Buffalo Bills fans who donate to a local coronavirus fund will enter a prize draw to be on the phone when their first draft pick is called in later this month.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane has encouraged fans to follow his lead after donating $20,000 to an effort set up for organisations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

As an incentive to encourage people to contribute to the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund, the Bills are offering numerous prizes.

One winner will be on the phone with Beane when he calls in the Bills' first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, which is due to be the 54th overall pick in the second round.

Beane has also offered to host a lunch, take part in a one-to-one Zoom question-and-answer session and bring a fan to a Bills practice session.

Game tickets and an autographed Josh Allen jersey are some of the other prizes on offer.

"I thought with the draft coming up in a few weeks, that this would be a nice distraction for people who are going through tough times right now," Beane said.

"We know how enthusiastic Bills fans are, so I'm just trying to find a way to engage them and to open up opportunities that fans don't have access to generally and to inspire them to get involved."

He added: "We're a community that's blue-collar. We're going to all work together and get through this.

"While we're facing a worldwide pandemic, we must start relief efforts in our area first. What better way to get our fans involved? We've seen how passionate they are from their work with other charitable groups."

Former New England Patriots and NFL star Rob Gronkowski has made a successful transition away from American football, winning his first WWE belt at WrestleMania 36.

Gronkowski – who retired from the NFL in 2018 – made his WWE debut at WrestleMania almost three years ago, while the 30-year-old appeared on Smackdown for the first time last month.

WWE is continuing with events behind closed doors at its performance centre in Orlando, Florida, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gronkowski captured the 24/7 Championship during the second night of the event's broadcast on Sunday, in front of no fans.

The three-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowler pinned Mojo Rawley after a huge stage dive to become a titleholder.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is donating 10,000 N95 masks to distribute amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Irsay made the announcement via Twitter on Sunday, with the masks to be donated to Indiana State Department of Health.

The 60-year-old wrote: "We must fight and fight WE MUST! We must win and WIN WE MUST! We must fight for, protect, Inspire and pray for every Hoosier that draws a breath in faith or in doubt!

"In UNITY NOTHING can defeat us! HOOSIER POWER AND UNITY......#AmericanLiberty."

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc globally, with more than 69,300 deaths and over 1, 200,300 confirmed cases.

In the United States, the death count has exceeded 9,500, while confirmed cases have climbed above 334,700.

Coronavirus has brought sport to a standstill across the world, including the NBA, NHL and MLB.

However, the NFL is hopeful the 2020 season will get underway as scheduled in September.

 

Tom Dempsey, who once held the record for the longest NFL, has died of coronavirus, the New Orleans Saints confirmed.

Dempsey, 73, played for the Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills across an 11-year NFL career that began in 1969.

He won All-Pro honours as a rookie and converted the longest field goal in each of his first three NFL campaigns, feats all the more impressive as he was born without toes on his kicking foot.

On November 8, 1970, Dempsey slotted over a then-NFL record 63-yard effort against the Detroit Lions.

That was a standalone record until Jason Elam equalled it in 1998. It was not until 2013 that the mark was finally bettered by the Denver Broncos' Matt Prater.

Dempsey, who was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1989, continued to live in New Orleans after his career finished and had been battling Alzheimer's disease and dementia since 2012.

A statement from Saints owner Gayle Benson read: "The New Orleans Saints family is deeply saddened and heartbroken at this most difficult time.

"Tom's life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations.

"He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humour.

"He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."

United States president Donald Trump is unsure when sport can resume in the country, but hopes it is "sooner rather than later".

With the coronavirus pandemic having brought sport to a standstill around the world, Trump spoke with leaders of the USA's leagues and organisations via a call on Saturday.

The NBA, NHL, MLS, PGA Tour and NASCAR seasons were among those suspended, while the start of the MLB campaign was pushed back and there are concerns over the NFL.

Trump hopes to see sport resume shortly, telling a media conference: "I want fans back in the arenas.

"Whenever we're ready, as soon as we can obviously and the fans want to be back too, they want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey, they want to see their sports.

"They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice, clean, beautiful fresh air."

Asked about a possible resumption, Trump said: "I can't tell you a date.

"But I think it's going to be sooner rather than later. We're not going to have to have separation for the rest of our times on the planet.

"We need it for this period of time, but eventually people are going to be able to occupy those seats in arenas next to each other, like we have for all of my life and all of your life."

More than 64,000 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, with the death toll in the USA exceeding 8,400.

Josh Allen believes the Buffalo Bills are building something "special" as he expressed his delight over the arrival of wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Buffalo traded four draft picks, including their first-round selection for this year, to acquire Diggs, who had a career-high 1,130 receiving yards for the Minnesota Vikings last season.

The 26-year-old has racked up 4,623 yards in five NFL seasons and Bills quarterback Allen is in no doubt his team have acquired a unique talent.

After reaching the Wild Card round in 2019, Allen is aware the Bills are under pressure in 2020, a year where they will no longer face Tom Brady in the AFC East.

"What we have going on is a special thing," Allen, who is heading into his third year, told reporters. 

"I understand how big of a year it is. [Diggs] is a huge, huge boost for our offense and for our team in that aspect. He's one of the best route runners in the league.

"He makes these unbelievable contested catches, the run after catch ability that he has when he's got the ball in his hands. It's pretty remarkable. To have a weapon like that, it makes me super happy.

"That should make our other guys super happy too just because attention is going to have to be elsewhere. If teams want to try and double team Stefon, it will open up other things in our offense.

"He gets open and he has shown he is able to do this for the few years he has played in the league - a big-time player and he has got the respect of every defense out there. 

"When he can run routes and double move and get open and consistently make plays, that becomes a quarterback's best friend." 

Meanwhile, Diggs' former Vikings teammate Adam Thielen was sad to see his fellow wideout leave.

"Obviously, it's a bummer that he's not here because it was such a fun duo to be able to work off one another and things like that, whether it be practice or games,'' Thielen said, per the Pioneer Press. 

"So, I'm definitely going to miss that, but it will be fun to see him have success somewhere else.

"I have so much respect for him of how hard he works, how he approaches the game of football. I've learned so much from him as far as a receiver, how to run routes, different things like that. 

"We've talked since he got traded. He is one of my good friends and will be for the rest of our lives.'"

Jadeveon Clowney may remain unsigned, but Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has shown he is not unwanted.

The first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is yet to agree terms with any of the 32 franchises since free agency started last month.

Clowney spent last season with the Seahawks after being traded from the Houston Texans and though he only had three sacks - his lowest total since an injury-hit rookie year - the defensive end forced four fumbles and had two touchdowns via a fumble return and an interception.

The 27-year-old's inconsistent play might have dissuaded some teams, yet Wilson wants the Seahawks to bring him back to Seattle.

Asked if he could "talk some sense into Clowney" during an Instagram live video, Wilson said: "I need you, homie.

"Clowney come back. Don't leave me, don't Clowney, don't leave us. We need you, bro.

"Anyways, Clowney, I love playing with you, bro. Hopefully we get to do it some more - that's what the fans want."

Trading DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals was in the Houston Texans' "best interest", Bill O'Brien has said.

Three-time All-Pro Hopkins is one of the NFL's finest wide receivers having amassed 8,602 receiving yards and 54 touchdowns in the seven seasons since Houston selected him in the first round of the 2013 draft.

However, in a stunning trade last month, he was moved to the Cardinals along with a fourth-round draft pick this year in exchange for running back David Johnson and two selections in the second and fourth rounds over the next two years.

O'Brien explained that Hopkins, who is under contract for the next three years, wanted an improved deal that the Texans were unwilling to offer.

"I would say the deal with Arizona was a deal that we felt was in the best interest of our team," O'Brien said on a conference call with Texans season-ticket holders.

"DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player here. He made so many plays for us. We love DeAndre Hopkins. But he had three years left on his deal and he wanted a raise. And we weren't going to be able to go in that direction.

"We felt like we had a great offer from Arizona that involved picks. That involved an excellent three-down running back who is hungry and humble and just can't wait to get started. David Johnson is going to be a great addition to our football team.

"There's a lot of things that go into trades. Lot of thoughts that go in. How much are you going to take on contractually? How much does it take to buy that second-round pick, that number 40 pick?

"What type of player are you bringing in? What type of player are you losing and what is in the best interest of the team?"

It is not the first time O'Brien, who also acts as the general manager in Houston, has been involved in a blockbuster trade.

Three-time Pro Bowler Jadeveon Clowney was shipped to the Seattle Seahawks last year while the Texans have no first-round picks in the next two drafts due to the package O'Brien sent to the Miami Dolphins to land left tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills.

"Capital T capital E capital A capital M - everything that we do is made with the team in mind," O'Brien added.

"We don't think about one player; we think about the future."

Blaine Gabbert has returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will compete to be named as Tom Brady's backup quarterback.

The 30-year-old was with the Bucs last year but suffered a dislocated shoulder in the preseason, meaning he did not see competitive action.

Ryan Griffin is the other QB on the roster after the departure of former number one overall pick Jameis Winston, who remains a free agent.

The Bucs confirmed the return of Gabbert on Friday, with his contract reportedly a fully guaranteed one-year deal.

Gabbert has 48 career starts in his NFL career, having previously represented the Jacksonville Jaguars, San Franciso 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans.

He was selected at number 10 in the first round of the 2011 draft by the Jags, and previously worked with Bucs head coach Bruce Arians in Arizona.

The free agency signing of Brady, who left the New England Patriots after 20 years, has the Bucs dreaming of a Super Bowl appearance at their home stadium at the conclusion of the 2020 season.

They have not reached the playoffs since 2007, but have a stellar cast of receiving talent to work with Brady.

Brady was this week allowed to claim his trademark number 12 jersey by previous holder Chris Godwin, while Gabbert will again wear 11.

Nick Foles is excited by the prospect of competing to be the Chicago Bears' starting quarterback after the team confirmed they would hold an "open competition" at the position.

Former Super Bowl champion Foles was brought in by the Bears in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a fourth-round draft selection.

That move piled the pressure on incumbent starter Mitchell Trubisky, whose job is now under threat three years after he was drafted at number two overall by general manager Ryan Pace.

Foles, 31, has already spoken to Trubisky and hopes they can put the team first going into training camp. 

"The opportunity to be a full-time starter and do those things is something any player would love to do in the right situation," Foles told reporters. "It's an opportunity I'm excited for.

"Mitch and I have already talked and we want to start out on the right foot. Ultimately, it's all about what’s best for the Chicago Bears."

Pace and head coach Matt Nagy have praised the way Trubisky has taken to the challenge of Foles arrival.

"With the addition of Nick Foles it's exactly what we talked about from the start - we want to create competition," Pace said. 

"We've talked to both players and it's an open competition. We understand the focus is on the quarterback position.

"It's been a focus for us with the addition of Nick Foles. We've increased competition at a critical position, we talked to both players, and credit to both those guys for embracing it."

Nagy believes the blame for Trubisky being unable to hit the heights of other QBs in the early stages of his NFL career should be shared.

"What we're trying to do is what's best for the Chicago Bears, plain and simple," he said. "You could feel how much of a competitor Mitch is. He's embracing it and he's excited to get back to work.

"Part of the conversation we discussed, too, was understanding the big picture. I know Mitch gets a lot of this, but we could have been a lot better coaching, schematically. I could have been a better head coach.

"And then as we all know, we can all be better as players around him as well. That's the focus there.

"Mitch has had an unbelievable personality throughout it. All he wants to do is be the best quarterback he can be for the Chicago Bears.

"And when we walk in on the first day, whenever it is, Mitch will be first in the huddle."

The Kansas City Chiefs have signed wide receiver Sammy Watkins to a new one-year deal.

Watkins was not a free agent but there was speculation over his future with the team with him due to count $21million against the salary cap in the final year of his previous contract.

However, the Chiefs and Watkins have agreed to a restructure that will keep him with the Super Bowl champions while giving them a much-needed cap saving of around $5m.

Watkins, 26, can earn up to $16m in the terms of his new deal, though his base salary has been reduced from $13.75m to $9m, with $7m available to him in incentives.

He will count $16m against the cap with his new deal, a figure which also includes $7m from his original signing bonus.

Confirming the deal on Twitter, Watkins posted: "I'm back KC LETS GET IT..! #RUNITBACKTOUR".

Watkins played a crucial role in the Chiefs' Super Bowl LIV triumph last season, catching 14 of his 18 targets in the postseason for 288 yards and a touchdown.

His most important contribution came on a 38-yard catch in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, which set up Damien Williams' go-ahead touchdown in their 31-20 comeback win over the San Francisco 49ers.

 

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is working on the team's NFL Super Bowl title defence from his basement amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 is wreaking havoc globally, with sport brought to a standstill – the Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021, while the NBA is among the leagues on hiatus.

NFL teams are preparing for this month's draft, ahead of the start of the season in September, and Reid is still working hard, albeit from a different location.

Reid, who led the Chiefs to glory in Super Bowl LIV, told reporters on Thursday: "I wish I could take you on a virtual tour of this thing.

"It's kind of classic. I'm sitting in my basement, literally. I've got an arc trainer sitting here in case I want to jump on that to get a little exercise.

"I've got my monitor set up, along with my computer, my iPad right next to that. And I've got one of my wife's antique tables here, a little coffee table that I'm using to throw everything on. But I'm in the basement, yeah. You know what? It's not bad.''

"We stay as current as we can through information from the league. We're approaching it like we're having a season," Reid added. "I think it's twofold, because it can be a real positive energy-giver back to the country at a time of maybe need for that.

"At the same time, we're very sensitive to everything going on. But as far as the offseason goes – again, we're out of the office until they let us know that we can get ourselves back in and so I've got different plans that I've kind of set up for different stages of [the offseason], whether it's virtual work or whether they let us back in the building for field work. Whatever it is, I've put together plans for that. And then we'll just take it day by day and see what presents itself.''

The Chiefs were scheduled to start offseason conditioning on April 20 – three days before the NFL Draft – with practice to follow in May.

"We've got a little time before that,'' Reid said. "We'll just see what direction it goes. That's normally a time we use for conditioning workouts. If we're allowed to do that virtually, we can go ahead and do that at that time. We'll try to stay in touch.

"If we're allowed to visit with the players with our Webex units or whatever, we can do that. We're prepared to do all of that. And then if they're allowed back in the building, we're good with that. We've got that all planned out, too.''

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry signed his $10.2million franchise tender, the NFL franchise announced on Thursday.

The move ensures 2019 Pro Bowler and Titans star Henry is officially under contract for the 2020 season.

Tennessee have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal to replace the franchise tag.

On Wednesday, Titans general manager Jon Robinson said: "I think any time a player, when you have to use the tag on them, that's something that ideally they probably don't want.

"But still, at the same time, I know that he wants to be a part of this football team and I thought it was good that they communicated back he does want to be here, and he does want to keep working on this thing.

"It wasn't something like, 'OK, well, I'll take the [tag] and I'm done, or I am just going to do whatever.' He wants to be here, and he conveyed the message to me, through his agent, that he wants to keep working on this thing and we do, too."

Henry led the NFL in rushing in 2019, finishing the regular season with 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns as Tennessee made the playoffs.

The 26-year-old also played a pivotal role in their run to the AFC Championship Game, going for 182 and 195 yards respectively in upset road wins over the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens.

Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane believes the New England Patriots remain the team to beat in the NFL's AFC East, despite Tom Brady's switch to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Legendary quarterback Brady swapped the Patriots for the Buccaneers via free agency, after winning six Super Bowl titles in Foxborough.

The Patriots have dominated the AFC East following 11 consecutive titles but with Brady moving to the Buccaneers and Stefon Diggs joining the Bills, Buffalo have been tipped to rise to the top.

However, Beane told reporters during a videoconference on Thursday: "The team to beat in the East is the Patriots. And until somebody beats them, they are the team to beat.

"As long as [head coach] Bill Belichick's there, you're talking about probably the greatest head coach of all time that was paired with the greatest quarterback of all time.

"So until we beat them, we've done nothing, and we've got our work cut out for us."

Brady spent 20 years with the Patriots, often taking down the Bills – who lost a wild-card playoff against the Houston Texans last season.

The Bills (10-6) finished second behind the Patriots (12-4) in the AFC East in 2019.

"I candidly did not expect Tom to leave," said Beane, who did not celebrate a win over Brady before his switch to the NFC.

"Playing against him, I go back and forth. You know you always want to take down the best," Beane said. "And that's probably the disappointing thing as I sit here – in my time, we didn't beat Tom Brady. And so, we'll have to find another way to play Tampa to be able to maybe beat him before he hangs them up."

The New England Patriots' team plane has been used to transport 1.2million protective masks to medics fighting coronavirus in Massachusetts and New York.

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker tweeted a photo of the Patriots' plane being loaded up, thanking the Kraft family "and several dedicated partners" for their role in getting protective equipment to front-line workers.

The Boeing 767, which is emblazoned with the team's logo and six Super Bowl victories, departed Shenzhen, China on Wednesday and is expected to land in Boston on Thursday, with Pats owner Robert Kraft and his family having paid a reported $2m towards acquiring the masks.

"It is an honour for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission," Robert Kraft said in quotes published on ESPN.

"We knew that purchasing greatly needed N95 masks and providing the Patriots plane to expedite their delivery to local hospitals would immediately help protect our courageous healthcare professionals.

"Multiple organisations across the public and private sectors, all of which were in lockstep with governor Charlie Baker's visionary leadership, worked together to execute this mission with the purpose of helping save lives.

"I truly hope that in doing so, we can in some way inspire others to find creative ways to give more in support of our doctors, nurses and first responders. It's nice to care for those who provide such compassionate care for us."

Of the total, 300,000 masks will be sent to nearby New York state, one of the United States' worst-affected regions, where there have been over 83,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

There have been over 210,000 confirmed cases of the virus across the USA, the most of any country in the world, while over 5,000 people have died.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.