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.  

Eli Apple is once again off the free-agent market, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers. 

This is the second time Apple has agreed to terms with a team this offseason after the 24-year-old cornerback reportedly had a deal in place with the Las Vegas Raiders in March before it ended up falling through. 

Apple now joins a Panthers team that are light on experience at cornerback after Carolina selected two in last month's NFL Draft to add depth to the position. 

The 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft by the New York Giants, Apple has appeared in 55 games and has made 48 starts in his four-year career, totalling 197 tackles and three interceptions.

Apple started the first 15 games last season for the New Orleans Saints before an ankle injury sidelined him for the regular-season finale and playoffs. 

NFL owners have opted not to put into effect a proposed rule change for the 2020 season that would allow teams the opportunity to run a fourth-and-15 play to attempt to maintain possession following a score.

The proposal, which would have presented a seemingly easier alternative to retain possession than an onside kick, was tabled to be further discussed at a later date during Thursday's virtual owners meeting, according to the NFL Network.

Owners did approve a few other rule changes for the upcoming season, including the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by penalties and all point-after attempts. The league also increased defenseless player protection for kickoff and punt returners with possession of the ball and increased the number of players eligible to return from injured reserve from two to three per team.

Another change will prohibit teams from committing multiple dead-ball fouls with the game clock running in an attempt to take as much time off the clock as possible, a tactic that was employed prevalently this past season by teams forced to punt while holding a late lead.

The NFL will also test an expanded communication system between on-field officials and the replay booth during the preseason. Owners had withdrawn a proposed rule change that would add two booth umpires to the officials' crew on Wednesday.

The fourth-and-15 proposal would have provided coaches the option to have the offense attempt a play from its own 25-yard line following a scoring drive, with the team retaining possession should the play gain 15 yards or more. The opponent would take possession at the dead-ball spot should the play fail.

The NFL has been attempting to devise ways to improve the chances of teams to come back when trailing late in games. With the league implementing stricter safety measures on kickoffs in recent years to lessen injury risks, the success rate of teams being able to recover an onside kick attempt has been greatly reduced.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield insisted he was under no added pressure as he prepares for his third season in the NFL.

Mayfield, 25, was the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but has struggled during his first two campaigns.

He signed a four-year deal in 2018 and while he knows the upcoming season is important, Mayfield said there was no need for additional pressure.

"For me, it goes back to the mindset that I am comfortable and living in and that work-ethic mentality. I think that fits it," he said on Wednesday.

"There is no doubt year three is always a big year in these contracts. Timing wise, everybody knows that. I am not going to put any added pressure on myself. There is no need for that because if I win, good things will happen and good things will happen for our team and the guys around me. That is the most important part.

"That is why quarterback is one of the positions that is the hardest in sports. If I play better, our team is going to do better. I put that pressure on myself. It does not matter what year it is. I have to play better each year."

The Browns went 6-10 last season and in 2020 will be aiming to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Mayfield said the time for talking was over for Cleveland and he is happy to be "moving in silence".

"I have a different approach to this year. I think everybody who has been interviewed on our team has hit the nail on the head over and over about it, [it] is time to work. It is time to do our thing, instead of talking about it," he said.

"This is the first media thing I have done just because there is no need to be talking about it. It is just time to go do it.

"Right now, it is kind of moving in silence, which is fine with me. That is how I used to do it before getting on a bigger stage so I am happy to get back to those roots and like I said earlier, get back to the fundamentals to where I can accomplish the goals when the season comes around."

Green Bay running back Aaron Jones hopes to be a "lifelong Packer" as he enters the final year of his contract.

Jones, 25, was tied for the most touchdowns scored during the 2019 NFL season with 19, including 16 rushing scores.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Jones said he wanted to finish his career with the Packers.

"Whether it's my first year or my last year on a deal, I'm going to be just as motivated," Jones told Green Bay media during a conference call on Wednesday.

"It doesn't change just because a contract is on the line for me. I'm going to continue to work and do everything in my power. I trust my agency and the Packers.

"With that, I would love to be a lifelong Packer."

Jones has played 40 games for the Packers since his debut in 2017, scoring 32 touchdowns.

J.J Watt has put together a Hall of Fame resume and been the face of the Houston Texans franchise for the last decade.

The star defensive end, however, is not about to ask the Texans to restructure his contract, despite having two years and no guaranteed money left on his deal. 

"I'm going out there to prove what I'm worth," Watt said during a conference call on Wednesday. "And I believe that's the right situation for everybody.

"I think if I went back and asked for an extension, more money, anything right now, I think that would be the wrong move."

The 31-year-old Watt is signed for the next two seasons, with non-guaranteed base salaries of $15.5million in 2020 and $17.5million in 2021.

He is a five-time Pro Bowler and a three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year award winner, but Watt realises he does not have much leverage for trying to negotiate a new deal given his health the past few seasons. 

After playing all 16 games his first five NFL seasons, he appeared in more than eight games just once in the last four. He missed eight games last season with a torn pectoral muscle but was able to return in time for the playoffs. 

“I think that I fully understand and respect the situation that I’m in at the moment and what's happened in the past few years," he said. "So I’m not going to sit here and demand anything.”"

That could change, however, if Watt stays healthy in 2020 and returns to his Pro Bowl form. 

"I'm just going out there and trying to prove my worth, help this team win games, and doing everything I can to earn and make sure that these people know that I’m worth it," he said. 

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey is still seeking a long-term contract extension, but he says he will not hold out and will attend training camp.

Ramsey earned his third straight Pro Bowl selection last season and is widely considered among the best in the league at his position.

Acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars in October for two first-round picks, Ramsey totaled 33 tackles, four passes defended, one forced fumble and one interception in nine games for the Rams this past season.

Ramsey will make $13.703million this upcoming season in the fifth year of his rookie deal and the Rams have already said they realise he deserves to be one of the NFL's highest-paid cornerbacks.

"It will get handled," Ramsey said on Tuesday in a video conference call.

"The Rams know where I stand, and that's all that matters. They've been in contact with my agent. They're on the same page. They know what's up … Everybody knew what type of situation it was going to be once they traded for me. I think it doesn't need to be talked about that much. It'll get handled."

Ramsey's contract could end up exceeding the five-year, $82.5m deal that the Miami Dolphins gave Byron Jones in March that made him the highest-paid cornerback in the league.

"There's a lot of dialogue," Rams coach Sean McVay said on a video conference with reporters. "The anticipation in acquiring him is that he is a Ram for a long time. We went and got this guy with the hope that it's not a short-term thing."

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is certain there will be a 2020 NFL season - and he remains hopeful of fans being able to watch from the stands.

The NFL season is set to kick off on September 10, and the league is hopeful it will begin on time amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Some NFL teams were able to open their facilities for key staff, medical personnel and rehabbing players last week, but there is still no word on when all players and coaches will be cleared to attend their team's complexes.

"I think there definitely will be a football season this year," Ross said on Tuesday during an interview on CNBC. "Real question is, will there be fans in the stadium?

"Right now - today - we're planning to have fans in the stadium.

"But I think the NFL is very flexible so that we will be able to start on time and bring that entertainment that is really so needed to all of us in this country."

Currently in the United States, there is no scheduled start date for games in MLB, NBA, NHL or MLS, as some cities have still not yet loosened their social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

"We all miss our sports," Ross said. "The NFL, I think, will be ready to go. I know we're all looking forward to it. I know I am."

Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning earned bragging rights against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady in "The Match", but charity was the real winner.

It was an all-star cast for The Match: Champions for Charity – arranged to raise funds for coronavirus relief efforts – as 15-time major champion Woods teamed up with two-time Super Bowl winner Manning.

Woods and Manning secured a 1up victory over Mickelson and six-time Super Bowl champion Brady in Hobe Sound, Florida on Sunday.

Mickelson and Brady made a late surge on the back nine, but Woods and Manning held on at Medalist Golf Club, where social distancing was front and centre.

More importantly, over $20million was raised to help with COVID-19 relief amid the pandemic, which has wreaked havoc globally.

Bad weather delayed the charity contest by 45 minutes but there was plenty of fun and entertainment once the players teed off, with PGA Tour star Justin Thomas and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley headlining the broadcast.

The star quartet exchanged banter, while Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brady struggled early.

Brady did not look like the NFL's G.O.A.T with a golf club in hand, until holing out for birdie from the fairway at the par-four fifth hole in South Florida.

Team Brady and Mickelson rallied, however, the Woods-Manning pairing were not to be denied.

"It's great, the fact that we all came together and we were able to raise $20million for those that have been so severely affected," said Woods, with the PGA Tour planning to return next month after golf was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis. "This is our arena. This is what we do. We couldn't imagine going out onto the field and doing what they do."

Former NFL quarterback Manning said: "I know Tom and I were kind of comparing notes and feelings to each other. To go behind the ropes in these guys' world and kind of be in the arena with them, it was a really special experience. I was not comfortable the entire time, from the first tee all the way down here."

Mickelson – a five-time major winner – added: "We fought hard. I was a little nervous, a little tight on the front nine. My man kept us in there, and the back nine he really shined. We made a run and came really close."

Is there anything Tom Brady cannot do?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar and six-time NFL Super Bowl champion holed out from the fairway in "The Match" on Sunday.

Featuring in the all-star charity contest – arranged to raise funds for coronavirus relief efforts – alongside Phil Mickelson, Brady had struggled with the golf club against Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning.

Brady, who swapped the New England Patriots for the Buccaneers via free agency in the offseason, is regarded as the greatest NFL player of all time but he looked human at Medalist Golf Club.

That was until Brady produced an unforgettable moment of magic – holing out for birdie from 100 yards at the par-four fifth hole in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Reigning Super Bowl MVP and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, like many others, was left stunned.

"You got to be kidding!!!!! #TheMatch2," Mahomes wrote on Twitter.

Peyton Manning went one up on Tom Brady with quick-witted jibes before the first tee shot was struck ahead of "The Match".

The start of the all-star charity contest – arranged to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts – in which Manning has teamed up with Tiger Woods to face Brady and Phil Mickelson was delayed due to the wet weather in South Florida on Sunday.

When the quartet took to the range it was Manning who fired an early blow when asked who his caddie might have been if the quartet had someone to carry their bags at Medalist Golf Club.

With Tampa Bay Buccaneers new boy Brady in earshot lining up a practice shot, Manning replied to a reporter: "Do you bring Eli [Manning, his brother]? Could do that.

"Do you bring Nick Foles? Maybe."

Brady turned out and replied: "That's a cheap shot."

Manning was not finished yet, adding: "I was thinking maybe Bill Belichick ... just to see how that kind of would have worked."

Woods, wearing his famous Sunday red, and Mickelson ensured the first hole was halved after their legendary quarterback team-mates were wayward from the tee in the rain with concerns that a storm may be on the way.

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