For the first time in two decades, New England Patriots fans will not be able to watch Tom Brady run onto the field as their quarterback when the new NFL season gets under way.

Brady on Tuesday announced his 20-season spell with the Patriots would be coming to an end.

He will take his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom Brady will hope to add to the six Super Bowl titles he won in an unprecedented spell of dominance in New England.

The Patriots enter a new era with the identity of their new starting quarterback very much a mystery.

How will head coach Bill Belichick replace Brady? We look at the potential avenues to filling the void left by the greatest quarterback of all time.


Promote Jarrett Stidham

Probably the least popular option among Patriots fans. New England drafted Stidham in the fourth round last year and the Pats are reported to have high hopes for his future with the team.

Stidham, who played for Baylor and Auburn in college, possesses an NFL-level arm but looked a long way from ready in the limited action he saw as a rookie.

He threw four passes in 2019, only two were completed and one was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

If the Patriots decide to hand the reins to Stidham, they will need to sign a veteran backup as an insurance policy in case that limited sample size from his first year proves a harbinger of sustained struggle for the 23-year-old.

Sign a free agent

The pickings on the free-agent market are growing increasingly slim.

Philip Rivers and Teddy Bridgewater agreed to deals with the Indianapolis Colts and Carolina Panthers respectively, and Marcus Mariota is off to Las Vegas to link up with Jon Gruden and the Raiders.

That leaves Brady's predecessor in Tampa, Jameis Winston, as the most viable unsigned option.

Winston's penchant for baffling interceptions makes him an awkward fit with Belichick, who may find developing Stidham a more intriguing project than trying to turn the former number one overall pick into the astute decision-maker he has never shown signs of becoming.

Draft a rookie

With the 23rd pick in the first round at the disposal, the Patriots have no shot at either of Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa, each expected to be selected in the top five.

Oregon's Justin Herbert and Utah State's Jordan Love are also likely to be beyond their reach.

However, Washington's Jacob Eason, Georgia's Jake Fromm and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts could all still be on the board by the time the Patriots make their pick.

Of that trio, it is Hurts who may be of most interest to Belichick.

A National Championship winner who transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma after losing his starting job to Tagovailoa, Hurts was a Heisman Trophy finalist last year and is a genuine dual-threat at quarterback with his abilities as a runner and a thrower.

There has arguably never been a coach better at exploiting the weaknesses and minimising the strengths of opponents than Belichick. He would be able to use Hurts' mobility to do that in a way that was never open to him with Brady.

Strike a trade

If the Patriots want an established quality starter to assume the mantle from Brady, then they may need to give up some draft capital to do so.

Andy Dalton is available, with the Cincinnati Bengals set to draft Burrow first overall. He would not set pulses racing in New England but is talented enough to keep them in the postseason mix.

Yet the Patriots could land a quarterback many consider an upgrade on veteran Brady by making a deal for Cam Newton.

Newton has been made available by the Panthers and has proven he can be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when healthy.

The league MVP in 2015, Newton can devastate opposing defenses with his arm and his legs, and Belichick and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are ideally qualified to help him rediscover his best after two successive injury-plagued seasons.

Tom Brady can hoist standards at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl levels, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

In an acknowledgement that Brady has not been signed purely for his golden throwing arm, Arians indicated he expected the 42-year-old's arrival to send a message throughout his squad.

And with the Bucs having been starved of success, the onus is not just on Brady to perform, but to inspire those around him to rise to the challenge of being team-mates to arguably the greatest quarterback there has ever been.

Brady won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, but he joins a team who last reached the title match in the 2002 season and who have been absent from the play-offs since making it to the 2007 postseason campaign.

Now Arians wants NFC Championship success and a shot at the biggest prize of all.

He said: "Tom is the most successful quarterback in the history of our league, but what makes him so special is his ability to make those around him better.

"I have had the privilege to work with some of the best passers in our game, and the characteristics they all possessed were the ability to lead and get the best out of their team-mates.

"Tom is no different. He is a proven winner who will provide the leadership, accountability and work ethic necessary to lead us to our goal of winning another championship."

Brady's move to Tampa Bay was confirmed on Friday, and reports say he will earn around $30million annually on a two-year contract, taking over at QB from Jameis Winston.

A 7-9 campaign in Arians' first season was an improvement on the previous two lousy campaigns (both 5-11), but a huge step-up is required if the Bucs are going to show championship potential in 2020.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht, a former Patriots scout, is convinced Brady has not joined the team in a step towards winding down his career.

Licht said on the team's website: "Tom is a proven champion who has achieved greatness on the field because he demands the best out of himself and his team-mates.

"I've known Tom since we drafted him in New England 20 years ago and through this process it became very clear that his desire to be a champion burns as strong today as it ever has.

"He possesses the type of rare natural leadership qualities that will immediately impact our entire organisation."

Todd Gurley has agreed a deal with the Atlanta Falcons following his release from the Los Angeles Rams.

Just one day on from being cut by the Rams after five seasons and three Pro Bowl selections, the running back found a new home in a move that is pending a successful physical.

Gurley, 25, replaces Devonta Freeman, who was released by Atlanta this week, on a one-year contract, per widespread reports.

He will look to improve a Falcons rushing attack that ranked 30th in the NFL last season, averaging a paltry 85.1 yards per game.

The swift move from the Falcons came after they were among the teams linked with a trade for Gurley prior to his Rams departure.

Gurley had signed a four-year, $60million deal less than two years ago but the contract became an increasing burden and his hasty release came hours before $10.5m would have become guaranteed.

Signing for the Falcons is a homecoming for him after spending his college career at Georgia prior to being selected by the Rams as the number 10 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Gurley moved with the team from St Louis to Los Angeles and was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.

He helped the Rams to the Super Bowl in the following season, though his lack of usage in that defeat to the New England Patriots was a topic of much speculation.

Debate has surrounded the extent to which Gurley has been battling to overcome a knee injury and he leaves the Rams having managed 72 starts, 5,404 rushing yards and 70 all-purpose touchdowns.

Fellow Rams standouts Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey both indicated their displeasure with Gurley's release on social media.

The Falcons have also added pass rusher Dante Fowler and tight end Hayden Hurst, while Austin Hooper left in free agency and cornerback Desmond Trufant was released along with Freeman.

Elsewhere, the Dallas Cowboys have agreed a one-year deal with safety HaHa Clinton-Dix, while guard Stefen Wisniewski has joined the Pittsburgh Steelers on a two-year contract.

Signing New England Patriots icon Tom Brady changes everything for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise who will now look to make history.

The Bucs have not reached the NFL playoffs since 2007 and ended last season very much in the middle of the pack.

But now they are against the clock to claim glory with star quarterback Brady, who will turn 43 before the 2020 season and ended his 20-year stay with the Patriots on Tuesday.

Amid speculation about Brady's future ever since the Pats' Wild Card round playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans in January, the Bucs were not always top of the list of his cited potential destinations.

But it is they who will pair the six-time Super Bowl winner with head coach Bruce Arians, ending former number one overall pick Jameis Winston's role as the team's starting QB.

Fans of the Bucs are already dreaming big, with season ticket enquiries surging in the aftermath of the reports Brady was poised to join, while there has been talk of high-profile players offering up their services.

It is their Raymond James Stadium will play host to Super Bowl LV and no team has ever reached the biggest stage when it has been played at their own stadium. 

But with a proven winner on board, how realistic is a historic championship run for the Bucs?
 

Receiving corps will excite Brady

Brady was not blessed with star receiving talent in his final years with the Patriots.

Last year, an aging Julian Edelman carried the load as Josh Gordon departed, first-round draft pick N'Keal Harry underwhelmed and a mid-season trade for Mohamed Sanu failed to pan out. Antonio Brown was supposed to be the answer, but the saga around the former Pittsburgh Steelers star is one the team will quickly want to forget.

Role players Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers were left to fill gaps and the Pats' tight end depth chart was one of the worst in the NFL after Rob Gronkowski's retirement.

Brady has few such concerns with the Bucs, whose number one receiver Mike Evans has recorded six consecutive seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving, those remarkable numbers coming despite some questionable quarterback play.

Chris Godwin (1,333 yards in 2019) has emerged as an extremely impressive complement to Evans, while two talented TE options in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate provide added firepower.

Brady played behind a strong offensive line in New England but Tampa, despite some issues at the two tackle spots, had a similarly solid 2019 unit, with Ryan Jensen and Ali Marpet standouts who ensured the Bucs' OL, like that of the Pats, was graded in the top 10 by Pro Football Focus.

Arians' risk-taking, downfield scheme may not be a perfect fit for Brady, but the Bucs coach has the experience and expertise to compromise. He leans heavily on his passing attack and has a proven track record in getting the most out of his QBs.

Winston led the league in 2019 passing yards (5,109), but saw his 33 touchdowns coupled with 30 picks.

Brady, despite his slight decline in recent seasons, is still a clear upgrade on Winston. With a dramatic drop in turnovers likely to follow, the Bucs should continue to be one of the league's most productive offenses without the wild swings we have seen before.
 

Defense: A step forward could prove crucial

The Patriots' offensive inefficiencies last year were made up for by a superb defense that led the NFL in points-per-game and yards allowed.

Brady will not have quite the same support system at his new home.

When Dirk Koetter lost his job after the 2018 season, a failing defense had played a key part in his demise. 

Last season, there was some improvement from the Bucs, particularly towards the end of the year, as they finished 7-9.

But the Bucs were 29th out of 32 teams in points allowed and while that improved to 15th in yards-per-game, they were near the bottom of the pack against the pass.

There are pieces to work with, as NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett has received the franchise tag, while Jason Pierre-Paul has re-signed. 

Young cornerbacks Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting have all displayed signs of promise and the Bucs will need them to kick on, showing more consistency.

They used the number five overall pick on linebacker Devin White last season and will be counting on a second-season improvement from him alongside impressive veteran Lavonte David.

If the offense is firing with Brady, the Bucs may only need a middle-of-the-road defense to be competitive, so they will eye a couple of valuable additions in the draft.

Due to their offensive strength, the Kansas City Chiefs went all the way in 2019 with a defense that was far from perfect but contained playmakers and a similar unit could be on the cards in Florida.
 

NFC South among challenges

The Pats have completely dominated the AFC East, winning it 16 times in the last 17 attempts, and have expertly translated those victories into deep postseason runs.

A winning culture shaped by Brady and Bill Belichick led to a dynasty that may never be replicated, with the QB's leadership now key as he enters a new locker room.

As the Cleveland Browns showed last season, establishing a star-studded roster is no guarantee of success and Brady joins a franchise with only one Super Bowl victory in their history, amid a long playoff drought.

Brady's task is made more difficult as he enters an extremely competitive NFC South.

The New Orleans Saints have won the division for three straight seasons, have one of the NFL's best all-round rosters and veteran QB Drew Brees is back for the next two years.

There is quality elsewhere too, as the Atlanta Falcons, boasting the likes of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, have a score to settle with Brady, while the Carolina Panthers start a new era with Teddy Bridgewater.

With Brady, Arians and an impressive supporting cast, the Bucs are among a group of six to eight Super Bowl candidates, but it would be a leap to place them alongside the top favourites just yet.

Having made a seismic signing, their next moves will be watched with greater scrutiny than ever before as a fascinating offseason continues.

Not many, if any, expected Tom Brady to swap the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A fairytale swansong with hometown team the San Francisco 49ers had been touted, while the Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos were also reportedly in the mix.

However, Tampa Bay will become veteran quarterback Brady's new home after 20 incredible seasons in Foxborough.

From six Super Bowl titles to a team without a playoff appearance since 2007, Brady will reportedly earn $30million per season on a two-year contract with Bruce Arians' Bucs.

But why did the Buccaneers turn their backs on former number one pick Jameis Winston for a 42-year-old quarterback? Well the writing was on the wall…

 

October 13, 2019 – Arians on Winston: He has a habit of trying to be Superman

Now an unrestricted free agent and with starting options running out, Winston frustrated Bucs head coach Arians throughout the 2019 campaign.

After throwing five interceptions and managing two fumbles in a 37-26 loss to the Carolina Panthers in London, Arians had some words for the 2015 number one draft pick.

"Throw the damn ball away. He had avoided one [turnover after losing the ball], you might have avoided two, but you aren't throwing it anywhere to a receiver. Throw it away," Arians told the media after the game. "He has a habit of trying to be Superman. That's been a problem in the past. 

"The fumbles haven't occurred this year until today. But, again, trying to make something out of nothing. It's just a matter of knowing when to quit on a play."

 

December 4, 2019 – Arians not ready to decide on Winston's future

Arians was noncommittal on Winston being Tampa Bay's quarterback after 2019.

Amid a difficult season, Arians was asked if he would throw his support behind Winston if quizzed by the Bucs' hierarchy and he told reporters: "I'm gonna pass on that one. I'm gonna wait until the end of December."

"There's been really, really, really good and there's been some really, really bad," Arians added. "I'm gonna pass until it's over and then we'll make a decision."

 

December 21, 2019 – Winston throws four picks

Winston threw four interceptions as the Houston Texans recorded a 23-20 road win over the Buccaneers to seal the AFC South title.

Quarterback Winston completed 25 of his 48 passing attempts for 335 yards, throwing one touchdown with his four picks.

On the day when it was reported the team had decided to retain his services for next season, Winston made the worst possible start by throwing a pick-six to Texans cornerback Bradley Roby on his first attempt and it did not get much better from there.

December 29, 2019 – Winston backs himself despite making unwanted NFL history

Winston insisted "I'm going to be the best" despite making unwanted NFL history against the Atlanta Falcons.

Winston became the first player to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season as the Buccaneers ended their campaign with a 28-22 overtime loss.

He joined the dubious 30-30 club after he was pick-sixed by Falcons linebacker Deion Jones on the first play of overtime in Tampa.

Winston – who became the eighth quarterback in league history to throw for 5,000 yards in a season – said: "I'm focused on how I can get better. I know if I eliminate those, I'm going to be the best. Bar none. You'd better check your sheet.

"If you look at the numbers, I'm balling. I've got to stop giving the ball to the other team. It's not a trick question. I know if I eliminate those [interceptions], I'm going to be the best, bar none."

Arians added: "You look at it and there's so much good and so much outright terrible. We got to weigh that and see what happens."

 

December 30, 2019 – Arians says Bucs can win without Winston

"[If] we can win with this one, we can definitely win with another one too," Arians told reporters. "We're going to have this defense."

Pressed on Winston's future heading into the offseason, Arians said: "It will be a while. I would think in a few weeks we will have a decision on which way we want to head. Will we let it out? Probably not. Because you lose your leverage on that one too. So it's 'stay tuned.'"

"Well, free agency, who's available?" Arians added. "What's behind door number two? That's the first question. Then as you evaluate for the draft, that's another question. Are they better than what you have? Then you evaluate and that's when you make your decisions."

 

February 26, 2019 – Arians names Brady as option

Speaking at the NFL scouting combine, Arians said: "As a head coach, you have to decide. Is there a better option?"

Pressed on free agency, Arians reeled off some names to reporters.

"Tom Brady. Philip [Rivers] is another guy. We'll see," he said.

"When those dominoes start falling, other guys are going to be on the market. I don't want to drag it out very long. It's one thing I want to get done soon."

 

March 16, 2020 – Bucs pass on tagging Winston

After throwing for 5,109 yards in 2019, the Buccaneers opted against using the franchise tag on Winston.

Instead, Tampa Bay used it to keep Shaquil Barrett from becoming a free agent.

 

March 17, 2020 – Brady announces Patriots exit

"I don't know what my football future holds but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and I will always love you and what we have shared - a lifetime full of fun memories," Brady wrote in part via Twitter as he bid farewell to the Pats.

March 20, 2020 - Bucs arrival announced by Brady

Brady confirmed he would be continuing his career with Bucs. In an Instagram post, he wrote: "Excited, humble and hungry ...if there is one thing I have learned about football, it's that nobody cares what you did last year or the year before that...you earn the trust and respect of those around through your commitment every single day. 

"I'm starting a new football journey and thankful for the Buccaneers for giving me an opportunity to do what I love to do. I look forward to meeting all my new team-mates and coaches and proving to them that they can believe and trust in me...

"I have always believed that well done is better than well said, so I'm gonna not gonna say much more - I'm just gonna get to work!"

Tom Brady has confirmed he will join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having left the New England Patriots after 20 years with the team.

The 42-year-old won six Super Bowls and nine AFC Championships in a sensational spell of dominance with the Patriots after being drafted at 199 overall back in 2000.

Intense speculation over his future followed January's playoff defeat to the Tennessee Titans and Brady announced he would be leaving the Pats in posts on social media on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, he confirmed in an Instagram post that his next team will be the Bucs.

According to reports, Brady will be paid around $30million-a-year.

Brady will replace Jameis Winston as the starting quarterback at Raymond James Stadium and work under head coach Bruce Arians, who is entering his second season.

Three-time NFL MVP Brady will be tasked with turning the Bucs’ fortunes around as they bid to end a run that has seen them fail to reach the playoffs since 2007.

They had a 7-9 record in the NFC South last season as Winston led the league with 5,109 passing yards and threw 33 touchdowns but also racked up 30 interceptions.

Brady will look forward to working with some impressive receiving weapons after being starved of quality options with the Patriots recent seasons.

Family considerations are said to have played a part in his decision to remain on the East Coast amid interest from the Los Angeles Chargers but the presence of the Bucs’ Mike Evans and Chris Godwin would have also appealed.

Evans has registered six consecutive 1,000-yard-plus seasons and Godwin went for 1,333 yards last season, while tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate give Brady some other intriguing playmakers.

An improving Bucs defense will again be led by NFL sack leader Shaquil Barrett, who has received the franchise tag, while Jason Pierre-Paul has re-signed with the team in free agency.

A competitive NFC South will be one key obstacle for Brady. Fellow veteran QB Drew Brees is staying with the New Orleans Saints, winners of the division for three straight years.

The Atlanta Falcons, led by Matt Ryan, are three seasons removed from their Super Bowl defeat to a Brady-inspired Patriots, while the Carolina Panthers will have new QB Teddy Bridgewater under center.

The Denver Broncos have released Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco after just one season with the NFL franchise.

It is one and done for Flacco, who will leave the Broncos with a failed physical designation following Thursday's announcement.

Flacco was named the Super Bowl MVP as he led the Baltimore Ravens to glory in Super Bowl XLVII before being traded in 2019.

However, Flacco endured a forgettable season with the Broncos – a herniated disc in his neck ruining the 35-year-old's campaign.

Flacco started eight games for Denver, throwing for 1,822 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions while completing 65.3 per cent of his passes.

Drafted by the Ravens in the first round in 2008, Flacco has compiled a 98-73 record, passing for 40,067 yards, 218 touchdowns and 141 interceptions.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has tested positive for coronavirus, he has revealed.

Payton is the first player or coach in the NFL known to have contracted the virus.

There have been over 13,000 confirmed cases in the United States amid the pandemic, including 185 deaths.

Payton, who has been the Saints coach since 2006, winning Super Bowl XLIV, confirmed his diagnosis to ESPN.

He then posted on Twitter: "Appreciate the well wishes. I'm feeling better and fortunate to not have any of the respiratory symptoms. Four more days at home."

Payton, 56, called on others to listen to the advice of medical experts as he told ESPN: "This is not just about social distancing.

"It's shutting down here for a week to two weeks. If people understand the curve, and understand the bump, we can easily work together as a country to reduce it.

"Take a minute to understand what the experts are saying. It's not complicated to do what they're asking of us. Just that type of small investment by every one of us will have a dramatic impact.

"I was fortunate to be in the minority, without the serious side effects that some have. I'm lucky.

"Younger people feel like they can handle this, but they can be a carrier to someone who can't handle it. So we all need to do our part. It's important for every one of us to do our part."

The new NFL year officially began on time on Wednesday, prompting free agency moves, but the 2020 Draft has been impacted by the outbreak.

The event in Las Vegas will now take place behind closed doors.

Todd Gurley offered a light-hearted response to the news he had been released by the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday.

Running back Gurley was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 and starred again as the Rams reached the Super Bowl the following season.

But the team were less impressive in 2019 as Gurley struggled with knee problems.

His departure was confirmed less than two years into a four-year, $60million contract, prompting outrage from some – including team-mates Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.

Defensive tackle Donald reacted with a single angry emoji, while cornerback Ramsey simply wrote: "Wow."

Gurley appeared in good spirits, though, as he accepted the decision, even making a joke.

Referring to ongoing self-isolation in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic, he wrote: "Damn, I got fired on my day off. #QuarantineAndChill"

The former Georgia star then looked to agree with the assessment of two-time former Super Bowl champion Deion Sanders.

Sanders wrote: "Wow, the Rams release Todd Gurley! Please realise that this is a business that can ultimately take care of your wants and needs.

"When you realise this TRUTH, you will see the game clearly. #Truth"

Gurley quoted the post and added: "All business, nothing personal."

The Los Angeles Rams have released star running back Todd Gurley, the team announced on Thursday.

Three-time Pro Bowler Gurley was selected by the Rams as the number 10 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Gurley moved with the team from St Louis to Los Angeles and was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2017, before helping the Rams to the Super Bowl in the following season.

The 25-year-old former Georgia star managed 72 starts, 5,404 yards and 70 touchdowns in total.

Gurley had signed a four-year, $60million contract less than two years ago but subsequently suffered with knee problems as the offense toiled last year.

Keeping Gurley on the team on Thursday would reportedly have cost the Rams $10.5m, and they opted to release the player when no trade materialised.

Fellow Rams star Aaron Donald responded to the news by replying to a Twitter post from the NFL with a single angry emoji.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey simply posted: "Wow."

The Rams also released linebacker Clay Matthews, who joined the team as a free agent in 2019 and played 13 games.

San Francisco 49ers president Al Guido has confirmed the team are committed to donating $500,000 to support employees and the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 49ers, who reached the Super Bowl last season, are preparing for the 2020 campaign.

The league year is officially under way and play does not yet appear to be under threat due to the outbreak of COVID-19, but the 2020 NFL Draft has already been impacted, with the event – to be held in Las Vegas – no longer open to the public.

The Niners have announced they will be offering their support to the city during the crisis, following in the footsteps of NBA stars across the country - including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson - who have pledged to aid arena staff.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Guido confirmed $500,000 would be donated in total, with an immediate investment of $49,000 to support a newly created fund for non-profit organisations in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

"Our collective strength, resilience, and compassion for one another will see us through these unprecedented times," Al Guido wrote in a post on Twitter.

"We are here for you, and everyone in our community, as we take this challenge head on and work to overcome it together."

San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo said: "The 49ers continue to show their importance to our community during a time of considerable uncertainty.

"Their efforts will aid in protecting vulnerable populations during this crisis. I am grateful for our partnership."

Live sport is proving difficult to come by amid the coronavirus pandemic, so we looked back through sporting history to identify major events or news to occur on this day.

March 19 certainly wasn't short of options, though we managed to nail it down to five occasions that were particularly notable.

They include the indictment of one former baseball player and another returning to the basketball court where he made his name.

Below, take yourself on a trip down memory lane… Or just get a little sporting education.

 

1978 – Nicklaus wins his third Players Championship

Jack Nicklaus enjoyed many a famous victory during his sparkling golfing career, but his win at the 1978 Players Championship was a peculiar one. In demanding weather conditions, with wind wreaking havoc, Nicklaus won his third Players title, beating Lou Graham by a single shot. No one finished the tournament below par, with Nicklaus' one-over 289 incredibly enough to secure him the title.

1984 – Former MLB pitcher McLain indicted

Regarded as a great during his time as a professional pitcher in baseball, Denny McLain's life away from the sport was rather more chaotic. Having gone off the rails after his career ran its course, McLain was charged with racketeering and narcotics violations on March 19, 1984, before being sentenced to 23 years in prison. He served two-and-a-half years, before an appeals court threw out the verdict and set McLain free. He went back to prison in 1996 on charges of embezzlement, money laundering, mail fraud and conspiracy.

1991 – Phoenix stripped of 1993 Super Bowl

The 1993 Super Bowl was due to be held in Phoenix, Arizona. However, the state's lack of recognition for Martin Luther King Jr. Day saw them stripped of the event. President Ronald Reagan had declared Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday eight years earlier and, at the time, Arizona adhered to the legislature. It wasn't until 1987 when Republican governor Evan Mecham took office that the MLK celebration was cancelled. The holiday returned to Arizona in 1993 following a vote the year before.

1995 – Michael Jordan returns

After 17 months away from basketball, during which time he had a spell in baseball, Michael Jordan was back on this day in 1995. Twenty-four hours after Jordan had announced "I'm back", he was playing once again for his beloved Chicago Bulls, scoring 19 points in an overtime 103-96 defeat to the Indiana Pacers.

2019 – Harden makes NBA history

Just last year, Houston Rockets guard James Harden made history when he became the first NBA player to score at least 30 points against every opponent in the league. He accomplished the feat with a haul of 31 in a win over the Atlanta Hawks. Just the game before, Harden had seen his 32-game streak of scoring 30 points or more end – that remains the second-longest such run in NBA history.

A day after Tom Brady's exit from the New England Patriots was confirmed, a deal was struck to send the last quarterback to defeat him in a Super Bowl to pastures new.

Brady is expected to be announced as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer after deciding to end his 20-season association with the Patriots.

However, his change of scenery is far from the only transaction affecting the NFL landscape. Here, we wrap up the significant moves reported to have been agreed as the new league year began on Wednesday.

 

Nick Foles, who got the better of Brady in Super Bowl LII, is reportedly headed to the Chicago Bears after the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to trade him in exchange for a fourth-round pick.

The Jags are parting with Foles just a year after signing the former Philadelphia Eagle to a four-year, $88million contract. He will now provide competition for Mitchell Trubisky, whose role as the Bears' starter is under threat after a disappointing 2019.

Foles' departure allows Gardner Minshew to step in as the starter in Jacksonville. Sixth-round pick Minshew outplayed Foles, who was limited to four games because of injury, last year and will now get the chance to prove he is the Jaguars' franchise quarterback.

Brady's last game as a Patriot came in a playoff defeat to the Tennessee Titans, who made the surprising decision to deal defensive lineman Jurrell Casey to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a seventh-round pick. Casey has at least five sacks in each of the last seven seasons.

The Detroit Lions were also involved in the trade market, acquiring safety Duron Harmon from the Patriots. Detroit agreed to a two-year deal with defensive linemen Danny Shelton. Both players have a connection with Lions head coach Matt Patricia from his time as New England's defensive coordinator.

Another former Patriot, center Ted Karras, is staying in the division, signing a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.

The New Orleans Saints are said to have agreed a deal to bring back safety Malcolm Jenkins after he was let go by the Eagles. Jenkins was drafted by the Saints in 2009 before leaving for the Eagles in 2014.

Their NFC South rivals the Carolina Panthers released safety Eric Reid, while the Atlanta Falcons inked edge rusher Dante Fowler to a three-year contract.

Leonard Floyd will fill the void Fowler's exit left for the Los Angeles Rams, who have re-signed guard Austin Blythe and veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

Elsewhere in the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks have brought back former first-round pick Bruce Irvin, the pass rusher who played a key role in their Super Bowl-winning 2013 season. Reigning NFC champions the San Francisco 49ers re-signed center Ben Garland to a one-year deal.

The Los Angeles Chargers may have missed out on Brady, but they have bolstered their defense with the signing of defensive tackle Linval Joseph. Cornerback Chris Harris also intends to sign with the Chargers.

Cornerback Eli Apple will play a part in the Raiders' first season in Las Vegas, while safety Sean Davis is headed to the Washington Redskins on a one-year deal.

Michael Jordan stunned the world with two simple words 25 years ago.

In an era before innovative social media announcements were the norm, Jordan released a statement through his management company "in response to questions about his future career plans" on March 18, 1995.

His response of "I'm back" signalled the return to basketball of one of the all-time greats.

Here, to mark the anniversary of that press release being issued, we look at Jordan and other greats who performed retirement U-turns.

 

MICHAEL JORDAN

Whether you are an ardent NBA fan or have simply seen Space Jam, you know the story. Chicago Bulls star Jordan retired in 1993 after his team three-peated and shortly after his father's death, stating that "the desire is just not there any more".

For the next year, Jordan turned to baseball as a minor league player as he pursued a dream his father had of his son making it in the MLB. Then, amid rumours he was heading back to the NBA, came that Jordan utterance: "I'm back". 

The Bulls, led by perhaps the greatest ever, would win three successive championships again between 1996 and 1998 at which point Jordan retired once more. He then came back for a two-year stint with the Washington Wizards before finally calling it a day once and for all in 2003.

 

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER

Seven-time Formula One champion Schumacher was 37 when he announced the 2006 season - when he was pipped to the title by Fernando Alonso - would be his last.

However, he remained around F1 as an advisor for Ferrari and returned for Mercedes to race in 2010 saying: "I have the energy back."

He would appear on the podium just once across three seasons, though, and he retired again in 2012, a year before he suffered severe head injuries in a skiing accident.

 

KIM CLIJSTERS

A former world number one and the 2005 US Open champion, Clijsters retired at the age of 23 due to a series of punishing injuries.

Clijsters got married and gave birth in her time away from sport, and then after appearing in an exhibition match held at Wimbledon in 2009, the Belgian returned to the WTA Tour. In just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open, becoming the first unseeded woman to win the tournament in the Open era and the first mother to win a grand slam since 1980.

She triumphed at Flushing Meadows again in 2010 and won the Australian Open in 2011, recently returning to tennis for a third time after a seven-year hiatus.

LANCE ARMSTRONG

American Armstrong retired as a seven-time Tour de France champion in 2005. But the story, of course, didn't end there.

Dogged by doping allegations during his career, Armstrong faced questions again when he returned, aged 37, in 2009 and finished third in that year's Tour.

Armstrong retired once more in 2011 while he was the subject of a federal investigation into doping allegations. Another probe from the United States Anti-Doping Agency led to charges which resulted in Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour titles in 2012, with the cyclist publicly coming clean on his doping the following year.

 

GEORGE FOREMAN

There was a full decade between Foreman's 47th and 48th fights.

He lost on points to Jimmy Young in 1977, falling ill in the dressing room after the bout and suffering what he said was a near-death experience, leading him to find God.

A born-again Christian, Foreman returned at 38. Despite defeats to Evander Holyfield and Tommy Morrison in title bouts, Foreman would become heavyweight champion of the world again in 1994 - at the grand old age of 45 - by stopping Michael Moorer.

BRETT FAVRE

Long-time Green Bay Packers quarterback Favre, the king of indecision, bowed out from the NFL in March 2008, passing the baton to a certain Aaron Rodgers. However, he had a change of heart four months later. The Packers, who wanted to move on with Rodgers, traded Favre to the New York Jets.

After one season with Gang Green, Favre retired again. And then he performed another U-turn, paving the way for him to join the Minnesota Vikings, one of Green Bay's arch-rivals.

He enjoyed by far the best year of his career with the Vikings in terms of quarterback rating (107.2) but Minnesota lost the NFC Championship Game. More indecision followed after that, though 2010 would prove to be the final year of a Hall of Fame career.

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