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Johnny Football is Mr. SEC after dynamic debut

Johnny Football is Mr. SEC after dynamic debut

ATLANTA (AP) Johnny Football is Mr. SEC.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was a unanimous choice Monday for Associated Press Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year after a dynamic debut season in College Station.

The charismatic redshirt freshman known as ``Johnny Football'' passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, rushed for 1,181 yards and an SEC-leading 19 TDs, and guided the Aggies to a surprising 10-2 mark in their first SEC season, including an upset of No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones edged out South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney for the defensive player of the year award. Jones leads the conference with 22.5 tackles behind the line and ranks second to Clowney with 12.5 sacks.

Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin was named coach of the year, beating out Florida's Will Muschamp.

Manziel also was an overwhelming choice as freshman of the year, in addition to being selected on all ballots as the first-team quarterback - not bad in a league that features the nation's two highest-rated passers: Alabama's A.J. McCarron and Georgia's Aaron Murray.

``This season has been incredibly surreal,'' Manziel said. ``It's beyond my wildest imagination. It's a true testament to how this team has grown every week, because without these guys none of my individual success would be anything.''

He is also considered a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded in New York on Saturday. Manziel has put up bigger numbers than former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, a landslide pick for the Heisman in 2010.

No freshman has ever won college football's highest individual honor.

``He's a tremendous competitor and a tremendous leader, and that's something that you really don't see in a player as a redshirt freshman,'' Sumlin said. ``His leadership on and off the field throughout the season has made our season a real successful one.''

Though Manziel struggled a bit in the Aggies' two losses, to SEC stalwarts Florida and LSU, he became a national sensation with his dazzling runs and catchy nickname. Then, with the season winding down, he sent his profile soaring by leading Texas A&M to a stunning victory over the defending national champion Crimson Tide.

``I'm a small-town kid,'' said Manziel, who grew up in Kerrville, Texas. ``I don't see myself as Johnny Football.''

Like Manziel, Jones was a unanimous selection to the first team. The junior passed up a chance to enter the NFL draft and certainly helped his status with another big season between the hedges, even though the Georgia star missed a couple of games with nagging injuries.

``There have been games this year where he has made a phenomenal amount of plays,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said. ``The guy is probably one of the best defensive players in the country in terms of his playmaking ability. He's a really good rusher. He's physical. He's instinctive.''

Jones had two sacks, one stop behind the line and forced a fumble in last Saturday's thrilling SEC championship game. Georgia had a shot to play for the national title, but they lost to Alabama 32-28. The Crimson Tide will face top-ranked Notre Dame for the BCS crown on Jan. 7.

Five other players were unanimous picks for the first team: South Carolina's Clowney, cornerbacks Johnthan Banks of Mississippi State and Dee Milliner of Alabama, Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton, and Alabama center Barrett Jones.

Florida, which had a comeback season under Muschamp and earned a BCS bid to the Sugar Bowl, led all schools with six players on the first team. Tight end Jordan Reed and running back Mike Gillislee made it from the offense, tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam represented the defense, and the Gators landed both specialists off their superb special teams - kicker Caleb Sturgis and punter Kyle Christy.

Alabama, which will be seeking its third national title in four years when it faces the Fighting Irish, had four first-teamers. Barrett Jones and Milliner were joined by offensive lineman Chance Warmack and linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Texas A&M also landed four players on the first team after jumping from the Big 12 to the SEC along with Missouri. Two of the linemen who protected Manziel so well, Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, were selected by the voters, as was defensive end Damontre Moore.

The rest of the first team included Georgia freshman running back Todd Gurley, receiver Jordan Matthews of Vanderbilt, all-purpose threat Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee, offensive lineman Gabe Jackson of Mississippi State, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson of Missouri and a pair of LSU defensive standouts, linebacker Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid.

Barrett Jones, Jarvis Jones and Sturgis were the only repeat first-teamers from the AP's 2011 All-SEC team.

LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery and Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo both slipped from the first team a year ago to the second team this season. Heading in the opposite direction were Jackson, Banks and Reid, all making the jump from second-teamers last year.

Every school was represented by at least one player on the first or second teams except Auburn, which endured a winless season in the SEC and finished 3-9 overall. Coach Gene Chizik was fired after a blowout loss to Alabama, losing his job just two years after guiding the Tigers to a national championship.

The 80th annual AP All-SEC team was selected by a panel comprised of 14 media members representing each of the expanded conference's 11 states.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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