Thursday Sports in Brief

National Sports


MADRID (AP)Lionel Messi’s time at Barcelona appears to be over.

Barcelona announced Messi will not stay with the club, saying the Spanish league’s financial regulations made it impossible to sign the Argentina star to a new contract.

He is leaving after 17 successful seasons in which he propelled the Catalan club to glory, helping it win numerous domestic and international titles since debuting as a teenager.

Barcelona said in a statement that a deal for a new contract had been reached but financial ”obstacles” made it impossible for the player to remain with the club.

It blamed ”Spanish league regulations” for not allowing the club to sign a new contract with the player. His previous one had ended on June 30.


CANTON, Ohio (AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers followed a stumbling first half with a strong final 30 minutes to beat the Dallas Cowboys 16-3 in the first NFL preseason game in two years.

Matthew Sexton’s 36-yard punt return early in the third quarter jump-started the Steelers, and the Cowboys never challenged after that.

Last season’s exhibition games were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) – Kirk Cousins returned to practice with the Minnesota Vikings and vowed to go to even greater lengths for social distancing in order to keep the coronavirus away and stay on the field.

Setting up a Plexiglas barrier around his seat was one idea he’s considered. Even ”meeting outside under a goal post in January” was an extreme measure he said he’d be willing to take to avoid another absence related to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.

Getting vaccinated would make all that easier, of course, and Cousins acknowledged the league’s strong encouragement – still short of an outright mandate – for players to do so. He gave no indication he would reconsider his decision not to get vaccinated, which he called ”a very private health matter.”


NEW YORK (AP) – Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave was extended for seven days through Aug. 13 by Major League Baseball and the players’ association while the sport’s investigators check into allegations of sexual misconduct against the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher.

Bauer was placed on seven days’ paid leave July 2 under the joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy adopted by MLB and the players’ union in 2015. MLB and the union have agreed to four extensions.


WASHINGTON (AP) – If Rafael Nadal was hoping to ease his painful left foot back into action after nearly two months off tour, that’s hardly what happened in his Citi Open debut, which ended after just two matches.

A night after needing three sets and more than three hours to get by, Nadal was eliminated 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 by 50th-ranked Lloyd Harris of South Africa under the lights at the hard-court tournament.

Harris hit 16 aces and took advantage of Nadal’s admittedly problematic serve.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was seeded No. 1.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Teen tennis sensation Coco Gauff said she was supposed to get her first vaccine shot the same week she got COVID-19, which forced her to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics and has left her without her sense of smell.

The 17-year-old Gauff announced via social media on July 18 that she had tested positive for the coronavirus and would need to sit out the Summer Games that began soon thereafter. That was less than two weeks after she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon for the second time in her young career.


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Harris English shot an 8-under 62 to match his lowest PGA Tour score and take the first-round lead in the FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

The 2013 winner at TPC Southwind, English had a two-stroke lead over Jim Herman, Carlos Ortiz, Ian Poulter and Matthew Wolff, with Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler and Marc Leishman another shot back at 65.

DeChambeau returned to competition after missing the Tokyo Olympics because of a positive test for COVID-19.

TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) – Joel Dahmen scored 16 points with eight birdies in a bogey-free round to take the first-round lead in the Barracuda Championship, the only PGA Tour event that uses the modified Stableford scoring system.

Players receive 8 points for an albatross, 5 for eagle, 2 for birdie and 0 for par. A point is subtracted for a bogey, and 3 points are taken away for a double bogey or worse.

HARRISON, N.Y. (AP) – NCAA champion Rachel Heck of Stanford rallied to beat Arkansas’ Brooke Matthews in 19 holes to advance to the U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinals. Heck, from Memphis, Tennessee, overcame a two-hole deficit with two to play at Westchester Country Club.


ATLANTA (AP) – The Atlanta Hawks signed first-round draft pick Jalen Johnson before the forward participates in the team’s summer league in Las Vegas.

The former Duke standout was the No. 20 overall pick in the NBA draft last week. The Hawks also signed their second-round pick, point guard Sharife Cooper from Auburn, to a two-way contract.

The Hawks also announced they have re-signed forward Solomon Hill, who averaged 4.5 points in 71 games, including 16 starts, last season. Hill, an eight-year veteran, also made three starts during the team’s postseason run to the Eastern Conference finals.


Robert Griffin III has not totally shut the door on his NFL career but is taking the next step toward his future beyond the playing field.

The Heisman Trophy winner and former Pro Bowl quarterback has signed a multiyear deal with ESPN to be a college football and NFL analyst. Griffin will be in the booth for a college football game on either ESPN or ABC and will also contribute to ESPN’s studio coverage, including during the College Football Playoff and Super Bowl.

The deal allows Griffin to seek a playing opportunity with a team if one arises.


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) – The New Jersey Devils signed free agent forward Tomas Tatar to a two-year, $9 million contract and re-signed restricted free-agent forward Yegor Sharangovich to a two-year $4 million deal.

Tatar will earn $3.75 million this coming season and $5.25 million the following year, the team said. Sharangovich will get $1.8 million this coming season and $2.2 million in 2022-23.

Tatar, 30, spent the last three seasons with the Montreal Canadiens. He had 10 goals and 20 assists in 50 games. The Slovakian had 22 goals and 39 assists the previous season and 25 goals and 33 assists in 2018-19.

Sharangovich had 16 goals and 14 assists in 54 games as a rookie last season.

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