DeMaurice Smith: NFLPA will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccination info, but players responsible for decisions

Packers tight end Jace Sternberger suspended 2 games for substance-abuse violation

GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers tight end Jace Sternberger has been suspended without pay for the first two games of the 2021 regular season for violating NFL policy and program on substances of abuse, the league announced Thursday.

Sternberger will miss the Packers' regular-season opener Sept. 12 at the New Orleans Saints and home opener against the Detroit Lions. He is eligible to return for the Packers' third game Sept. 26 at San Francisco.

The 2019 third-round draft pick out of Texas A&M has had a slow start to his Packers career. After playing only six games in his rookie season, which he began on the physically unable to perform list, Sternberger caught his first touchdown pass in the NFC championship game at San Francisco.

Two-time Pro Bowl CB Johnathan Joseph retires from NFL after 15 years

Johnathan Joseph, a 2006 first-round draft pick of the Bengals who played his first five NFL seasons in Cincinnati and spent last season with the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals, announced his retirement on Thursday.

"Today I retire from the NFL," Joseph wrote on Twitter. "In the summer of 2006, I signed my first NFL contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. Fifteen years later, I can say I accomplished my childhood goal of making it to the NFL. I will never forget as a kid telling my father I wanted to be in the NFL."

In March, Joseph told SiriusXM NFL Radio that a conversation he had with J.J. Watt, his former teammate with the Houston Texans, may have helped convince Watt to sign with the Cardinals. Joseph, 37, said he talked up Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph – who coached Johnathan with the Texans from 2011 to 2013 before becoming the Bengals' defensive backs coach in 2014 – to Watt.

Oklahoma beats Florida State to win Women’s College World Series championship

Jocelyn Alo gave OU a big spark … once again.

Giselle Juarez was dominant … once again.

And the Sooners are national champions … once again.

OU beat Florida State 5-1 to cap off their fifth Women’s College World Series championship Thursday afternoon.

As the seventh inning started, with the Sooners up four runs, and Europe’s “The Final Countdown” blared throughout USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, OU’s players spread out on the field raised their arms in near unison, encouraging the crowd made up largely of Sooners fans to stand up and get loud.

The got louder when Juarez struck out Cassidy Davis looking to lead off the inning. Louder still when Juarez struck out Dani Morgan, also looking for the second out.

NCAA Track and Field Championships: 5 key athletes and events to watch at Hayward Field

The NCAA Division I Track and Field Championships kicked off Wednesday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, for the first time since the historic stadium underwent major construction in 2018. 

This year's meet offers athletes the opportunity for redemption after the 2020 championships were cancelled due to COVID-19. For some, the meet will also serve as a stepping stone for the USATF Olympic Trials that begin June 18. The trials will also be held at Hayward Field.

The championships will be run through Saturday and can be streamed live on ESPN3. Select events will also be aired on ESPN2 and ESPNU. A full schedule of events can be found here.

These are some of the biggest storylines to follow:

Federal Reserve approves merger of Boston Private Financial and SVB

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve announced ON Thursday it had approved a merger between Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc and SVB Financial Group.

The approval clears the way for SVB to indirectly acquire the subsidiary state member bank, Boston Private Bank & Trust Company, and for Silicon Valley Bank to merge with that bank.

DeMaurice Smith: NFLPA will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccination info, but players responsible for decisions

Washington Football Team defensive end Montez Sweat raised eyebrows on Wednesday when he told reporters that he isn’t “a fan” of the COVID-19 vaccine and that he wants to receive more information before deciding whether to get it or not. 

Washington coach Ron Rivera had a medical expert speak to the team to help educate the players on the vaccine. 

And for now, that’s all that teams can do, NFL Players Association medical director Dr. Thom Mayer says. 

“I’ll say what our players say: They’re grown-ass men. You give them the grown-ass facts and they’ll make a grown-ass decision,” Mayer told reporters on a conference call on Thursday. 

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith echoed those sentiments. 

“I think the only thing that we can do is make sure that all of our players have all of the information,” Smith told reporters before adding, “Nobody should not have all the information that they want."