Some NFL teams to announce draft pick from abroad....Angel Stadium land sale clears final hurdle....Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte delivers biggest European attendance for a fight

Some NFL draft picks to be announced from abroad

By Ben Fischer

The NFL Draft broadcast from Las Vegas on Saturday will flip to a camera at the base of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue high above Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There, a Brazilian celebrity dressed in Dolphins gear will announce one of the team’s late-round picks. That night, the statue will be illuminated in Dolphins aqua and orange. The Dolphins are one of 10 teams that plan to announce selections from foreign countries on the third day of the draft, as the teams with new international commercial rights leverage the draft to build their fan bases abroad for the first time.

The remote picks include former Jets C Nick Mangold climbing atop the observation deck at The Shard, a giant London office tower, to announce the next Jet rookie. The night before, Mangold will host a Jets draft watch party at the bar Belushi’s London Bridge. In Mexico City, the Steelers will make a pick and then RB Najee Harris and celebrity chef Aquiles Chavez will host a cooking class from the event venue Terraza Homework. The full roster of overseas picks include:

  • U.K.: Jaguars, Jets and Bears
  • Germany: Panthers, Chiefs and Bucs (all from Munich, where the Bucs will host the first NFL regular-season game in Germany this fall)
  • Mexico: Steelers, Cardinals, Texans
  • Brazil: Dolphins

Four other teams are using their draft picks to promote their new country rights: The Vikings ran a sweepstakes in the U.K. earlier this month, with a winner receiving a four-day stay in Las Vegas during the draft, air fare from the U.K., VIP tickets and the right to announce a pick on stage. The Seahawks (Canada), the Patriots (Germany) and the Cowboys (Mexico) will be using on-stage pick to promote their new country rights in other ways, the NFL said.

The NFL in December awarded certain media and sponsorship rights to 18 teams across eight countries, making those countries the rough equivalent to their home 75-mile radius exclusive zones they already control. Teams have anywhere from one to three countries each, and had to commit to meaningful efforts to build fan bases there over the next five years.

Angel Stadium land sale clears final hurdle

The "final hurdle in the Angel Stadium land sale has been cleared," as the city of Anaheim and the California state housing agency have "reached a settlement over the city’s violation of California affordable housing law." Three years after the city "agreed to sell Angel Stadium and the surrounding parking lots" to Angels Owner Arte Moreno and his development company, the deal can "proceed without any legal obstacles." Under the development plan, Moreno’s company would "turn the 150-acre stadium site into a mini-city by building homes, shops, restaurants, hotels and offices on what is now a sea of parking lots surrounding Angel Stadium." The team would "remain in Anaheim through at least 2050," and Moreno could "decide whether to renovate the current ballpark or build a new one." If the settlement is "added to the agenda" for the next City Council meeting, the council "could ratify the settlement" on Tuesday (L.A. TIMES, 4/23).

Fury-Whyte delivers biggest European attendance

Boxer Tyson Fury defended his heavyweight title on Saturday with a "sixth-round knockout" of Dillian Whyte in front of 94,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, making it the “biggest European fight in terms of the attendance." After the fight, Fury said, “What a way to go out. This might be the final curtain for the Gypsy King.” Wembley was “rocking all over” when Fury emerged. It “topped the Wembley crowds” that watched boxer Anthony Joshua beat Wladimir Klitschko in '17 (LONDON TIMES, 4/24). The scene yesterday “was crazy” with the “second-largest attendance in boxing history" behind only the ‘93 Julio Cesar Chavez-Greg Haugen fight at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City that drew 132,274 fans. The fans “came to see Fury do his thing,” in his first defense as champion on home soil and he “gave them the show they wanted to see” (, 4/23).

Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte fought in front of 94,000 fans at Wembley Stadium on SaturdayGetty Images

Hornets surprise some by firing James Borrego

The Hornets made a decision that "caught more than a few people off guard," as they fired coach James Borrego, severing ties with him after four seasons. While ultimately Owner Michael Jordan had to "sign off on the move," a source said that Jordan "wasn’t the man who delivered the edict to sever ties with Borrego." Hornets President of Basketball Operations & GM Mitch Kupchak "made the choice to let Borrego go," figuring it was a "necessity to propel" the Hornets’ young core forward. There were a "variety of factors that pushed Kupchak in that direction." The Hornets were "clobbered by the Hawks and embarrassed on national television" in their play-in game. To have "such a rough performance in their biggest game of the season for the second straight year was a factor in casting Borrego aside" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/23).

For all of Jordan’s "extraordinary success as an NBA player," he has "failed spectacularly as an NBA owner." Borrego is "only the latest example of a high-profile hire that didn’t work out." In 16 years as the Hornets’ "primary basketball decision-maker," Jordan’s Hornets teams have won zero NBA playoff series, had 12 losing records and have gone 3-for-16 making the playoffs (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/23).

Dodgers' Boehly would hold "small stake" in Chelsea

California investment firm Clearlake Capital would "own a majority stake" in Chelsea if Dodgers co-Owner Todd Boehly's offer for the EPL club is successful. Sources said that under the bid lodged by Boehly, Clearlake Capital would "put up two-thirds of the money to buy Chelsea, effectively handing it a 66% economic interest in the club," although a class of stock carrying voting rights would "be split equally" between Clearlake and Boehly's investor group. Sources said that Boehly himself would "hold a relatively small stake in Chelsea." The bid's other investors, Mark Walter and Hansjorg Wyss, also would "own minority shareholdings" (SKY SPORTS, 4/24).

Meanwhile, it has emerged that "another stage in the bidding process has been introduced," with one of the three interested parties "to be eliminated this week." Sources close to the situation said that they expect Celtics co-Owner Steve Pagliuca's bid to "be eliminated this week," as it is "not offering anything new." The proposals from former British Airways Chair Martin Broughton and Boehly will "then likely progress" (London DAILY MAIL, 4/24).

Chiefs to take time with Arrowhead decision

The Chiefs have "a long way to go" before the team decides "whether to remain at the legendary Arrowhead stadium." Chiefs President Mark Donovan said the team is "open to staying at Arrowhead, building a new stadium near the current one or moving somewhere else altogether." Donovan said, "All of those are on the table. ... The perspective I want to give everybody is: Take a breath. We’ve got a lot of work to do." The Chiefs are "currently funding a $500,000 study on the state of Arrowhead." That study will "explore what needs to be done to get the stadium" through '31, when the team’s lease with Jackson County is "set to expire." Donovan characterized a decision as "a ways off" (K.C. STAR, 4/24).

NFL to play three games on Christmas Day

The NFL will play "three games on Dec. 25 for the first time," as Christmas Day falls on a Sunday. There will be two games "in the afternoon on CBS and Fox," followed by a "prime-time contest on NBC." It will be the “third straight year” the league has played on Christmas Day. Eleven games during Week 16 "will be on Dec. 24," including a "night game on NFL Network." The league also will “have its regular Thursday night game” on Dec. 22. After the Christmas tripleheader, the week “will close with a Monday night contest” on Dec. 26. The NFL's trio of games will “put it in direct competition with the NBA,” which has “long had the day to itself.” The NBA has “played five games on each Dec. 25 for the past 14 seasons" (AP, 4/23).

Protesters interrupt another T'Wolves playoff game

For the third time this postseason and the second time at Target Center, there was an “interruption caused by a protester” at a T'Wolves game and this time, it “involved multiple protesters.” In the third quarter of Saturday's T'Wolves-Grizzlies Game 4, a woman seated in the second row, behind T'Wolves Owner Glen Taylor and his wife Becky, “got up from her seat and stepped on the floor,” where she was “quickly tackled by a security guard and removed.” As that woman was being removed, another woman seated near the Taylors also was “apprehended and taken away by security.” A group called Direct Action Everywhere "issued a press release taking responsibility for the protest," calling attention to how a chicken farm owned by Taylor has "allegedly handled an outbreak of avian flu.” The incidents at the T'Wolves-Clippers play-in game and T'Wolves-Grizzlies Game 1 were “protesting Taylor's farm as well” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/24).

Meanwhile, the start time for Game 3 of the Heat’s first-round playoff series against the Hawks on Friday was “pushed back because of a security issue." A "suspicious package" found outside State Farm Arena “delayed tipoff ... for nearly an hour." The arena's three gates were “temporarily closed to fans” as the Atlanta Police Department, K-9 units and arena security “cleared the area and investigated the contents of the package.” The package was “not found to be explosive” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/23).

Jordan Brand unveils Doncic's signature shoe

Jordan Brand unveiled Mavericks G Luka Doncic’s "first signature shoe, the Luka 1," before tip-off of Mavs-Jazz Game 4 Saturday. Doncic was "seen wearing the shoe" during the game. Jordan Brand said that the Luka 1 was “designed after Doncic’s ‘deceptive, off-speed play.’” The one-piece upper portion of the shoe "features a haptic print that changes colors depending on how light hits the shoe.” Jordan Brand in December ‘19 “officially inked Doncic to an endorsement deal.” While Doncic has been seen "sporting a variety of Jordan Brand shoes since,” this is his “first signature sneaker” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/24).

COVID protocols keep D-backs TV broadcasters out

The D-backs regular TV broadcasters were "out of action for the second consecutive day on Saturday evening, forced out following positive COVID-19 tests." A member of the team’s broadcast production crew tested positive upon the team's "return to Arizona from a week-long trip to New York and Washington." That prompted "mandatory testing for those deemed close contacts." Play-by-play announcer Steve Berthiaume and analyst Bob Brenly were "replaced in the television booth by the team’s regular radio team" of Greg Schulte and Tom Candiotti. Players and staff members who test positive "generally are required to miss 10 days but can return earlier with two negative PCR tests and clearance from the league’s Joint Committee." It is "not clear" if broadcasters "fall under the same protocols" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/24).

Meanwhile, MLB Giants color analyst Mike Krukow, despite experiencing "COVID discomfort," did not "miss any work assignments." This is because the Giants were "on an extended road trip," and "for health reasons, traveling has been ruled out this season for Krukow" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/23).

Cloud9 acquires Players CS:GO team

By Kevin Hitt

Cloud9 has acquired the Russia-based Gambit Esports’ Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squad that just qualified for the PGL Antwerp Major under a different name -- Players. It'll now play the name game once again, going forward under the Cloud9 banner and signifying the Santa Monica, California-based organization’s return to CS:GO. While financial details of the signings were not released, the deal was a negotiation between Cloud9 and Norwegian-based Ulti Agency, which now represents the players of Players. Cloud9’s signing of Players represents the third rebuild of its CS:GO efforts. Although it’s one of North America’s most storied esports organizations, Cloud9 has not fielded a CS:GO team since March '21, when it let go of its squad due to logistical problems surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full story here.

USFL's Birmingham team drawing local fans

Saturday's USFL Birmingham Stallions-Houston Gamblers game saw a "decent crowd" show up at Protective Stadium, a week after 17,500 attended the league's debut game. Though the game was a "road" game for the Stallions, with every USFL game being played in Birmingham, all of the team's games are “home” games. That means fans are “far more likely to show up" for Stallions games. For the other four USFL games played, there was “hardly anyone present” (, 4/23). During Saturday's Philadelphia Stars-Pittsburgh Maulers matchup, the crowd shots by the camera “showed some sections of the stadium tarped off” and “more people on the sidelines doing their jobs for the FOX broadcast than actually in the stands." It “wasn't a packed house by any means,” but a “respectable crowd was on hand” for Stallions-Gamblers. Today’s game will be “going roughly head-to-head” with the NASCAR Cup Series race at nearby Talladega Superspeedway, so attendance for New Orleans Breakers-Tampa Bay Bandits “might not be robust” (USA TODAY, 4/23).

Speed Reads....

Climate Pledge Arena garnered "rave reviews from patrons and players" for Saturday's preseason opener for the WNBA Seattle Storm. The $1.15B state-of-the-art venue was hosting its first Storm game and players "appreciated the Storm-centric signage and features throughout the building" as well as the "high-end locker room amenities" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/24).

The Islanders Alumni outlasted the Rangers 9-8 in a shootout in the first Alumni Classic Saturday afternoon in front of a "sellout crowd of 1,500" at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. The game was the "centerpiece of an afternoon which included a meet-and-greet with the players and designed to raise money for the Northwell Health Foundation," and the total raised "came to $25,000" (NEWSDAY, 4/24).

Former A's P Dave Stewart will have his No. 34 jersey "retired during a ceremony scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 11." The A's announced Stewart would have his jersey retired in August '19, but it "never happened during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season or last season" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 4/23).

Quick Hits....

“I think it gets solved. A new, right-sized stadium with the right amenities connected to our downtown -- I still would love it to be open-air, but apparently that’s probably not going to happen -- can get us where we need to be. I don’t think we need to be a 30,000-attendance per night venue” -- St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, on his belief the Rays will end up with a new ballpark in his city and not Tampa (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/23).

“We were trying to figure out what we were going to do on draft day, and one of the guys said we’ll just watch Tyreek highlights in the draft room to make us feel good” -- Dolphins GM Chris Grier, as the team’s first of four draft picks this year is not until Round 3. Part of the reason for that is last month’s trade for WR Tyreek Hill (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/24).

“There should be rules set up for that. Because in all honesty, that’s ridiculous. And that should not happen. Say whatever you want to say and do whatever you want to do. But at the end of the day, there’s got to be consequences for behavior like that” -- Guardians RF Oscar Mercado, on Yankees fans throwing debris on the field and almost hitting players after the Yankees’ 5-4 win yesterday (N.Y. POST, 4/24).

Weekend Hot Reads:

Under the header, "Why soccer being relevant to Boston sports owners makes it relevant to Boston sports fans," the BOSTON GLOBE's Christopher Gasper writes soccer is a "big deal to the owners of the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics," and by extension, that means it is a "big deal for Boston sports fans." Celtics co-Owner Steve Pagliuca is co-fronting a bidding group that is "among the three finalists" for EPL club Chelsea. EPL Liverpool is already "bankrolled by Red Sox owners John Henry and Tom Werner," while the Kraft family has "owned the Revolution since the inception" of MLS in '96. The money funding Boston fans' experience is "also financing soccer clubs," and fans "can’t ignore that."


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Today's Back Pages....

The Weekend Rap offers today's back page sports covers from some of North America's major metropolitan tabloids:

N.Y. Post  N.Y. Daily News Newsday Boston Herald Chicago Sun-Times Philadelphia Daily News