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Good morning! Lionel Messi just scored on you.
World Cupdate: Happening right now: Australia-England
Quickly: England and Australia kicked off about an hour ago (as of send time) for the final spot in the Women’s World Cup final. England is up 1-0 at halftime despite a decidedly pro-Australia home crowd.
Keep up with the action on our live blog here.
Spotlights: Well, it’s Anthony Richardson time
There is no one under a more intense microscope this season than Anthony Richardson. If he didn’t earn the distinction before yesterday, he has it now, after being named the Colts starting quarterback. It is a wild arc for the supremely talented QB:
- So-so in college, he went 6-7 in just 13 starts at Florida. He mixed jaw-dropping highlights with head-scratching throws. Before the Combine, many had him as a middling first-round pick.
- He flashed some frankly unbelievable physical talents at the Combine and subsequently went No. 4 to Indianapolis. Talk about a glow-up.
And now here he is, QB1 for a Colts team in need of a jolt. He’s looked good in training camp and preseason, as highlighted in our handy breakdown of how every first-round pick is faring so far. There will probably be some lowlights this season, but Colts coaches are clearly impressed with how quickly Richardson can bounce back from mistakes. It’s worth noting that first-year Colts head coach Shane Steichen oversaw Jalen Hurts’ impressive growth in Philadelphia. 👀
And he’s saying all the right things: “I want to be great. I want to be remembered. I don’t want to just be one of those guys like, ‘OK, he was in the league.’ I want my legacy to be forever, and I’m working.”
Richardson will be the seventh different Week 1 starter for Indianapolis in as many years. They really, really need him to live up to the hype. No pressure, kid.
News to Know
The NBA Cup sounds cool, actually
Yesterday, the NBA announced the schedule for its new in-season tournament, the NBA Cup, and after some early hesitation, I think I’m all in on this. We’re getting soccer-style group play within the NBA season, and it’s not in some weird break. Aside from the Cup championship, these also all count as regular-season games. See all the details here.
That makes nine
Lionel Messi played a game last night and scored a goal, which has happened in every one of his six games as an Inter Miami player. Excellence is expected at this point, and the goal was pretty sweet, too. After the 4-1 win over Philadelphia, the club is on to the Leagues Cup final this weekend against Nashville SC. It’s easy to forget this team was plain bad before Messi showed up.
Lloyd speaks out
In an exclusive interview with The Athletic, Fox Sports commentator and former USWNT star Carli Lloyd opened up on the aftermath of her harsh — and polarizing — comments during the World Cup, saying she does not feel vindicated by the USWNT being eliminated early. I thought it was an honest look at who Lloyd is and an interesting look at how she’s become a great broadcaster so quickly.
- The Liberty walloped the Aces in the third annual Commissioner’s Cup, the in-season WNBA tournament the NBA hopes to emulate.
- Bad news for the Rays: Shane McClanahan, who’s been fantastic this year, will undergo Tommy John surgery and will likely miss the entire 2024 season. The injury came at a terrible time for Tampa.
- NFL MVP odds are out. Despite Joe Burrow’s calf injury, he leads Patrick Mahomes.
Circling Back: Let’s get freaky
It’s rare when a story warrants a two-day arc here on the Pulse, but Bruce Feldman’s annual Freaks list clears the bar. It was in Pulse Picks yesterday, but if you missed it, I want to highlight my favorite three entries (numbers refer to place on the list):
1. South Carolina WR Nyckoles Harbor
This guy is the definition: A 6-5, 243-pound wide receiver with an athletic pedigree who has Olympic-caliber speed. Imagine a Derrick Henry-sized wide receiver. And for comparison, DK Metcalf is listed at 6-4 and 235 pounds right now. This kid is a true freshman. Equally impressive is the five-star recruit picking South Carolina, a testament to what Shane Beamer is building in a tough situation. Just watch this video and try not to get excited.
2. Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr.
USC’s Caleb Williams might be the Heisman favorite, but Harrison is the best player in college football. He is the anchor of Ohio State’s massive expectations this season and has spent the offseason enhancing his body, as he tells Bruce. He expects to run a 4.3 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine next year. His Hall of Fame genes don’t hurt, either.
8. Harvard DT Thor Griffith
This is my favorite part of Bruce’s list every year: the small-school guys with NFL traits. Griffith was a hockey prospect who played in the greatest youth tournament ever, but opted for football. His measurables are insane, and he is on track to clock the best pro shuttle time ever among defensive tackles, if he gets a Combine invite. Plus, dude’s name is Thor.
Read the rest of the list, which is filled with indispensable context from coaches around the country.
I thought this was so fun: We got an astrology expert to read the star charts of NFL players and predict how they’ll do this year. First up, of course, is Aaron Rodgers.
Zack Meisel has a lovely story on Jim Eisenreich, the former MLB player who once struggled with Tourette syndrome. Now 64, he’s finding peace helping others.
It was earth-shattering news when Neymar left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain. Six years later, he leaves a disappointment in many eyes. Was it all worth it?
John Hollinger wonders if James Harden and Damian Lillard could force the NBA Empowerment Era to hit its ceiling. Interesting read.
Speaking of Harden: Law Murray has a smart piece on how the NBA’s in-season tournament will actually put more pressure on the Clippers to acquire the unhappy star.
We’re still monitoring the Michael Oher situation. Here’s a helpful explainer on the conservatorship at the heart of the dispute.
(Photo: Bryan M. Bennett/ Getty Images)