Rejection Sunday

March 16, 2020

Good Morning,

The CDC last night recommended against gatherings of 50 or more people for at least eight weeks. All major sports leagues (NBA, NHL, MLS, MLB) are likely not returning until mid-May (potentially June). We’re four days into a sportsless world, but I can’t wait to see the passion and excitement when sports return this summer.

Letter Rip!

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NCAA

Rejection Sunday

Photo: Joe Robbins / Getty Images

Mondays are already hard. This one was supposed to be different…

Normally, we press pause on work this week for other reasons. Last night’s “Selection Sunday” would’ve revealed the 68-team NCAA Tournament bracket. Today, you’d be filling it out, joining the office pool, and engaging in a three-week social phenomenon known as March Madness.

Instead, the would-be 2020 bracket remains unknown, unfinished, and lost for eternity. There was no selection show. The social phenomenon you’re engaging in is called social distancing, and it’s the opposite of a unique connectedness and community many of us found in watching the NCAA Tournament. March Madness became March Sadness. And despite the notion that the NCAA Selection Committee should still reveal a hypothetical bracket, for the sake of awarding 1-seeds to teams like Dayton or at-large bids to the teams on the bubble, it will not.

Selection Sunday became Rejection Sunday…

“Anything less than a credible process is inconsistent with the tradition of the NCAA basketball championships. Brackets based on hypotheticals can’t substitute for a complete selection, seeding and bracketing process. There will always be an asterisk next to the 2020 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball championships regardless if the brackets are released…” —Dan Gavitt, Senior VP of Basketball (NCAA)

Additional Storylines
ESPN: Joe Lunardi’s Final ‘What If’ Bracket for 2020
CBS Sports: 
NCAA ‘Eligibility Relief’ Coming for Spring Athletes, But Not Basketball
247 Sports: NCAA Bans All Recruiting Activities Through Mid-April

*Today’s Underdog (A Tribute to the Tournament) will be pushed to tomorrow for scheduling reasons. Please check the bottom of tomorrow’s email for the 700-word feature.

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NFL

Love It or Hate It: Players Vote ‘Yes’ to New CBA

Photo: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

New CBA Passes 1,019 to 959 as 500 Players Abstain

With events cancelled around the globe, the NFL offseason storylines continue in a digital world, and they’ll keep coming all week long. The players officially voted ‘yes’ to the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) proposal, and an abundance of roster moves were made over the weekend with free agency opening Wednesday. Here’s how the new CBA vote went down, and what it means for the new NFL:

60 Votes Made the Difference
A final tally of 1,019 to 959… It was that close, and more than 500 players didn’t vote. A narrow margin of just 60 extra “yes” votes means NFL labor peace for ten more years. For many of the league’s elite players, the new CBA was a hard “no” due to increased games and questions about player safety, but the new terms seem to provide more long-term financial sustainability and opportunities for younger, less talented players. The NFL as we know it will look a little different from 2020 to 2030.

New CBA Additions

– Expands regular season from 16 games to 17 games (Preseason cut from 4 to 3)

– Expands playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams

– Provides more revenue sharing to players (from 47% to 48% or higher)

– Expands active rosters and practice squads

– Eliminates suspensions for positive marijuana tests

– Provides new arbitration process for disciplinary actions

New CBA Vote Passes Through 2030 (NFL.com)

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NFL

NFL Roster News: Tannehill Stays

Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

The NFL League Year Stays on Schedule 

Free agency opens Wednesday despite concerns from coaches and team offices, but a lengthy list of NFL roster moves were made over the weekend. Here are the big ones:

Tannehill Stays With Titans
Forget the ‘Tom Brady to the Titans’ rumors. Tennessee locked up QB Ryan Tannehill with a 4-year, $118 million deal on Sunday. He led them to the AFC Championship Game and was named the 2019 Comeback Player of the Year. (B/R)

Campbell to the Ravens
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster overhaul on defense continues. They sent pro bowl DE Calais Campbell to the Ravens in exchange for a fifth-round pick. Baltimore quickly gave Campbell a 2-year, $27 million extension. (CBS Sports)

Vikings Defensive Cuts
Minnesota released a pair of key defensive players to free up cap space over the weekend. CB Xavier Rhodes and DT Linval Joseph join the free agent market. (ESPN)

Additional Storylines
SI: NFL is Wrong Not to Delay Free Agency Due to Coronavirus
CBS Sports: 
Patriots Re-Sign CB Devin McCourty to 2-Year, $23 Million Deal

*Free agents are able to begin discussions with teams today at Noon ET. The official period where players can sign begins Wednesday (4:00 pm ET).

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NBA

The Assist Leaders

Photo: Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Good News: NBA Owners & Players Start Trend of Arena Worker Donations

In the face of chaos, NBA players and owners became heroes for arena workers and facility staffers who’s income relies on gameday paychecks. Without games for the next eight weeks (at least), the sports world was overwhelmed by the charitable donations and programs these athletes set in place. Here are just some of the “good news” stories.

The Assist Leaders

Mark Cuban: The Dallas Mavericks’ owner commits to paying hourly workers amid NBA work stoppage. (CNN)

Kevin Love: Cavs’ veteran donates $100,000 to help Quicken Loans Arena staff. (NBC Sports)

Blake Griffin: Pistons star donates $100,000 to staff at Little Caesars Arena. (Clutch Points)

Zion Williamson: The Pelicans’ 19-year-old rookie pledges to cover all salaries of Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days. (USA Today)

Giannis Antetokounmpo: Reigning MVP donates $100,000 to Fiserv Forum workers. (B/R)

J.J. Watt & Kealia Ohai: Married NFL and NWSL stars donate $350,000 for 1 million meals at Houston-area food bank. (Yahoo! Sports)

Rudy GobertJazz all-star who received criticism for behavior donates $500,000 to part-time staff and virus relief. (ESPN)
Editor’s Note: Countless players, coaches, and franchises across the NBA, NHL, and MLB put emergency programs in place and made charitable donations to those employees who will inevitably be affected by sports lockdowns. There were hundreds of these stories at nearly every arena across the country, and we’ll continue to share some of them in the coming weeks. Let’s all continue to follow suit and provide hope to those in need.

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CORONAVIRUS

Confirmed Cases in Sports

Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal Manager)
Danielle Rugani (Juventus)
Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea FC)
3 Basketball Officials (NCAA & NBA)
Unnamed Seattle Dragons XFL Player
Unnamed N.Y. Yankees Minor Leaguer
Christian Wood (Detroit Pistons)
Trey Thompkins (Real Madrid Basketball)
Ezequiel Garay (Valencia FC)
Timo Hubers (Hannover)
6 Players (UC Sampdoria)
3 Players (Fiorentina)

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📰 THE HEADLINES

NBA’s Best Case Scenario for Return Believed to be June After CDC News
(NBC Sports)

Race Honoring Pat Tillman’s Legacy Goes Virtual Due to Coronavirus
(ABC News)

Rhode Island Child Tests Positive After Autograph from Rudy Gobert
(Sports Illustrated)

Rick Pitino Returns to College Basketball as Head Coach at Iona
(CBS Sports)

Cincinnati Reds’ Trevor Bauer Organizes ‘Sandlot’ Whiffle Ball Game for Charity
(ESPN)

Simone Biles Calls Out USA Gymnastics After Happy Birthday Tweet
(CNN)

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Social Distancing: Explained

If you’re still struggling to understand the full extent of recent coronavirus (COVID-19) developments, this Washington Post article was the best thing I read over the weekend. It not only explains the current health crisis in a way that makes sense to everyone, especially people like myself who focus on sports, but the visuals are extraordinary. I have a better understanding of our national health situation and a better appreciation for the recent decisions made by leaders of our sports governing bodies.

Washington Post: Why Outbreaks Like Coronavirus Spread Exponentially, And How to “Flatten the Curve”

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