Robert Kraft's personal Super Bowl LI ring fetched more than $1million as the New England Patriots owner auctioned off one of his prized possessions for charity.

Kraft joined the 'All In Challenge' earlier this month – a digital fundraiser helping to feed those in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Bidding for the ring from New England's stunning 34-28 comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 ended on Thursday.

The winner – after 35 bids – forked out $1.025m for the piece after the Patriots created history by overturning a 28-3 third-quarter deficit against the Falcons three years ago.

As part of the deal, the winner will be flown on Kraft's private plane to Gillette Stadium, where they will receive the ring from the 78-year-old in New England's trophy room.

According to the All In Challenge website, more than $45.6m has been raised.

Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald said playing NFL games without fans "wouldn't be fun" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rams are scheduled to open their 2020 NFL campaign against the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on September 13.

It remains to be seen if supporters will be allowed to attend games due to the COVID-19 crisis which has wreaked havoc globally, with teams starting to return to their facilities this week.

Rams defensive tackle and six-time Pro Bowler Donald is not a fan of playing behind closed doors.

"You need fans to play a game," Donald told reporters via a videoconference on Thursday. "I don't see how you could play a game without no fans, I feel like that takes out the excitement and the fun out of the game.

"I feel like the fans is what pick you up. The fans is what makes the game exciting. The fans will give you that extra juice when you're tired and fatigued, when you make that big play and you hear 80,000 fans going crazy. That just pumps you up."

Donald added: "You practice, and practice is practice. And then you prepare to play a game and be on a big stage and play in front of a crowd.

"Just no excitement [without fans]. It wouldn't be fun to me. I don't think it would be fun to play a football game without fans."

New York Jets running back Frank Gore believes the NFL's AFC East is "wide open" following Tom Brady's move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady swapped the New England Patriots for the Buccaneers in the NFC South via free agency after a glorious 20-year run and six Super Bowl rings in Foxborough.

The Patriots have won 11 consecutive division titles – and three Super Bowl championships during that period – thanks to superstar quarterback Brady.

But Gore feels the balance of power has shifted in the AFC East, where the Jets, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are looking to dethrone the Patriots.

"It's wide open," the 37-year-old said via a videoconference call with reporters on Thursday. "Brady's gone, and it's wide open.

"You've got young quarterbacks, Sam Darnold and Josh [Allen]. I don't know what Miami is doing or whatever. I think it's wide open."

Gore is preparing for his first year with the Jets after brief spells with the Bills and Dolphins.

The five-time Pro Bowler has reunited with head coach Adam Gase following the pair's time together in Miami, while the latter's relationship with star Le'Veon Bell has dominated headlines.

Bell struggled during his first season in New York and Gase is looking to lighten the workload for the three-time Pro Bowler.

On Bell, Gore said: "I told him I need a jersey to put on my wall just because I respect his game. I respect the way he prepares himself to get ready for the season. ... He always respected me; I respected him.

"It will be fun. I've been around a bunch of talented running backs my whole career -- college, the NFL. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help him, to help the other guys and also help the team be successful."

"I'm cool," Gore added. "I'm happy to be playing this game at my age. I'm happy that this organisation is giving me an opportunity. I'm just coming in to work and help all the young guys, and show them young guys I still can play. Whenever I get my number called, I'll just try to go out and make a play for our team to be successful. I'm very excited."

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is embracing a familiar role as a seasoned mentor to star recruit Tua Tagovailoa.

The Dolphins used the fifth pick on University of Alabama QB Tagovailoa in last month's NFL Draft.

Tagovailoa arrives in Miami amid much hype and well-travelled veteran Fitzpatrick is eager to team up with the 22-year-old.

"I want to go out there and start," Fitzpatrick told reporters on Thursday in a videoconference. "I know there's a lot of forces that go into it from all different sides, so whether that happens or not, who knows?" 

Fitzpatrick still is not viewing Tagovailoa as an adversary. Though he still intends to hold on to his starting job for as long as possible, the 37-year-old is also looking to help the rookie.

It is a position Fitzpatrick has been in several times before during a nomadic 15-year-career in which he has started games for eight different teams. That experience, coupled with strong play down the stretch of last season, prompted the Dolphins to re-sign the former seventh-round pick to a two-year, $11million contract in March. 

"I've been in this situation before a little bit," said Fitzpatrick, who has tutored the likes of Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston in previous stops.

"I just try to go in every day and be myself and help them and help the club, try to make sure that they know and they're comfortable with telling me questions. But I'm also going to express my opinions and thoughts on plays that we're watching and the process of how I think through it, right or wrong, just to provide them some perspective. 

"I'm excited for him to be here," he said of Tagovailoa. "I loved watching him play in college and I think he's going to be an awesome addition to the team for a long time."

Fitzpatrick, who recorded a 95.9 passer rating to help Miami win three of their final five 2019 games, is also excited about a reunion with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, his former head coach in Buffalo and offensive coordinator during a later stint with the New York Jets. 

"Chan was really the first guy who truly believed in me and gave me my shot as a starter, and I've always just wanted to prove him right and play well for him. He's a guy that allows players to play to their strengths," Fitzpatrick said.

"He's got an offense that is not very complicated to learn but is very complicated for the defenses, the way they present it to them, and he does a great job of utilising different guys' talents and putting them in a position to succeed." 

Quarterback Tom Brady and his nine trips to Super Bowls with the New England Patriots will be the subject a documentary series on ESPN, the network announced on Thursday.  

The series, titled 'The Man in the Arena', is scheduled to air in 2021.  

Each episode will focus on Brady's firsthand accounts of each of his Super Bowls appearances, reflecting on his six titles and three defeats on the biggest stage.  

"Through the series, we're defining the key moments and challenges that were seemingly insurmountable, but through hard work and perseverance, became career-defining triumphs, in both victory and defeat," Brady said in the ESPN press release.  

It is unclear if the series will address controversial topics such as the Patriots' alleged spying on opponents, Brady's involvement with deflating footballs or his relationship with the late Aaron Hernandez.  

The series will be produced by ESPN, Gotham Chopra of Religion of Sports and 199 Productions – Brady's production company. 

Brady provided the voiceover for a trailer that he and ESPN released to announce the coming documentary.  

“It's been, I mean, a complete evolution – how I just kind of kept fighting and clawing to continue to power forward,” Brady said. “You just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you keep trying to make progress. So when you look at it over 20 years, I think, 'Look how far I’ve come'." 

Brady, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons in New England, has been more private about his football relationships and time on the field than his contemporaries, despite his success.  

The news follows the success of ESPN's 'Last Dance' documentary chronicling the Chicago Bulls' championship in 1997-98, which recently finished its five-week release.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate admitted it is somewhat surreal to be teaching Tom Brady about his new team's offense.

Having won six Super Bowl rings during a glorious 20-year run with the New England Patriots, there are few, if any, quarterbacks who can match Brady's level of experience.

However, after leaving the Patriots for the Buccaneers earlier in the offseason, Brady has a new system to learn and different team-mates to develop chemistry with.

Earlier this week he was practicing with some of those team-mates at a school in Tampa Bay, with Brate revealing there was something of a role reversal as Brady tries to get up to speed.

"He seemed like a really down-to-earth, great team-mate," Brate told SiriusXM.

"It's a little weird now working with him now at the beginning of his Bucs tenure because we're kind of teaching him our verbiage and it's kind of a backward way of how it's probably going to progress during the season, with him teaching us a lot about the game and how he sees things.

"Right now it's only a couple of weeks at the Bucs [for Brady] and he's trying to work out what we call stuff so we're teaching him the offense, which is a little weird."

There is at least one familiar face for Brady after ex-Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was lured out of retirement and traded to the Bucs.

Gronkowski, considered by many to be the best tight end to ever play the game, was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams in New England, where he caught 79 regular-season touchdowns and amassed 7,861 receiving yards across nine seasons.

"It seems like what you see is what you get with him," Brate added of the larger-than-life Gronkowski.

"He seems like the Gronk you see in the media… that's just who Gronk is, which is great.

"I love to have a good time and joke around and I think we're going to get on really well.

"We're super-talented in the tight-end room and I'm just really excited with our group there."

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Ryan Switzer recently met up for a throwing session with Ben Roethlisberger and reported that the veteran quarterback is throwing with no signs of last year's elbow surgery that ended his 2019 season after two games.

Switzer, fellow receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner were part of the workout with Roethlisberger, who said earlier in the offseason that he had been holding back during rehab to strengthen the elbow without overworking it.

"You know, like when the ball cuts through the air and you can hear that 'pfft-pfft-pfft' sound," Switzer told The Athletic.

"That's what JuJu said it sounded like.  I didn't hear it but, man, I have been trying to catch with no gloves for a couple of months to build up these callouses but ask my hands how they feel catching his throws."

Switzer has participated in sessions with Roethlisberger since February, so he knows exactly how much progress the quarterback has made.

"It's leaps and bounds different from when he first started," Switzer said. "There was no restraint, no hesitancy, he was just out there. He has been throwing like that for a while, and in my opinion at least, getting out there on that field for the first time and throwing full-speed routes was refreshing."

Roethlisberger will be entering his 17th NFL season and ranks fifth among active quarterbacks with 363 passing touchdowns and fourth with 56,545 yards.

The NFL has reinstated defensive end Aldon Smith from an indefinite suspension, allowing the former All-Pro an opportunity to return to American football after five years away from the game. 

Smith's ban was lifted on Wednesday after the former Oakland Raiders – now known as the Las Vegas Raiders – DE met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on a video teleconference. 

The 30-year-old's career has been plagued by substance-abuse and off-field problems and has not played since November of 2015, when he was then suspended for violating the league's substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies as a member of the Raiders. 

Smith signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys last month and will be able to join the team's virtual offseason program next week and meet with team-mates and coaches. 

The seventh overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Smith ranked second in the NFL with 19.5 sacks with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012.

In 43 games played from 2011-13, he had 42 sacks – second most in the NFL in that span. 

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry has never missed a game in his six-year NFL career, and does not believe that streak will end, saying his recovery from hip surgery is "ahead of schedule".

Landry was saddled by a hip injury all of last season after getting injured in training camp.

Despite being slowed, he still managed to lead the Browns with 83 receptions, 1,174 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns to earn a fifth Pro Bowl selection.

"Rehab process is going great," Landry said on Wednesday on a Zoom call from his home in Florida.

"It's just a little difficult obviously, just some of the modality type of things I've been doing that obviously with quarantine and everything I haven't been able to have access to. So that's kind of been the toughest part of it.

"Right now I'm a little bit ahead of schedule, but the most important thing right now is taking it day by day. I can't predict when exactly I'll be on the field, whether that's July, August or September. But obviously my return date is sometime in August."

Landry originally considered against having surgery and gutting out another season playing with pain before opting to go under the knife following the Pro Bowl in February.

He said on Wednesday that having surgery was "absolutely" the right decision.

"It was something I knew I needed," the 27-year-old said. "I was going to try and put off and play the tough guy for one more year. But just understanding where I was, the things it was not allowing me to do, I did not want to be part of the reason for the team not having success."

Rehab from the surgery was expected to take six to eight months, which puts his availability for the 2020 season opener in question.

Landry, though, is motivated to extend his games played streak and sees himself being ready for training camp, when players are cleared to practice amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"That's one of the goals that I would set out for myself since I was a kid watching 'Monday Night Football'," he said.

"And it's still something that's in the back of my mind. Obviously I want to make sure that I'm going through this process the right way, too, and making sure that I'm healthy enough to be able to go out there and help the team win games and not hurt the team."

Washington Redskins rookie wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden announced he contracted the coronavirus three months ago and has fully recovered. 

"During my pre-draft training, I tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24," Gandy-Golden said in a statement released by his agent on Wednesday.

"My symptoms thankfully were mild, but I self-quarantined for two weeks and followed all guidelines from health experts. I was fully cleared April 7."

Two weeks after being cleared of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 327,000 worldwide, the Redskins selected Gandy-Golden in the fourth round with the 142nd overall pick. 

Gandy-Golden is the third NFL player to publicly announce a positive test for COVID-19, joining Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen.

Patrick Chung and the New England Patriots have agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to widespread reports.

The deal keeps Chung under contract with New England through 2023, his age-36 season.

Veteran safety Chung receives a $3million signing bonus and is now due up to $12.8m over the next four years. 

The revamped deal also provides the Patriots with some much-needed salary cap relief, creating $925,000 in cap space. 

The 34th pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, Chung has been a mainstay in New England's secondary for almost all of his time in the pros, spending 10 of his 11 seasons with the Patriots save for the 2013 campaign with the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Since rejoining the Patriots in 2014, Chung has appeared in 91 of 96 regular-season games with 82 starts. 

He also started all 12 of New England's playoff games en route to their Super Bowl appearances following the 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons, three of which resulted in championships. 

The NFL is king in the United States, but that does not mean the coronavirus is going to bow before it.

"You have to focus on fitting football inside of this world of coronavirus and don't get caught up in trying to fit coronavirus inside this world," Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter said on Tuesday on a conference call.

"The way coronavirus has kind of changed how every industry is working, you can't expect just to throw football back in and think that the virus is going to kneel down to almighty football."

Elected president of the NFL Players Association just days before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the sports world in March, Tretter is tasked with helping develop a plan for playing the 2020 season while keeping the league's players healthy.

How exactly the league plans to keep its players safe is a big unknown within a sport that involves high levels of physical contact.

"The way this thing passes along is through contact, and that's what we do for a living," Tretter said.

"We interact with each other at the facility, at practice, weight lifting, at the meal room, it is shoulder to shoulder standing by each other, passing things around. So there is a long list of ideas we need to come up with on how to make this environment safe for us. And that's why it's going to be a lot of thinking involved in that."

Earlier in the day, the NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said the league fully expects to have positive cases of coronavirus but the key will be identifying it early and preventing the spread. 

"There's no bad idea at this point, and you kind of have to think outside the box," Tretter said. "And just because it's an idea doesn't mean things are definitely going to happen, but you need to explore it, and you need to understand it."

Testing will be paramount in order for the NFL to return, but Tretter acknowledges once the league gives the green light for players to return to their team's facilities and practices to commence there are still risks involved and the chance of contracting the coronavirus is still possible.  

"There's a level of risk to everything," Tretter said. "You're facing a level of risk right now going to the grocery store. There's always going to be a level of exposure that people are going to face in this. So I don't think we'll ever get to a point where there's no risk of exposure. 

"Coming in contact with other people is a risk of exposure. So that's never going to be down to zero. Our job is to try to get that to as close to zero as possible, and that's why you kind of have to look at everything."

One major obstacle for the NFL opening team complexes for players is dealing with the spread of the coronavirus within a sport that involves constant contact among humans.

The NFL has been conducting a virtual offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 324,000 people worldwide.

But when and if the NFL gets going, its chief medical officer said there would be positive tests for coronavirus.

"Obviously football and physical distancing is not compatible," NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said on a conference call on Tuesday.

And Sills acknowledges with all the physical contact, there will be positive tests of COVID-19 among players.

"We fully well expect that we will have positive cases that arise," Sills said. "Because we think that this disease will remain endemic in society, it shouldn't be a surprise that new positive cases arise.

"Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and prevent spread to any other participants. We're working very diligently on that, and we'll have some detailed plans at a later time."

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

"We're not putting dates on the calendar," Sills said. "When we and the NFLPA [NFL Players Association] together feel that we're at a point of satisfaction with the science, we'll move forward. We're moving as fast as the science and data take us."

The NFL announced on Tuesday new policies to increase employment and advancement opportunities for minorities and women. 

Team owners approved changes to the Rooney Rule, which has now been expanded. All teams are now required to interview at least two minority candidates from outside the organisation for head coaching jobs; at least one minority candidate for any of the three coordinator vacancies; and at least one minority candidate from outside the organisation for football operations or general manager positions. 

"The NFL is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which I believe is critical to our continued success," commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"While we have seen positive strides in our coaching ranks over the years aided by the Rooney Rule, we recognise, after the last two seasons, that we can and must do more. The policy changes made today are bold and demonstrate the commitment of our ownership to increase diversity in leadership positions throughout the league."

In the last two seasons, only two of the 13 open head coaching positions were filled by minorities. Currently in the NFL there are only four minority coaches and two general managers. 

The league also announced that NFL teams are no longer able to block assistant coaches from interviewing for coordinator jobs with other clubs. Teams may still prevent an interview if they believe it is not for a "bona fide" position, and any clarification on what is deemed a "bona fide" position will be determined by Goodell. 

"We believe these new policies demonstrate the NFL owners' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the NFL," said Art Rooney II, Pittsburgh Steelers owner and chairman of the league's workplace diversity committee.

"The development of young coaches and young executives is a key to our future. These steps will assure coaching and football personnel are afforded a fair and equitable opportunity to advance throughout our football operations.

"We also have taken important steps to ensure that our front offices, which represent our clubs in so many different ways, come to reflect the true diversity of our fans and our country." 

While the league is taking steps to increase diversity, one of the more controversial proposals, which would have rewarded teams that hired minority coaches or general managers with higher draft picks, was tabled by the owners. 

On the same day that NFL teams can start reopening their facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic if state and local governments give the go-ahead, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady worked out with his new team-mates.

This session, though, took place on a field at a preparatory school in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Times published pictures of Brady and several of his team-mates during a roughly two-hour throwing session at Berkeley Preparatory School on Tuesday, with Brady donning an orange practice jersey over his shoulder pads.

According to ESPN, an NFL spokesperson said the workout is allowed as long as Brady and his team-mates follow the recommendations and guidelines of state and local authorities and medical experts along with NFL Players Association guidelines.

A six-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, Brady has often been in the news since joining the Buccaneers on a two-year, $50million contract in March.

Brady was ejected from a closed Tampa park last month after being spotted working out. Tampa mayor Jane Castor later issued a light-hearted apology to Brady, saying: "Tom, my apologies for the miscommunication when you arrived – not the best first impression.

"But given my law enforcement background, I couldn't help but have someone investigate the sighting of a G.O.A.T running wild in one of our beautiful city parks. No harm, no foul, and thanks for being a good sport."

Brady also avoided a trespassing charge and fine from the NFL for his bungled visit to the home of Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich late last month.

The NFL opened an investigation into Brady visiting Leftwich's house to pick up his playbook and determined that he did not violate any offseason work rules.

Brady's visit to Leftwich’s home would have flown under the radar had he not entered Leftwich's next-door neighbour's house by mistake.

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