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Good morning! Learn how to fall in jiu-jitsu this week.
While You Sleep
Neymar in Saudi?
Semi-stunning news this morning: Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar is on his way to Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal, The AthleticDavid Ornstein reported earlier this morning. He underwent a medical evaluation and is set to sign a two-year contract.
It’s a huge turnaround for Neymar, the 31-year-old once regarded as the best striker in the world, who now appears to not be part of PSG’s plans going forward under new manager Luis Enrique. Many players like Neymar can also go to Al Hilal.
Read all the latest in our transfer news live blog.
Also: Minutes ago, The AthleticShams Charania posted a clip of James Harden hanging out with Sixers general manager Daryl Morey. Direct quote: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will not be a part of an organization he is a part of.” See you at training camp!
James Harden: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will not be a part of an organization that he is a part of. Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will not be a part of an organization that he is a part of . pic.twitter.com/AmHJ0WwbF2
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 14, 2023
Don’t sleep on the other side Pat
Sometimes the most interesting conclusions come from arbitrary exercises. Now fit the mold.
This morning, Mike Jones has a meaningful ranking of the top 25 NFL players 25 and over, announced by five coaches and seven front office executives. It’s not a columnist or newsletter writer telling you who’s the best. These are the people who make the decisions in the game, the people who decide the playing time and contract money. A little more weight there.
The ranking has two stipulations:
- The player must be 25 or younger before this year’s Week 1 games.
- Rookies are not eligible.
That means no Maxx Crosby, Bijan Robinson or Joe Burrow. I took the top five:
1. Vikings WR Justin Jefferson
2. Micah Parsons’ cowboy edges
3. 49ers DE Nick Bosa
4. Broncos CB Pat Surtain II
5. Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase
To me, all of this tracks except for Surtain, and that’s not a shadow of the 23-year-old cornerback who has already made the All-Rookie team and the All-Pro team. This is actually an interesting entry point to talk about the 2023 Broncos:
- Sure Surtain played a big part if the team is successful. We don’t talk about him enough because he played on bad teams.
- There was a lot of pressure on Denver to succeed in Year 1 of the Sean Payton era. When we talk about Denver, we talk about the loose comments of Russell Wilson, Jerry Jeudy and Payton. Surtain should be part of that too.
Read the rest of the list, an interesting look at how NFL executives evaluate talent. It’s crazy to me that Jalen Hurts (No. 8) isn’t ranked higher. The dude almost won the MVP and the Super Bowl last year.
I walked away. Surely no one else on the internet is upset about this exercise now.
We’re almost there
The World Cup semifinals start tonight/tomorrow, depending on your time zone. Despite the USWNT’s early exit, the competition was much better. Quick refresher on where we are:
- Spain plays Sweden tomorrow morning at 4 am ET. The Spaniards are slight favorites to win. It should be a good match. Sweden still feels like a team of destiny after beating the USWNT by a millimeter and holding off Japan.
- The big ticket is Wednesday’s game between England – a huge favorite – and Australia, the co-hosts of the tournament who bring a ton of mojo today. Can the Australians break through England’s capable defense in the Cup? Kickoff is at 6 am ET.
Be sure to keep up with our women’s soccer newsletter, Full Time, for the latest. They have mastered the time zone game.
News to Know
Wild day at Stamford Bridge
On the pitch, Chelsea drew Liverpool yesterday in an entertaining first big game on the Premier League slate. Apart from this, they are fighting for Brighton midfielder Moises Caicedo … who chose Chelsea. The dealmakers agreed to a staggering $146 million transfer fee. It comes after Chelsea canceled a deal for USMNT star and fellow midfielder Tyler Adams. Whew.
MLB looking for Franco
The Tampa Bay Rays acknowledged last night that Major League Baseball is looking into social media posts about superstar shortstop Wander Franco, who was held out of yesterday’s game. Posts emerged online yesterday accusing Franco, 22, of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor. See full details here.
Team USA beat No
Americans as underdogs? In basketball? It was true yesterday, because the No. 2 Team USA played against No. 1 in Spain before the FIBA World Cup – and the “underdogs” won 10, in Spain, in front of a raucous crowd. It was a friendly, but still impressive for a team led by young guys like Jalen Brunson and Jaren Jackson Jr.
Things You Should See
A perfect preseason moment
Before we talk about the level of this condition, just watch the video:
Cam Jordan is fed up 😂
– NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2023
Let’s break it down:
- That’s Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, briefly feigning a knee injury in a meaningless preseason game before doing a backflip. Funny enough for self-inclusion.
- Then you remember that Jordan, who is entering his 13th season with the Saints, just signed a contract extension last week. Imagine if he was hurt. Then, he will realize still playing after multiple drives in a preseason game. This is an extremely important player for a Saints team with high hopes. Very funny.
- Stay for defensive tackle Khalen Saunders who does a mini version of the worm behind Jordan.
The season starts in less than a month.
Tua Tagovailoa is considering quitting football this offseason, Zak Keefer reports. But instead he did something even more unexpected: learn how to fall … thanks to jiu-jitsu? Great story worth your time today.
Another must-read: Christopher Kamrani talks to former Washington State football star Hercules Mata’afa, who recounts the desperate rescue of his parents before their home caught fire in Hawaii.
Want to feel old? AND1 30 years old. Jason Jones has a great reflection on all things AND1 — the mixtapes, the shirts, the kicks, all of it.
The 2024 free agent pool has the potential to change the balance of power in NHL. See which teams are best positioned to take advantage of the windfall.
Have you done your fantasy draft yet? I hope not. Here is our latest expert fantasy mock draft. Would you choose Jefferson or McCaffrey first?
Chris Vannini makes the case for acc adding Stanford and Cal, for the simplest reason of all: survival.
(Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)