NFLPA set to push for daily COVID testing | The future of U.S. track and field was on display in Tokyo

Happy Thursday everyone, but more importantly, happy start of football season. Yes, it’s just a Thursday night preseason game, but most readers know how much I love football, so you know I’m excited.

Today we’ll get into some NFL news, just not the Steelers-Cowboys game that’s opening the preseason tonight. The NFLPA is expected to soon push for the league to resume daily COVID-19 testing for all players.

We will also look at the future of Team USA track and field and why it could be bright even though they haven’t been able to breakthrough the top of the Olympic podium in the men’s sprint events with Usain Bolt retired.

Today’s newsletter main items will conclude with the Olympic schedule and a wild story about Olympic horses spooked by a sumo wrestler statue.

Let’s get started.

📰 What you need to know

1. NFLPA will soon push for daily COVID-19 tests 🏈

The NFL Players Association is expected to soon push the NFL to resume daily COVID-19 testing regardless of whether or not the player is vaccinated. Daily testing occurred throughout the 2020 season, but the NFL made changes to their protocols following the emergence of the vaccines.

Here are the current protocols the NFL and NFLPA  agreed to on July 27:

  • They agreed to testing once every 14 days for fully vaccinated individuals
  • The individuals considered fully vaccinated must be 14 days removed of the last dose of one of the three available vaccines
  • Non-vaccinated individuals would be subject to daily testing, wear a mask on the team plane and have different rules in the weight room
  • Daily tests would prevent players from traveling out of town during a bye and a missed test would result in a $50K fine
  • The NFL has not yet mandated the vaccine for players

The league is currently at the 90% vaccination mark for players after highly incentivizing getting the vaccine.

Concerns over the delta variant and infections on the rise have resulted in growing concerns within the NFLPA. Any change to the protocols would have to be agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA. Both sides have said their main priority is safety.

2. What the future of USA track and field looks like 🎽

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On Wednesday, Canadian Andre De Grasse, who was once overshadowed by Usain Bolt in the Olympics, got his time in the spotlight. The 26-year-old ran a Canadian-record 200-meter time of 19.62 and won the men’s final.

American Kenny Bednarek won a silver medal with a personal-best time of 19.68 and American Noah Lyles took bronze with a time of 19.74. 17-year-old American phenom Erriyon Knighton did not medal despite excelling in his opening two heats, though he has only been running competitively for three years, so he has more than enough time to gain the experience he is lacking.

Team USA will have a 20 year streak of not winning gold in the 100 meters or 200 meters by the time the 2024 Paris Olympics come around. A lot of that is because Bolt was so dominant in 2008, 2012 and 2016. 

This time it looked like one of the three top Americans competing would take gold, but De Grasse came in and claimed the top spot.

Knighton is the youngest American male tack and field athlete to qualify for the Summer Games since 1964 and now holds world records in the 200 meters in the under-18 and under-20 categories, records Bolt previously held. His presence in the games is a good sign for the future of Team USA’s gold medal chances.

He will continue to improve and adapt to the pressure of Olympic games and with Bednarek being 22 years old, Lyles being 24 and only a three year wait this time for the next Summer Games, Paris could be where Americans get back to the top of the podium.

3. Olympic events to follow on Thursday 🏐

Today we have another exciting schedule of Olympic events, from the men’s basketball semifinal to the women’s diving 10-meter platform final. 

Take a look at the events to keep an eye on today:

  • Women’s beach volleyball gold medal match: USA vs. Australia – 9 p.m., 10:30 p.m.
  • Women’s soccer gold medal match: Sweden vs. Canada  – 10 p.m.

4. Equestrian riders claim sumo wrestler statue may be frightening their horses 🏇

There are many difficult elements to being an Olympic athlete. The pressure, the distractions, the training. Athletes don’t need anything else added onto all this, but this year equestrians have an added distraction that might surprise you: A sumo wrestler statue.

Yes, you read that right. Equestrians need to make sure their horse remains composed, but many riders are saying it’s more difficult this year due to a statue on the course.

Riders have reportedly said the life-size sumo wrestler statue in Kamiyoga has impacted who qualified and who did not. 

  • Harry Charles of Great Britain said: “As you come around, you see a big guy’s (butt) … I did notice four or five horses really taking a spook to that.”
  • Terry Vlock of Israel said: “It does look like a person, and that’s a little spooky. You know, horses don’t want to see a guy, like, looking intense next to a jump, looking like he’s ready to fight you.”

The course has multiple decorations to hurdles that feature distinctly Japanese features, such as a kimono, items from the Tanabata festival, and a miniature palace resembling those seen in the Heian and Sengoku eras.

Others say it’s not the statues that are the reason horses are having trouble in that section of the course, but the stadium lights or cherry blossoms that are the culprit.

📝 Odds & Ends

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📺 What to watch tonight

🏅 2020 Tokyo Olympics | TV: fuboTV, NBC

🏈Steelers vs. Cowboys, 8 p.m. | PIT -2 | TV: Fox

Cubs vs. Rockies, 3:10 p.m. | COL -162 | TV: MLB.TV

🏅 Best thing I saw on the internet

I promise this will be the cutest video you see all day. Take a look at this adorable pup playing hockey. I think he will be signed by a team any day now, I mean look at his skills on the ice.

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