Martha Firestone Ford is stepping down as principal owner of the Detroit Lions, the team announced on Tuesday.

The 94-year-old Ford had been in charge of the team since her husband, William Clay Ford, died in 2014. Ford's daughter, Sheila Ford Hemp, will take over as the team's principal owner and chairman. 

''It has been a great honour for our family to be associated with the Lions and with the National Football League,'' Ford said in a statement. ''I am gratified that this family tradition, which my husband and I began almost six decades ago, will continue under Sheila's guiding hand.” 

Ford has been associated with the Lions since her husband purchased the franchise for about $6million in 1963, on the day United States President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. 

Since Martha Firestone Ford took over ownership, the Lions have gone 45-50-1 with a pair of playoff berths. 

"Martha Ford has led the Lions with skill and grace for the past six seasons," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

"I have appreciated her business insights, her love of the game, her deep commitment to the NFL, and her personal kindness. We are pleased that the Ford family will continue to own and operate this historic franchise. 

"Sheila Hamp has become increasingly involved in team and league affairs over the past several years and we look forward to working with her and the rest of the club's executive team."

Hemp has been highly involved with the team since her mother took over, attending home and road games and weighing in on significant organisational decisions. 

''My mother has inspired all of us since taking on leadership of the Lions over six years ago,'' Hamp said.

''She has been a tireless leader to our family, our team and our community. Her smart decisions have given me a solid foundation to take the team forward.'' 

Dak Prescott signed his $31.4million franchise tender with the Dallas Cowboys for the 2020 season on Monday, according to reports.

Tagged back in March, Prescott and the Cowboys could still try to work out a multi-year contract extension, and the two sides have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal.

If no deal is worked out by then, they will have to re-negotiate next offseason or the quarterback will hit free agency, although the Cowboys could also choose to franchise him again.

The 26-year-old is entering his fifth season in the NFL and is coming off his best year, finishing second in the league with a career-high 4,902 passing yards and fourth in the league with a personal-best 30 touchdown throws.

Since being drafted in the fourth round in 2016, Prescott has never missed a game, while his 15,778 passing yards ranks sixth in the NFL and his 97 touchdown passes are tied with Carson Wentz for ninth.

Despite being one of the league's top passers, the two-time Pro Bowler has made just $4.9 million through his first four seasons in the NFL.

Brett Favre believes Colin Kaepernick will reach "hero status", comparing the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback to Pat Tillman.

Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since the end of the 2016 season, during which the quarterback attracted controversy by kneeling for the United States national anthem in protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

He filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of a job. Kaepernick settled that grievance in February.

The 32-year-old, who was involved in an NFL workout in November last year, and his message have received renewed attention amid nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.

NFL Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion Favre feels Kaepernick will be held in high regard because he was willing to sacrifice his career to strive for equality.

Arizona Cardinals safety Tillman cut short his NFL career to join the army in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001. He was killed in 2004.

"I can only think of – right off the top of my head, Pat Tillman's another guy who did something similar, and we regard him as a hero," Favre told TMZ Sports.

"So I'd assume that hero status will be stamped with Kaepernick as well."

"It's not easy for a guy his age, black or white, Hispanic, whatever, to stop something that you've always dreamed of doing, and put it on hold – maybe forever – for something that you believe in," Favre said.

Kaepernick has been linked to the Los Angeles Chargers among others and Green Bay Packers great Favre added: "I think from a football sense – I can't imagine him being that far out of shape or that far out of touch with football that he doesn't deserve a shot.

"And he's still young, and hasn't been hit in several years. So there's no reason to think that he's lost that much of a step."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have closed their training facility for sanitation after employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the team said in a release on Saturday.  

The team did not reveal the names of the infected individuals and did not say if players were among them.  

Employees who tested positive – along with those who were deemed to be at risk through contact-tracing – have been told to self-quarantine for 14 days.  

While the training facility has been closed for sanitation, the Buccaneers will keep some employees working in their team office, which remains open.  

The news comes one day after NFL Network reported that a San Francisco 49ers player has tested positive for COVID-19 after training with team-mates in Tennessee.  

All players who were on that workout trip are reportedly to be tested.  

The NFL still plans on starting the 2020 season on September 10, despite a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Some states, including Florida, have seen their largest number of new cases since the start of the pandemic.  

Florida broke its own record for most new cases in consecutive days, with the Florida Department of Health reporting 3,822 positive tests on Friday and showing 4,049 positive tests on Saturday.  

Florida has reported nearly 94,000 confirmed cases and 3,144 deaths from the virus.  

While some other states have seen a recent rise as well, Florida’s numbers are ominous for the U.S. sporting world, with three NFL teams calling the state home and the NBA set to resume its season in Orlando in late July.  

The NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning shut down their practice facility after several employees, including three players, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.  

On the day the United States commemorated the liberation of slaves following the American civil war, statues of two former owners of prominent professional sports teams were taken down due to previous acts of racial injustice. 

The Minnesota Twins removed a monument of Calvin Griffin from the grounds of their home stadium of Target Field as a response to insensitive remarks he made about African-Americans during a speech in 1978. In the nation's capital, Washington officials ordered the removal of a statue of George Preston Marshall that stood outside the Redskins' former home of RFK Stadium. 

Marshall had a long-standing policy of refusing to sign black players for the majority of his ownership of the Redskins, which lasted from the franchise's inception in Boston in 1932 until his death in 1969. The Redskins did not sign a black player until 1962 after being pressured by both the city and national government.  

"We believe that injustice and inequality of all forms is reprehensible and we are firmly committed to confronting unequal treatment and working together toward healing our city and country," Events DC, the convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, said in a statement. "Removing this statue is a small and and overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice. 

"Allowing the memorial to remain on the RFK campus goes against Events DC's values of inclusion and equality and is a disturbing symbol to many in the city we serve." 

The Marshall monument had previously been vandalised by protesters advocating the Redskins change the team name, viewed by many as disparaging towards Native Americans. 

Griffith, who moved the Washington Senators to Minnesota in 1961 and remained the Twins' principal owner until 1984, was quoted by the Minneapolis Tribune as saying he relocated the franchise "when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here." The comments were made during a speech at a Lions club event in Waseca, Minnesota in 1978. 

"While we acknowledge the prominent role Calvin Griffith played in our history, we cannot remain silent and continue ignoring the racist comments he made in Waseca in 1978," the Twins said in a statement. "His disparaging words displayed a blatant intolerance and disregard for the Black community that are the antithesis of what the Minnesota Twins stand for and value. 

"Our decision to memorialise Calvin Griffith with a statue reflects an ignorance on our part of systemic racism present in 1978, 2010 and today. We apologise for our failure to adequately recognise how the statue was viewed and the pain it caused for many people - both inside the Twins organisation and across Twins territory. We cannot remove Calvin Griffith from the history of the Minnesota Twins, but we believe removal of this statue is an important and necessary step in our ongoing commitment to provide a Target Field experience where every fan and employee feels safe and welcome." 

The Twins' actions come amid still-heightened tensions in the Twin Cities following George Floyd's death while in custody of Minneapolis police last month, and took place on Juneteenth - a holiday commemorating the day the U.S. government publicly declared slaves to be free on June 19, 1865. 

United States president Donald Trump suggested Drew Brees caved "under the PR pressure" as he doubled down on his criticism of the New Orleans Saints quarterback.

Earlier this month, Brees issued an apology for comments he made about kneeling during the national anthem, a gesture first made in the NFL by Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when he was protesting racial injustice and police brutality.

The 41-year-old initially said he disagreed with sports stars who take a knee while the anthem is playing, remarks which were made in the wake of the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis last month, prompting demonstrations across the United States and beyond.

Brees' comments sparked responses of outrage, including from team-mates Michael Thomas and Malcolm Jenkins.

He later asked for forgiveness, saying he "completely missed the mark", an apology that drew condemnation from Trump on Twitter.

Trump, speaking in a video with his son Donald Trump Jr. on the Team Trump YouTube page, delved further into the issue, claiming Brees "hurt himself very badly".

"I was shocked, because I consider him a great football player, but I consider him a champion and a star and I didn't understand what was going on," Trump said. 

"And he took it back and I've never seen anything like it and I think he hurt himself very badly. 

"I was going to put out that he'll regret that in the future years because you stand for the flag. You have to stand for the flag and the anthem. Our national anthem, you have to stand. I think the NFL's gonna have a lot of problems if they don't."

Trump suggested Brees does not necessarily believe his own apology and merely acted to stem the wave of criticism coming his way.

"A lot of warriors, they cave under PR pressure because his manager said, 'Oh this isn't right', and his team-mates said, 'This isn't right', and all of a sudden he's out there disclaiming about the flag and the country," Trump added.

"I don't believe he believes his second statement, by the way. He may believe it, but what he should be doing is not talking about the second, he should have stuck with his first."

Frustrated New York Jets safety Jamal Adams is done waiting for a contract extension and has formally asked for a trade.

His request to be traded on Thursday came hours after he vented his displeasure via Instagram with the lack of headway on a new deal.

"I'm [going to] protect myself just like an organisation will look out for themselves at the end of the day," the two-time Pro Bowler wrote.

"And, if you guys don't respect that, cool. It's all [love]. Maybe it's time to move on!"

While Jets general manager Joe Douglas has maintained he wants Adams to be a Jet for the rest of his career, the 24-year old is fed up with the contract talks going nowhere and Thursday's post was his second Instagram rant in five days.

"I can't even get my first proposal that they said they would send over in January," Adams wrote on Saturday. "I was called 'selfish' tho! Lol A lot of talk no action."

The sixth overall pick of the 2017 draft, Adams is entering the fourth year of his five-year rookie deal. He is under contract for $3.6million this season and $9.9m in 2021.

Adams, who was named an All-Pro last season after finishing with a career-best 6.5 sacks, is likely looking to be one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL.

The San Francisco 49ers will hope to have one of their top playmakers fit for the start of the regular season after wide receiver Deebo Samuel broke his foot while working out with a team-mate. 

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Samuel suffered a Jones fracture and is expected to be out for between three and four months. A 12-week recovery puts his return in the first few weeks of the season. 

The team later confirmed the receiver underwent surgery on his left foot on Thursday. While they did not indicate a timescale for his return, Samuel tweeted: "10 weeks I'm back better than the Deebo you seen before".

A rookie in 2019, Samuel was second on the 49ers in receptions and receiving yards, finishing with 57 catches for 802 yards, and caught three touchdown passes. 

In the playoffs, the 24-year-old emerged as Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite target with team highs of 10 receptions and 127 yards.

He had five catches for 39 yards in the 49ers' Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is not convinced there will be a 2020 NFL season the way it is currently scheduled with the coronavirus pandemic still prevalent.

The NFL's chief medical officer, however, says the league could alter the way it is planned. 

Players are scheduled to arrive in training camps in another month, and the season is set to kick off on September 10, with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

The season is then set to proceed with the normal travel schedule as all games are slated to take place in each team’s own stadiums without fans.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is not sold on that plan. 

"Unless players are essentially in a bubble - insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day - it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall," Fauci said Thursday on CNN. 

"If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year."

The NBA is resuming with a “bubble” of 22 teams converging on the Walt Disney Resort near Orlando next month. All games will be played there, and the players will be tested regularly and must adhere to strict physical distancing and mask-wearing policies. 

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills responded to Fauci’s comments later on Thursday, saying the league is addressing tsafety concerns and is open to changes. 

"Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches, and other essential personnel," Sills said in a statement. 

"Make no mistake, this is no easy task. We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel, and attendees. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed."

One major obstacle for the NFL is dealing with the spread of the coronavirus within a sport that involves constant contact among humans. Sills acknowledged last month that with all the physical contact, there will be positive tests of COVID-19 among players. 

Both Fauci and Sills' remarks came one day after Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson became the latest NFL player to test positive for the coronavirus. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci is not convinced there will be a 2020 NFL season the way it is currently scheduled with the coronavirus pandemic still prevalent.

The NFL's chief medical officer, however, says the league could alter the way it is planned. 

Players are scheduled to arrive in training camps in another month, and the season is set to kick off on September 10, with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans.

The season is then set to proceed with the normal travel schedule as all games are slated to take place in each team’s own stadiums without fans.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is not sold on that plan. 

"Unless players are essentially in a bubble - insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day - it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall," Fauci said Thursday on CNN. 

"If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year."

The NBA is resuming with a “bubble” of 22 teams converging on the Walt Disney Resort near Orlando next month. All games will be played there, and the players will be tested regularly and must adhere to strict physical distancing and mask-wearing policies. 

NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills responded to Fauci’s comments later on Thursday, saying the league is addressing tsafety concerns and is open to changes. 

"Dr. Fauci has identified the important health and safety issues we and the NFL Players Association, together with our joint medical advisors, are addressing to mitigate the health risk to players, coaches, and other essential personnel," Sills said in a statement. 

"Make no mistake, this is no easy task. We will make adjustments as necessary to meet the public health environment as we prepare to play the 2020 season as scheduled with increased protocols and safety measures for all players, personnel, and attendees. We will be flexible and adaptable in this environment to adjust to the virus as needed."

One major obstacle for the NFL is dealing with the spread of the coronavirus within a sport that involves constant contact among humans. Sills acknowledged last month that with all the physical contact, there will be positive tests of COVID-19 among players. 

Both Fauci and Sills' remarks came one day after Denver Broncos safety Kareem Jackson became the latest NFL player to test positive for the coronavirus. 

HBO's Hard Knocks show will have co-headliners for the first time, as the network and NFL Films announced on Thursday they will include both Los Angeles franchises for this year's training camp docuseries. 

'Hard Knocks: Los Angeles' will focus on both the Rams and Chargers as each prepare for their first seasons as co-tenants in the brand-new SoFi Stadium in nearby Inglewood. The five-episode series will debut Aug. 11.

"We are looking forward to having Hard Knocks in our camp this year," Rams coach Sean McVay said.

"Hard Knocks always offers a rare opportunity for our fans to see our players' hard work to prepare for the season, as well as gives them a peek behind the curtain to observe these guys off the field, too.

"This year will be special because the show will also get an unprecedented look at SoFi Stadium, (Rams owner) Stan Kroenke's vision for professional football in L.A."

The Rams were previously featured on the show in 2016, the first year of their return to Los Angeles after a 21-year run in St. Louis.

They will join the Dallas Cowboys (2002, 2007) and Cincinnati Bengals (2009, 2013) as the only teams to appear twice on Hard Knocks, which HBO has aired every summer since 2001 but has chronicled only one team in prior seasons.

HBO also announced it has extended its agreement with NFL Media and NFL Films to produce the series in future years.

"NFL Films cherishes the relationship we've had with HBO for over four decades, and specifically with the Hard Knocks franchise since 2001," NFL Films senior executive Ross Ketover said.

"To be able to announce this extension as we embark on an unprecedented two-team series this summer brings us incredible pride and only heightens our excitement for the return of football."

The Chargers will also be ushering a new era in multiple ways, having parted with longtime quarterback Philip Rivers during the offseason and selecting Oregon signal-caller Justin Herbert in the first round of this year's draft. The Rams, meanwhile, will be attempting to bounce back from a disappointing 9-7 campaign in 2019 after reaching the Super Bowl the previous season.

The two Los Angeles teams are based around 80 miles apart, with the Chargers located in Costa Mesa and the Rams in Thousand Oaks.

The NFL has mandated that teams hold their training camps at their own facilities this year for health and safety reasons related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kareem Jackson has become the latest NFL player and second Denver Bronco to test positive for coronavirus.

Jackson told NFL Network's James Palmer he tested positive on Wednesday after having flu-like symptoms, chills and being congested.

The 32-year-old becomes the second known NFL player this week to be diagnosed after Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott on Monday.

Broncos star pass rusher Von Miller announced in mid-April he contracted coronavirus to become the second NFL player to publicly announce a positive test following Los Angeles Rams center Brian Allen.

It is unknown when Jackson contracted the virus, but he did participate in a march in Denver earlier this month to protest racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd.

A first-round pick out of Alabama in 2010 by the Houston Texans, Jackson spent his first nine seasons in Houston before joining Denver in 2019.

He was fourth on the Broncos in tackles last season with 71 and had two interceptions to give him 18 in his career.

The San Francisco 49ers ensured Kyle Shanahan will be their head coach for the long term by signing him to a new contract on Monday.

Shanahan signed a fresh six-year deal with the 49ers and will remain at the helm through the 2025 season. His previous deal contracted him to the Niners through 2022.

Should he see out the entirety of his contract, Shanahan will become the second-longest tenured head coach behind the legendary Bill Walsh.

The Niners' decision to extend Shanahan's stay follows a 2019 season that saw him lead the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV, in which they suffered a dramatic defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs.

As the Stats Perform data shows, Shanahan has authored one of the more impressive turnarounds in NFL history, making it no surprise that the 49ers have made sure they will not be losing his services any time soon.

SAN FRANCISCO ON CLOUD NINE

The 49ers went 13-3 in the regular season in 2019, Shanahan's third year in charge, having gone 4-12 in 2018.

San Francisco's 2018 performance was heavily impacted by the torn ACL quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered early in the season, but the upturn they enjoyed was still startling.

Indeed, their nine-win improvement was the largest in the history of the 49ers franchise. San Francisco became one of just 10 teams in NFL history to improve by nine wins from one year to the next.

Only two teams, the 2008 Miami Dolphins and the 1999 Indianapolis Colts, have bettered their win tally by 10 from the previous campaign.

AN OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION 

Shanahan is widely regarded for his acumen as an offensive play-caller and he has had a transformative impact on San Francisco's attack.

In the two seasons before he took over, 2015 and 2016, the Niners finished 32nd and 27th in points per game. They were 31st in total yards per game in each of those seasons.

The influence of Shanahan was quickly felt in a 2017 campaign that saw the Niners go 6-10.

They were 20th in points per game and 12th in yards per game, with their revival in both categories undoubtedly impacted by the October trade for Garoppolo, who led the 49ers on a five-game winning streak to end the year.

Without Garoppolo for 13 games in 2018, the 49ers were 21st in points per game and 16th in yards per game.

However, with their quarterback available for a full season in 2019, the Niners joined the league's elite in both metrics. San Francisco's tally of 29.9 points per game was good enough for second in the league, while the 49ers were fourth in yards per game (381.1) in a year that saw them make history in a variety of fashions.

HISTORY MAKERS

By progressing to the Super Bowl, San Francisco became the third team to do so after four consecutive losing seasons, following in the footsteps of the 1981 49ers and 1999 St. Louis Rams.

Additionally, the Niners were only the second team to contest the season-ending showpiece having lost 12 games in the prior campaign, again replicating the 1999 Rams.

Dominant on both sides of the ball, the 49ers finished in the top five on offense and defense for the first time since 1995.

Offensively, their success was built largely on a near unstoppable running attack. Three 49ers running backs went over 500 yards rushing for the season, marking the first time the Niners achieved that feat since 1954.

When passing the ball, the Niners did an excellent job of spreading it around and finished the season with 13 players catching a touchdown, tying an NFL record.

The 49ers kept the bulk of their Super Bowl team around this offseason and, with Shanahan contracted for at least another six seasons, there is reason to believe they will spend much of this decade threatening more NFL milestones.

Colin Kaepernick fits the Los Angeles Chargers' style at quarterback, according to the team's head coach Anthony Lynn.

The Chargers are happy with their three current options at the position in Justin Herbert, Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick but do have Kaepernick, 32, on a workout list.

Lynn feels fellow NFL teams would be "crazy" if they did not have him listed as one of their own options as a potential signing.

Kaepernick has been out of the league since the end of the 2016 season, during which he attracted controversy by kneeling for the United States national anthem in protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

He was involved a workout for teams in November last year and his cause has received renewed attention amid nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.

"It would be crazy to not have him on your workout list," Lynn told reporters.

"I haven't spoken with Colin, not sure where he is at as far as his career [goes], what he wants to do, but Colin definitely fits the style of quarterback for the system that we are going to be running. 

"I'm very confident and happy with the three quarterbacks that I have but you can never have too many people waiting on the runway." 

Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of a job, a case which was settled in February.

Following his apology to players for the league's previous stance on protests, commissioner Roger Goodell this week said he is encouraging teams to sign the former San Francisco 49ers QB.

Las Vegas has yet to host an NFL game, but the city has proved it is up to the task to hold a celebration. 

The NFL announced on Tuesday that Las Vegas will host the 2021 Pro Bowl at the Raiders' new Allegiant Stadium home on January 31.

"We look forward to partnering with the Raiders and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority [LVCVA] to bring the excitement of Pro Bowl week to our Las Vegas fans and community for the first time," Peter O'Reilly, NFL EVP of club business and league events, said in a statement. 

This will be the first season the Raiders play in Las Vegas, and the NFL had scheduled this year's draft to take place on the Las Vegas Strip until the coronavirus pandemic forced it to be held remotely.  

While Las Vegas was not able to host the draft festivities this year, during the broadcast of April’s first round, Roger Goodell announced that the city has been awarded the 2022 draft, with the commissioner saying: "We think you deserve another shot." 

Las Vegas will now become the 11th host of the Pro Bowl since 1950, after Orlando, Florida had the last four. 

"The Raiders welcome the NFL Pro Bowl to Allegiant Stadium and to Las Vegas, the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World," Raiders president Marc Badain said.

"Pro Bowl week is a celebration of the best the NFL has to offer and there is no better place than Las Vegas to celebrate and honour the league's biggest stars.

"The NFL, the LVCVA and the Raiders look forward to a world-class event that will set the standard for future NFL events in Las Vegas." 

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