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Decision time nears for Panthers owner Richardson

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Decision time nears for Panthers owner Richardson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The time for Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to make several critical decisions is drawing near.

With one week left in the season, Richardson will need to make a pair of decisions in the coming weeks that'll dramatically shape the future of the organization. Richardson must determine who'll be the team's next general manager and whether to keep coach Ron Rivera around for another season.

Richardson could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Rivera, who is 12-19 in two seasons as Panthers coach, said Monday he hasn't had any recent discussions with Richardson about his future.

He said he expects to meet with Richardson after the season, which ends Sunday against New Orleans.

``There have been no assurances'' from Richardson, Rivera said regarding his future with the team. ``Mr. Richardson has been steady just like he's always been.''

Right now Rivera said his focus is on preparing for the Saints on Sunday and finishing 7-9, which would be a one-game improvement over his first season with the Panthers.

``We'll see once it's all said and done,'' Rivera said.

To his credit, Rivera has been able to keep his team together after a 2-8 start and the Panthers have won four of their last five games, including three straight.

One of those wins came against the Atlanta Falcons, the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

``I think we're doing some really good things and I like the way the guys have stayed focused and some of the things the guys said after the game about playing for each other,'' Rivera said. ``That is very gratifying for a coach knowing that they're hearing the messages the coaches are sending. I appreciate their focus to the details of preparing. We have done a lot of good things.''

When asked if he deserves to be back next season, Rivera said ``I look forward to the opportunity and it's something that will be dealt with when the season is over.''

Rivera, a former linebacker with the Chicago Bears, is well liked by players and many have said it would be a mistake to fire him.

Rivera has two years left on his contract.

``It is great to fight for a guy that believes in us,'' receiver Steve Smith said following Carolina's 17-6 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. ``We believe in him. It's just a great way to show our appreciation for someone. The tolerance he has for our mistakes he takes the blame for, and gives us an opportunity to say, `Hey look at our coach. Look at what he is doing for us.'''

As for the GM search, Richardson hired former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to find a replacement for Marty Hurney, who was fired after a 1-5 start.

However, Richardson has been mum regarding the direction of that process from the start and Accorsi hasn't returned phone calls seeking comment about which candidates he plans to recommend.

Because of his ties to New York, Giants director of college scouting Marc Ross is one potential candidate that could get attention, but Richardson can't speak to any potential candidates until after their teams are finished playing.

Brandon Beane is serving as Carolina's interim general manager and is also viewed as a candidate.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank believes Richardson made a good call in hiring Accorsi as a consultant.

Blank hired Accorsi to help with his GM search in 2008. Blank said at the time Thomas Dimitroff, whom he eventually hired, wasn't even on his short list of candidates before Accorsi recommended him for the job.

Dimitroff has been a huge success in Atlanta.

``Ernie was very helpful in the process and he wasn't afraid to think outside of the box,'' Blank said. ``He's very knowledgeable and he knows talent as a general manager. Thomas was a really good hire for us. Jerry is a very bright owner and I think he made a wise decision enlisting Ernie's help for input.''

The Panthers (6-9) have not made the playoffs since 2008.

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Robert Griffin III tweets that there will be no NFL preseason

Robert Griffin III tweets that there will be no NFL preseason

Last Thursday, the NFLPA's board of representatives came to a unanimous decision that the entire 2020 NFL preseason should be canceled. In a memo obtained by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the union recommended eliminating the preseason as a way to avoid injuries as well as greater health risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even with the players united on that front, it's unclear what the final decision will be in terms of the preseason. However, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III is hearing that what the NFLPA voted for is going to come to fruition.

Whether or not the preseason should be played is a debatable topic for many. For Griffin, he believes the reasoning for canceling the games that don't officially count comes down to one essential factor: the health of the players.

RELATED: NFLPA VOTES TO ELIMINATE PRESEASON

While preseason games still bring in money for teams and the league, the quarterback doesn't see that as a reward big enough to ignore the risk of putting players in a situation that could compromise their safety.

The NFL had recently announced that it would be cutting down the preseason to only two games, but it now looks like even further reductions could be made. As for the status of the 2020 regular season, Griffin knows just about as much as everybody else.

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Lamar Jackson cancels 'Funday with LJ' as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Florida

Lamar Jackson cancels 'Funday with LJ' as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Florida

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has canceled his third annual 'Funday with LJ' event in South Florida as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the area.

The move comes as a surprising one, as the quarterback had promoted the event in recent days, as it was set for July 11-12 in Pompano Beach, Florida.

According to the Baltimore Sun's Jonas Schaffer, Jackson decided to call off the event after more people signed up for the event than city limits allowed. So, rather than turning away people from what was supposed to be a public event, the quarterback decided to cancel the event altogether.

Jackson's event was expected to be a 6-hour outdoor extravaganza featuring go-karts, rock climbing, flag football, water slides and more. The quarterback had previously put in place safety measures in order to hold the event that included requiring adults to wear masks, a limited autograph session and having children sign a waiver form before participating.

While Jackson likely did not want to have to cancel the event, the decision is ultimately a smart one. Broward County, where 'Funday with LJ' was supposed to take place, has reported over 21,000 positive COVID-19 cases as South Florida has become one of the virus hotspots in America. 

By canceling the event, Jackson also limits the potential chance of himself contracting the virus. And with NFL training camp just a few weeks away, that's the safe decision.

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