Cowboys player death raises question of safety net


Cowboys player death raises question of safety net

IRVING, Texas (AP) San Francisco 49ers defensive end Demarcus Dobbs walked away from a one-vehicle accident on his 25th birthday last month and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Less than two weeks later, with the NFL rocked by the car crash that killed Dallas Cowboys player Jerry Brown and left his teammate, Josh Brent, facing a manslaughter charge, Dobbs swears he'll find another way home whenever he does too much partying.

``I'm never going to put myself in that situation ever again,'' he said.

This is, of course, exactly what the NFL, its teams and the players' union wants to hear amid fresh questions about whether all the warnings and safety nets - because players in most of the major sports leagues arguably have more than the general public - will ever be enough to prevent accidents and deaths.

``There's a lot of pressure being in the NFL ... but it's no excuse for bad decisions,'' Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. ``Players have a lot of options, tools at their disposal, that they need to take advantage of, but it comes down to individuals making good decisions.''

Brown's death on Saturday and the arrest of defensive tackle Josh Brent after police say he caused the fatal wreck by speeding and driving drunk put the NFL Players Association's safe ride program back in the spotlight. It was revamped three years ago after concerns that enough players weren't using it.

Union spokesman Carl Francis said the program is a strong point of emphasis, and every player's membership card includes the contact information. And CEO John Glavin of Florida-based Corporate Security Solutions Inc., which runs the program, said he is happy with how the union gets the word out on the program.

He also stressed the confidentiality of the program, saying the company doesn't even tell the union when players call for rides.

Jacksonville cornerback CB Rashean Mathis, the team's union representative, said players rarely, if ever, use the program.

``Confidentiality is the problem,'' Mathis said. ``Guys are going to go out and have fun. We're just like the regular guy that works a 9-to-5 job. On a Friday night, he goes out and has some beer. It's not the best-case scenario, but it happens in life.''

To use the program, players can either work in advance to set up a full night with a driver or make a call for a ride home. The brochure says most response times are less than an hour. The program is available all year, and Glavin said his company also serves the NBA and NHL.

In Major League Baseball, designated drivers are available to players and fans through the teams, and the players have access to a confidential program that will take them wherever they need to go.

In the NFL, some teams rely solely on the NFLPA's program, while others have an additional system. In Cincinnati, the Bengals pay a company to make two drivers available when an employee calls. One drives the caller home, and the other follows in the employee's vehicle.

Glavin said some players hesitate to use that kind of program because they don't want others driving their expensive vehicles. Either way, the program hinges on a player making the first move.

``We can't make them make the phone call,'' Glavin said.

Last summer, the NFL held its 15th annual rookie orientation, which includes a number of life skills sessions. For the first time, separate sessions were held for the AFC and NFC to make the groups smaller, and current and former players were brought in as speakers, including Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick and Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones. Both have had high-profile legal problems, with Vick spending time in prison in a dogfighting case.

The NFL has sessions on issues ranging from guns to alcohol and drug use at other times of the years, and all teams have counselors who work with players, league spokesman Dan Masonson said.

League owners are gathering in the Dallas area Wednesday. The agenda was set to focus in part on player safety through the addition of leg padding, but it's likely to change. A week before Brown's death, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend before driving to the team's stadium and shooting himself in front of his coach and general manager.

``I am sure the events of the past two weeks will be discussed at the league meeting,'' league spokesman Greg Aiello said. ``We are always looking to do more.''

Several coaches said Monday they were talking again about issues of safety and good decisions after Brown's death. They also acknowledged there was only so much they could do, as did Mathis.

``We're not immune from life because we're athletes,'' Mathis said. ``We're not, but there are smarter choices.''


AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley, Larry Lage, Mark Long and Joe Kay contributed to this report.


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When is the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery? Date, Time, TV Channel, Online Stream, Draft Order

When is the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery? Date, Time, TV Channel, Online Stream, Draft Order

Amid the longest regular season in NBA history, the offseason shenanigans begin (for some). The NBA Draft Lottery! 

Now granted, no players will be selected during the lottery and no team's future is decided. There will be no trades and not even every team will participate. It simply states the draft order based on a flurry of ping pong balls. Still, it is one of the most intriguing dates on the NBA's calendar.

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery tips off the offseason's festivities on Thursday, August 20, even though a lot of teams will still be starting playoff competition. Teams will then know their fate and can begin preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft. 

Only the 14 teams that did not play in the postseason will partake in the NBA Draft Lottery — the final lottery slot will be determined at the conclusion of the Portland Trailblazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies NBA playoffs play-in tournament which begins Saturday, August 15th at 2:30 p.m.

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be televised live on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET. 


When is the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery?

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery is Thursday, August 20. This event sets up the draft order for the 2020 NBA Draft on October 16. 

This year's draft lottery will be hosted virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the NBA Draft Lottery?

The NBA Draft Lottery is a process to determine the draft order for the non-playoff teams in the upcoming NBA Draft. Based on a team's record in the 2019-20 regular season, they receive odds to land certain picks in the draft. 

This year there is a new system factoring in the pick order. The worst three teams in the NBA all will have the same odds (14 percent) to get the top pick in the draft. This is the first year under this structure is used to prevent teams from entirely tanking at the end of the year. The odds descend from there as the teams' records get better in relation to their placement in the standings. 

How to watch or stream the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery:

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be held virtually on Thursday, August 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. 

You can also stream the draft on the ESPN or WatchESPN apps. 

What are the Wizards Lottery Odds?

Washington has the ninth-best odds in the lottery, which means they have a chance to select anywhere from 1-4 and 9-13. The most realistic scenario would be the team selecting ninth overall with their odds at 50.7 percent in said slot.

It's worthy to note that if any of the five teams below them jump, there is a chance they could slide below nine. Washington has a 25.9percent chance of picking 10th, 3.0 percent chance of picking 11th and a 0.1-or-less percent chance of picking either 12th or 13th.

NBA Draft Lottery Probabilities:

1. Golden State Warriors (15-50) - 14 percent
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-46) - 14 percent
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-45) - 14 percent
4. Atlanta Hawks (20-47) - 12.5 percent
5. Detroit Pistons (20-45) - 10.5 percent
6. New York Knicks (21-45) - 9 percent
7. Chicago Bulls (22-43) - 7.5 percent
8. Charlotte Hornets (23-42) - 6 percent
9. Washington Wizards (25-47) - 4.5 percent
10. Phoenix Suns (34-49) - 3 percent
11. San Antonio Spurs (32-39) - 2 percent
12. New Orleans Pelicans (30-42) - 1.3 percent
13. Sacramento Kings (31-41) - 1.2 percent
14. Memphis Grizzlies (34-39)/Portland Trailblazers (35-39) - 0.5 percent

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Why this year is different than 2018, Ovechkin's big game and the Caps are in trouble

Why this year is different than 2018, Ovechkin's big game and the Caps are in trouble

The Capitals find themselves in a 2-0 series hole after an ugly 5-2 loss in Game 2 against the New York Islanders on Friday.

Check out a recap of the game here.

Observations from the loss

This is different than 2018

You are going to hear a lot of talk about 2018 until Sunday's game. With the Caps down 2-0 in the series, the comparisons are inevitable.

In 2018, Washington lost its first two games of the first round series to the Columbus Blue Jackets and rallied back to win it 4-2.

The problem is that in 2018, the Caps were the better team in both games. They had confidence they could win because they should have won both of those games, plus they got a confidence boost from starting Braden Holtby in Game 3. Philipp Grubauer had started Games 1 and 2. In 2020, they just look bad. Both losses were bad losses and, unless Nicklas Backstrom is ready to go for Sunday, they don't have anyone waiting in the wings that they can plug into the lineup to provide the same kind of spark.

Don't be fooled by the 2018 comparisons. This team is not going anywhere unless it dramatically improves its play from the first two games.

Coming unglued

If you wanted to encapsulate this game in a single moment, it was in the second period when Garnet Hathaway was called for boarding just 21 seconds after Washington gave up a breakaway, go-ahead goal to Brock Nelson in the second period. Hathaway was hauled off to the box by the linesman with his gloves off looking for someone to fight. It was one of five power plays Washington gave up on the night.  Jakub Vrana continued his rough postseason with an early slash and Tom Wilson hit Ryan Pulock before giving him an unnecessary elbow, which sent him to the box. The team also took two too many men penalties. In addition, New York's second goal came off a defensive zone turnover as Lars Eller was attacked by two forecheckers behind the net and no one reacted to give him a target to pass to. The game-winner was scored on a breakaway as Vrana tried to corral the puck at the offensive blue line with his back turned to the pressure. Brock Nelson stole it away to launch himself on the breakaway.

The Islanders deserve credit for the way they have played, but all of these are self-inflicted mistakes by the Caps who look like they have completely lost their composure.


They have to change something

After how badly the team has played in the first two games, you cannot come back with the same lineup for Game 3. Something has to change beyond just Backstrom returning - if he does in fact return. Whether this means changing lines, defensive pairs or putting in the black aces, the Caps cannot take a wait-and-see approach as they already trail 2-0.

Turning point

Alex Ovechkin had just scored his second of the game to tie it at 2. With the Caps in the offensive zone, Vrana grabbed the puck at the blue line and, with his back towards the goal, tried to swing around and pass the puck off. But with his back turned, Vrana did not see Brock Nelson coming. Nelson stole the puck away and was off to the races, scoring the breakaway goal just 15 seconds after Ovechkin tied the game.

That goal proved to be the game-winner. It was horrible puck management from Vrana who did not play again in the second period.

Play of the game

Ovechkin deflected in a shot from Brenden Dillon to tie the game at 2 in the second period, Ovechkin's second goal of the game.


Stat of the game

Another milestone for Ovechkin who deserved one as he tried to single-handedly carry the team on his back.

Quote of the game

Despite how bad this game looked, Ovechkin very nearly tied it at 3 in the third period with an open net opportunity on a power play. He won't miss many of those, but this time he hit the side of the net. When asked about the miss after the game, he was blunt.

Fan predictions

Score was off, but you were right about Ovechkin and the Caps still losing.

Close. Let's hope you're right about the second part.

Three people sent me this exact same GIF so kudos to you, Ryan, for getting there first. And, unfortunately, you were right....

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