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NHL pleased with talks about season restart scenarios, Commissioner says – NHL.com

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The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have been in constant communication as they consider scenarios for resuming the season, which was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to NHLPA executive director Don Fehr regularly. The League and the Players’ Association have formed a Return to Play Committee that includes executives and players.

“Having the committee that’s been put together with the players is important so that we can get the feedback on the issues that are important to them and how to resolve them, and that we can be communicating how we’re focusing on the things we think that need to be done,” Commissioner Bettman told NHL Network on Thursday. “It’s been extraordinarily collaborative, constructive and cooperative, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the interaction that we’re having.”

Following a virtual committee meeting Wednesday, the NHL and the NHLPA released a joint statement saying they had not made any decisions or set a timeline regarding possible return-to-play scenarios.

“I don’t think anybody knows for certain,” the Commissioner said Thursday when asked how close the NHL was to resuming the season. “We’re going to have to take things one step at a time, because the health and well-being of our players is paramount to anything we’re focused on.”

The joint statement said that if conditions continue to trend favorably — subject to potential competitive concerns between disparately situated markets — the NHL and the NHLPA believe they might be able to allow small group activities in NHL training facilities at some point in the mid-to-later portion of May.

But it said the precise date remained undetermined, and in the meantime, players and staff are expected to continue following the recommendation to self-quarantine that has been in place since the pause began.

“We’d like to be able to get our training facilities open,” Commissioner Bettman said Thursday. “We’d like our guys to be able to work themselves back into shape. But this is something we’re going to continue to evaluate on a day-to-day basis.

“Our health concerns for the players really fit into two categories: One is obviously COVID-19, and two, whatever we’re going to do, we don’t want them playing games until they’re back in game shape. 

“So we’re going to continue to monitor things, and when the guidance from the medical people is right and the governmental authorities are comfortable, then we’ll take step one, which is reopening our training facilities.”

The Commissioner said the NHL and the NHLPA would remain patient not only about resuming this season but starting next season.

“We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start,” Commissioner Bettman said. “There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration.

“We’re going to try and make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back. When we come back, we want it to be at the right time, for the right reasons, under the right circumstances.”

Commissioner Bettman said the pandemic dwarfs everything the NHL and the NHLPA are considering.

“We miss the game,” the Commissioner said. “We miss our fans. We miss watching our players play every night. We’d be in the middle of the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] right now. We’re focused on trying to do the right things for the good of the game, so we can get back and connect with our great fans as soon as possible.

“But as soon as possible means under the right circumstances, and for that we’re going to take our guidance from the governments at all levels and from the medical people.”

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NFL stars send passionate video message to league about racial inequality – CBC.ca

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Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and Michael Thomas are among more than a dozen NFL stars who united to send a passionate video message to the league about racial inequality.

The 70-second video was released on social media platforms Thursday night and includes Odell Beckham Jr., Deshaun Watson, Ezekiel Elliott, Jamal Adams, Stephon Gilmore and DeAndre Hopkins, among others.

Thomas, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver who has led the league in receptions the past two seasons, opens the video with the statement: “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.” The players then take turns asking the question, “What if I was George Floyd?”

The players then name several of the black men and women who have recently been killed, including Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner.

“I AM George Floyd,” Hopkins says.

Adams follows with: “I AM Breonna Taylor.”

The video closes with the players insisting they “will not be silenced.” They also demand the NFL state that it condemns “racism and the systemic oppression of black people…. We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting…. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

‘We were wrong,’ says NFL commissioner  

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league made mistakes in not listening to players, in a video on Friday denouncing racism in the United States amid widespread protests over police brutality against black people.

“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” said Goodell. “We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter.”

The NFL has been locked in an ongoing debate with players over kneeling protests during the national anthem before the start of games, a practice popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

WATCH | NFL Commissioner admits league mistake for not listening to players: 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league was wrong for not listening to players fighting for racial equality and encourages them to peacefully protest. 0:49

Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league in 2017, claiming collusion as no teams signed him after he parted ways with the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL and Kaepernick settled in 2019.

“Protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff,” said Goodell. “I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve.”

The NFL sent the video out just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his call for an end to kneeling protests during the national anthem.

Jaguars lead march against racial injustice

The Jacksonville Jaguars protested against inequality and police brutality on Friday, marching from their stadium to the steps of the sheriff’s department.

“Today, we say, ‘No more,'” wide receiver Chris Conley said. “Today, we see a nation that can’t await change, a city that won’t sit still or be quiet.”

The march included Joshua Dobbs, Brandon Linder and Josh Lambo of the Jaguars along with family members. Coach Doug Marrone, general manager Dave Caldwell and assistant coach Terry Robiskie also walked in what the team called an attempt to “raise awareness for racial injustices against the black community,” with many wearing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts.

The Jaguars started their march at 9:04 a.m. local time to signify the local 904 area code.

The protest came two days after owner Shad Khan spoke against racism in a letter on the team website. He promised then the franchise would work toward a “timely response.” Former Jaguars receiver Ernest Wilford, now an officer at the department, joined them on the steps at the sheriff’s office.

Conley spoke at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said he cried when he saw the video of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was jogging when killed Feb. 23 in Georgia.

Marrone said the Jaguars are working on actions they believe can make a difference. He also challenged the white community to step back, listen and learn.

“Let’s not make the same mistakes we’ve made,” Marrone said. “We need to stand together white and black to make this movement work.”

With the NFL allowing only coaches to return to their offices Friday and players still working remotely because of the pandemic, several Jaguars could not take part in the march.

The team posted videos from a handful of players, including quarterback Gardner Minshew, linebacker Joe Schobert and defensive end Aaron Lynch. Schobert encouraged people to register to vote.

The Jaguars’ protest is the latest involving professional athletes since the killing of Floyd in Minneapolis.

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry marched in a protest Wednesday along with his wife and four teammates from the Golden State Warriors, including Klay Thompson. Shaq Thompson, and four other Carolina Panthers walked in a protest march Monday in Charlotte, with Thompson helping lead the way.

Broncos plan Saturday march in Denver

On Saturday, several Denver Broncos and coaches plan to march to the Colorado capitol, the site of daily demonstrations. Safety Kareem Jackson organized the gathering after saying Tuesday that players need to do more than tweet and talk because they all see what’s going on.

“I think it’s huge for us to be heard,” Jackson said Tuesday on a video call, “and it’s huge for us to be out in the community so everyone can see us and know that we stand behind them.”

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Saints’ Drew Brees responds to Trump: It was ‘never’ about the flag – Sportsnet.ca

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A day after he apologized for his comments about NFLers engaging in peaceful protest, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is defending his newfound stance to the president of the United States.

Earlier on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Brees for walking back his statements about kneeling during the national anthem.

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honouring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high… We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag — NO KNEELING!” Trump tweeted.

Brees — who faced backlash from teammates, other athletes and fans for saying he “will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States” — acknowledged in an Instagram post Friday night that he has learned the protests initiated by Colin Kaepernick in the NFL and taken up by other players was never about the stars and stripes.

“Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week,” Brees wrote.

“We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial and prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when? We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”

View this post on Instagram

To @realdonaldtrump Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been. We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities. We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when? We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.

A post shared by Drew Brees (@drewbrees) on Jun 5, 2020 at 7:10pm PDT

Issues of police brutality and systemic racism have returned to the forefront of discussions around the NFL in light of the widespread protests over the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

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Trump: Brees 'should not have taken back his original stance' on flag – theScore

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United States President Donald Trump weighed in Friday on the controversy sparked by Drew Brees‘ comments about players potentially kneeling during the national anthem.

The New Orleans Saints quarterback said on Wednesday he would “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag” by protesting during the anthem. Brees’ statement drew the ire of players across the league, including several of his teammates, who reiterated that the protests are against police brutality and racial injustice, not the American flag.

Following the backlash, Brees apologized twice on Thursday.

The president tweeted Friday that Brees “should not have taken back his original stance.”

Trump was vehemently against players kneeling during the national anthem when protests took place in the NFL back in 2016.

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