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NFL fines Saints, Patriots for COVID-19 violations, investigating two other teams

Bryan Allen/Getty ImagesBy IVAN PEREIRA and KATIE CONWAY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The NFL cracked down this weekend on two teams who broke the league's coronavirus-related policies and are looking into two other teams for possible violations, according to reports.

The league fined the New Orleans Saints $500,000 after the players and the team posted a video on social media showing unmasked team members celebrating their Nov. 8 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the locker room, a source told ABC News. The NFL also took away a seventh-round draft pick as punishment for the Saints' violation, the source said.

The Saints are appealing the punishment, according to ESPN.

A source told ABC News the team's steep fine and draft pick loss stemmed from the Saints' repeated violations of COVID-19 protocols and warnings from the league. In September, Saints Coach Sean Payton, who was seen in the video, and the team were fined a combined $350,000 after he was seen not wearing a face mask during a game.

Payton told back in September he should have been more careful while on the field and kept his mask on.

"It's something we're just going to have to remind ourselves to do," he said.

The NFL sent out a memo to all teams on Nov. 3 with updated COVID-19 rules that stressed: "All players and staff must wear masks or double-layered gaiters in the locker room on game day -- prior to the game, during halftime, and post-game."

The New England Patriots were also fined $350,000 for violations related to positive tests of Cam Newton and other players in October, ESPN reported.

Although Newton didn't play in the Oct. 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs two days after he was diagnosed, 20 teammates and staff members who were deemed to be close contacts to Newton flew out to the game, according to ESPN. The day after the game, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had been in close contact with Newton, tested positive for COVID-19, ESPN reported.

The Patriots did not immediately release a statement about the fine.

The league is also investigating the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos over coronavirus-related violations, sources told ABC News.

The two teams were scheduled to play on Thanksgiving Day, but the game was moved to Tuesday after the Ravens reported at least 19 coronavirus cases among its players and staff members, including quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The Broncos' current starting quarterback, Jeff Driskel, also tested positive last week.

The Broncos had its three quarterbacks in a room together for a meeting for an extended period of time without masks after Driskel contracted the disease, according to sources. The players, who were considered close contacts to Driskel, allegedly took off their tracking devices that are used by teams to assist with contact tracing, according to the sources.

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was fined earlier in the season for not wearing a face mask, and the team would be considered a repeat offender if the league determines it violated protocols.

The Broncos released a statement Saturday that said the team would work with the NFL if they discover any positive tests among their players or staff.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's chief medical officer, told ABC News he expects the situation to get harder as the season progresses due to the growing cases across the country.

He added that the league is constantly evolving its coronavirus protocols and pushes teams to follow the science.

"What keeps us safe are the same measures that work for everyone outside of football, and that's wearing masks, physical distancing, good hand hygiene, prompt reporting of symptoms," Sills told ABC News.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup -- 11/29/20

iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:

Atlanta 43, Las Vegas 6
Buffalo 27, LA Chargers 17
Cleveland 27, Jacksonville 25
Miami 20, NY Jets 3
Minnesota 28, Carolina 27
NY Giants 19, Cincinnati 17
New England 20, Arizona 17
Tennessee 45, Indianapolis 26
New Orleans 31 Denver 3
San Francisco 23, LA Rams 20
Kansas City 27, Tampa Bay 24
Green Bay 41, Chicago 25


New England 3, Orlando City 1
Columbus 2, Nashville 0

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

San Francisco 49ers not allowed to play in stadium for 3 weeks under new COVID-19 restrictions

Michael Vi/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) -- The San Francisco 49ers will not be allowed to practice or play in their stadium for three weeks under new county health restrictions that prohibit contact sports.

Stanford University's athletics, including its football program, will also be affected.

Santa Clara County health officials announced the new restrictions on Saturday, as the county reported a record 760 COVID-19 cases.

"Our case rates have been surging since November. In fact, we have the highest case rate of any county in the San Francisco Bay area," county health officer Dr. Sara Cody said at a press briefing.

Hospitalizations have also doubled since Nov. 12, she said, with a record 239 reported on Saturday.

The restrictions, which start Monday and last through Dec. 21, impact gatherings, capacity limits and recreational activities.

Among them, professional, collegiate and youth sports that involve direct contact are temporarily prohibited.

Health officials confirmed that means that the 49ers will not be allowed to play home games at Levi's Stadium. The team has games scheduled there on Dec. 7 and Dec. 13. It is unclear if the games will be moved or postponed.

The Stanford Cardinal football team also currently has a home game scheduled for Dec. 12.

Neither team has allowed fans into their stadiums this season.

Additionally, people who travel more than 150 miles from home will have to quarantine for 14 days. The 49ers are currently headed to Los Angeles for a game against the Rams Sunday afternoon, as noted by sports reporter Jennifer Lee Chan. It's unclear if the new quarantine order will impact the team.

"We are aware of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department's emergency directive," the 49ers said in a statement. "We are working with the NFL and our partners on operational plans and will share details as they are confirmed."

Stanford has not publicly responded to the new measures. Neither have the NFL or Pac-12.

The San Jose State football program would also be affected by the regulations. Training camp for the NHL's San Jose Sharks, set to begin in early December, could also be affected.

Other new county restrictions will limit hotels to essential travel, health care workers and quarantine or isolation purposes. Card rooms will also close. Capacity at most indoor facilities will be reduced to 10% (grocery stores and pharmacies can operate at 25% capacity), and outdoor gatherings will be limited to 100 people.

Health officials also urged residents to stay home as much as possible.

"This pandemic is like a high-speed train, and our projections tell us that we are on target to derail by around the third week of December if we don't apply brakes right now with all our collective might," Cody said.

The current projections do not take Thanksgiving into account, with holiday gatherings and travel likely to "create a surge," she added.

The measures are in addition to a nightly curfew and nonessential business closures issued by the state for counties including Santa Clara that are in the "purple" tier, indicating widespread COVID-19 risk.

ABC News' Abigail Shalawylo and Matthew Fuhrman contributed to this report.

Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller becomes the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference football game


(NEW YORK) — No woman has ever played in a Power 5 conference game. That all changed on Saturday, when Sarah Fuller took to the field as Vanderbilt plays Missouri.

Fuller kicked off for Vanderbilt to start the second half of the game, in Missouri.

The history-making move came on the heels of a Southeastern Conference championship-winning soccer season for the Vanderbilt senior, who sported her soccer jersey number -- 32 -- for Saturday's game.

Fuller told reporters after the game that she was "really calm" during her kickoff. "I was really excited to step out on the field and do my thing," she said, adding that her soccer championship game was "more stressful."

The athlete also had a message for her young fans.

"I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to, you really can," she said. "And if you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things.”

For the game, Fuller wore "Play Like a Girl" on the back of her helmet, a nod to a nonprofit that encourages girls to become leaders in STEM by keeping them engaged in sports.

The athlete drew support from both Vanderbilt and Missouri spectators at Saturday's game, with one self-proclaimed Mizzou fan sporting a sign cheering for Fuller.

The Commodores ultimately lost the game 41-0, and are now 0-8 for the season.

The goalkeeper was recruited as a kicker after several of the football team's specialists had to quarantine this week due to COVID-19 testing, according to ESPN.

Fuller told Vanderbilt University the opportunity to help the team out would be "an honor."

"I think it's amazing and incredible," Fuller said in an article on the athletic program's website. "But I'm also trying to separate that because I know this is a job I need to do, and I want to help the team out and I want to do the best that I can. Placing that historical aspect aside just helps me focus in on what I need to do. I don't want to let them down in any way."

Fuller also made history as the SEC's first female football player, according to Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt's head soccer coach, Darren Ambrose, said Fuller's "the right person for the job."

"So excited for you and for college football," the coach said in a social media post.

Congratulations also poured in from the SEC, Tennessee Titans, Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL, tennis great Bille Jean King and Vanderbilt alums including Adena Friedman, the president and CEO of Nasdaq, who called Fuller a "tremendous athlete and role model.”

Fuller joins an elite company of female athletes who have competed in the Football Bowl Subdivision also as kickers: Katie Hnida for New Mexico in the early 2000s, and April Goss for Kent State in the mid-2010s.

Ashley Martin is believed to be the first female athlete to play and score in an NCAA Division I football game, for Jacksonville State in 2001.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Denver Broncos the latest NFL team hampered by coronavirus

Augustas Cetkauskas/iStock


(DENVER) -- More positive COVID-19 tests forced the Denver Broncos to cancel Friday's practice. This is the third time the Broncos have cancelled practice because of the coronavirus.

NFL medical staff initially cleared the team to practice on Thanksgiving after moving quarterback Jeff Driskel to the reserve/COVID-19 list the same day, ESPN reports. It was unclear whether Driskel had tested positive for coronavirus or was listed as a close contact of another positive tester.

On Friday, one player and two Broncos staffers tested positive, according to a team statement, prompting the team to cancel practice and close its training facility. The team said the coaching staff will meet virtually with players.

Despite the cancelled practice time, the Broncos plan to play Sunday's scheduled game at Empower Field at Mile High against the New Orleans Saints.  

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup -- 11/26/20

iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

Houston 41, Detroit 25
Washington 41, Dallas 16

Gonzaga 102, Kansas 90
Villanova 83, Arizona State 74
Illinois 97, Chicago State 38
West Virginia 78, VCU 66

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Michael Jordan donates $2M of proceeds from "The Last Dance" to food banks


(NEW YORK) -- NBA superstar Michael Jordan pledged a portion of proceeds from his hit ESPN documentary series, The Last Dance, to food banks to help feed hungry families and individuals in need this holiday season.

The five-time MVP, who led the Chicago Bulls to six championships, said in a statement provided by Feeding America on Twitter that “in these challenging times and in a year of unimaginable difficulty due to COVID-19, it's more important than ever to pause and give thanks."

“I am proud to be donating additional proceeds from 'The Last Dance' to Feeding America and its member food banks in the Carolinas and Chicago to help feed America's hungry," he added.

The Charlotte Hornets owner was raised in North Carolina and played college hoops for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

This is not the first philanthropic act of Jordan's during what has been a difficult year for many Americans amid the pandemic.

In June, the 57-year-old basketball legend announced that along with the Jordan Brand he was pledging $100 million over the next 10 years to nationwide organizations "dedicated to ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education."

"Black lives matter. This isn't a controversial statement," he and the company -- a subsidiary of Nike -- said in a joint statement amid the massive outcry for racial justice in the U.S. "Until the ingrained racism that allows our country's institutions to fail is completely eradicated, we will remain committed to protecting and improving the lives of Black people."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Report: More positive COVID-19 cases identified among Ravens team


(NEW YORK) -- More positive cases of COVID-19 have reportedly been identified within the Baltimore Ravens organization.

Citing a source, ESPN reports the additional positive tests from Wednesday includes one Ravens player. That brings the total up to seven players who either tested positive for the novel coronavirus or were identified as close contacts.

Additionally, some members of the team's coaching and support staff have also tested positive for the virus, ESPN reports.

On Wednesday, the Ravens issued a statement saying the organization has "disciplined a staff member for conduct surrounding the recent COVID-19 cases that have affected players and staff at the Ravens." No further details were provided.


Statement from the Baltimore Ravens.

— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 25, 2020


Following the news that some Ravens players tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, the NFL announced on Wednesday that it would be moving Thursday night's game between Baltimore and the Pittsburgh Steelers to Sunday afternoon.

In a statement, the league said it was postponing the game "out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Scoreboard roundup -- 11/25/20

iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:

Villanova 76, Boston College 67
Virginia 89, Towson 54
Iowa 97, NC Central 67
Wisconsin 77, E. Illinois 67
Illinois 122, NC A&T 60
Kentucky 81, Morehead St. 45
Michigan St. 83, E. Michigan 67
Texas Tech 101, Northwestern St. 58
West Virginia 79, S. Dakota St. 71
North Carolina 79, Coll. of Charleston 60
Houston 89, Lamar 45
Arizona St. 94, Rhode Island 88
Texas 91, Rio Grande 55
San Diego St. 73, UCLA 58
Ohio St. 94, Illinois St. 67
Rutgers 86, Sacred Heart 63
Michigan 96, Bowling Green 82
Baylor at Arizona St. (Canceled)
Virginia at  Maine (Canceled)
Gardner-Webb at Duke (Postponed)
S. Dakota St. at Creighton (Canceled)
Charlotte at Tennessee (Canceled)
N. Iowa at West Virginia (Canceled)
E. Washington at Oregon (Postponed)

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ravens-Steelers game postponed to Sunday after positive COVID-19 tests

EricVega/iStockBy CARMEN COX, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The Baltimore Steelers will play the Pittsburg Steelers Sunday afternoon, the NFL announced Wednesday.

The game was initially scheduled to kick off Thanksgiving night, but was moved after several Ravens players tested positive for coronavirus. In total five players and four staffers have received positive test results this week, sources confirmed to ESPN.

The NFL said in a statement that the decision to postpone the game "was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts."

On Monday, the Ravens announced running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram both tested positive for COVID-19. Linebacker Pernell McPhee and defensive tackle Brandon Williams were also placed on the Ravens reserve list this week, ESPN reports.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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