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Sean McVay spotted reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield walking down the aisle of his Southwest flight from Los Angeles to Indianapolis on Tuesday and called him over.

Mayfield took the middle seat, just to sit next to the Los Angeles Rams‘ second-year head coach, and got a little bit of advice before interviewing with and working out for an assortment of NFL teams at this year’s scouting combine.

“We just talked a little bit,” McVay recalled in a phone conversation on Wednesday morning. “I wanted to be careful. I know he’s going to be talking all week, and this is kind of an exhausting process both physically and mentally. But just kind of let him know, ‘Just be yourself, enjoy it, be honest and up front,’ like he would regardless of whether I said that.”

Mayfield, initially a walk-on at Texas Tech, dominated the college football landscape while quarterbacking the Oklahoma Sooners over these last three seasons, completing 69.8 percent of his passes, averaging 10.6 yards per attempt and throwing 119 touchdowns to 21 interceptions. Entering the draft, there are concerns about Mayfield’s height — he’s listed at 6-foot-1, but may be an inch or two shorter — and also questions about his character.

But he has the talent to be selected in the top half of the first round, despite being part of a quarterback-heavy draft.

“You can see he understands football; he’s put good stuff on tape for the last handful of years,” McVay said. “His resume speaks for itself.”

McVay and Mayfield met during Super Bowl week in Minneapolis earlier this month. Southwest allows passengers to select their own seats, and McVay got the window with an earlier boarding group. He called Mayfield over because he preferred to sit with someone he knew, but he was conscious of giving him his space during the four-hour flight.

McVay called Mayfield “an impressive guy, very likeable. You see why his teammates thought the way they do about him.”

As for why the 2017 Coach of the Year was flying Southwest, instead of an airline that offers first class?

“It was the only direct flight from LAX to Indianapolis,” McVay said. “There was a Delta option, but you had to connect, so it was the only direct one. And, shoot, I like Southwest.”

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Kansas City Chiefs re-sign defensive end Alex Okafor to 1-year deal

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Veteran defensive end Alex Okafor has signed a one-year deal to return to the Kansas City Chiefs, just days before the first players begin reporting for training camp.

The Chiefs did not disclose financial terms in announcing the deal Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Okafor has 30 sacks and 183 tackles in eight NFL seasons, including the past two with the Chiefs. He joined the club as a free agent from New Orleans in March 2019, signing a three-year, $18 million contract.

Okafor made an immediate impact in helping rebuild the Kansas City defense, recording five sacks and 21 combined tackles in 10 games. A torn pectoral muscle in Week 15 forced him to finish the season on injured reserve. He missed playing in the team’s victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV.

The veteran signed a restructured contract in August 2020 that reduced his salary cap figure for that upcoming season by $2 million and voided the final year of his original three-year deal.

A hamstring injury limited Okafor to 11 games last season. He finished with three sacks and 16 total tackles. He contributed in a backup role during the team’s playoff run, picking up five total tackles in three postseason contests, including one stop against Tampa Bay in the team’s 31-9 loss in Super Bowl LV.

Okafor expects to compete for a backup role behind anticipated starters Frank Clark and Chris Jones as the team’s edge rushers. Competition at defensive end also includes veteran Taco Charlton, second-year pro Mike Danna and 2021 fourth-round draft pick Joshua Kaindoh.

Clark was charged in California with felony possession of an assault weapon stemming from a traffic stop in March. In June, he was arrested in Los Angeles after police said they saw a submachine gun in his car.

Chiefs players begin reporting to training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph on Friday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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See inside the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ visit to the White House

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers visited the White House on Tuesday to celebrate their victory in Super Bowl LV — the team’s first visit with the president, as the Bucs did not go to Washington following their 2003 Super Bowl win. How did the ceremony go for Tom Brady & Co.?

Players took videos while touring the White House, Brady had jokes for President Joe Biden, and the team presented the president with the traditional gift of a No. 46 jersey.

Here’s a roundup of the visit via social media.



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Tom Brady, Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit White House

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden welcomed Tom Brady and the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the White House on Tuesday, the first visit by the reigning NFL champions since 2017.

It was Brady’s first visit since 2005 with the New England Patriots when George W. Bush was in office. Brady has won the Super Bowl during four different administrations but skipped visits by the Patriots in 2015 with Barack Obama and 2017 with Donald Trump.

The Patriots as a team chose not to attend after winning in 2019.

Brady was front and center, accompanying Biden, coach Bruce Arians and owner Bryan Glazer into the ceremony, which included jokes about age and the election and a push from the president for players to get vaccinated against the coronavirus if they hadn’t already.

Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion, put on quite the comedy routine, comparing the Buccaneers’ run to Biden’s election victory.

“Not a lot of people think that we could have won, and in fact I think about 40% of the people still don’t think we won,” Brady said with a big grin. “We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing, and they started calling me ‘Sleepy Tom.’ Why they do that to me?”

Biden was presented the traditional gift of a No. 46 jersey – which Glazer said was appropriate since Tampa Bay is heading into its 46th season as a franchise.

Players Donovan Smith and Bradley Pinion from the team’s social justice committee met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday morning to talk about voting rights.

Talking about how nearly 200,000 vaccine doses were given out at Raymond James Stadium — the Buccaneers’ home and where they won the Super Bowl — Biden turned to dozens of players behind him and said: “If you don’t have a shot, get one, OK? Get one, get one, get one. You’re saving lives, helping us get back to our lives and our loved ones.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not directly answer when asked if the Buccaneers provided information on which team attendees were vaccinated. As of Friday, 10 NFL teams had reached the threshold of 85% of their traveling party fully vaccinated, though it was not immediately clear if Tampa Bay was one of them.

Before Brady took the microphone, Arians told Biden he wished the House and Senate would help the president fulfill “one goal” as a country, like his Buccaneers did last season.

Biden singled out receiver Chris Godwin, like himself Pennsylvania-born and Delaware-raised, who he spoke with before the Super Bowl. As the oldest person to become president, he compared himself to Brady being the oldest quarterback and Arians the oldest coach to win it all.

“You won’t hear any jokes about that from me,” Biden said. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being the oldest guy to make it to the mountaintop.”

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