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Chiefs, GM Pioli part ways after 4 seasons in KC

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Chiefs, GM Pioli part ways after 4 seasons in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Scott Pioli is out as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, who have been negotiating the past two days with Andy Reid to become their next coach.

Pioli and the team ``mutually parted ways,'' the Chiefs said in a statement Friday. The decision came after four tumultuous seasons marked by poor draft choices, ineffective free-agent moves, failed coaching hires and a growing fan rebellion.

``I truly apologize for not getting the job done,'' Pioli said.

The Chiefs fired coach Romeo Crennel on Monday after finishing 2-14, matching the worst record in their 53-year history. Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said other changes could be made, and indicated that Pioli's future could be determined by their next coach.

A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the team is nearing a deal with Reid, who was fired after 14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. The person spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because negotiations were ongoing. It is believed that Reid would prefer to work with his own general manager.

``After several productive conversations, we made the difficult decision to part ways with Scott Pioli and allow him to pursue other opportunities,'' Hunt said in a statement Friday.

``This was a difficult decision for Scott as well,'' Hunt said. ``He has a great deal of appreciation for the history of this franchise, for our players, coaches and employees, and especially our great fans.''

Kansas City will have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and with five players voted to the Pro Bowl, there are certainly pieces in place for the Chiefs to make rapid improvement.

But most of those Pro Bowl players were drafted by Pioli's predecessor, Carl Peterson. The former Patriots executive struggled to find impact talent, particularly at quarterback, while cycling through coaches and fostering a climate of dread within the entire organization.

Numerous longtime staff members were fired upon Pioli's arrival, and his inability to connect with fans resulted in unrest unlike anything the franchise has known. Some of them even paid for banners to be towed behind planes before home games asking that he be fired.

Those fans finally got their wish.

The biggest reason ultimately wasn't the banners and posters, but by the performance of the Chiefs. And that was a reflection of the roster Pioli assembled, one that looked good on paper but not on the field.

Things were no better away from the field, either.

On Dec. 1, linebacker Jovan Belcher shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. He then drove to the team's practice facility and was confronted by Pioli, Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs.

After thanking the three of them for giving him a chance in the NFL, Belcher turned around in the parking lot, kneeled down and shot himself in the head.

Pioli hasn't spoken publicly since then but issued a statement Friday in which he thanked the organization for giving him an opportunity to be its GM.

``The bottom line is that I did not accomplish all of what I set out to do,'' Pioli said. ``To the Hunt family - to the great fans of the Kansas City Chiefs - to the players, all employees and alumni, I truly apologize for not getting the job done.''

Pioli often spoke of putting together ``the right 53,'' but he routinely failed to do so.

His biggest move upon being hired was trading for Patriots backup Matt Cassel and then giving him a $63 million, six-year deal. Cassel went to the Pro Bowl in 2010, when the Chiefs won a surprising AFC West title, but he struggled so mightily that he was benched this season.

Many of Pioli's moves in free agency also backfired.

Tight end Kevin Boss sustained a season-ending head injury in Week 2, running back Peyton Hillis was a shadow of his former self, right tackle Eric Winston got into a messy situation by calling out Chiefs fans during an early season loss, and cornerback Stanford Routt was cut under mysterious circumstances despite signing an $18 million, three-year contract.

One of his biggest shortcomings was in the draft.

He wasted the third overall pick in 2009 on defensive end Tyson Jackson, who has struggled to become an every-down player. The only other player who has made a contribution from Pioli's first draft has been kicker Ryan Succop, their seventh-round selection.

Pioli fared better in 2010, when he nabbed Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in the first round, but the past two years have been a disappointment. Wide receiver Jon Baldwin, his first-round pick in 2011, has barely made an impact, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe - the 11th overall pick last April - failed to make the kind of impression the Chiefs had hoped.

Pioli didn't fare much better when it came to coaches.

He fired Herm Edwards soon after he was hired and chose Todd Haley as the replacement, but their relationship was strained from the start. Haley was fired last December and Crennel made the interim coach, and then Pioli made the move permanent a few weeks after the season ended.

While beloved and respected by his players, Crennel struggled in his second stint as a head coach, and was dismissed after a 2-14 finish - only the third time in team history the Chiefs failed to win at least three games in a season.

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Lars Eller is out and John Carlson is a game-time decision for Game 1

Lars Eller is out and John Carlson is a game-time decision for Game 1

The Capitals will begin their first-round series against the New York Islanders shorthanded, though we are not quite sure how much yet. The team will be without center Lars Eller for Wednesday's Game 1 against the New York Islanders, according to head coach Todd Reirden. Defenseman John Carlson will be a game-time decision.

Eller left the bubble on Aug. 5 to be with his family for the birth of a child. He returned on Sunday and remains in his room under quarantine until he receives four negative tests over the course of four days. That meant it was theoretically possible that he could be cleared before Wednesday's game, but Reirden put the matter to rest on Tuesday saying Eller would not be available for Game 1.

Travis Boyd has played in Eller's spot on the third line and is expected to remain there for Game 1.

“You feel comfortable with the player that knows our system, knows the detail that is expected, understands his role on the team," Reirden said of Boyd. "He is very versatile we can use him in a lot of different ways and he is going to get that opportunity [Wednesday]. He has made well on this opportunity thus far. I think he has played well in both of the games he has been a part of and now it is where does he go from here?"

On the back end, Carlson's status remains unknown.

After getting tangled up in the team's exhibition game, Carlson did not play in any of the team's round robin games. This was believed to be just a precaution to save Carlson for when the games really start to matter in the playoffs. For that reason and considering how important a player he is, I would expect him to play or otherwise the injury is much more serious than anyone realized.

Carlson skated in both Monday's optional skate and Tuesday's practice.

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Big Ten announces cancellation of fall college football season

Big Ten announces cancellation of fall college football season

After speculation and uncertainty surrounding the college football season grew in recent days, the Big Ten Conference has announced that it is canceling its football season for the fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall."

In the release, the Big Ten announced it will "continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring."

News from the Big Ten differs from speculation and reports coming out of the ACC which state that the conference is set on making the season work in the coming months.

The Mountain West Conference announced it would be canceling its fall season as well on Monday, with hopes to play in the spring instead. 

The Big Ten decision does not come as much of a surprise. It was reported that the Big Ten was going to call the season off on Tuesday. Dan Patrick reported that news and said that the conference had an internal meeting on Sunday resulting in a 12-2 vote to not play a college football season this fall. Nebraska and Iowa were the two conference programs to vote in favor of playing this season.

Additionally, signs of hesitation were shown in the days leading up to the announcement. The Big Ten recently postponed its ramping-up period that included full-pad practices. The Big Ten did, however, recently unveil its 2020 conference-only schedule, leading to confusion in terms of what its stance was on playing football in 2020. Now, there is no more speculation. 

The Pac-12 Conference is reportedly expected to make the same choice as the Big Ten, but has yet to make an official decision. 

While it's understandable that the conference is prioritizing the health and safety of its players amid a pandemic that continues to impact thousands on a daily basis, the news is sure to upset players and coaches around the college football world. Big names such as Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, among others, have been campaigning to continue the season with the #WeWantToPlay movement on social media.

With players from all Power 5 conference uniting, they have asked for universal health and safety protocols, opt-outs for athletes that want them, guaranteed eligibility and voices from all conferences to be included in the decision. President Donald Trump also weighed in, supporting the call to play football in the fall on Monday and reiterating that in statements on Tuesday.

Despite the large faction that was on board with the status quo for now, the Big Ten will not be part of a potential college football season in the coming months. There is a chance that the season is played in the spring. Reports indicated that Warren and leaders around the conference preferred that idea, but no decision has been made at this time.

The Big Ten has now spoken, and the Pac-12 is expected to follow suit soon. With two of the five major conferences backing out, it will be up to the SEC, Big 12 and ACC to dictate the future of a 2020 college football season. 

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