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Once an integral part of HBO’s Boxing After Dark series, Derrick Jefferson is now in a fight of a different kind.

The former heavyweight contender was diagnosed with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and is currently in a medically induced coma while under observation at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Royal Oak (Michigan) Beaumont Hospital. Jefferson, 52, was admitted on Sunday after showing symptoms of the disease.

“When they first tested him for coronavirus, it came back negative,” Jabari Jefferson, the 18-year old son of the former title challenger told Detroit’s WXYZ News. “So, I just thought it was a common cold or flu-like symptoms. But the second test came, he tested positive.

Following the second test, Jefferson—who hails from the greater Detroit area—was placed in a medically induced coma and continues to breathe through the aid of a ventilator. According to a report from WXYZ, Jefferson remains in isolation, with family contact limited to updates over the phone from medical staff.

Jefferson enjoyed a 10-year pro career from 1995 to 2005. The 6’6” heavyweight was considered among the sport’s rising stars in the late 1990s, reaching the peak of his popularity following his November 1999 slugfest with Cheap Maurice Harris Jersey, whom he knocked out in six rounds. The instant classic aired live on HBO’s B.A.D. series, with Jefferson surviving a knockdown to score four of his own, including a final left hook which ejected Harris’ mouthpiece as he collapsed to the canvas.

The bout was hailed by Ring Magazine as the 1999 Knockout of the Year.

Jefferson was well on his way to emerging as a viable heavyweight contender in his very next fight, graduating to HBO’s World Championship Boxing series on the undercard of then pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr. in a January 2000 doubleheader. Jefferson was ahead on all three scorecards through eight rounds versus David Izon before literally punching himself into exhaustion as he was stopped in nine rounds.

More bad luck came in his next fight, when Jefferson suffered a broken ankle following an opening round knockdown at the hands of Oleg Maskaev. Jefferson braved the injury until the fight referee Mike Ortega mercifully halted the May 2000 contest in four rounds.

The lone title shot of Jefferson’s career came in March 2001, when he was stopped in two rounds by Wladimir Klitschko. Five wins would follow before suffering a 2nd round knockout versus DaVarryl Williamson in April 2005, the final fight of his career as he retired with a record of 28-4-1 (21KOs).

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When jersey No. 30 became available Monday after the waiver of fullback Cheap Ricky Ortiz Jersey, Quinn suggested that it go to rookie running back Qadree Ollison as a way to honor his brother, who had worn the number as a youngster and died after being shot at a Niagara Falls, N.Y., gas station.

Lerowne Harris, Ollison’s older brother, died Oct. 14, 2017, after being shot three times, a crime for which Denzel K. Lewis of Niagara Falls pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in May, 2018. Three months later, he was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for what the judge said was “an assassination more than a murder.”

Police reports and accounts of the crime showed that Harris, who was 14 years older than Ollison, fled across the parking lot after being shot, then was placed in a car and driven to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, where he died. A youth league star, Harris had dropped out of high school before his junior year; his younger brother later used football as a way out of housing projects in Niagara Falls.

“I grew up in a rough neighborhood, like any type of projects where drugs, and gangs, and violence are evident,” Ollison said, via ESPN. “Really, just to be blunt, my brother got caught up in that lifestyle.”

Ollison, a fifth-round pick by the Falcons out of Pittsburgh, and his father, Wayne, differed over Lewis’s punishment, with Ollison writing an emotional note to the judge explaining why he could not hate Lewis, with whom he had attended middle school.

“For some reason, you thought it was right to go and gun down my brother that morning of Oct. 14. You had that choice. My brother, at gunpoint, didn’t have a choice to live. It wasn’t up to him. He lost the two greatest things God gives us as people: He lost his ability to choose, and he lost his life,” Ollison wrote. “Now here I am, and I have this choice to hate you or not. I choose not to. I don’t hate you, Denzel. I hate what you did, most certainly. But I still think your life is just as precious as the next person’s. No life means more than another’s. None of us are perfect.”

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The New Orleans Saints acquired linebacker Kiko Alonso in a trade with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and he made his debut at Saints practice on Monday wearing No. 54.
There were questions surrounding which number Alonso would pick while in black and gold, with each of the numbers he wore in previous stops — No. 50 with the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills, No. 47 for the Dolphins — already claimed by his new Saints teammates. No. 50 is worn by backup defensive end Wes Horton, while starting linebacker Alex Anzalone owns No. 47.

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A few other players changed numbers in the wake of this weekend’s roster cuts. Rookie defensive tackle Shy Tuttle picked up No. 99, having worn No. 74 throughout the summer. Two new practice squad additions also selected new numbers, with running back/wide receiver Taquan Mizzell choosing No. 44, and offensive lineman John Leglue picking up No. 65.

Otherwise, things have remained the same as they were a week ago, when the Saints last practiced. It appears the rest of the rookie class will remain in their chosen numbers. Here’s a refresher on the Saints rookies:

Center Erik McCoy: No. 78
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson: No. 22
Safety Saquan Hampton: No. 33
Linebacker Kaden Elliss: No. 55
Tight end Alize Mack: No. 86 (practice squad)
Wide receiver/returns specialist Deonte Harris: No. 11
Wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey: No. 84 (practice squad)
Wide receiver Emmanuel Butler: No. 17 (practice squad)
Offensive tackle Derrick Kelly: No. 68 (practice squad)
Offensive lineman John Leglue: No. 65 (practice squad)
GALLERY
Here is the initial 10-man New Orleans Saints 2019 practice squad
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Cheap Nike New Orleans Saints Erik McCoy Jersey Authentic 2019

NASHVILLE, TN (KTRE) – Erik McCoy does not show emotion. Friday night he did.

After the 47th pick in the NFL draft was made, McCoy sitting on a coach surrounded by his mom, dad and girlfriend, received a phone call.

“Hello, this is Erik…. Yes sir coach…. Thank you…. I am in Lufkin, TX with my family…,” McCoy said to the voice of Saints Head Coach Sean Peyton on the other end. After about 4 minutes, McCoy said thank you and hung up the phone. About a minute later his named was called to a ruckus crowd in Nashville.

Erik McCoy New Orleans Saints
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson New Orleans Saints

“It was overwhelming,” McCoy said. “Just to say I finally got the call was unreal. All the hard work pays off. It was a commitment I made a long time ago. Those were early mornings. All the hard work, all the years, all the sacrifices people made to get me to work outs. I didn’t have a car. To take care of me and get me to where I am today, I am grateful.”

The moment @Erik_McCoy_73 learned he would be a @Saints @KTREnews @EastTexasNow pic.twitter.com/ew4o9XKvT3

— Caleb Beames (@CalebKTRE) April 27, 2019
“It is a feeling I can’t describe right now,” McCoy said. “There was a little disappointment last night. I won’t lie. I had my hopes high but I figured I would go in the second. Honestly I am just looking forward to this opportunity.”

VIDEO: Learning more about New Orleans Saints’ Erik McCoy
Erik McCoy’s path to the NFL started at a young age
The 6 foot 4 inch tall, 315 pound offensive lineman’s path to this point began at a young age. He played multiple sports growing up.

McCoy talked to several NFL teams, including the Rams and Panthers. He told reporters tried not to look at the mock draft because he’s only worried about what he can control.
“I did not think it was going to be that emotional,” McCoy said. I am not an emotional person. It just hit me all at once. I have worked 12 years for this… My mom is super emotional. My dad is like me. My mom is whispering in my ear, ‘You made it, you finally made it.’ My dad is not saying anything. It is good I had both of them here with me. I am just happy. Dreams come true.”

INTERVIEW: Lufkin coach talks about Erik McCoy, NFL Draft
“I am just happy, just happy,” McCoy said. “I is a great feeling. There are plenty of guys that come out of Lufkin. My good friend Keke Coutee came out last year. To finally say I have finally made it and reached the highest level of play will put a bigger light on the o-line in college station and just put some East Texas pride back around here.”

McCoy will join a team with Drew Brees and an offense that made the Saints a title contender last year. There would also be the chance to play with Dez Bryant if the Saints chose to resign the veteran.

“That would be awesome,” McCoy said. “You know Dez Bryant, that is a guy that every Lufkin Kid looks up to growing up. Being an offensive lineman, I didn’t have the body of a receiver, but if I got to play with him that would be freaking awesome.”

McCoy will celebrate for a short time and then get to work to prove the pick is not a bust.

“I went to the city once on my way to Florida,” McCoy said. “I don’t know much about the city so I am excited to get there. I will go in, put my head down and work. That is something I have done my whole life. Go in, shut up, do what I am supposed to do and do the best to be the best player I can be.”

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DENVER — In no sport but the NFL do players, fans, coaches and general managers annually debate the rules of the game, advocating ways to make pro football better, safer, fairer.

Officiating is especially a hot topic around the league after a blown call late in the NFC championship game pretty much cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.
That capped a season which began with the long-awaited clarification of what constitutes a catch and then was marred by widespread confusion over what exactly is a legal takedown of the quarterback. While defenders learned new ways to tackle to avoid flags for even glancing blows to the helmet, they complained about O-linemen illegally blocking too far downfield in the run-pass option craze that has successfully seeped in from the college game.

Giants owner John Mara hears the cries to change the NFL’s replay review system after officials failed to flag the blatant pass interference penalty and a helmet-first hit by the Rams’ Nickell Robey-Coleman deep in Los Angeles territory in the NFC championship match. The non-calls helped Los Angeles force overtime and eventually win the game to reach the Super Bowl, leading to widespread displeasure with the current system regarding coaches’ challenges.

Mara said last month at the NFL combine that the powerful competition committee isn’t in a rush to change the replay system.

“I just don’t sense a lot of support to use replay to call penalties. I don’t sense a lot of support for the expansion of it, either,” Mara said. “We’re early on, so that might change, but that’s my sense of where we are right now. I’m not saying it won’t change.”

The Canadian Football League has allowed pass interference, either called or uncalled, to be reviewed for the last five years. But the NFL has long been reluctant to expand replays for officiating because it would slow games even further.

Other major moves will be considered by the 32 owners at the league meetings in Phoenix beginning Sunday.

Several teams are proposing big changes to replay and overtime after a season of consistent criticism of officiating and which plays can be challenged or automatically reviewed. Any change requires a 24-vote threshold to pass.

Just like the USFL did with the 2-point conversion and other innovations back in the 1980s, the Alliance of American Football’s debut this spring has brought novel ideas, some of which could find their way into the NFL rule book. Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, a staunch advocate for adding more replay reviews to the NFL, is a big fan of the AAF’s “sky judge,” an official watching from the press box level who can help call penalties from a bird’s-eye view.

“Look how tough it is for these officials, all right. I know as a coach, what’s the worst spot to watch the game from? Sideline. You see the least amount form the sideline. That’s why you put coaches in the box,” Harbaugh said. “OK. So we’ve got all this technology and the fans actually have a better view of the game from an officiating standpoint than the officials do.

“So these clear and obvious mistakes that are inevitably going to get made, it’s not just one play in a championship game; it happens every single week, because the job is so tough and moves so fast and the angles aren’t great,” Harbaugh added. “If we can put somebody up there in the box that has a better angle that can help officiate the game from up there, do that. If we can add more replay, let’s do that.”

Harbaugh said the league would save face by fixing a system everyone knows is flawed.

“Because at the end of the day it’s about the credibility of the sport, and we can’t have the other leagues outpacing us in terms of use of technology to make sure games are fair and well-officiated,” Harbaugh said. “We have great officials. These guys are incredible with what they do. We’ve also put a lot of rules in place that’ve made it really tough on them. They’ve got a lot on their plate.

“So let’s add an official, let’s add two officials, let’s put one up in the box, let’s expand replay if we want. Let’s make sure that at the end of the day the fans walk out of the stadium and walk away from their TV sets knowing that was a good, hard-fought, well-officiated game and the outcome is as it should be and it was correct. The right team won the game.”

Players have their own ideas about ways to make the game better.

Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said the rules already in place need to be enforced, like flagging O-linemen who block too far downfield on the run-pass option plays that have become all the rage, leading to wide-open tight ends as linebackers come up to play the run.

“You can’t have guys 4 or 5 yards downfield and (the quarterback is) still throwing the ball,” Harris said.

“They’ve got to figure out the RPO stuff, but let me suggest a better rule,” teammate Von Miller said. “You know how you can’t hit a defenceless receiver coming across the field? I feel like edge rushers should have the same protection from chippers. I feel like it’s not fair.

“I’m looking right and I’ve got a receiver that shuffles in and blindsides me while I’m focusing on this play. I actually tore my ACL in a play like that in 2013,” Miller said. “I feel like the chips should be gone. I’m dead serious about that. You see guys get blindsided all the time.”

Miller said owners are eager to protect QBs and nowadays great edge rushers are getting paid just like franchise quarterbacks.

“We’ve got a lot of star pass rushers. All it takes is one of those plays and boom, that could be it for one of those guys,” Miller said. “This league is all about protecting the quarterbacks. How come they get protection and we don’t?”

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METAIRIE, La. — The legend of Taysom Hill just keeps growing in New Orleans.

Now it’s time to find out if he can live up to it.

“I was kind of joking around with a few guys that this is the first opportunity I’ve had to take a rep at quarterback in the New Orleans Saints’ offense. So these last [two weeks of OTA practices] have been a ton of fun,” said the second-year quarterback, who managed to create an enormous amount of buzz last fall — even though he barely even saw the practice field as the Saints’ third-stringer.

For those who might have missed it, here’s how this unique and surprising tall tale started:

Hill, an undrafted dual-threat quarterback out of BYU, had an impressive preseason with the Green Bay Packers in 2017. But the Packers let him go when they cut their roster to 53 players in September, and the Saints quickly snatched him off the waiver wire.

Flash forward to December, when two eye-opening things happened.

First, Hill started playing on special teams — and actually thriving in kick coverage — after the Saints found a rare way to use his skill set as a big, athletic, 6-foot-2, 221-pounder.

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Then the Fox broadcast team revealed that Saints coach Sean Payton was absolutely enamored with Hill’s potential, with Payton even going so far as to suggest in their production meetings that Drew Brees’ heir “is in the building.”

Of course, Payton tried to walk those comments back a little bit. How could the Saints be convinced Hill is their next starting quarterback when he hadn’t really even practiced running their offense yet (only doing a little work with the scout teams last season)?

But make no mistake, the Saints’ coaching staff is extremely excited about Hill’s potential, as quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi continued to demonstrate in comments made to the New Orleans Advocate during the first week of OTAs.

“The guy is a freak athlete. I’ve never seen anyone like him at this position,” said Lombardi, who said Hill “might be the strongest guy on the team” — at least “pound for pound.”

“He might be the strongest squatter,” Lombardi said of Hill’s weight-room prowess.

Lombardi also tried to tone down the hype a little bit when I followed up with him a few days ago. But he didn’t shy away from the fact Hill has some athletic traits that are rare for the position, including his blazing 40-yard dash time of 4.44 seconds at his pro day.

That helped Hill run for 2,815 yards and 32 touchdowns in college, to go with his 6,929 passing yards and 43 TD passes. He also threw for two touchdowns and ran for another during the Packers’ preseason last year.

“You just don’t see guys that are as strong and as fast as him very often. … Oftentimes those guys are playing safety or running back or receiver,” Lombardi said. “A guy that can run like that obviously causes problems for a defense, in a different way than maybe a Drew Brees does.

“So he has traits that can help him be successful. And obviously his job and our job is to help him mold those traits into a guy that can effectively play the position.”

Lombardi also mentioned to The Advocate that one of the strengths Hill has shown so far in practice is the ability to make throws down the field while on the move outside the pocket.

“Every great quarterback has to have a way of making a play when the play call isn’t perfect,” Lombardi said. “Someone’s not open right away, or the pressure gets to you, and you have certain guys like Tom Brady or Drew, they do it by finding these creative throws or getting the ball out so quick and having that sixth sense of where to go with the ball. Other guys get away from the rush, and they get outside the pocket, and they create. You see Aaron Rodgers and those kind of guys make plays that way.”

Only two of the Saints’ OTA practices have been open to the media so far. But Hill has turned heads on a couple of plays — one when he took off running down the field and one when he made a strong throw across his body.

“He looks good,” Payton said. “We like where he’s at. He’s grinding, working hard. You guys saw maybe a play where when he does get outside the pocket, he can run — I mean real fast. So that presents a new challenge for the defense.”
New Orleans found a way to use Taysom Hill’s skill set as a big, athletic, 6-foot-2, 221-pounder beyond playing quarterback. Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports
Hill, now 27 after a five-year college career and a two-year Mormon mission, said it has been “big” for him to finally start translating everything he learned last season onto the field.

He has continued to do a little bit of work on special teams, but the plan is for him to spend more of his time on his primary job — where he is trying to earn the backup role in a competition with newly signed veteran Tom Savage and undrafted rookie J.T. Barrett.

Savage, a former starter for the Houston Texans, doesn’t have the same fanfare around him as Hill right now. But he has significantly more experience as the two are splitting time with the No. 2 offense.

“He throws the football really well. He throws a pretty ball — and accurate,” said Lombardi, who noted that Savage has been working on some fundamental things like changing his footwork to fit the Saints’ preferred drops.

A trio of newcomers behind Brees is a big departure for the Saints from years past, when they had established veterans such as Luke McCown or Chase Daniel in the backup role.

But Hill clearly learned one thing from Daniel last season. Hill has been racing Brees from drill to drill during OTA practices, fighting to be the first guy to step on a certain marker — continuing a heated competition that Brees and Daniel used to have among many others on a daily basis.

“Usually you’ve got to fight for body position a little bit to touch the [marker],” said Brees, who has also learned to appreciate Hill’s unique athletic makeup.

“He’s a little bit bigger and stronger than who we’ve normally had around here,” Brees said. “So I’ve got my work cut out for me now.”