Update on the latest in sports:
AP source: Panthers make McCaffrey highest-paid running back
UNDATED (AP) – The Carolina Panthers have rewarded Christian McCaffrey for his production and versatility, making him the highest-paid running in the NFL. A person familiar with the contract negotiations tells The Associated Press the team agreed to a four-year, $64 million contract extension with McCaffrey on Monday.
The $16-million-a-year deal eclipses Ezekiel Elliott’s contract with the Dallas Cowboys that is worth $15 million per season.
The extension keeps McCaffrey tied to the Panthers through the 2025 season. The coming season would be the final year of his rookie contract, and Carolina had the option to pick up a fifth year in 2021.
In other NFL news:
– Former NFL quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has died in a one-car crash outside Montgomery, Alabama. He was 36. The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro that Jackson was driving went off the road, struck a tree and overturned at 8:50 p.m. Sunday. Jackson was hired as quarterbacks coach for Tennessee State last season after a 10-year NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills.
– The NFL and its players union have agreed to conduct “virtual” offseason workout programs until every team is permitted to open its facilities. Teams can hold classroom instruction, workouts and non-football educational programs using online platforms. The three-week virtual offseason starts on April 20 and runs through May 15. Teams with a new head coach have the option to also hold a fourth week for a voluntary veterans minicamp.
– ESPN and NFL Network will join forces for this year’s NFL draft. They will produce a broadcast that will air on both networks over all three days. The April 23-25 draft was originally scheduled to be in Las Vegas but has been moved due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will now originate from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.
– The San Francisco 49ers have re-signed cornerbacks Dontae Johnson and Jason Verrett to one-year contracts. Johnson and Verrett played sparingly for San Francisco last season but were brought back for depth in the secondary.
– The Los Angeles Rams have signed kickers Lirim Hajrullahu and Austin MacGinnis as potential replacements for longtime incumbent Greg Zuerlein. Hajrullahu has spent the past six seasons playing for three Canadian Football League teams. MacGinnis kicked in the defunct Alliance of American Football and in the defunct XFL over the past 14 months.
XFL files for bankruptcy, cites COVID-19 crisis
UNDATED (AP) – The XFL has filed for bankruptcy, likely spelling the end of the second iteration of the league.
The filing Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware estimates the organization has between $10 million and $50 million in both assets and liabilities. Former coaches Bob Stoops and Marc Trestman are among the creditors with the largest unsecured claims.
The WWE-backed XFL canceled the rest of its return season last month because of the coronavirus pandemic. It suspended operations and laid off its employees Friday.
The XFL had eight franchises this season and played five games out of a planned 10-game schedule. It drew decent TV ratings early on and had deals with ESPN and Fox.
Bulls fire Forman, announce Karnisovas hire, reassign Paxson
CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Bulls fired general manager Gar Forman on Monday, while officially hiring Denver Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas as their executive vice president of basketball operations and moving John Paxson into an advisory role.
The Bulls handed the keys to the 48-year-old Karnisovas last week, hoping he can spark a struggling franchise.
Paxson is moving into a background role after nearly two decades as the top basketball decision-maker. He took over as general manager for Jerry Krause in 2003 and was promoted to vice president of basketball operations in May 2009 with Forman – who joined the Bulls as a scout in 1998 – becoming GM.
But now, Forman is out. And the future of coach Jim Boylen remains unclear.
The Bulls thought they were ready to contend for a playoff spot after combining for just 49 wins the past two seasons. Instead, they were 11th in the Eastern Conference at 22-43 when the NBA suspended play because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other NBA news:
– The mother of Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns has died due to complications from COVID-19. Jacqueline Cruz-Towns had been fighting the virus for more than a month. The native of the Dominican Republic was a fixture at Timberwolves games from the start of her son’s NBA career in 2015. Karl Towns Sr., the father of the two-time All-Star, was also hospitalized with the virus but has since recovered.
– The NBA has been sending evaluations to players considering leaving college early and entering the draft. The league will do so for all underclassmen who ask before Thursday’s deadline. The task falls to the league’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which understands that what it says in these uncertain times may carry even more weight than usual. No date has been set for the draft.
– Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook has donated 650 computers to children in need so they can continue learning with schools shut down because of the new coronavirus. Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation teamed with Comp-U-Dopt and Houston mayor Sylvester Turner’s office of education to provide computers to underprivileged children across the city.
– Kansas guard Devon Dotson is entering the NBA draft after leading the Big 12 Conference in scoring his sophomore season. The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4 assists and 2.1 steals while helping Kansas go 28-3 and win its final 16 games.
– Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley will enter the NBA draft and sign with an agent, leaving school after a breakout season in which he was an honorable mention All-America selection by The Associated Press. Southeastern Conference coaches voted the 6-foot-3 sophomore Player of the Year after he wasn’t picked for any preseason all-conference teams. Quickley averaged a team-high 16.1 points per game last season with double-figure efforts in his final 20 contests.
Kyle Larson suspended for racial slur in virtual race
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Kyle Larson’s racial slur cost him his two primary NASCAR supporters. It likely will cost him his job soon.
McDonald’s and Credit One Bank ended their sponsorship of Larson on Monday, a day after he used the N-word during a live stream of a virtual race. The decision came hours after NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing suspended Larson indefinitely, his team doing so without pay.
Without funding from McDonald’s and Credit One Bank, Ganassi seemingly will be forced to dump Larson in favor of a different driver.
McDonald’s has partnered with CGR for nearly a decade and sponsors the team’s No. 42 Chevrolet in the Cup Series. Ending its relationship with Larson would make it next to impossible for Ganassi to stick with Larson behind the wheel. NASCAR ordered Larson, who is half Japanese, to complete a sensitivity training course before he can be eligible for reinstatement.
Larson apologized in a video posted on his social media accounts.
Tour de France called off
UNDATED (AP) – The Tour de France won’t begin as originally planned because French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled all public events with large crowds through mid-July in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tour organizers say it is now impossible for the three-week race to start on June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice as scheduled.
It is unclear if cycling’s biggest event will be scrapped from the race calendar. New plans are likely to be announced before the end of the month following consultations with the governing body of cycling.
In other virus-related developments:
– Tokyo organizers say they have no “PlanB” for the Olympics if they need to be postponed again. They say they are proceeding under the assumption the Olympics will open on July 23, 2021. That date was set last month by the IOC and Japanese officials after the spreading coronavirus pandemic made it clear the Olympics could not be held as scheduled.
– More than 40 figure skaters from nine countries will take part in a fundraiser Friday to help healthcare workers on the front lines battling the new coronavirus. Olympic and world champions such as Scott Hamilton, Michelle Kwan and Brian Boitano have compiled videos as part of the one-hour event “Blades for the Brave.” It will be streamed on Bladesforthebrave.org as well as Americares, Facebook and Twitter feeds and its YouTube channel.
– The Asian Football Confederation says it has postponed “all matches and competitions scheduled to take place in May and June until further notice.” Most of the 32 Asian Champions League teams played two group games in February before the coronavirus outbreak caused a shutdown. The AFC says it “will explore all possible options in order to complete” those groups.
– The Cleveland Browns will donate net proceeds from sales of their new jerseys to a fund aiding health care professionals, first responders and others who have selflessly served during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team launched the Hats Off to Our Heroes Fund on Monday, two days before it will reveal the new uniforms. The Browns said the team will commit 100 percent of the proceeds “for a significant period of time” to the fund.