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Chase Claypool is having a rookie year for the ages
The Canadian NFL star scored his 10th touchdown on Sunday, which is the most ever through 10 games by a first-year receiver in the Super Bowl era (since 1966). Claypool has 39 catches for 559 yards and eight TDs (including an 84-yarder) and has rushed nine times for 22 yards and a pair of scores. The second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame (via Abbotsford, B.C.) has also helped the Pittsburgh Steelers to a perfect 10-0 start heading into their matchup with rival Baltimore on Thursday night.
With six games left, Claypool’s rookie reason could hardly be going any better. But how does it stack up with the greatest of all time? In terms of touchdowns scored (so we’re not including passing TDs), here are some of the most eye-catching rookie performances in NFL history:
Gale Sayers did it all. The Chicago Bears running back scored a rookie-record 22 touchdowns in only 14 games (two less than the current schedule) in 1965. This was the last year before the NFL and AFL began having their champions meet in what became known as the Super Bowl (the leagues merged in 1970, creating the modern NFL). Sayers was the definition of an all-purpose threat. He ran for 14 of his touchdowns, caught six and also scored on both a kickoff and punt return. Sayers died in September at age 77.
Randy Moss showed ’em. Seething all year after falling to the 21st pick in the draft because of concerns about his “character,” the ultra-talented Minnesota Vikings receiver went on a rampage to close the 1998 season. Moss had “only” six touchdowns catches through his first nine games, but he exploded for 11 in the final seven contests of the regular season (including back-to-back three-TD days) to finish with 17. That’s four more touchdowns than any rookie receiver has ever scored — even if you include rushing and kick-return scores, of which Moss did not have any.
Cam Newton rushed for 14 touchdowns. That’s right. The quarterback. No passer of any experience level has come close to running in as many scores in a single season as Newton did in 2011. In fact, he also owns the second-best total — 10 in his 2015 MVP year, which also came with Carolina. Of Newton’s 14 rushing TDs as a rookie, six were one-yarders and another was two yards. But Newton also reeled off touchdown runs of 49, 16, 14 (twice) and 11 yards. Oh, and he threw for 21 TDs and more than 4,000 yards.
Claypool has already broken the Canadian rookie TD record. It belonged to Rueben Mayes, the running back who scored eight (all on the ground) in 1986 for New Orleans and is probably the man Claypool needs to surpass if he’s to become the greatest NFL player Canada has ever produced. And remember, Claypool still has six games left. Sayers’ record seems out of reach, but it’s not out of the question for Claypool to catch Moss for the receivers’ mark. He’s that good.
Two players at the Canadian junior hockey team’s selection camp tested positive for the coronavirus. Hockey Canada said the unnamed players were in quarantine at the team’s hotel in Red Deer, Alta., where preparations are underway for the upcoming world junior championship. All camp activities, including a planned intrasquad game, were suspended for the day while everyone got tested. The world juniors are scheduled to open on Christmas Day in Edmonton. A bubble is being established around the Oilers’ arena, where all games will take place (almost certainly without fans). Defending-champion Canada plays its first game on Boxing Day vs. Germany. Read more about today’s positive tests here.
The last Canadian team left in the Major League Soccer playoffs plays tonight. Toronto FC faces Nashville at 6 p.m. ET in East Hartford, Conn. Toronto has been playing its home matches there because of the Canadian government’s pandemic-related restrictions. TFC went 13-5-5 this season to earn the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Nashville (8-7-8) defeated Miami 3-0 in a play-in game on Friday to grab the No. 7 seed. The entire playoff tournament is single elimination. The winner of tonight’s match faces No. 3 seed Columbus, which beat the New York Red Bulls 3-2 in their round-one matchup, on Sunday.
Winning an Olympic track medal should be easy for Moh Ahmed after all those years battling his twin brothers.
Ibrahim and Kadar are younger, but they were “feisty and competitive,” Moh says, going at it on the basketball court near the family’s home in St. Catharines, Ont., and on the soccer pitch. Before high school, it was usually the twins who made their teams while their older brother and his “immature” body got cut.
But Moh started running track at 13 and found his niche. His dream of reaching the Olympics came true in 2012, when he finished 18th in the 10,000 metres. Four years later in Rio, he dropped to 32nd in that event but placed fourth in the 5,000. Then, last year, he won bronze in the 5K at the world championships with a time of 13:01 (stare at that number for a bit, recreational runners). Now he’s got his sights set on his first Olympic medal this summer in Tokyo. Read more about Ahmed and how his sibling rivalry inspired him in this story by CBC Sports’ Doug Harrison.
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