Kansas and Illinois schedule charity exhibition basketball game to raise money for Maui wildfire relief

Illinois will play host to Kansas in a charity exhibition basketball game on Oct. 29 at State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois, that will raise money for the ongoing relief efforts after the tragic wildfires in Maui, Hawaii. The preseason game was set to be a closed scrimmage between the two programs but it will now be open to the public for fans to attend.

The confirmed death toll from the wildfires has surpassed 100, according to CBS News, with more than 1,000 people unaccounted for as of earlier this week. The disaster has destroyed more than 2,200 structures.

“For decades, the Maui Invitational and the city of Lahaina have been very important to college basketball and our thoughts and prayers go to that entire community as they recover from such a tragic event,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in a release announcing the event. “Brad (Underwood) and I discussed how our private scrimmage could become an exhibition game to raise money to benefit the so many affected by the recent catastrophic fires in Maui. We both felt this would be a great way for our programs to create awareness to help this cause.”

Self will be returning to the sidelines for the first time since the end of the 2022-23 regular season after missing the Big 12 and NCAA Tournament due to health issues. Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts served as the acting head coach and the Jayhawks fell to Arkansas in the second round to end their season.

Self has been the coach at Kansas since 2003 but previously spent three seasons as the coach at Illinois before he was hired by the Jayhawks.

“It is heartbreaking to see the loss of life and devastation from the fires that have ravaged Lahaina,” Underwood said in another release. “The Maui Invitational is an integral part of college basketball, and we are thinking of everyone on the island of Maui who have felt the impact of this tragedy. Bill and I talked immediately about how we could come together to help, and turning our closed scrimmage into a charity exhibition is a way we can use our sport to make an impact. The spotlight of this game, heightened by Bill’s return to Champaign, should raise meaningful dollars that will go directly to help the community of Lahaina.”

Kansas enters the season as one of the top preseason teams in the country. The Jayhawks added former Michigan star Hunter Dickinson via the transfer portal and return Dajuan Harris, Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams Jr. As for Illinois, they return one of the oldest rosters in the country, including veteran starters Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr. from a team that finished 20-13 and reached the NCAA Tournament.

Saints’ Alvin Kamara meeting with Roger Goodell with potential league discipline looming, per report

Last month, New Orleans Saints star running back Alvin Kamara pleaded no contest to a lesser misdemeanor charge stemming from a 2022 Las Vegas altercation. Wednesday, he is scheduled to sit down with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the incident, per NFL.com.

The weekend of the 2022 Pro Bowl, Kamara was arrested in Las Vegas for battery resulting in substantial bodily harm. He pleaded not guilty to the initial battery charges, and the felony was later dropped after he agreed to plead no contest to breach of peace. The running back will reportedly have to complete community service and pay $100,000 to the victim for medical bills.

While the legal side to this issue is behind us, that does not mean Kamara has dodged punishment from the league. The NFL personal conduct policy states that everyone who is part of the league must refrain from, “Conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the NFL.”

What does that mean?

“Conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL.”

With Kamara and Goodell sitting down, it appears a resolution to this issue is indeed on the horizon. NBC Sports previously reported that Kamara was expected to receive a suspension of at least six games, but this was while the felony charge was still attached to his name.

“I think Alvin really wants to get out ahead of this and have a chance to visit with Roger and kind of give him his side of the story, and look, at the end of the day, I think part of it is, you know, let’s get some resolution to where we’re at and then let’s move forward,” Saints head coach Dennis Allen told reporters on Monday, per NFL.com. “So, I think Alvin, you know, is looking forward to putting this behind him and focusing in on what he has to do to be the best he can for our team this season.

“Yeah, look, I mean, we’re working, practicing, getting better. Alvin’s going to be a huge part of what we do this year. We’ll take things in stride and how they happen. We’ll deal with, you know, anything we have to deal with. We’ll deal with it when the time’s right.”

Kamara is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. The third-round pick out of Tennessee was named the 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after racking up 1,554 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns.

‘It’s through the sky’

Of all the players on the Steelers roster, there was probably no one happier to put on pads Tuesday than rookie tight end Darnell Washington.

Washington practiced last week, but he didn’t necessarily stand out, which is understandable. Washington without pads is like Superman without his cape. All of that changed on Tuesday, however, when the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Washington took part in his first padded practice.

His first challenge? A one-on-one matchup against T.J. Watt.

Washington more than held his own against the former Defensive Player of Year. He wasn’t as fortunate, however, during his matchups with Alex Highsmith and fellow rookie Nick Herbig. Such is life for rookies who all eventually learn that, in the NFL, things can change on a dime.

Washington’s physicality is his calling card, but he’s also a pretty good pass catcher. He displayed that element of his game later in practice when he caught a jump ball over defensive back James Pierre for a score. Washington’s work in camp has gotten the attention of Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett, who is looking forward to getting more reps down the road with his big tight end.

“He’s done a great job,” Pickett said, via Nick Farabaugh of Steelers Now. “You know, he’s working hard and I’m sure his mind is going one hundred miles per hour. It will slow down for him but I’m just excited how he’s showing up and working. He’s mentally locked in, and everything else will come.”

CBS Sports caught up with Washington following a recent practice. Washington touched on a number of topics that included similarities between the Steelers and Georgia, his long-term goals in the NFL and what it’s like to practice in front of Steeler Nation.

How has camp gone so far?

DW: “There’s still way more room to adjust. I feel like the deeper and the most time I spend as a pro, the more I’ve got to learn. Really just taking it step by step. Still learning the ropes from the reps and the players on the team.”

What have been the biggest challenges so far?

DW: “I’d say a little bit of everything. The game speed’s different, so adjusting to that. And then it’s a new playbook, at least for me, so just adjusting to that as well. It’s really just a little bit of everything. Every little thing adds up.”

Are there similarities between the Steelers and Georgia?

DW: “One-hundred percent. When it comes to the work ethic, and each teammate here just wants to grind better and work on their craft.”

You played in a lot of championship games at Georgia. Can you take that experience and apply it at all here?

DW: “I’d really just say the tunnel vision part. Playing in the natty twice, each game is loud. Everybody wants to win. There’s lots of fans. You’ve just got to lock in, have that tunnel vision, block out that noise, things like that.”

Any personal goals this season?

DW: “Really just want to contribute to the offense … not even offense, just any aspect of the team, whether that’s special teams or offense in any way. Whether that’s moving the chains or momentum plays on special teams.”

George Pickens recently said that you have the potential to be the greatest tight end of all time. What would success be for you?

DW: “Really, just playing in the league as long as possible. Giving it my all, leaving no regrets on the field, if that’s practice or in the games. Just finding a rhythm and continue on that rhythm and continue to put in that work and make plays or whatever it may be.”

What do you think of the offense so far and its potential?

DW: “I would say through the roof, but I don’t have a roof over me. It’s through the sky.”

What’s it like practicing in front of these fans? The Steelers have a notoriously passionate fan base.

DW: “For me, it’s still crazy. Still soaking it all in. Having the best fan base in the National Football League. They’re treating me right, treating me like family. You’ve got to be one to experience it. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a good feeling to be here.”

Aaron Rodgers says Jets’ Garrett Wilson has traits similar to former Packers teammate Davante Adams

New Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers brought a lot of former Green Bay Packers — seven — with him in order for the longest-tenured Packer (18 seasons in Green Bay) to feel at home in New York: wide receivers Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Malik Taylor, offensive tackle Billy Turner, quarterback Tim Boyle, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and safety Adrian Amos. One player Rodgers couldn’t bring with him was three-time All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, the player who has caught more touchdowns from Rodgers (68) than anyone else in the four-time NFL MVP’s storied career. Fortunately for Rodgers, he sees plenty of similarities between Adams and the Jets’ No. 1 wide receiver, 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson.

“Yeah,” Rodgers said on July 20 when asked if Garrett Wilson reminds him of Davante Adams. “Look, I love Davante. I saw him this summer. Davante is in a category by himself still, but that 17 [Wilson] reminds me of the other 17 [Adams] as far as his [Wilson’s] ability to get in and out of breaks and his quick twitch at the line of scrimmage, for sure.”

The four-time NFL MVP doubled down on his praise for Wilson by once again comparing him to Adams during a sideline interview in the third quarter of the Hall of Fame Game between his Jets and the Cleveland Browns.

“Man Garrett, what an amazing kid,” Rodgers said Thursday during the Hall of Fame in an interview with NBC Sports announcers Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth. “I have so much love and respect for Davante [Adams], he’s the best receiver in the league. I don’t say this lightly, but there are definitely traits that this 17 [Wilson] has that special 17 [Adams] has as well. I’m not going to put him in that category yet because Davante is in a category by himself, but Garrett really has the potential to be special. … He has great talent, incredible work ethic, and he’s a freaking great kid. He’s a good human being. He cares about it and carries himself the right way, like a seasoned vet.”

Jets’ Aaron Rodgers calls Jordan Love ‘a great one,’ feels like it’s ‘part of the job to help young guys’

With Aaron Rodgers now the starting quarterback for the New York Jets after a trade this offseason, the Green Bay Packers will have a new starting quarterback in Week 1 — 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love — after 15 seasons of Rodgers. Teammate and Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones described Love as “a true leader” ahead of Packers training camp opening this week. Love sat behind Rodgers for three seasons, observing Rodgers win NFL MVPs in two of them. Yet, Rodgers went out of his way to praise Love, calling him a “great one” during Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game.

“I always felt like it was a part of the job to help those young guys out, and get them ready to play,” Rodgers said Thursday during the Hall of Fame in an interview with NBC Sports announcers Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth. “There was a great one behind me in Green Bay [Jordan Love.”

Following Love’s first training camp practice as THE GUY on July 26, he revealed Rodgers, the Packers’ longtime leader, contacted him Tuesday to encourage his Green and Gold successor and wish him well.

“Aaron reached out to me last night and that’s exactly what he said. … He said ‘just be yourself, have fun, enjoy it, that it’s obviously my time now and to enjoy it.'”

Packers’ Matt LaFleur says quiet part out loud, calls 2023 Jets ‘Green Bay East’

Even future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers all-time leader in passing touchdowns with 475 — now suiting up for the New York Jets in 2023 — has helped ensure Gang Green would have a cheesy vibe in 2023.

Eight former Packers are now a part of the Jets: Rodgers, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, wide receiver Allen Lazard, wide receiver Randall Cobb, wide receiver Malik Taylor, offensive tackle Billy Turner, quarterback Tim Boyle and safety Adrian Amos. Rodgers’ new Jets head coach Robert Saleh even provides Rodgers a connection to his former Packers head coach Matt LaFleur: Saleh and LaFleur came up in the NFL together, and LaFleur was the best man at Saleh’s wedding.

When asked if he would be keeping up with Rodgers and the Jets in HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and throughout the 2023 season by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, he interrupted Pelissero to nickname the 2023 Jets “Green Bay East.” However, LaFleur then seriously answered the question by talking about having his hands full with his young Packers offense that is set to break in new starting quarterback Jordan Love.

😂😂😂😂😂 https://t.co/Ylmhe716JQ pic.twitter.com/IsH7unJ05k

— CheeseheadTV 🧀 (@cheeseheadtv) August 3, 2023
“I think we have enough to worry about with the Green Bay Packers, but certainly a lot people I care about in that organization and on that staff,” LaFleur said Thursday, via NFL Network. “You always take account of what other teams are doing, especially guys you are close to in this league.”

Braves’ Max Fried stellar in return from injury as MLB-best Atlanta hitters shell Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks

Atlanta Braves left-hander Max Fried made his first start since May on Friday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs (GameTracker). He had previously missed close to three months because of a strained left forearm.

Fried showed little sign of rust against what had been a red-hot Cubs lineup. He fired off six shutout innings, holding Chicago to three hits and no walks. Fried also struck out eight batters and saw his fastball average 94.7 mph, or a full tick higher than his previous seasonal average. He generated nine whiffs on 33 swings, with four of those coming on his fastball variants.

8-strikeout gem for Max Fried.

Ace things. pic.twitter.com/DYYeQoebvk

— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) August 4, 2023
Fried, 29, made five starts earlier in the year before going on the shelf. In 26 innings, he had accumulated a 2.08 ERA (221 ERA+) and a 4.17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Fried, of course, finished second in National League Cy Young Award balloting last winter.

“I felt sharper than expected. Had a lot of nervous energy. Just was looking forward to this day for a long time,” Fried told reporters, including Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Fried’s afternoon was made easier thanks to the run support provided by Atlanta’s lineup. The Braves were up 8-0 at the time of his departure, due almost entirely to a seven-run fourth inning that saw them launch back-to-back home runs and continue their recent mastery of Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks. That score would hold as the final.