Nationals

Heisman winner Manziel glad to get back in huddle

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Heisman winner Manziel glad to get back in huddle

Johnny Manziel is ready to get back to being Johnny Football.

After not talking to the media all season until Nov. 26, two days after the regular season finale, the Texas A&M quarterback has been from Florida to New York to Hollywood. Along the way, he won the Heisman Trophy and a host of other major awards.

Manziel is back on the College Station campus after a ``Tonight Show'' appearance this week, when he presented actress Megan Fox with a No. 12 Texas A&M baby jersey for her newborn son. Manziel did a Top 10 list for David Letterman last week, along with plenty of other media appearances as the Heisman winner.

``He got back in here the other day, he just said, `Hey, coach, I'm ready to play some football.' He's through with all that,'' Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said Wednesday.

``He can get back to just being with his teammates and practicing,'' the coach said during a conference call featuring the Cotton Bowl coaches. ``Just talking with him yesterday, he looks excited to just be off the circuit, be back in the huddle calling plays.''

No. 10 Texas A&M (10-2) plays 12th-ranked Oklahoma (10-2) at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 4. While Manziel will be the eighth Heisman winner to play in the Cotton Bowl, he is the first since Texas running back Ricky Williams 14 years ago.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said preparing to face Manziel presents unique challenges.

``Unique in that he's the leading rusher. It makes it really difficult. He throws the ball so well, throws it so well on the run,'' Stoops said. ``But he's one of those guys, maybe sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody because there he goes. He just has a great knack, an instinct for avoiding pressure and creating plays.''

Manziel had 4,600 yards of total offense in 12 games to break the SEC record set two years earlier by Heisman winner Cam Newton, who needed 14 games to gain 4,327 yards. Manziel became the first freshman, first player in the SEC and the fifth player overall with 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season.

Along with the Heisman Trophy, Manziel was named The Associated Press Player of the Year, the SEC's top player and the winner of the Davey O'Brien Award that goes to the nation's top quarterback.

All of this for a kid who just turned 20 years old two weeks ago.

Sumlin said he has had a conversation with his young quarterback about handling things moving forward, and the fact that he's just getting started.

``People are asking, What are you going to do now? With success, there comes other things,'' Sumlin said. ``I think we've got a lot of the things in place here to help him, which really helped him through the process originally, and we've got a lot of things in place that are going to continue to help him handle a lot of these things. ... I think you can see he's pretty mature for a 20 year old.''

Without being specific, Sumlin said the Aggies would help Manziel through that process.

``But, like I said, shoot, he's happy to be back here in the building,'' Sumlin said. ``Sitting in meetings, watching video.''

Notes: With Aggies offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury gone to become Texas Tech's head coach, Sumlin said running backs coach Clarence McKinney will call plays in the Cotton Bowl. ... Before becoming Houston's head coach in 2008, and going to A&M after last season, Sumlin was an Oklahoma assistant for Stoops from 2003-07. Before that he was offensive coordinator at Texas A&M for a win over Oklahoma. ``I had great respect for Kevin before he was the O-coordinator there when they beat us,'' Stoops said. ``Heck, Kevin and I used to run around South Florida together recruiting when he was at Purdue, I was at K-State. We were chasing the same kids all the time.''

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Former Astros RP Will Harris dons ‘District of Champions’ T-shirt for Nationals press conference

Former Astros RP Will Harris dons ‘District of Champions’ T-shirt for Nationals press conference

Will Harris may have been the pitcher who served up Howie Kendrick’s go-ahead home run in Game 7 of last fall’s World Series, but he apparently isn’t holding any grudges about the outcome.

Harris, who spent five years with the Houston Astros before signing a three-year deal with the Nationals over the winter, sat down for a Zoom press conference Tuesday in what his first chance to speak with the media since Summer Camp began. He wore a T-shirt that was a bit surprising for a player who was on the losing end of Washington’s title run.

The shirt reads “District of Champions,” a nod to D.C. winning titles in MLB, NHL and WNBA over the last three years. To his credit, Harris hasn’t shied away from talking about his performance in Game 7.

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“Look, I took the L in Game 7, that’s never gonna change,” Harris said on MLB Network in January. “But at the same time, I plan on winning my next Game 7 and I plan on winning more World Series, and I think Washington is a place I can do that.”

As if there was any doubt before, it appears that Harris has completely committed to his ballclub and D.C. as a sports town.

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Natasha Cloud rips WNBA's decision to decline Elena Delle Donne's opt-out request

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Surprising news broke Monday evening when Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne's request to opt-out of the 2020 WNBA season was declined. The two-time WNBA MVP suffers from Lyme disease, but her condition was not on the CDC's list of underlying conditions that puts someone at additional risk for COVID-19. 

Delle Donne's teammate, Mystics guard Natasha Cloud, was also stunned by the league's decision. On Monday evening, Cloud posted an Instagram story in support of Delle Donne, asking the WNBA: "how do you deny someone with Lyme disease?"

Cloud doubled-down on Tuesday, taking to Twitter to express her dismay of the WNBA's decision.

"It’s bull----," Cloud wrote. "@WNBA either play or risk her life...what do we stand for? Cause apparently it’s not the players."

If the league doesn't reverse its ruling, Delle Donne must play the 2020 season to receive her full salary. In her statement Monday, she said she wants to play but her personal physician advises against it.

"I love my team, and we had an unbelievable season last year, and I want to play! But the question is whether or not the WNBA bubble is safe for me," Delle Donne said. "My personal physician who has treated me for Lyme disease for years advised me that I'm at high risk for contracting and having complications from COVID-19."

Cloud, who had a career season for Washington last year, has already decided to opt-out of the 2020 season in order to continue her commitment to raising awareness of social justice issues and the fight for racial equality. The guard signed an endorsement deal with Converse earlier this offseason, and the brand will pay her entire salary this season.

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