SGN – Sports Edition | April 29th, 2020
As we all continue to hold down the fort, here are some positive thoughts and moments from the sports world to get us through
Last week we introduced our inaugural Best.Day.Ever.Some Good News – Sports Edition, piggy-backing off the legendary John Krasinski, who continues to inspire with his “Some Good News” YouTube channel. Taking a page from our sports playbook, as he and Red Sox great David Ortiz surprised workers at Beth Israel Beaconess Hospital in Boston with four tickets FOR LIFE. Coming from a Yankees fan, this is truly awesome. Bravo to the Red Sox and the city of Boston for making these workers feel special and giving them a reward that will last a lifetime.
Now back to your weekly scheduled programming highlighting the latest on league initiatives, current events, and more uplifting content to get you through another week without sports.
This past weekend we were all fortunate enough to view some live content with the (virtual) NFL Draft. Despite fears of latency and connectivity, we were treated with no glitches or delays throughout the entire weekend event. It may not have been normal and at times a bit awkward, but the event was a huge success for everyone involved. Especially the networks, as ESPN, ABC, NFL Network, and ESPN Deportes, saw a 37% increase in viewers on the first night compared to last year, with 15.6 million tuning in. My personal highlights include, Bill Belichick’s dog making a celebrity guest appearance, the many different team war rooms (shout out to Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury with the subtle flex), and all the player reactions, most notably former Oklahoma star wide-out now Dallas Cowboy, CeeDee Lamb, who made sure he was the first to read his congratulatory messages.
Most importantly in all of this, the NFL did its part to use the draft as a platform for good, as its ‘Draft-A-Thon Live’ Campaign raised over $6 million for COVID-19 relief and put the leagues total donations north of $100 million raised. Next up for the NFL: the highly anticipated schedule release, which is set to come out around May 7th or 8th.
The NBA moved back into headlines by announcing that it will allow practice facilities to re-open starting May 8th in states no longer facing government restrictions. This comes with stricter rules to promote distancing guidelines, with the most limiting being that no more than four players are allowed at a facility at one time. Dean Smith’s four corner offense, anyone?
The most proactive league during this crisis has been the UFC, as Dana White officially announced plans to hold three events within an eight-day period starting with UFC 249 on May 9th. All three cards will take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville without fans in attendance. Why Florida? The state has the most relaxed regulations around sports operations, deeming ‘professional sports and media production’ an essential service. Surely this will help the folks in Vegas get back on their feet a bit.
Just when we thought “The Last Dance” documentary was the only sports content we have to look forward to, “The Match” is happening, again! For those unaware of the magnitude of this event, it’s Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning playing golf together. Do I need to say more? The pairings of Woods/Manning and Phil/Brady are rumored to take place around May 24th and will be aired on TNT according to a Turner Sports spokesperson. The course of the match is also undetermined, but rumors say it will be somewhere in Florida [see note re: Florida above].
NFL teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills are doing their part to help those on the frontlines and in need of food in their communities. Jeff Lurie and the Philadelphia Eagles announced that they are donating $1 million to assist in COVID-19 relief in the Philadelphia area. The funds will be divided amongst Philadelphia causes and charities, with most of the money focused on helping essential medical workers and their families. Similarly, Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott and his family pledged $15,000 for COVID-19 efforts in Western New York. McDermott and his wife Jamie have also worked with Grange Community Kitchen, a popular local restaurant, to donate over 500 meals to local hospital staff.
Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty have pledged to buy $90,000 worth of laptops for students in Rockland County, NY. The McCourty twins grew up in Nyack, NY and like many professional athletes are helping their hometown communities adapt to the changing environment the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. With many schools moving towards digital learning, there is a bigger need for improved technology and resources for all students.
Chicago Bears All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack donated $350,000 to the COVID-19 relief fund in Chicago. The fund was organized by A Better Chicago, a philanthropy venture that supports initiatives that serve low-income youth. In a press release, Mack gave some words of gratitude and expressed that the fight must continue, “I am blessed to be able to assist the community and excited to have others who have stepped up and partnered with me on this… A better Chicago is on the ground and satisfying the immediate needs of so many. Let’s not stop here, the effects of COVID are far from over.” I agree with Khalil, let’s go above and beyond so we can all get back to normal.
Former Baltimore Ravens legend Ed Reed is doing his part by helping feed students of the Booker T. Washington middle school in Baltimore while its doors are closed. One hundred percent of these students receive free or reduced lunch and can no longer depend on school lunches, which has created a great concern in the community. ‘Reed Feeds’ is a part of the Ed Reed Foundation, which has been giving back to Baltimore and his native New Orleans throughout this pandemic.
According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Boston Celtics forward Marcus Smart, who recently recovered from COVID-19 at the end of March, provided over 400 meals to hospital workers across New England and is donating his blood to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project to assist in research. For a player known for being tough, this is strength exemplified.
That’s it for this run! Be sure to check back same time next week for more features, stories, and updates that fill the current sports void in our lives.