The Sports Xchange
MINNEAPOLIS—The 2015 edition of the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team experienced enough drama to fill several seasons. A brutal schedule, featuring almost every one of the Big Ten's best teams was only the first obstacle the Gophers needed to overcome. A bevy of injuries to critical players, including a spate that decimated virtually their entire secondary early in the season, haunted them throughout the campaign.
Longtime ESPN host and anchor John Saunders has died at age 61, the network announced Wednesday. Saunders was one of ESPN's most visible and versatile commentators and was a founding member of the board of directors for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Saunders, with ESPN for nearly 30 years, hosted studio and play-by-play programming. He covered college football, basketball and the NHL, in addition to anchoring "SportsCenter" and hosting "The Sports Reporters."
Manny Pacquiao confirmed Wednesday he will come out of retirement to fight World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Jessie Vargas on Nov. 5 in Las Vegas. The 37-year-old Pacquiao, also a Philippines senator, issued a statement to announce his comeback opponent. "Yes, the fight is on. I have agreed to a November 5 fight with reigning WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas," Pacquiao said in the statement. "Boxing is my passion. I miss what I'd been doing inside the gym and atop the ring."
The Denver Nuggets were quite busy on Tuesday, signing guards Jamal Murray and Malik Beasley and forward Juancho Hernangomez to contracts. Terms of the deals were not disclosed by the Nuggets, who also inked veteran reserve Mike Miller to a two-year contract, the Denver Post reported. Murray, who was selected with the seventh overall pick of the 2016 draft, averaged 19.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in five games at the 2016 Summer League in Las Vegas. The 19-year-old averaged 20.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in his lone season with Kentucky in 2015-16.
Mark Sanchez will start the Denver Broncos' preseason opener at Chicago on Thursday night after being listed as the co-starting quarterback on the team's depth chart released Monday. The plan is for Sanchez to play the first quarter, Trevor Siemian the second and rookie first-round pick Paxton Lynch the entire second half.
Texas Rangers designated hitter Prince Fielder is expected to announce on Wednesday that his playing career is over due to medical concerns, according to a report from Fox Sports. Fielder, 32, recently underwent his second neck surgery in a span of 26-plus months. He was suffering from a herniated disk and underwent a cervical fusion. Fielder was struggling prior to the season-ending injury, batting .212 with eight homers and 44 RBIs.
Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is now pursuing a career in professional baseball and will hold a workout for major league teams later this month, according to agents Jimmy Sexton and Nick Khan. Tebow, who turns 29 on Sunday, was a former all-state prep school baseball player in Florida. He last played baseball full-time in 2004 as a high school junior for Nease High.
CLEVELAND—Four players belted home runs as the Cleveland Indians powered their way to a 9-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field. The win halts Cleveland's three-game losing streak - all to the Twins, who erupted for 35 runs in the first three contests. On Thursday, it was the Indians who were doing the mashing as Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez all homered.
An appeals court on Thursday ruled in favor of the NFL and reinstated the suspension and fine of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that arbitrator Harold Henderson acted within his authority when he upheld the league's discipline against Peterson. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell indefinitely suspended Peterson and fined him six games of pay in 2014 after the running back pleaded no contest to injuring his son while doling out punishment. The penalties were upheld by Henderson.
NFL analyst Tom Jackson will retire after 29 years with ESPN, the network announced Wednesday. Jackson, 65, is expected to work his final assignment with ESPN alongside host Chris Berman at the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement this weekend in Canton, Ohio. Prior to coming to ESPN, Jackson was a three-time Pro Bowl selection during his 14-year career with the Denver Broncos. He quickly transitioned into the role of an analyst in 1987, which was the first year that the network acquired NFL broadcast rights.