Patrick Mahomes posted a statement to his Twitter account saying “the senseless murders that we have witnessed are wrong and cannot continue in our country.”
“All I can think about is how I grew up in a locker room where people from every race, every background, and every community came together and became brothers to accomplish a single goal,” wrote Mahomes, whose father Pat was a longtime major league pitcher.
“I hope our country can learn from the injustices that we have witnessed to become more like the locker room where everyone is accepted. We all need to treat each other like brothers and sisters, and become something better. Let’s be the world where my little sister, generations to outcome, and even my future kids will grow up never having to experience these tragedies and instead love each other unconditionally!”
The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback also sent prayers to the family and friends of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
“As I have watched everything that has happened over the last week and even before then, I have tried to put my feelings into words,” he wrote. “As a kid who was born with a black dad and a white mom, I have been blessed to be accepted for who I am my entire life, but that isn’t the case for everyone.”
He concluded his post with: “Love and Unite! #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd”
Also Monday, Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich opened his media availability with a statement on racial injustice.
“Injustice. Few things stir the human heart and soul like injustice. When we see it, feel it, experience it, it’s heart-wrenching. It’s not enough for a person who looks like me to say, ‘I’m not racist.’ This kind of talk and thinking typically lends itself to a posture of neutrality, indifference and passivity. It’s easy to be silent and do nothing when it doesn’t directly impact you. This attitude simply doesn’t invoke any conviction about doing that is right and standing up for the inherent dignity and rights of all people, no matter the color of their skin.
“I stand firmly behind the Colts statement and in particular, the phrase that says, ‘We abhor racism.’ Racism is vile, deplorable, detestable. There’s no form of it that is acceptable, and in no way can it be justified. Our black community has bore the brunt of this injustice for far too long. I believe that I, we, all have a personal responsibility to speak up and act in ways that build each other up, not tear each other down. I believe each one of us can make a difference if we’re willing to grow personally and display the courage necessary for us to take steps of progress in this most important of issues.”
ESPN’s Mike Wells contributed to this report.
NFL players could be fined for breaking coronavirus-related protocols, source says
If the NFL is able to conduct a 2020 season, players will participate under a number of coronavirus-related restriction on the field and off. That could mean playing in specially designed face masks and potential fines for off-field activities that lead to the spread of the virus.
The NFLPA conducted a two-hour conference call Thursday with team player reps and NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer, and the call centered on the protocols the league and the union have been discussing to allow players to participate in training camp and the regular season. Players were told that the chances of conducting a season around the virus will depend on the success of their testing and contact tracing program and were given details about what they could expect and what would be expected of them.
One source told ESPN that players on the call were told that they could be fined for conduct detrimental if they are found to have engaged in “reckless” behavior away from the team facility, such as eating out in restaurants and using rideshare services. They also were updated on the progress league and union medical personnel are making on protective face shields that could be worn while playing, practicing, working out and moving around team facilities, though sources who were on the call said the players are pushing back against those face shields for various reasons, including concerns about how they might affect their vision and their breathing.
The call began, sources told ESPN, with updates from Mayer on the virus in general. They were told, among other things, that testing can decrease transmission but that the virus is very serious and should be taken seriously, that African-American males are more susceptible to it, that it is possible to get it a second time even if you’ve already had it and that false negative test results are enough of an issue that players who test positive would be required to test negative twice before they are allowed to return.
Players were told that there has been some discussion about wearable contact tracers that would allow teams to identify people with whom an infected player had interacted, and that if they tested positive their families could be tested as well.
There is a larger call scheduled for Friday that’s open to all players, not just reps. Sources told ESPN there was plenty of pushback on Thursday’s call from players asking why they were trying to rush back to play at all if the virus is such a dangerous threat. Players also have been asking about what happens to their contracts if they opt not to play for virus-related reasons (as some NBA players already have), what happens if they grow too uncomfortable to play as the season goes on and what happens to next year’s salary cap as a result of lost revenue this year.
But the union officials on the call said those issues have yet to be worked out. “There are questions guys want to get answered before we play,” one source said.
Other details addressed on Thursday’s call:
• Some team meetings could potentially be held in person, but only smaller ones. Most meetings will be conducted virtually.
• Teams will limit access to the facility to “essential” employees only, and facilities will be cleaned and disinfected around the clock.
•Teams will be required to submit emergency response plans regarding the coronavirus, including procedures that would follow a positive test from someone in the building.
• Media access is expected to be limited. Media would be required to go through the same testing protocols as players and other personnel, and media interviews are likely to be conducted virtually rather than in person.
• Currently, the proposal is to test players and team personnel every other day in training camp, but player reps on today’s call said they would prefer daily testing. Availability of and access to testing is an important issue, and the league is conscious of the potential backlash it could face if it has greater access to testing than the general public does.
• Players and coaches usually stay in hotels during training camps, but players are being told they will stay in their own homes and commute to team facilities this year.
NFL camps likely to have fewer players
In an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus, NFL teams are likely to bring fewer than the regular 90 players they ordinarily bring to training camp whenever it begins, per league sources.
One source said he believed it’s likely that teams will go to camp with 80-man rosters, and another source said it’s “definitely not 90.” A third league source said he has “heard lots of discussion about 75 players potentially instead of 90,” especially with the reduction in preseason games and teams not needing as many players for camp as normal.
There also are increasing questions from league sources about whether camp can start on time with the number of coronavirus cases around the country spiking.
The NFL also is considering expanding its practice squads to 16-20 players in the event of a coronavirus outbreak; if there were one, teams would have a deeper stash of players to activate to play games.
But the league and NFLPA are trying to figure out the right number of players each team can bring to camp, and that appears to be between 75 and 80. One plan being further discussed is splitting the roster into two groups and having each practice at a different time, no matter how many players are allowed to report to camp.
Again, questions persist regarding protocols, and they are not going away anytime soon. In an abnormal year, the league is deciding on which abnormal measures it needs to deploy to combat a pandemic.
Stadium sponsor FedEx asks Redskins to change nickname
FedEx, which has naming rights to the stadium in which the Washington Redskins play, made a request Thursday that the team change its nickname.
“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” FedEx said in a statement obtained by ESPN.
Team owner Dan Snyder has been under renewed pressure to change its nickname, with protestors reportedly targeting their sponsors, according to Adweek.
FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo each received letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a combined $620 billion asking the companies to sever ties with the team unless they change their controversial name, Adweek reported Wednesday.
Snyder has been under more pressure in recent weeks to change the name given the social climate following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Native American leaders want owner Dan Snyder to change the name, which the franchise has used since 1933. In the past, groups protested the name and tried to win in court. Those efforts failed.
The Washington Post reported that Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, made it clear the nickname needed to be changed if the Redskins wanted to return to the district.
That stance serves as a potential roadblock for the franchise if it wants to move back to the district when its lease on the land at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, is up after the 2027 season. Washington is looking at sites in the district, Maryland and Virginia.
District officials had made it clear they’d like the franchise to return to the city, where it played until leaving RFK Stadium after the 1996 season. The federal government owns the land, but last year Norton introduced a bill that called for it to be sold to the city at a fair market value.
ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.
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