NFL commissioner Roger Goodell directly addressed Colin Kaepernick in an interview released Sunday, saying “I wish we had listened earlier” to the former quarterback who in 2016 began kneeling during the pregame playing of the national anthem in a protest that continues to reverberate. Explaining what he would say to Kaepernick now, Goodell told former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho: “The first thing I’d say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to. We invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did. We would have benefited from that. Absolutely.” Goodell’s comments were his latest revisiting of the stance he and the NFL had taken on player protests about police brutality and racial inequality. Goodell’s comments about Kaepernick were made during the first segment of a two-part interview with Acho on the former NFL linebacker’s popular digital series, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” In early June, Goodell filmed a video in which he admitted that the league was “wrong in silencing our players for peacefully protesting” police brutality and social injustice during the national anthem. That extraordinary admission was spurred by a video featuring the league’s young stars, including Patrick Mahomes, but absent from Goodell’s statement was an apology to or mention of Kaepernick, who has been out of the league since 2017, with teams unwilling to sign him.
NFL reports no positives in recent testing
The NFL expressed confidence in its testing program for the novel coronavirus after a weekend scare in which 77 positive tests turned out to be, according to BioReference, the company running the program, “most likely false positive results” attributable to “an isolated contamination” in a New Jersey lab. The league also announced a new set of testing results for the nine-day period ending Thursday in which, according to the NFL, there were zero confirmed new positive tests of players.
Browns, Broncos ravaged by injuries
The Cleveland Browns defense took another jarring hit when rookie safety Grant Delpit was carted off the practice field Monday with a right Achilles injury, the latest Cleveland player to go down in what has been a tough training camp so far for the team and first-year coach Kevin Stefanski. A second-round pick from national champion LSU, the 6-foot-2-inch, 213-pound Delpit was expected to start this season before he was hurt during individual drills. Not long after Delpit got injured, starting cornerback Greedy Williams — a former LSU teammate of Delpit’s — left the field accompanied by athletic trainers with a reported shoulder injury. Williams, who missed Cleveland’s first four games last season with a badly pulled hamstring, did not return to the field. His injury was compounded by cornerback Terrance Mitchell sitting out with a knee injury and backup nickel back M.J. Stewart pulling up in practice with a hamstring injury . . . Meanwhile at the Denver Broncos’ camp in Englewood, Colo, a rash of injuries kept 11 players out of practice, leading coach Vic Fangio to suggest the NFL should have mixed in more off days to its training camp ramp-up period. The most seriously injured of the 11 players who were sidelined was Justin Strnad, a rookie linebacker out of Wake Forest who underwent wrist surgery and is out for the year after getting hurt during Sunday’s practice. “It was a dislocation,” Fangio said. “That, in and of itself, wouldn’t put him out for the year, but there was other complications.” Fangio said . . . The Atlanta Falcons released guard Jamon Brown, who started nine games in 2019. The Falcons signed Brown and another veteran guard, James Carpenter, to free-agent deals before the 2019 season in the hopes the veterans would provide stability to a problem area. Instead there was more turnover through the season, leaving Brown to face an uphill job for a starting job in training camp where Chris Lindstrom, a 2019 first-round pick out of Boston College, is expected to start at right guard.
Serena Williams fights off upset bid
Her yells of “Come on!” filling a stadium devoid of spectators, Serena Williams was pushed to the brink of a stunning loss in her longest match since 2012 before pulling away with a perfect tiebreaker and edging Arantxa Rus 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (0) at the Western & Southern Open. Rus, a Dutch qualifier ranked No. 72 whose flat, left-handed strokes from the baseline gave Williams some trouble, won four games in a row in the second set, then did so again in the third, forcing Williams to fall behind 6-5. Rus served for the match and, at deuce in that game, was two points from victory, but never won another point as a double-fault gave Williams a break chance, and an errant groundstroke sent the match to the concluding tiebreaker. Williams ran away with it, ending the 2-hour, 48-minute match with a forehand, celebrating most points with a yell and a clenched left fist. The 38-year-old American is seeded third at the Western & Southern Open, which normally is held in Ohio but was moved to the site of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Clemson ranked No. 1 in AP preseason poll
Clemson is the preseason No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25, a poll featuring nine Big Ten and Pac-12 teams that gives a glimpse at what has already been taken by the pandemic from an uncertain college football season. Ohio State (1,504 points) was a close No. 2 behind Trevor Lawrence and Clemson (1,520), which starts atop the rankings for the second straight season. The Tigers beat the Buckeyes in a thrilling College Football Playoff semifinal last season. Alabama is No. 3, Southeastern Conference rival Georgia is No. 4 and defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma is No. 5. Defending national champion LSU is No. 6. When the season starts — if the season starts — the Buckeyes and 53 other Bowl Subdivision teams will no longer be eligible for inclusion in the Top 25 because they have postponed their seasons to the spring. The Big Ten, where Ohio State and No. 7 Penn State play, and the Pac-12, home to No. 9 Oregon, canceled their fall sports seasons because of concerns about the coronavirus. The Mid-American and Mountain West conferences have also said attempt to play spring football. The SEC, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, American Athletic, Conference USA and Sun Belt are forging ahead with fall sports, with changes: The three remaining Power Five conferences, the SEC, ACC, and Big 12, have eliminated all or most non-conference games and delayed the start of their seasons from one to three weeks . . . The College Football Playoff unveiled a revised schedule for its weekly rankings, with the first set pushed back two weeks to Nov. 17 and the final list now scheduled for Dec. 20. CFP executive director Bill Hancock said originally planned playoff dates and sites remained in place. The semifinals are scheduled to be held Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The championship game is slated for Jan. 11 in Miami Gardens, Fla.