Tom Brady knew his time with the New England Patriots was coming to an end before the start of last season and insists he has no concern for his legacy after signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brady left the Patriots last month after winning six Super Bowl titles in a storied 20-year spell that saw him established as the greatest quarterback of all time.

He subsequently signed a two-year contract with the Buccaneers after finally entering free agency at the age of 42.

Appearing on The Howard Stern Show on Wednesday, Brady was asked why he did not simply retire with his legacy secured after the Patriots' playoff defeat to the Tennessee Titans in January.

"I never cared about legacy, I could give a s*** about legacy," Brady replied. "It's just not me, it's not my personality.

"It was just time, I don't know what to say other than that. I accomplished everything I could in two decades with an incredible organisation.

"I probably knew before the start of last season that it was my last year. I knew our time was coming to an end."

New England head coach Bill Belichick was reportedly keen to move on from Brady and go with Jimmy Garoppolo as the Patriots' starting quarterback before the latter was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in October 2017.

Quizzed on whether he felt any lack of loyalty from Belichick when he heard that speculation, Brady said: "I think he has a lot of loyalty.

"So many wrong assumptions were made about our relationship or how he felt about me. I know how he felt about me.

"I got into uncharted territory as an athlete because I started to break the mould of what so many other athletes had experienced as an older athlete. He started to plan for the future, I don't fault him for that."

There are doubts as to whether the 2020 NFL season, due to start in September, will even take place as the United States battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked about the possibility of playing games without any fans, he responded: "I would play [behind closed doors].

"I don't think anyone has any great predictions for how this is going to turn out."

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is worried the impending digitisation of the NFL – powered by lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders due to the coronavirus pandemic – leaves sensitive team information vulnerable to online theft.

With team activities postponed indefinitely due to public health concerns, teams are likely to conduct season preparations through videoconferencing applications, possibly even transferring playbooks online.

Harbaugh spoke about the issue during a pre-draft news conference, saying that he has already reached out to the team's information technology department about securing communications.

"It's a big concern," Harbaugh said. "Hopefully we'll be okay. I really wouldn't want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable, if we can stay away from that."

Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta, however, joked that executive vice president Ozzie Newsome had a better chance of leaving the team's draft board vulnerable in his car than a hacker would have of stealing a digital copy.

The league announced on Monday that team facilities would remain closed indefinitely, with teams' offseason workout programs normally scheduled for this month. Coaches and front offices now face the challenge of preparing for the 2020 season from home.

Former Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who is projected to be selected late in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft, reportedly underwent core-muscle surgery on Tuesday. 

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo said Aiyuk had the surgery after dealing with the issue for months, and doing so now will give him time to recover with the NFL delaying the start of its offseason workout program due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Aiyuk played two seasons in junior college before joining Arizona State in 2018 and recording 33 catches for 474 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions. 

He broke out in 2019 with 65 receptions for 1,192 yards to go along with eight TD catches. Aiyuk finished 15th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in receiving yards while being named a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection. 

His 1,192 receiving yards in 2019 rank fifth all-time for Arizona State in a single season. 

Miami Dolphins linebacker Vince Biegel signed his tender offer for the 2020 season, the NFL franchise announced on Monday.

Biegel, 26, was a restricted free agent who received an original-round tender which will pay him $2.132million in 2020.

The three-year veteran started 10 games for the Dolphins last season and recorded career highs with 59 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception.

Miami acquired Biegel from the New Orleans Saints for veteran linebacker Kiko Alonso in September.

A fourth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in the 2017 Draft, Biegel appeared in nine games as a rookie but was waived prior to the start of the 2018 season.

Biegel then signed with the Saints and took part in 14 games, primarily on special teams, in 2018.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne signed a one-year restricted free agent tender offer worth $3.259 million on Monday to stay with the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers placed a second-round tender on Bourne last month, and by signing the deal he will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Bourne was third on the 49ers last season in receptions with 30 and was tied with Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle for the team lead with five touchdown catches.

He had 23 receptions that went for first downs, and that 76.7 percent of catches for first downs ranked 10th in the NFL among the 155 players with at least 30 receptions.

The third-year pro added six catches for 88 yards and one touchdown in the playoffs, including two receptions for 42 yards in San Francisco's Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

On the six occasions Bill Belichick has lifted a Lombardi Trophy over the past two decades, Cleveland Browns fans are reminded of what might have been.

Twenty-five years ago, Belichick was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, a team considered one of the Super Bowl favourites having gone 11-5 and won a playoff game in 1994.

Then, at 4-5 in early November, Browns owner Art Modell announced he was moving the team to Baltimore the following year. The wheels came off, the Browns finished 5-11 and Belichick was fired.

The Browns' players and staff went to Baltimore, where they had success with the Ravens, while Belichick rebounded in style with the New England Patriots.

Cleveland had another franchise four years later, the Browns inheriting the team's history and getting the new stadium Modell had sought, but the 'new' Browns have been something of a laughingstock.

So what if the 'original' Browns had remained in Cleveland and Belichick had stayed in charge? The NFL world would sure look an awful lot different.

 

BELICHICK WOULD HAVE BUILT A RAY LEWIS-LED CLEVELAND DYNASTY

Belichick's coaching record speaks for itself. Had he stayed in Cleveland, he would have been a success.

The Browns had a playoff roster already and their staff from that 1995 season included a raft of future head coaches and general managers - Belichick, Ozzie Newsome, Scott Pioli, Jim Schwartz, Eric Mangini, Mike Tannenbaum and Thomas Dimitroff. There was simply too much brainpower for that organisation not to have become a serial winner.

Then there were the first two draft picks that Newsome and the Ravens inherited from the Browns and spent on offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and linebacker Ray Lewis - two future Hall of Famers.

Forget New England, Cleveland would have been the NFL's powerhouse in the 2000s.

BALTIMORE'S RAVENS WOULD HAVE BATTLED MEDICORITY

Baltimore won a Super Bowl in just their fifth year and had sustained success thanks to Newsome's brilliance and Lewis' tone-setting displays on defense.

Even if the city, once home to the Colts, had been awarded an expansion franchise in 1999, they would have struggled as almost all expansion franchises do.

Between them the Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans - the NFL's three most recent expansion franchises, have yet to win a Super Bowl. And the Browns were effectively a franchise expansion when they returned in 1999, too.

Take out Newsome and Lewis - the foundations on which Baltimore's success has been built - and any team would have toiled.

 

TOM BRADY GETS LOST IN THE MIX

Belichick certainly owes a debt of gratitude to Tom Brady, the unheralded sixth-round draft pick in 2000 who turned into the NFL's greatest quarterback of all time with the Patriots.

Brady's determination means his talent was always likely to shine through and he would surely have got his shot.

However, without Belichick's brilliant defensive gameplan to thwart the 'Greatest Show on Turf' for Brady's first ring in his second season, where would 'Tom Terrific' be?

Belichick's defense played a huge role in at least half of Brady's Super Bowl wins. Maybe Brady had a successful career without Belichick. But the GOAT? Don't bank on it.

 

CLEVELAND, NOT BOSTON, COULD HAVE BEEN THE CITY OF CHAMPIONS

Since 1995, Boston's sports teams have combined to win 12 major titles in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL. In Cleveland, where there is admittedly no NHL team, the Cavaliers' 2016 NBA Finals triumph stands alone.

In the mid-90s the Cavs were playoff regulars, while the Indians went to two World Series only to narrowly lose in 1995 and 1997, perhaps burdened by the weight of expectation in a city starved of sporting success for so long.

Had the Belichick-led Browns lifted multiple Lombardis like the Patriots, that winning feeling might have rubbed off on the city's other franchises, as it seemed to do in Boston. 

Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney described releasing Cam Newton as one of the most difficult decisions he has had to make.

Quarterback Newton was cut by the Panthers, who had previously given him permission to seek a trade, last month.

Hurney drafted Newton first overall in 2011, that selection vindicated as the dual-threat star went on to win the MVP award in the 2015 season, which ended in Super Bowl 50 defeat to the Denver Broncos.

Newton's departure, which came after injury-hit seasons in 2018 and 2019, was an acrimonious one, the 30-year-old criticising the Panthers organisation and claiming he never asked for a trade.

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Hurney would not go into detail as to why the Panthers released Newton.

Hurney said: "In fairness, I'm not getting into the details of our decision-making process

"You have to make difficult decisions every year, and this was probably one of the most difficult. I mean, I drafted Cam.

"We all know everything he's brought to the organisation, both on and off the field, so it was extremely difficult.

"We put a lot of time, thought [and] communication into every decision we make, and as soon as we make those decisions, we act on them.

"So as soon as we did, I called Cam's representatives and told them that we were going to start calling teams about seeing if there was trade interest in Cam.

"I think it came out publicly the next day.

"When we got to a point where we thought that it didn't seem like we were going to make a trade in the near future, we thought it was in the best interest for everybody to release him."

The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater, who was previously with their NFC South rivals the New Orleans Saints, to be their starting quarterback in the wake of Newton's release.

"He's a very talented quarterback. I've always liked him," Hurney said of Bridgewater.

"He's got great feet in the pocket. I think he's got good vision, a quick release. He's got good accuracy.

"I think everybody you talk to, they talked about his leadership skills, and he's got familiarity with [offensive coordinator] Joe Brady's system since Joe was down there in New Orleans with him.

"He's certainly a guy who's overcome adversity and has, really if you look at it, he's won everywhere he's been, so we thought he'd be a good fit for us."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all 32 teams on Monday that said league and club facilities will remain closed indefinitely and the 2020 Draft will be in a fully virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Goodell said the league's decision is in response to the advice of medical and public health experts as well as government authorities that have extended the duration of orders requiring residents to shelter in place to avoid the spread of the virus.

The draft will be conducted entirely outside of team facilities and in a fully virtual format from April 23-25.

Club personnel will be separately located in their homes and will be able to communicate with one another and their draft headquarters by phone or internet.

Goodell added that the NFL staff will also operate in separate locations outside of the league offices. 

The NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the 2010s All-Decade Team on Monday, with 52 players and two coaches earning the honour.

Quarterback Tom Brady was one of eight players unanimously voted to the team.

Brady topped all quarterbacks during the decade with 138 wins, including the playoffs, and led the New England Patriots to Super Bowl titles in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Aaron Rodgers was the other quarterback on the team, beating out NFL career passing leader Drew Brees.

Rodgers won the Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in 2010 and posted 106 victories, including the postseason, to finish second behind Brady in wins.

Brees' 99 combined victories with the New Orleans Saints were the third most in the NFL.

Running back Adrian Peterson, offensive linemen Joe Thomas and Marshal Yanda, defensive linemen J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald, linebacker Von Miller and kicker Justin Tucker were also unanimous selections.

Darren Sproles became the fourth player ever to be named to an All-Decade Team at multiple positions as he was selected as a punt returner and an offensive flex player.

New England's Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks were the two coaches selected, with Belichick joining former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll as the only coaches to be on two All-Decade Teams.

Belichick led the Patriots to the playoffs in each season during the decade and won three Super Bowls with Brady as his quarterback.

Carroll coached the Seahawks to eight playoff appearances and a Super Bowl title in 2013.

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.'"

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