compiled a 28-27 record.

His departure was first reported by the Oregonian.

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Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh says critics of Lamar Jackson ‘whistling in the graveyard’

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh doesn’t understand the preseason narrative that this was the year when the league was going to catch up to quarterback Lamar Jackson .

"If you’re looking for your headline here, I think the people who make those statements are kind of whistling in the graveyard just a little bit," Harbaugh said Monday. "It doesn’t have any meaning. Anybody who knows X’s and O’s are rolling their eyes when they hear something like that."

In August, people around the league told ESPN: "This might be the year that everybody figures out Lamar Jackson."

In leading the Ravens to a 5-1 record, Jackson has been one of the most explosive players in the league, ranking sixth in the NFL in passing (1,686) and seventh in rushing (392). In Sunday’s 34-6 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers , Jackson set the NFL record for most wins (35) under the age of 25.

Harbaugh said defenses play Jackson and the Baltimore offense differently from other teams. He rarely sees the same scheme from any team that he has watched on tape the previous weeks.

"I don’t think once somebody does something — some X-and-O idea — all of a sudden that’s the answer," Harbaugh said. "We’ve kind of been saying that for three years now. There is no answer. You’ve got to play well. You’ve got to execute. Whoever executes better and makes plays, really, in the end is going to win. It’s less about figuring somebody out."

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How Arizona Cardinals star J.J. Watt became an F1 superfan

TEMPE, Ariz. — Over the summer, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt gave his older brother, Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman J.J. Watt , a Netflix recommendation.

T.J. had watched "Formula 1: Drive to Survive" with a buddy and suggested it to J.J., who casually knew about F1 because he once went to Monaco, home of the famous Monaco Grand Prix. So, J.J. turned on the series, joining 50 million others in 2021 who watched the show, according to Business Insider.

What happened over the next week made Watt more than a casual fan of F1. Much more.

"I’m deep," Watt told ESPN. "I’m deep in it. I love it."

Just how deep did the three-time NFL defensive player of the year who drives a Ford F150 and has no interest in, as he put it, "fancy cars," go?

As the F1 crowd would say, buckle up.

"I know more now about an F1 car and about a Christian Horner or a Toto Wolff beef," Watt started. "I know that it’s pretty wild that Alex Albon just got the Williams seat [for 2022], when it’s a Mercedes engine in the car but [Red Bull boss] Christian Horner is over here saying ‘I want Alex Albon on F1.’ He’s got four seats and he can’t give him one of them.

"It’s pretty interesting and I’m deep down it. It’s a fascinating thing and, obviously, Toto wants Nyck de Vries to have a seat. Now, he doesn’t have a seat. Maybe you could settle for an Alfa Romeo seat but it looks like it’s going to Hulkenberg."

Watt said he’s about "1,000%" deeper than he ever expected to be.

It took him a week to get through the three seasons of the show, calling the behind-the-scenes look at one of the most private sports on the planet "captivating." Then, on July 26, a day before the Cardinals were set to report for training camp, Watt revealed his passion and obsession with F1 with a tweet. Didn’t know a single thing about F1 Racing besides Lewis Hamilton like a month ago.

Now I’m just wondering which is greater, Christian Horner’s love for Max Verstappen or his hate for Toto Wolff.

I’m also down a deep rabbit hole on the 2022 car and the downforce implications. — JJ Watt (@JJWatt) July 26, 2021 It quickly took off, resonating with those who watched the show and found themselves watching more — or any — Formula 1 than they have in the past. It has more than 40,000 likes, but among the 2,200 responses was one that caught Watt’s attention.

Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton ‘s team and winners of the last seven world championships, invited Watt to their garage. Hey JJ! Heard you’re one of us now. �We’d love to invite you to hang out some time to talk downforce! � — Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) July 26, 2021 "I’m not saying that my loyalty can be bought, but it would be cool to be in Lewis’ garage and see how it all works," Watt said with a […]