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.  

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. 

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