Official Opt Outs
NFL players had until Thursday, Aug. 6, to opt out of the 2020 season and still earn a $150,000 salary and contract rollover into the 2021 season, an offer accepted by 67 players. One week later, several officials have announced their intention to join those 67 players on the sideline.
“NFL game officials can opt out of the 2020 season in exchange for a $30,000 stipend and a guarantee that their jobs will be protected in 2021," according to a preliminary agreement announced Sunday between the league and the NFL Referees Association amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For the 121 active officials, there will be COVID-19 testing twice per game week (officials receive at least one week off during the season), and any official who tests positive will receive the same salary and other benefits they would if injured. And as of this weekend, seven officials have opted out of the season, five of whom are on-field officials: Jeff Bergman (line judge), Steve Freeman (back judge), Greg Gautreaux (field judge), Joe Larrew (field judge), and Tony Steratore (back judge). The other two were replay officials.
The NFL has discussed officials working two games in a week, most likely crews doubling up on Thursday night and Monday night games, and using five- or six-official crews, down from their typical seven-official crew. The first NFL game is four weeks from Thursday.
...have a chance to win Super Bowl LV, says SI’s Conor Orr, which means 20 teams don’t have a shot, including the new-look Buccaneers and three teams who reached the 2019 playoffs. Among Conor’s reasons for keeping the Bucs off the list: Notable quarterbacks weren’t great in their final hurrah with new teams.
“Kurt Warner went 8-18 over his first three seasons in Arizona. Brett Favre went 21-11 over his first two seasons outside of Green Bay. Drew Bledsoe went 14-18 over his first two seasons outside of New England. Warren Moon went 21-18 over his first three years in Minnesota.”
Other NFL notes: Patriots’ draft pick retired before playing in a game ... We know why media-obsessed egomaniac Jerry Jones went 109 days without addressing the media … Camp limitations leave rookies and coaches in a tough spot … The league’s first major travel experiment is four weeks away … NFL’s 30 best players over 30 years old.
Boylen’s Out, Who’s In?
Since Phil Jackson left the 1997-98 season, the Chicago Bulls have burned through seven head coaches, an average of barely three years for more than two decades. And they’ll hire an eighth after firing Jim Boylen on Friday, five months after their season ended on March 10.
“Among many expected to be considered: Denver assistant Wes Unseld, Jr., former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson; Toronto assistant Adrian Griffin; Bucks assistant Darvin Ham,” Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday. However, the odds-on favorite (per SportsLine) is Ime Udoka, a former longtime Gregg Popovich assistant who’s in his first season on the Sixers’ staff. Some other potential candidates to consider.
Odds & Ends
If Steve Addazio is fired, who might replace him at Colorado State? … Vlade Divac is out after a truly awful run at Kings’ GM … The NHL is a lot funnier this year … Oklahoma added another chapter to college football’s obsession with secrecy … Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is the sweet trip down memory lane we need … Four weeks before Notre Dame is scheduled to open the football season vs. Duke, the student body saw a massive spike in COVID-19 cases … Liberty football still isn’t testing asymptomatic players (which their opponents aren’t thrilled about) … Disney has officially ended the era of 20th Century Fox TV.
Something cool from Olympic Gold Medalist Laurie Hernandez: She hosted One Mind’s Brain Waves episode this week, discussing mental health, relaxation and more.
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