👋 Happy Monday! Welcome back.
Today's word count: 1,476 words (5 minutes).
Starting this season, NFL teams in states with legal sports betting will be allowed to have in-stadium betting lounges and accept sponsorships from sportsbooks and betting operators, per multiple reports.
By the numbers: Five states with NFL teams currently offer legal sports betting of some kind (Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania), while six have passed bills but not yet launched (Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, District of Columbia).
Why it matters: This signals the NFL's willingness to embrace sports betting — an industry that it pushed back against for decades. What was once considered a threat to the game's integrity is now viewed by the NFL (and U.S. sports leagues more broadly) as a way to boost fan engagement and increase revenues.
The big picture: Overall, 14 U.S. states/federal districts currently offer legal sports betting, seven have passed bills but not yet launched, 21 have active bills, eight have no bills set for 2020 and one voted not to move forward with legislation this year (Maine, two weeks ago).
When both Hurricanes goaltenders left Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs with injuries, Dave Ayres came in as the emergency backup — and stopped eight of 10 shots he faced to seal a 6-3 win for Carolina.
Why it matters: Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and practice goalie, had watched the first period from the stands with his wife. Minutes later, he was skating onto the ice in a real NHL game.
How it works: NHL teams dress two goaltenders and typically would call on a minor league goalie due to injury or other emergency.
What they're saying: Ayres, whose own hockey career was derailed by a kidney transplant 15 years ago, was asked what he'll remember most from the game.
"These guys. How great they were to me. The crowd in Toronto was unreal. Even though I was on the other team, they were so receptive. Every time I made a save I could hear them cheering for me."— Dave Ayres
The big picture: Ayres adds his name to a long and storied list of emergency NHL goalies — a list that includes an accountant, a police officer, a bank manager, a grad student, a statistician and a vending machine worker.
LAS VEGAS — In the biggest heavyweight world title bout since Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson in 2002, Tyson Fury scored a pair of knockdowns in a dominant victory over Deontay Wilder that ended in the seventh round when Wilder's corner threw in the towel.
LOS ANGELES — 21-year-old Jayson Tatum (41 points) became the youngest player to score 40 points in the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, but LeBron James (29-9-8) lifted Los Angeles to the 114-112 win in an instant classic that had everything.
NEWARK, N.J. — Alex Ovechkin, 34, became the eighth player to join the NHL's 700-goal club with his tally Saturday against the Devils. The only player to reach the mark at a younger age was Wayne Gretzky, who was 29.
SAN DIEGO — The last remaining unbeaten team in D-I men's college basketball fell on Saturday as UNLV knocked off No. 4 San Diego State, 66-63.
29 days after Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, tragically died in a helicopter crash, Los Angeles will stage a celebration of their lives.
📺 Details: More than 20,000 people — friends, family and those who acquired tickets through a lottery (80,000 applied) — are expected to attend the service at Staples Center, which will begin at 1pm ET (ESPN, NBA TV).
The XFL's 10-week regular season is 30% complete, and I haven't completely lost interest yet. In fact, I've actually thoroughly enjoyed it. Very curious to see the Week 3 TV ratings, which will be telling...
🎥 Watch: It took a couple weeks, but the XFL's innovative kickoff format finally produced its first TD.
40 years ago today, the U.S. men's hockey team beat Finland 4-2 to clinch gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Fun fact ... The famous U.S.-Soviet Union game was played at 5pm ET and shown on tape delay three hours later, so the only people in the U.S. who watched it live were the 8,500 fans in the stands.
Imagine being there for this...
Go deeper: A reporter remembers the Miracle on Ice 40 years later (NYT)
Diamondbacks pitcher Madison Bumgarner has been secretly competing in rodeo competitions under the alias "Mason Saunders" and even won $26,560 in a team-roping competition in December, according to The Athletic (subscription).
"No matter what hobbies I have, I take 'em serious. That's just my personality. I don't do anything just for fun, per se. I wish I did."— Bumgarner
Answer at the bottom.
Ballparks are beautiful. Refer a friend to Axios Sports using your unique link below and you just might win free tickets to one. Each referral = 1 raffle ticket, so the more you get, the better chance you have of winning.
Kendall "How?!" Baker
Trivia answer: Eric Davis (37 HR, 50 SB in 1987 while playing for the Reds)