Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said on social media that he "absolutely" will be kneeling during the national anthem in the upcoming NFL season.

Mayfield posted a video to his Instagram account of himself working out in a one-on-one session with a trainer on Friday, and a fan commented: "Please tell Browns fans you're not going to be kneeling this season." 

Mayfield responded: "Pull your head out. I absolutely am."

The response by the Browns' third-year quarterback, who is white, sparked hundreds of comments, some supporting Mayfield but many denouncing kneeling protests as disrespectful to the United States military and the American flag.

"The ignorance in this response says it all," Mayfield said after reading many of the replies. "It's more than just the flag. It's about our country and everyone being treated as equals.  

"I have the utmost respect for our military and people that serve for our freedom."

The practice of kneeling during the national anthem was started by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt to protest police brutality and racial oppression in 2016. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since that season.

While the debate about anthem protests had nearly died out over the past few years, the issue has been reignited by the protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd, who was black, was killed while in the custody of white police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25 when Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.

Mayfield's comment comes after Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said this week that he regrets not signing Kaepernick in the 2017 offseason.

Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt was also confronted on social media about kneeling during the upcoming season. Watt supported the practice but was not clear whether or not he will take part.

A Twitter user tagged Watt in a reply on Friday, saying: "Pretty sure you won't see [Watt] taking a knee."

Watt replied on Saturday: "A) Don't speak for me. B) If you still think it's about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven't been listening."

J.J. Watt said kneeling for the United States national anthem "isn't disrespecting the flag or our military" as he fired back at a Twitter user who suggested he would not be among the Houston Texans players protesting.

The idea of taking a knee for The Star-Spangled Banner before NFL games to protest police brutality and racial injustice has been raised again following the death of George Floyd in police custody on March 25.

When former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt four years ago he was heavily criticised by United States president Donald Trump, but the NFL recently apologised for not listening to its players and encouraged them to "speak out and peacefully protest".

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was criticised for suggesting those who took a knee were "disrespecting the flag", though he later apologised for those comments, a U-turn that Trump insisted he was wrong to make.

The 2020 NFL regular season is not due to begin until September, but Texans head coach Bill O'Brien has said he would join his players in kneeling.

"Yeah, I'll take a knee," he told the Houston Chronicle.

"I'm all for it. The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are.

"They're not taking a knee because they're against the flag. They're taking a knee because they haven't been treated equally in this country for over 400 years."

A Twitter user responded to that story on the social media channel by writing: "Pretty sure you won't see @JJWatt taking a knee...." along with three emojis of the American flag.

However, Watt hit back from his own account, saying kneeling for the anthem had nothing to do with either the USA flag or the country's military.

He quote-retweeted his mention, saying: "A) don't speak for me B) if you still think it's about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven't been listening."

The new NFL regular season will kick off with the Texans facing the Kansas City Chiefs, who are the reigning Super Bowl champions, on September 10.

Houston have won the AFC South in each of the previous two campaigns but were beaten by the Chiefs in the playoffs last year.

Alvin Kamara will be supporting Bubba Wallace in Miami on Sunday, having become a NASCAR fan following its decision to ban the Confederate flag this week.

The Confederate flag - which is viewed by many as a symbol of racism and slavery - was banned from all NASCAR races and properties in a decision made prior to Wednesday's race at Martinsville Speedway.

Its banishment came amid a renewed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota on May 25.

NASCAR's decision was praised by many sports stars, including New Orleans Saints running back Kamara, who watched Wednesday's race with interest and tweeted the division to ask when the next race was.

On Saturday, the three-time Pro Bowler tweeted a picture of some merchandise of Wallace, NASCAR's only black driver, confirming he would attend the Cup Series' latest race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"See y'all tomorrow @NASCAR @BubbaWallace wassup?!!!" Kamara wrote.

Wallace is a fan of the University of Tennessee, where Kamara played two seasons of college football prior to entering the NFL in 2017.

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said he will take a knee with players during the national anthem this NFL season to protest racial inequality and police brutality.  

There have been nationwide protests in the United States after Floyd – an African-American man – died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

A police officer was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest after he was crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first player to kneel during the anthem in protest against racial injustice in 2016, before he was released the following year.

New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees said players who knelt during the anthem were "disrespecting the flag", comments which sparked fierce backlash and led to an apology, while US president Donald Trump insisted kneeling is "disrespecting" the country.

But O'Brien told the Houston Chronicle: "Yeah, I'll take a knee. I'm all for it. The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are.  

"They're not taking a knee because they're against the flag. They're taking a knee because they haven't been treated equally in this country for over 400 years." 

O'Brien has been a supportive presence during the recent social justice fight.

He cancelled virtual team activities on June 9 and instead encouraged players to attend the funeral service for Floyd.

O'Brien attended the service along with star defensive end J.J. Watt, owner Cal McNair, offensive co-ordinator Tim Kelly, defensive co-ordinator Anthony Weaver and former defensive tackle D.J. Reader. 

"It wasn't a conscious effort, O'Brien said on the team's response to Floyd's death. "It wasn't like we had a conversation together and decided to do it.

"I think we just said enough is enough, and we've got to do what's right. As an organisation, we're part of the conversation and we want to do our part."

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said he initially was not happy when the team brought in Nick Foles, but has since embraced the idea of competition.

Trubisky's comments on a conference call with reporters on Friday were his first since the Bears traded a fourth-round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for fellow quarterback Foles.

"I was kind of p****d off, in a good way. I've been motivated ever since,” Trubisky said. "It's a business decision. I'm all for the Bears getting better and winning games."

The Bears traded up one slot in the 2017 draft to select Trubisky second overall out of North Carolina, though he struggled in 12 games during his rookie season.

There was also regression last year in nearly every statistical category after a promising Pro Bowl campaign in 2018.

"I'm very confident about where I'm at right now and what I can do for this team," Trubisky said.

“I feel like I'm in a good mental space. I'm motivated and driven to do more than I did last year. I'm very locked into what I've got to do."

After a playoff appearance in 2018, Chicago squandered a 3-1 start last season to finish 8-8. The Bears' offense ranked 29th in scoring, averaging 17.5 points per game.

"I've been motivated since our season ended last year. It didn't end the way we wanted it to, and we left a lot out there," Trubisky admitted. "It had to do with health and lack of details on offense.

"We need to get back to the playoffs. And we need to have a different mentality then we did last year. We let a lot of details slip and we didn’t play the way we should have been playing. We lost a lot of games we should have won."

While Bears coach Matt Nagy has yet to name a starting quarterback for Week 1, Trubisky's fourth campaign will be pivotal in terms of his NFL career. Chicago declined his fifth-year rookie contract option, making him a free agent at the end of this season.

"All I can do is control what I can control," he said. "That's go out and have a hell of a year with my team-mates."

Dalvin Cook may be hoping for a big reward, but a potential holdout from the Minnesota Vikings running back would carry a great deal of risk.

An ESPN report this week stated Cook may be extending social distancing measures well into the preseason and beyond, having informed the team he will not participate in any further activities until he receives a new contract. According to the report, the 2019 Pro Bowler is prepared to sit out training camp and perhaps the entire 2020 season if fresh terms are not agreed.

Cook's rationale is both sensible and obvious. He is slated to earn just over $1.3million in the final year of his rookie contract, an absolute bargain rate for a player of his calibre and production, and faces the daunting prospect of entering a potentially flooded 2021 free agent market for running backs that could include impact performers such as Alvin Kamara, Derrick Henry, Aaron Jones, Chris Carson and Joe Mixon.  

There is also plenty of incentive for Cook to want to remain in Minnesota. The Vikings ran the ball on 49.1 per cent of their offensive plays in 2019, with only the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers doing so at a higher rate last season. And although offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski has moved on to Cleveland to be the latest head coach to attempt to end the Browns' embarrassing stretch of futility, Minnesota's strategy does not figure to deviate much under Gary Kubiak, who has historically placed a heavy emphasis on the ground game during previous stops as both a play-caller and a head coach.  

Cook's value to the Vikings is easily evident as well. Including the postseason, Minnesota are 12-2 when he has recorded 108 or more yards from scrimmage and 6-10-1 when he has gone below that number.

Given all those factors, there would seem to be both a high importance and desire on both sides to get a new deal done. A closer look, however, would show the Vikings may not be in such a rush to dole out another big contract to a perceived core player. 

Cook's dependability on the field is not in question, but availability has certainly been an issue at times. He has missed 19 of a possible 48 regular-season games over his three NFL seasons due to various injuries, the most serious being a torn ACL that sidelined him for most of his 2017 rookie campaign.  

Those durability concerns could very well make the Vikings pause at giving Cook the likely $13m per year he is seeking, and it is certainly a reason why he has reportedly threatened to sit out the entire upcoming season rather than play on his rookie deal. But while that wish to eliminate injury risk is understandable, Cook would be still taking quite a gamble of another sort if he indeed decides to adopt that stance. 

This is not a situation akin to Le'Veon Bell's of two years back, when the then-Pittsburgh Steeler held out the entire 2018 season before inking a four-year, $52.5m contract with the New York Jets. The NFL's new collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from accruing a season if they skip training camp, meaning Cook would still have three years of service time and would be a restricted free agent for the 2021 offseason.  

Considering the surplus of quality veteran running back options that may be available next offseason, there may be some benefit in Cook entering the market a year later. He would also be going in a year older, however, and quite possibly with fewer options to select from - including his current team. The Vikings' cupboard is not bare at the position, as backup Alexander Mattison acquitted himself well as a rookie last season and is under contract for three more years, while third-stringer Mike Boone ran for 148 years in a spot start in the Week 17 finale. Either could prove to be a capable alternative if given the opportunity to start, and at a far cheaper price than Cook would command. 

And do not discount the presence of Kubiak, a strict disciple of the Mike Shanahan system that has turned its share of nondescript running backs into viable starters over the years, as evidenced by career journeyman Raheem Mostert's emergence during the 49ers' NFC title following the 2019 season. 

There is also the uncertainty of next year's salary cap to consider, as teams may have less money to spend in 2021 if the coronavirus pandemic leads to decreased revenue in the form of lower attendances and in a worst-case scenario a reduction of games. The Vikings are not flush with cap space to begin with and are still attempting to hammer out a long-term deal with standout safety Anthony Harris, whom the team may view as a more indispensable player than Cook.  

With so many variables at hand, Cook's situation does not appear to be one that will be resolved either easily or imminently.

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh had strong comments for the NFL after the league's latest memo outlining how franchises should continue going about reopening their facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The league's rules require physical distancing in the locker, meeting and weight rooms and even cafeterias.

Harbaugh expressed frustrations with those guidelines in an interview with 105.7 The Fan on Thursday. 

"I've seen all the memos on that, and to be quire honest with you, it's impossible what they're asking to do. Humanly impossible," he said.

"We're going to do everything we can do. We're going to space, we're going to have masks. But, you know, it's a communication sport. We have to be able to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice."

Harbaugh expressed difficulty understanding how the rules would play out in practice, specifically noting players will not stay six feet apart in huddles and wondering if players can only shower one at a time.

"I think good people, smart people are involved in this," Harbaugh said. "But the way I'm reading these memos right now, you throw your hands up and you go, 'What the heck? There's no way this can be right'."

Training camps are scheduled to start in late July and the first preseason game is the Dallas Cowboys against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame game on August 6.

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he now regrets not signing quarterback Colin Kaepernick on two separate occasions.

The Seahawks considered signing Kaepernick in 2017 when they had him in for a visit, and again before the 2018 season.

"I regret that it didn't happen, in some fashion," Carroll said on an online Zoom call on Thursday.

"I wish we would have contributed to it because the guy deserved to play. 

"I thought, at the time, in our situation, as a backup, I just didn't feel right, at that time. So, I had to make that football decision. It was about our team. We had our starting quarterback, all of that. And it wasn't going to be the open, competitive situation that I like to think our spots are, because Russ [Wilson] is such a dominant figure."

Carroll said Kaepernick contacted him during the 2017 offseason after the San Francisco 49ers and the quarterback mutually parted ways amid the national controversy over his kneeling during anthems the previous season.

"He had called out of the blue, to ask me advice about where he would go next," Carroll said. "I was flattered that he would even think to call me, because we had never talked before other than just greetings.

"We had great meetings, we spent the day together. He spent time with our people throughout the building, and almost a full day. And he was awesome. The fact that it didn't work out for us, I figured he'd go somewhere else and start for sure. And it just didn't happen."

Seattle considered Kaepernick again the following year when they were looking for an experienced quarterback to back up Wilson.

"It just didn't come together," Carroll said.

Carroll said not signing Kaepernick had nothing to do with his anthem protests.

"There was stuff in the media that we were concerned about him taking a knee, or whatever. That never even came up in our conversations. That was never even an issue for us," he said.

The NFL is committing $250million over 10 years to combat systemic racism and support the fight against racial injustice.

The league announced the move on Thursday after anti-racism protests in the United States and around the world.

George Floyd – an African-American man – died in police custody in Minneapolis last month, sparking protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

NFL players called for more action from the league, leading to an apology from commissioner Roger Goodell for not listening to them earlier.

Now, the NFL is committing $250m to a fund in the fight against racial injustice.

"The NFL is growing our social justice efforts through a 10-year total $250million fund to combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African-Americans," read a statement.

"The NFL and our clubs will continue to work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.

"In addition to the financial commitment, we will continue to leverage the NFL Network and all of our media properties to place an increased emphasis on raising awareness and promoting education of social justice issues to our fans and help foster unity."

The NFL announced on Thursday that it has extended its virtual offseason programs for teams for an additional 15 days, setting a new end date as June 26. 

By extending the online coaching, there will be no in-person minicamps this month. 

Training camps are still expected to begin in July, and the league and players association are using the extra time to make sure the team complexes are in position to open safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"We will continue working with the NFLPA to conclude the remaining protocols and finalise arrangements for the safe opening of training camps next month," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. 

The option to extend the virtual offseason program is strictly voluntary, and a number have teams have already announced they will be stopping their online classes so their players can focus on physical training. 

Only players that are recovering from injuries, coaches and other key personnel are allowed at their team's complexes for the time being. 

New Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers admitted he was "aggravated" by criticism of his performances for the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019.

Rivers, 38, signed a one-year deal with the Colts in March after entering free agency when he left the Chargers, where he had started every game since 2005.

The eight-time Pro Bowler is now determined to prove he can still cut it the coming season, having revealed he was well aware of suggestions he was past his best last year.

Rivers, who threw for 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, acknowledged he made "some very costly mistakes" but insisted there was also "so much good" as the Chargers finished with a 5-11 record.

"At times what may have aggravated me a little bit last year was [critics saying] that I couldn't play anymore," the veteran told reporters.

"When you heard that, it bothered me, because I wanted to go, 'Shoot, let's go turn on the tape and watch all the good things.'

"There were some bad plays, certainly some throws I want back and certainly some very costly mistakes. I own up to all those.

"There was so much good and I had some throws last year that were probably as good as I've had my whole career.

"I knew, so I didn't feel like I had to sell that to anyone. But at the same time, it did aggravate you little bit.

"I think it's okay to be aware [of criticism]. I'm one of those guys that likes to be aware."

The Minnesota Twins have donated $25million to racial and social justice campaigns following George Floyd's death.

Floyd – an African-American man – died in police custody in Minneapolis last month, sparking protests against police brutality and racial injustice across the United States and beyond.

A police officer was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest after he was crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Minnesota's MLB franchise – the Twins – have made a significant contribution, owners the Pohlad family announced on Wednesday.

"Black people have experienced oppression and racism for far too long in this country," said Bill Pohlad, president of the Pohlad Family Foundation.

"We condemn racism in all its forms, and we are firmly committed to helping to enact meaningful change. We know this will take time and effort, and we are committed to this work beyond this seminal moment in our country's history."

Minnesota's NFL team – the Vikings – also donated $5m to social justice causes midweek, with contributions from this fund to be determined in part through collaborations with players.

Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf said: "We continue to be inspired by these players as they advocate for transformational change in this very challenging moment.

"We are proud of their efforts to use their platform in an effort to end deep-seated social injustices. Their thoughtful approach and our conversations with them have deeply moved us, certainly in large part because of our family's history and long-standing commitment to human rights, but also because of their steadfast dedication to not sit idly by when they have the ability to make a difference."

Funds will be directed toward organisations that fight hate, racism and inequality.

"Our organisation and the players have shown a commitment to these causes over the last several years, but we know we need to and can do more," Vikings owner and chairman Zygi Wilf said.

"We want this investment to support the many diverse and meaningful social justice efforts throughout our country, but it can only be one piece of our overall work toward having a sustainable impact. Our actions within our communities will be the driving force for creating profound change."

Kansas City Chiefs and NFL star Patrick Mahomes said he wants to "help the world" following George Floyd's death.

Floyd – an African-American man – died in police custody in Minneapolis last month, sparking protests against police brutality and racial injustice across the United States and beyond.

A police officer was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest after he was crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Super Bowl champion and MVP Mahomes, 24, is determined to drive change amid the anti-racism protests.

"I can't watch the entire George Floyd video through and through," Mahomes said. "I've watched it in parts but it hurts me too much to my soul to see him and feel like I can't help.

"I wanted to sit back and listen. I didn't want to act off anger. I didn't want to act off hurt. I wanted to listen and make the best informed decision that I think I could to help the world, help the community with my platform."

There has been plenty of talk about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem when the season gets underway.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first player to kneel during the anthem in protest against racial injustice in 2016, before he was released the following year.

New Orleans Saints star Drew Brees said players who knelt during the anthem were "disrespecting the flag", comments which sparked fierce backlash and led to an apology.

Mahomes said: "It's not about who kneels and who doesn't kneel. It's about having the right to peacefully protest and to recognise that social injustices are happening and racial inequity does happen every single day.

"I just want the community to be somewhere where everybody including black people can feel like they can go into the community and be safe. Whatever way that is, whatever actions we can take to do that, it's all about doing that as quickly as possible."

The New York Jets did not get to see much of C.J. Mosley last season after signing him to a five-year, $85million deal, but the star linebacker has been given a good report from doctors and expects to have no limitations during training camp

Mosley signed with the Jets in March 2019 after five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens but was limited two just two games because of a groin/core muscle injury.  

He had five tackles, recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills before injuring his groin late in the third quarter.

Mosley returned against the New England Patriots on October 21 in his final appearance of the season and underwent surgery in December.

"I'm cleared to do everything," Mosley said on Wednesday during a video conference call.

"I've been working with my trainers every week, as far as workouts and rehab. Once we get back in the building, whenever that is, we'll go from there."

He said he is now able to plant his feet and cut without pain or limitations, as he could before the injury.

"That won't stop me during the season from getting back on the field," Mosley said.

"Once I got that out of the way, now I'm pretty confident I'll be good to go."

Mosley has remained at his home in New Jersey, where he has done much of his rehabilitation and workouts for the last few months during the coronavirus pandemic.

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