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Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio does not believe racism and discrimination are prevalent in the NFL, calling George Floyd's death a "societal issue that we all have to join in to correct".

Floyd – an African-American man – died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest last week.

Violent protests have broken out across the United States since Floyd's death, during which he was filmed crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Fangio – who was appointed Broncos coach in 2019 having previously worked for the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints – said: "I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal.

"We're a league of meritocracy, you earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don't see racism at all in the NFL, I don't see discrimination in the NFL.

"We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we'd all be great."

The 61-year-old American added: "I was shocked, sad and angry when I saw what the policeman do to a handcuffed George Floyd on his stomach that led to his death.

"He should be punished to the full extent of the law of the crimes he was charged with in addition to being charged with treason for failing to uphold the badge and uniform he was entrusted with ... It's a societal issue that we all have to join in to correct.''

Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer issued a statement on Tuesday regarding the death of George Floyd, the African-American who died on May 25 in the custody of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Zimmer released his statement on Blackout Tuesday, a day established to observe, mourn and bring policy change in the wake of Floyd's death.

Since Floyd's death, people have been protesting in several American cities, calling for an end of police brutality against minorities.

"I want to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd as well as the entire community for his senseless death," Zimmer said.

"Peaceful protests can help bring change, and we definitely need change so we can all live in harmony. Everyone needs to respect each other's ideas and work together to strengthen, not weaken, our community. I believe our football team is an example of how people from all different backgrounds and experiences can come together for a common goal."

The NFL addressed Floyd's death and responded to the protests with a statement on Saturday.

"There remains an urgent need for action," the league said. "We recognise the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners."

The NFL's statement rang hollow with Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, who took to Twitter on Tuesday to criticise the league.

"What actual steps are you taking to support the fight for justice and system reform?" he wrote.

"Your statement said nothing. Your league is built on black athletes. Vague answers do nothing."

Colin Kaepernick could have been one of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL, says Anthony Lynn, who bemoans that the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback's message was lost in the controversy surrounding his 2016 protests.

As protests have spread across the United States in response to the death of George Floyd, an African American man who lost his life in the custody of Minneapolis police officers last week, Kaepernick and the stance he took against racial injustice and police brutality have come into focus once more.

Protesters throughout the USA have been seen taking a knee, which is what Kaepernick famously did throughout the 2016 NFL season during the playing of the national anthem.

He has not played a game since and last February settled a grievance with the NFL, having accused owners of colluding to keep him out of the league.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Chargers head coach Lynn said: "People completely misunderstood Colin and what he was trying to do. 

"People talked about disrespecting the flag... the flag covers a lot — patriotism and civil rights and other things. And Colin was speaking out against the injustice and a lot of people didn't catch on to that because it was happening during the national anthem.

"They thought it was disrespectful to the flag. I was surprised by the number of people who didn't know why he was protesting.

"I got letters from people. I had people walk up to me and ask, "Coach, what are you going to do if someone on your team protests?" And I had to explain to them that Colin is taking a knee for criminal justice [reform] and police brutality and once you broke it down, they were like, "Oh, we didn't know that. We thought he was protesting the flag." And that was the case for a lot of people I came across.

"A lot of people for their own political reasons pushed out the wrong narrative. A lot of people didn't catch on as to why he took a knee. I understood and applauded him for it.

"I thought it was a shame that Colin's message got lost because people kept bringing up patriotism. It was brave for him to do that.

"I have a lot of respect for that young man standing up for something outside of the "Big 3" — God, family, football — and I have to say social justice right now is challenging my priorities. Right now I can't think of anything besides social justice.

"I know when you look at 32 quarterbacks in the National Football League, Colin could have been one of the 32. If not, he could have been a quality backup. For me being an African-American head coach, this is tough."

Addressing the unrest in the wake of the death of Floyd, Lynn expressed his belief that nothing has changed since 1992, when there were riots across Los Angeles in response to the acquittal of four police officers for the usage of excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King.

"I've read some good statements. I read Brian Flores from the Dolphins and I agree 100 per cent with him. I read Doc Rivers' statement and those guys spoke from the heart," said Lynn. "I think statements are needed to bring awareness to the situation.

"But I want to do something too. I don't want to just put [a statement] out there because it's the right thing to do. I want change... so I guess it starts with having this conversation and talking things out. In 1992 I remember watching L.A. burn and here we are in 2020 and I'm watching it again and it just hit me, nothing has changed.

"I haven't done anything to make this a better place for my son. I remember having the talk with him when he was 16 about how to handle police and then at age 30 I called him up and just had the talk with him again because I'm so scared. I want to do something but to be honest with you, I don't know what that is."

Lynn spoke of his dismay after joining a protest in Huntington Beach and speaking to those leading the demonstrations, only to be informed there was no plan or endgame.

He added: "The Chargers have done more in the community than just about any organisation I've been with. I've been out in the community, talking with Mayor [Eric] Garcetti and I've been to the juvenile detention centers to encourage young men to do something positive with their life when they get out, and City Council people about making L.A. a better place.

"But this stuff that's taking place with police brutality and unarmed black men dying and white people feeling like they can use their privilege to threaten black people like that white woman did in Central Park, that's ridiculous. How do we affect that type of change? Where's the accountability for that kind of [expletive]? That's where I'm at right now. I'm angry, I'm [expletive] off and I don't want to just put out a pretty statement."

Former Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall recalled kneeling alongside Colin Kaepernick in 2016, insisting "this is what we were talking about then" amid protests over George Floyd's death.

Floyd – an African-American man – died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest last week.

Violent protests have broken out across the United States since Floyd's death, during which he was filmed crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since the end of the 2016 season, during which the ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback attracted controversy by kneeling for the USA national anthem in protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

He filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of a job. Kaepernick settled that grievance in February.

Marshall also kneeled before games during the 2016 season and the 30-year-old Super Bowl 50 champion told TMZ: "Back then, we were called rogues, people said that we didn't deserve jobs, but this is what we were talking about then.

"I think people are looking at [Kaepernick] now like, OK, maybe he knew. People didn't want to hear the message after 'oh they were kneeling' they didn't want that message, weren't ready for it, didn't listen.

"I hope, and I look at it, I hope people are ready for the message, I really hope they're ready for change.''

Marshall – who played for the Broncos between 2013 and 2018 – said he has spoken to Kaepernick following Floyd's death, adding: "We talked some about what's happened - and this is why he started the Know Your Rights foundation - and I asked him if he needed me to do anything, or what I could do to help.

"He said right now, at the moment, he's concentrating on legal assistance for the protesters, but we'll talk more moving forward.''

Injuries are common in the NFL, but there is nothing conventional about how Las Vegas Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs III hurt himself.

Ruggs – the 12th pick in this year's NFL Draft – injured his thigh while helping a friend move. 

The injury is not considered serious and the Raiders are not commenting out of respect to the 21-year-old wide receiver's medical privacy. 

Ruggs' father, Henry Ruggs Jr., said his son is fine but is using crutches to avoid putting weight on the injured leg. 

"He was trying to move a trailer or something - move furniture or something - and the trailer just kind of pinned him against a car or a wall or something," Ruggs Jr. told AL.com.

"He's pretty much OK … It was just like a little open wound on his leg, a little incision. Like something had stuck him right there on his thigh a little bit." 

The first receiver selected in April's NFL Draft, Ruggs finished his three-year career at Alabama with 98 receptions for 1,716 yards. His 24 touchdown receptions are third most in program history.

 

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson made their first public statements since the death of George Floyd sparked protests against racially driven police brutality in the United States.

Floyd died in police custody last Monday in Minneapolis when an officer kneeled on his neck while he lay handcuffed on the ground, leading to widespread demonstrations and riots in multiple American cities.

Wilson said he fears for the lives of his children in the current climate, recalling stories he heard of the tension and violence of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, saying, "The past has never left us."

"As a stepdad to one of the most amazing kids I've ever known, a young boy with so much passion, talent, intelligence, and love for others; as a father to one of the most bright, brilliant and vibrant young girls in the world and a new baby boy on the way . . . I fear," Wilson wrote on Twitter.

"I fear for their lives just like my grandmother feared for my dad's life and the lives of her other children. I fear because of the colour of their beautiful chocolate skin.

"The video of George Floyd broke my heart. Seeing someone's life taken so cruelly makes us want to rage and lash out. 

"But then I ask myself, what would George Floyd want? He told us. He just wanted his mother. He wanted his life. He simply wanted to breathe."

Mahomes said he has been "blessed to be accepted" as a mixed-race man and hopes sports can provide a blueprint for greater racial harmony in the future.  

"The senseless murders that we have witnessed are wrong and cannot continue in our country," Mahomes said. "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. 

"I hope that 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."

Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory in February, while Wilson is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who helped the Seahawks win the Super Bowl following the 2013 season.  

Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich met with the media on Monday and read a statement in support of the black community while addressing racial injustices experienced by African Americans. 

"Few things stir the human heart and soul like injustice," Reich said to reporters. "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, it 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 evoke any conviction about doing what is right, and standing up for the inherent dignity and rights of all people, no matter the colour of their skin."

Reich's comments follow a weekend of protests and riots in several American cities in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Floyd was an African American who died last Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into the back of Floyd's neck while he lay handcuffed on the ground. Protesters are calling for an end of police brutality against minorities. 

"Racism is vile, deplorable, detestable," Reich said. "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 far too long. 

"I believe that I — we — all have a personal responsibility to speak up, and to 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."

The Colts released a statement regarding Floyd's death, and Reich said he supported it but also wanted to offer his personal views.   

Reich also said some Colts players have participated in peaceful protests but was not concerned about their well-being. 

"Sometimes, you have to take risks," he said.

Elite sport is gradually returning to our screens amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany's Bundesliga, the UFC and the NRL were among the first top-level events to forge a route back last month after pausing due to the global crisis.

A clutch of Europe's other top football leagues, cricket, motorsport and the United States' major competitions all have designs on behind-closed-doors resumptions in the near future, too, which could create a significant backlog of crucial fixtures.

One positive is that sports fans might now be treated to a number of colossal match-ups back-to-back on the same day at some point over the coming months.

That prospect gives us the opportunity to reflect on five similar occasions with the greatest sporting days since the turn of the century - including one exactly a year ago.

 

JULY 23, 2000

The US had a day to remember as two of their most prominent stars bolstered their still burgeoning reputations with big victories on foreign soil.

The paths of Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong have subsequently diverged a little, however.

Woods became the youngest player to complete golf's career grand slam with a record-breaking victory at The Open in 2000, while Armstrong wrapped up a second straight Tour de France title.

The American duo stood at the top of the world, yet history will recall Armstrong's achievements rather differently now he has been stripped of each of his seven successive yellow jerseys for doping.

Woods at least maintained his high standards and held all four major titles after the 2001 Masters, winning again at Augusta as recently as last year.

FEBRUARY 1, 2004

Two more sporting greats shared the same special page in the calendar early in 2004.

It was a long day for anyone who took in both Roger Federer's performance in Melbourne's Australian Open final and Tom Brady's Super Bowl display in Houston, but they were duly rewarded.

Twenty-time grand slam champion Federer had won just one major before facing down Marat Safin in Australia, also becoming the ATP Tour's top-ranked player for the first time. He stayed at number one for a record-shattering 237 weeks.

Brady similarly then doubled his tally of Super Bowl rings by delivering a second triumph in three years for the Patriots, in what was a classic encounter against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, before Adam Vinatieri's field goal secured a 32-29 win with four seconds remaining.

AUGUST 4-5, 2012

One would struggle to find a greater array of star-studded athletes of various sports than those who congregated in London across the penultimate weekend of the 2012 Olympic Games.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Michael Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Andy Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Federer in the tennis event, while Usain Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

JUNE 1, 2019

It is 12 months to the day since another epic sporting stretch, one that concluded in stunning fashion with one of boxing's great modern upsets.

Rugby union and football each had their respective turns in the spotlight earlier, with Saracens following up their European Champions Cup success - a third in four years - by retaining the Premiership title with victory over Exeter Chiefs.

In Madrid, two more English teams were in action as Liverpool edged past Tottenham in the Champions League final.

But as Sarries and the Reds celebrated, focus turned towards Madison Square Garden where Anthony Joshua was expected to make light work of Andy Ruiz Jr, a replacement for Jarrell Miller following a failed drugs test.

The heavyweight title match did not go to script, however, as Ruiz floored Joshua four times and forced a stoppage to claim his belts, albeit only until the rematch where the Briton saved face.

JULY 14, 2019

These crazy spectacles have largely seen sport spread throughout the day, but three sets of eyes were required to keep up with the action on an epic afternoon last July.

With England hosting and then reaching the Cricket World Cup final, the scene-stealing decider fell on the same day as the Wimbledon men's final and the British Grand Prix, ensuring the United Kingdom was the focus of the sporting world.

The cricket started off several hours before either the tennis or the F1 but still managed to outlast its rival events, with Ben Stokes determined to put on a show as England won via a dramatic Super Over at the end of a nine-hour saga against New Zealand.

Novak Djokovic was battling Stokes for attention as he was taken all the way by that man Federer at the All England Club before finally prevailing 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 13-12 (7-3) in the tournament's longest singles final.

The respective classics made the British GP, completed earlier in the day, something of an afterthought - but not for Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a record sixth victory.

EA Sports had planned to unveil the first look at NFL Madden 21 on Monday, but the video game company has announced it will delay the first trailer for the popular game to focus on more important matters following the death of George Floyd. 

"We stand with our African American / Black community of friends, players, colleagues and partners," a statement from EA Sports read.

"Our immediate attention is on actions we can take to drive change against the unjust treatment and systemic bias that is plaguing the nation and our world." 

People are protesting in several American cities for the killing of Floyd, calling for an end of police brutality against minorities. Floyd was an African American who died on Monday in the custody of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The protests have turned violent in a number of major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Curfews are being enforced to keep people off the streets and the National Guard has been called to some cities.   

The San Francisco 49ers are donating $1million to organisations "who are creating change" in the United States, chief executive Jed York said.

Protests have taken place across the USA after the death of George Floyd on Monday.

Floyd – an African-American man – died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest, sparking arrests across the country.

York said the 49ers would be offering their support to bodies who are ensuring change in the USA.

"People throughout our country are hurting. Emotions are raw, and rightfully so," he said, via a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday.

"Heinous acts have been committed in recent weeks. Before we are able to realise impactful change, we must first have the courage and compassion as human beings to come together and acknowledge the problem: black men, women, children and other oppressed minorities continue to be systematically discriminated against.

"The 49ers organisation is committing to support the legislative priorities of the players coalition and to donating $1million to local and national organisations who are creating change."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said "there remains an urgent need for action" amid protests across the United States following the death of George Floyd.

Floyd – an African-American man – died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest on Monday.

Violent protests have broken out across the USA since Floyd's death, during which he was filmed crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

In a statement released by the NFL on Saturday, Goodell said: "The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country.

"The protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and to those who have lost loved ones, including the families of Ms. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, the cousin of Tracy Walker of the Detroit Lions.

"As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action.

"We recognise the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners."

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker said the state's five professional sports teams can re-open their practice facilities on June 6 as the Boston Celtics prepare to return on Monday.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe, especially in the United States, where the NBA, MLS and NHL seasons have been postponed since March.

The start of the 2020 MLB campaign has also been delayed due to COVID-19, which has killed over 104,500 people in the USA.

But the Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Boston Bruins, New England Patriots and New England Revolution will be able to resume practicing next month, in compliance with the health and safety rules set in place by their respective leagues.

"The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again and I think we all hope opening practices will make that happen a little sooner," Baker said on Friday.

"For all of us, live sports and especially pro sports would be a great thing to see again. It's not only a significant milestone for fans, but also a signal that we continue to do all the things we need to do."

NBA franchise the Celtics, meanwhile, will allow voluntary individual workouts at the Auerbach Center on Monday.

The NBA has been on hiatus since March, but the league is reportedly planning to restart the 2019-20 campaign on July 31.

"We're happy that our players will now have the option to work out individually in a safe environment at the Auerbach Center, and we hope it signals a step back towards playing basketball again," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said.

The Celtics (43-21) were third in the Eastern Conference, behind NBA leaders the Milwaukee Bucks and defending champions the Toronto Raptors at the time of the postponement.

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith said "I still feel great", despite five years away from the NFL.

The NFL reinstated Smith from an indefinite suspension earlier this month, allowing the former All-Pro an opportunity to return to American football for the first time since November 2015.

Smith's ban was lifted, with the 30-year-old's career plagued by substance-abuse and off-field problems – he was suspended for violating the league's substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2015.

Despite an extended absence, Smith – who signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys – does not believe he will be impacted by his time away from the game.

"I still feel great," Smith said on Friday. "I still feel young. I still can move well. I still have a great knowledge of the game, if not better knowledge of the game. I learned a lot from the guys I played with in California and they taught me a lot of good things."

Smith added: "It has been a journey, indeed, and a journey I'm grateful for. I've had time to really work on myself and take advantage of all the support and things that have been offered to me.

"The way I look at where I am now to who I was in the past, I was a young teenage boy in a man's body, so a man on the outside but a boy on the inside. The way I handled the issues, life, was in that immature manner and that was fear-based and not just handling things the way I should have.

"With the time I've had to work on myself, it's allowed me to grow into the man that I man that I am so the man on the inside fits on how the man on the outside looks."

Joe Burrow said "the black community needs our help" as the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback spoke out on the death of George Floyd.

Floyd – an African-American man – died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck for at least eight minutes during the arrest.

Violent protests have broken out across the United States since Floyd's death on Monday, after he was filmed crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Burrow – the number one pick in this year's NFL Draft – used social media to have his say amid the fierce backlash and riots.

"The black community needs our help. They have been unheard for far too long. Open your ears, listen, and speak. This isn't politics. This is human rights," Burrow tweeted on Friday.

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores also addressed the issue that has engulfed the country.

Flores, who is one of four minority coaches in the 32-team NFL, said in a statement: "I've had the privilege of being a part of many different circles that have included some very powerful and influential people of all different races and genders. The events of the last few weeks have brought some of the memories of those conversations back to light.

"I vividly remember the Colin Kaepernick conversations. 'Don't ever disrespect the flag' was the phrase that I heard over and over again. This idea that players were kneeling in support of social justice was something some people couldn't wrap their head around. The outrage that I saw in the media and the anger I felt in some of my own private conversations caused me to sever a few long-standing friendships.

"Most recently, I've had conversations about incentivising teams for hiring minorities. Again, there was some outrage in the media and talks that this would cause division amongst coaches, executives and ownership. I bring these situations up because I haven't seen the same OUTRAGE from people of influence when the conversation turns to Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and most recently George Floyd.

"Many people who broadcast their opinions on kneeling [during the national anthem] or on the hiring of minorities don't seem to have an opinion on the recent murders of these young black men and women.

"I think many of them quietly say that watching George Floyd plead for help is one of the more horrible things they have seen, but it's said amongst themselves where no one can hear. Broadcasting that opinion clearly is not important enough.

"I lead a group of young men who have the potential to make a real impact in this world. My message to them and anyone else who wants to listen is that honesty, transparency and empathy go a long way in bringing people together and making change. I hope that the tragedies of the last few weeks will open our hearts and minds to a better way of communicating and hopefully create that change."

Matthew Judon will officially return to the Baltimore Ravens after signing his franchise tag on Thursday. 

The Ravens had placed the franchise tag on Judon in March, and as being tagged as a linebacker, he will make an estimated $16.3million in 2020. 

A fifth-round pick out of Grand Valley State in 2016, Judon has been a key part of Baltimore's defense, racking up 24.5 sacks over the last three NFL seasons.

The 27-year-old earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2019 after starting all 16 games for the first time in his career, while tallying a personal-best 9.5 sacks with four forced fumbles and 33 quarterback hurries.  

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