Update on the latest sports
Watt, Texans ‘mutally’ agree to split in more team upheaval
HOUSTON (AP) – J.J. Watt says he and the Houston Texans have “mutually agreed to part ways,” ending the tenure of the face of the franchise.
The star defensive end said in a video on social media Friday that he had asked for his release. Watt had one year remaining on a 6-year, $100 million contract.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year has spent his entire career with the Texans after being selected with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Watt is the only player in NFL history to have 20 or more sacks and 10 or more passes defended in a single season after doing it in both 2012 and 2014. He’s tied for fifth among defensive lineman in league history with six touchdowns in the regular season, including three TD catches.
The four-time Pro Bowler never missed a game until 2016, when he started struggling with a back injury that ended his season. He broke his leg in the fifth game of the 2017 but rebounded from his injuries to finish with 16 sacks in 2018 and earn All-Pro honors for the fifth time.
Watt, who will turn 32 next month, played just eight regular-season games in 2019 after tearing a pectoral muscle, but returned to help the Texans in the playoffs. He played every game in 2020 and had five sacks, 52 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.
Along with his contributions on the field, Watt was lauded for his humanitarian efforts after raising more than $40 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in 2017.
Watt’s departure comes in an offseason in which the Texans have hired coach David Culley and general manager Nick Caserio to replace Bill O’Brien, who held both jobs and was fired after the team opened the season 0-4. They’re also facing uncertainty at quarterback after star Deshaun Watson requested a trade. The Texans ended the season with a 4-12 record after winning the AFC South the previous two years.
Injury could force Djokovic to withdraw
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Novak Djokovic’s (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich-ehz) bid for a ninth Australian Open championship has been thrown into doubt after he took a fall during a five-set victory in the third round. The top-ranked Djokovic says he tore a muscle and might not be able to play his next match.
Djokovic seemed to be cruising along to a 17th consecutive win against a U.S. opponent when his left foot gave out from under him as he tried to change directions early in the third set against Taylor Fritz. Djokovic eventually won 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 but said afterward the he didn’t know whether he’d be able to play Milos Raonic (MEE’-lohsh ROW’-nihch) on Sunday.
Friday’s match began with spectators present but Rod Laver Arena was empty by the time it ended. Spectators were forced to leave before a new COVID-19 lockdown began at midnight. No fans will be allowed at the tournament for at least five days.
The new restrictions imposed by the Victoria state government prevent residents from leaving their homes except to work, shop for essential supplies, exercise or give or receive care. Schools will be closed Monday through Wednesday and there will be no gatherings permitted at homes or for sports events, weddings or religious services. Masks will be required everywhere.
On Saturday, Rafael Nadal will continue his attempt for a men’s-record 21st Grand Slam singles title when he takes on Cameron Norrie, and three American women will attempt to join Serena Williams in the fourth round. Shelby Rogers will play No. 21 Anett Kontaveit, No. 22 Jennifer Brady takes on qualifier Kaja Juvan and Jessica Pegula faces Kristina Mladenovic.
Kaia Kanepi, who beat defending champion Sofia Kenin in the second round, plays Donna Vekic, while top-ranked Ash Barty plays Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Men’s matches include Australia’s Alex De Minaur against the volatile Fabio Fognini, who got into a heated exchange with fellow Italian Salvatore Caruso after a five-set win on Thursday and had to be separated by a tournament official. No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 7 Andrey Rublev all are also in action Saturday.
Mori is gone but gender issues remain for Tokyo Olympics
TOKYO (AP) – Yoshiro Mori (yoh-shee-roh moh-ree) has resigned as the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee after an outcry over comments he made last week in which he said women “talk too much.”
The resignation of the former Japanese prime minister at an executive board meeting comes just over five months before the postponed Olympics are to open in the middle of a pandemic with public sentiment overwhelmingly against the games. The pandemic is one reason, and the soaring costs are the other.
The executive board did not immediately choose a successor for Mori, which CEO Toshiro Muto said would come “as soon as possible” and will be made by a review committee. He called it a “single-digit body” made up equally of men and women, and he repeatedly declined to give a specific time frame.
Muto also declined to say if Mori’s replacement would be a woman, but Seiko Hashimoto might be the front runner. She is the current government Olympic minister and was also a bronze medalist in speedskating in the 1992 Albertville Games.