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Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay Packers purchases minority stake in Milwaukee Bucks



Aaron Rodgers has long professed his love for the NBA game and the Milwaukee Bucks.

In fact, he has often used the hashtag #midrange because he loves that part of the game and has referred to Vlade Divac as one of his favorite players in interviews.

Now, the Green Bay Packers quarterback has a stake in the game.

He was announced Friday as a limited partner in the Bucks ownership group during the team’s playoff game against the Celtics at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Rodgers was introduced during the game, where he was seated courtside with girlfriend Danica Patrick and Bucks co-owner Wes Edens.

According to the Bucks, Rodgers is the only active NFL player to have an ownership stake in an NBA team.

“I have proudly called Wisconsin my home for the past 13 years, and I am thankful for the friendships and the opportunities I have been given to live and play here,” Rodgers in a statement released by the Bucks. “I am excited and honored to deepen my connection to the region by joining Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan, Mike Fascitelli and the ownership group of the Milwaukee Bucks. As a huge fan of the NBA and the sport of basketball, this is a dream come true for me, and I look forward to furthering my affinity for Wisconsin sports as a minority owner in a team I love and support.”

Rodgers, a native of Chico, California, splits his time between Green Bay and Southern California.

The current ownership group purchased the Bucks in 2014 from Herb Kohl, a former Senator, for $550 million.

“Aaron is a winner, a Wisconsin icon, and we are honored to welcome him to our partnership group of the Milwaukee Bucks,” the Bucks ownership group said in a statement. “With our team in the playoffs and our new world-class arena opening this fall, it’s an exciting time for this city and the Bucks. We are thrilled for Aaron to be with us.”

At least two NBA players — one of them retired — have ownership stakes in pro sports teams in other leagues, but Rodgers is the first active NFL player to own a piece of a major sports franchise in the market in which he plays.

LeBron James has a minority stake in Liverpool FC of the English Premier League that he purchased in 2011. Steve Nash purchased a minority stake in the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer in 2008 while he was still playing in the NBA. Nash still holds a stake in the Whitecaps and has gone on to buy a stake in a Spanish soccer club, Real Mallorca, as well.

Information from ESPN’s Adam Schefter was used in this report.

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Minnesota Vikings plan to reopen practice facility Thursday



MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings are planning to reopen their practice facility Thursday after a coronavirus outbreak involving their Week 3 opponent forced it to be shut down Tuesday and Wednesday out of an abundance of caution.

The Tennessee Titans had five staff members and three players test positive for COVID-19 after Sunday’s victory against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. An additional Titans player tested positive Wednesday.

Minnesota head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman said Vikings players and staff continue to test negative. Because COVID-19 can take multiple days to show up on a test after initial exposure, Sugarman said the next three to five days — through Sunday — will be critical to monitor.

“We did have a few moderate-risk contacts that happened pregame, postgame, whatever it might be,” Sugarman said. “You test them, you monitor them. But we get daily testing, so it’s easy for us. That’s what you’re supposed to do, along with monitoring your symptoms. So we’re all clear from that standpoint right now.”

General manager Rick Spielman said there will be “significant procedures and processes in place” in order for the team to get back in the TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota. Sugarman added there will be “enhanced protocols, enhanced health screenings, enhanced temperature checks and certainly enhanced PPE with masks at all times as well as social distancing at all times.”

Sugarman said that no one will be admitted into the building until they have a negative PCR test from Wednesday and a negative POC test — a point-of-care nasal swab that takes about 20 minutes to get results — from Thursday.

He said he believes the facility will open Thursday even if a small number of personnel test positive from the round of tests administered Wednesday.

“I think that would be true,” Sugarman said. “I don’t have a set number that would force us to close or remain closed. But I think if it’s one or two positives, I think we can probably mitigate that. But it’s unknown. It’s unknown.”

Meanwhile, the Vikings are preparing for their Week 4 game in Houston through the use of virtual meetings. If the facility opens Thursday, the Vikings will have one normal practice and likely will have to condense their week of preparation for a game that is still expected to take place Sunday.

“As I know right now, yes, we’re scheduled to get on that plane on Saturday and play,” Spielman said. “If that changes, I don’t know. But as of today, we are scheduled as normal.”

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Seattle Seahawks sign ex-Packers, Browns DB Damarious Randall



With injury issues in their secondary, the Seattle Seahawks have signed former Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns defensive back Damarious Randall to their practice squad.

The Seahawks announced that move Tuesday while also signing defensive back Ryan Neal to their 53-man poster and linebacker Tim Williams to their practice squad. Seattle still has one open spot on its 53-man roster.

A first-round pick by the Packers in 2015, Randall has made 56 career starts, including 26 over the past two seasons with Cleveland. He’s played cornerback and safety, two positions where the Seahawks are banged up.

They didn’t have starting right cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee) or backup Neiko Thorpe (hip) for their win over the Dallas Cowboys last week. They lost strong safety Jamal Adams late in the game to what coach Pete Carroll has called a first-degree groin strain and were playing without one of his backups, Lano Hill (hip).

They also lost running back Chris Carson and linebacker Jordyn Brooks to what Carroll called first-degree knee strains. Right guard Damien Lewis sprained his ankle, though Carroll said it’s not a high-ankle sprain. Carroll said none of those injuries appear serious enough to bring injured reserve into play, though he said he thinks Adams will have a hard time making it back in time for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

The Seahawks have allowed a league-worst 430.7 passing yards per game.

Neal replaced Adams and sealed Seattle’s win with an interception of Dak Prescott in the end zone on Dallas’ final play. He and linebacker Shaquem Griffin had been elevated just for game day, which meant they automatically reverted back to Seattle’s practice squad on Monday.

Carroll has said Griffin earned an opportunity to play again at Miami after his strong showing in 17 defensive snaps against Dallas. It’s not clear if he will be signed to Seattle’s 53-man roster or elevated again just for game day. The Seahawks protected Griffin and tight end Stephen Sullivan on their practice squad, meaning they can’t be signed by other teams this week.

Griffin and Williams give Seattle depth at linebacker, another position that’s been hit hard by injuries. The Seahawks lost Bruce Irvin to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 2. Brooks, their first-round pick, was making his first career start when he injured his knee against Dallas.

Williams, a third-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 2017, has appeared in 20 games with no starts.

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NFLPA president JC Tretter calls for all teams to use grass fields



NFL Players Association president JC Tretter is calling for NFL teams to change all field surfaces to natural grass to reduce the risk of injury to players.

Tretter, the starting center for the Cleveland Browns, wrote in a newsletter that players have a 28% higher rate of noncontact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf compared with grass. Tretter added that those rates are even higher for noncontact knee injuries (32%) and noncontact foot and ankle injuries (69%) on turf compared with grass.

“The data stands out,” Tretter said. “Those numbers are staggering, the difference in injury rate in turf and natural grass. It’s possible to get grass in every location, and it’s about pushing for that. We all should be working toward the safest style of play. We know the dangers of playing on turf. That’s not good for anybody. Not good for players. It’s not good for the GMs and the head coaches. It’s not good for the owners. It’s not good for the fans. Increased injures is not good for anybody.

“Until we can find a way to get synthetic turf to respond and react like natural grass, it’s too much of a danger to play on and expect different results.”

Currently, 13 NFL stadiums use artificial turf.

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and his players had expressed concern about the turf at MetLife Field, where the team recently lost a number of players, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and defensive end Nick Bosa, to injuries.

Tretter attributed the data to NFL injury analysis collected from 2012 to 2018 and said a “committee of engineers” has been tasked with examining field surfaces. Tretter also advocated for a “better regimen” for surface testing, noting that the Clegg Impact Tester presently used by the league measures hardness of a surface, “but not performance and safety.”

He said teams shouldn’t use climate or indoor stadiums as an excuse not to implement grass, given that several cold-weather teams, including the Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, use grass already, and the Arizona Cardinals and Las Vegas Raiders have natural grass despite playing indoors.

“This is something from here on out we need to make a priority,” Tretter said. “Players safety will always be a priority for us and the union.”

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