Devon Allen scores first touchdown in six years, celebrates with hurdles

Devon Allen
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Devon Allen made sure his first reception with the Philadelphia Eagles was a memorable one.

Allen, a two-time Olympian taking a break from the 110m hurdles to pursue football, used his speed to snag a 55-yard touchdown pass in the Eagles’ second preseason game Sunday.

Of course, he celebrated by clearing air hurdles. It came six years after Allen’s last touchdown, when he also celebrated by hurdling when at the University of Oregon.

In the time between, Allen turned pro in track, placed fourth in his second Olympics and ran the third-fastest 110m hurdles time in history.

In football, he tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered meniscus damage in a non-contact injury defending a punt return for Oregon on Sept. 17, 2016, seven days after that last touchdown. That was his last game play before this month.

It was the same injury he suffered on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, just to the opposite knee. That redshirt freshman season, he led Oregon with seven receiving touchdowns, was second on the team with 41 catches and third with 684 receiving yards before the injury.

Allen is hoping to join a list of 43 Olympians, including 34 track and field athletes, who played in an NFL regular-season game, according to Olympedia.org. He controversially false-started out of the world track and field championships last month, then went to training camp.

“You watch one of those military movies, a grenade goes off, and their head’s ringing, that’s how I felt in the huddle the first couple weeks,” he said Sunday.

He must get through two cut deadlines, starting with Tuesday’s mandate to get down to 80. The final cut is Aug. 30 down to 53 players.

He said earlier this year that he plans to return to track and field next season, even if he makes the Eagles’ final roster.

“There’s a lot for me to learn, a lot for me to do in order to make the football team,” he said. “I want to get reps. I want to play, but also I appreciate the fact that it’s been six years. It’s not going to come back real quick.”

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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