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Hot Button: Harrison pumps up with Lombardis … Cowboys ink Zuerlein … ‘Million dollar arm’ now NXT wrestler

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Hot Button is a 'round-the-clock feature that covers anything across the scope of sports. We're here to bring you everything hot: news items, highlights, takes — everything but hot meals — whether local, national or international. Better yet, it’s interactive. Share your thoughts in comments, and even post your own links to interesting, safe-for-work, sports stories.

So let’s go! Come on in!

📌 DEEBO CURLS TROPHIES

Saturday, 3/28: James Harrison's getting bored and, forced to workout from home, has taken to getting his bicep-curl reps in with some familiar hardware:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

This #coronavirus got me tryin to workout with whatever I can find lying around the house. 🏆🏆

A post shared by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on


Is it me, or does he look like he could step in and play somewhere right now? Freak of an athlete. — Bob

COWBOYS SIGN EX-RAMS KICKER

Saturday, 3/28: It's reported that the Cowboys have signed former Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein to a three-year, $7.5-million contract, with $2.25 million guaranteed. Zuerlein, who's spent his entire eight-year career with the Rams, was one of the most consistent kickers in the NFL and a first-team All Pro and Pro Bowl kicker in 2017, but he was unusually inaccurate in 2019, making just 24 of 33 kicks — similar to Steelers kicker Chris Boswell's struggle in 2018. If Zuerlein can regain form, the Cowboys will have made a good deal, as Zuerlein has the fourth-most kicks over 50 yards (33) in NFL history, including 5 of 7 in 2019.

SINGH STAR NXT WRESTLER

Saturday, 3/28: Former Pirates minor-leaguer Rinku Singh is now a star tag-team pro wrestler, having established himself on WWE's NXT circuit, sort of a minor-leagues for the WWE.

Singh, 31, was in the Pirates system after winning the "Million Dollar Arm" contest in Indian 2008, which was subsequently made into a Disney movie. The Pirates signed him and fellow countryman Dinesh Patel to professional contracts in 2009, even though neither had ever played organized baseball before — one of the most Neil Huntington things ever. To his credit, Singh, a southpaw, turned into a decent pitcher. In four seasons from 2009-2012, he recorded a 10-6 record with a 2.97 ERA, all in relief, striking out 126 batters in 146 1/3 innings against just 41 walks. He made it as high as low-A West Virginia before arm injuries sidelined him until 2016, when Singh pitched one inning before retiring for good.

Singh took up pro wrestling in 2018 and is now a mainstay on NXT, hoping to make to WWE someday. — Bob

NO DEAL FOR BROCKERS, RAVENS

Friday, 3/27: Defensive tackle Michael Brockers is headed back to the Rams after the Ravens announced they would not be signing him after failing to come to an agreement. On March 16, the first day of free agency, the Ravens announced that they had reached an agreement in principle with Brockers on a three-year, $30-million deal. But the Ravens, relying on information from a recent physical that was conducted elsewhere, believe that Brockers has ankle trouble and wanted to renegotiate the terms accordingly. Because of the league's coronavirus protocols, players were not able to travel for physicals, so it was buyer beware on the open market. Brockers, 29, is one of the most durable defensive linemen, currently having played in 57 consecutive games.

Brockers reportedly is signing a similar deal with the Rams, where he will reunite with perennial All-Pro Aaron Donald in the middle of the Rams defensive line. The Ravens are suddenly thin there. They lost two other d-tackles in the last week: Michael Pierce in free agency and Chris Wormley in a trade with the Steelers. — Bob

NEW BUCCANEERS HELMET?

Friday, 3/27: ow about this lid? Someone leaked a photo of the Buccaneers alleged new helmet today:

If true, I think it's kind of a cool look. Thoughts? — Bob

JAZZ HOOPSTERS GET ALL-CLEAR

Friday, 3/27: Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz, plus all teammates and staff, have been cleared of coronavirus by the Utah Department of Health following their prescribed periods of isolation and quarantine. This does not mean they're cured, it just means they are no longer contagious, and the Jazz has informed the public that all players and staff will continue with the team's isolation protocols.

Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for COVID-19 after infamously mocking what he believed was the league's overreaction to the crisis. Subsequently, all players and staff were tested and Mitchell was the only other reported positive for the virus. — Bob

GLOBETROTTER LEGEND PASSES AWAY

Thursday, 3/26: Legendary Harlem Globetrotter Fred "Curly" Neal passed away Thursday at age 77 at his home near Houston.

Neal played 22 seasons with the Globetrotters (1963-85) and was an integral member of the memorable Globetrotters teams from the 1970s that included greats Marques Haynes and Meadowlark Lemon. I saw that team often when they came through Rochester and the ever-charismatic Lemon was the big draw. But I was all about Curly Neal. What a player and entertainer. Rest in peace, Curly. Thanks for the memories. — Bob

AVS PLAYER POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

Thursday, 3/26: The Avalanche released a statement today announcing they were informed that one of their players tested positive for COVID-19. However, that player was in isolation when symptoms appeared and is now fully recovered.

This is the first confirmed case of an NHL player since it was announced last week that three Ottawa Senators tested positive. — Bob

L'IL BUCS WIN OPENER

Thursday, 3/26: There's no sport that sparks the imagination quite like baseball:

Well done, kids. — Bob

INDY 500 POSTPONED

Thursday, 3/26: The Indianapolis 500, the premier IndyCar Series race, has decided to postpone the event set for May 24 and has rescheduled it for August 23 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wouldn't it be easier at this point to just have everything scheduled before June canceled? — Bob

BORAS WANTS CHRISTMAS WORLD SERIES

Thursday, 3/26: Agent Scott Boras released his ideas for how MLB could play a full 162-game season if games can begin on June 1. He has a supplemental idea for a 144-game season should the delay last until July 1. Under Boras' plan, many regular season games, playoff games, and the World Series would be held at warm-weather neutral locations, and a World Series game would be played on Christmas Day.

I'm sure none of this has to do with his pending free-agent clients. — Bob

MANFRED: SOX INVESTIGATION DONE

Thursday, 3/26: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed that the league's investigation into alleged cheating by the Red Sox is complete. During an interview on ESPN, Manfred said he has not yet had time to review the investigation report due to managing the league's actions in response to the coronavirus, but he did say he will issue the report and render any appropriate punishment before the league resumes play.

There was no indication whether there were any findings of cheating. Boston already fired manager Alex Cora in response to his involvement in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, so it's unclear who else involved — if any — could suffer consequences as Manfred has made clear that no players involved in illegal sign-stealing would be punished and former head of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who was fired in September 2019, has been replaced by Chaim Bloom and Brian O'Halloran as chief baseball officer and general manager, respectively.

BRUINS FOOD-SERVICERS LAID OFF

Wednesday, 3/25: The owner of the Bruins is unpopular:

Unlike other teams in professional sports who have created programs to protect the salaries and lost wages of arena and team employees, the Bruins and their owner Jeremy Jacobs, whose personal wealth is estimated at $3.1 billion, have not made an effort to protect those workers.

Delaware North, which runs concessions for the Bruins and TD Garden, announced the layoffs Wednesday to "stabilize" their business due to the coronavirus. Effective April 1, the 68 affected full-time employees are receiving one week of pay and eight weeks of benefits, while 82 others are receiving indefinite pay reductions.

Jacobs' inaction lies in stark contrast to all the generous contributions being made by athletes and owners of other teams throughout professional sports. — Bob

NHL TOURNEY TO WIN NO. 1 PICK?

Wednesday, 3/25: It is being reported that an NHL team executive, who is not named, proposed that the NHL could hold a tournament of non-playoff teams to decide who will win the No.1 overall pick in the draft, with bottom-ranked teams getting home games as an advantage.

Hey, it's more hockey, right? It's an interesting concept for a team to win its way to the top pick, but a team like the Red Wings — who would have an advantage in the draft lottery — is bad enough that they're not going to win any tournament. And I can't see the NHLPA letting its members risk their health for a draft pick.

Interesting idea or lunacy? — Bob

BAUER MANUFACTURING MED SHIELDS

Wednesday, 3/25: Bauer, one of the world's leading manufacturers of hockey equipment, is repurposing manufacturing to produce safety shields for medical personnel on the front lines of the coronavirus:

All-in wins. — Bob

L.A. NFL TEAMS' NEW LOOKS

Wednesday, 3/25: The Chargers and Rams have updated their looks as they are set to share the new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, beginning in 2020. The Rams announced their new looks Monday, going retro with their royal blue and gold from the 70's, while the Chargers followed suit in returning to their powder blue and gold colors full-time (they're been third-uniform colors for a few seasons).

Both teams will be revealing new uniforms and combinations in the near future. The Rams have been taking a bit of a beating online for their logo change, but I like both teams going retro with the colors. — Bob

FEDERER'S VIRUS-RELIEF DONATION

Wednesday, 3/25: Roger Federer and his wife, Mirka, have announced they will donate $1 million Swiss francs (just over $1 million USD) toward COVID-19 relief in his native Switzerland:

Federer's is the largest reported individual donation by any single athlete, but individual professional athletes and the athletic community have really responded to the coronavirus crisis, and many are generously donating personal and organizational funds toward virus-related initiatives. Further proof that the overwhelming majority of athletes are good people doing good things in their communities. — Bob

FOX TO BROADCAST iRACING

Wednesday, 3/25: Following the success of last Sunday's first e-racing Pro Invitational Series broadcast on FS1, FOX Sports has decided to simulcast this Sunday's virtual race at Texas Motor Speedway on parent network FOX and FS1 at 1 p.m. NASCAR and FOX Sports also announced that they will broadcast all the races in the digital series until they are able to return to the track.

I'm not a car racing guy, but I found last week's race informative and entertaining. Check it out if you're growing tired of Netflix bingeing. — Bob

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