Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut did not go according to plan, while last season's Super Bowl participants the San Francisco 49ers started their 2020 NFL campaign with a loss.

Legendary quarter Brady struggled as the Buccaneers went down 34-23 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 on Sunday.

As for the 49ers, they were upstaged by Kyler Murray's Arizona Cardinals 24-20 in San Francisco.

 

BRADY'S BUCS BEATEN

Brady has taken his Super Bowl-winning expertise to Tampa Bay, but the six-time NFL champion endured a tough debut against NFC South champions the Saints.

A high-profile recruit from the New England Patriots following 20 years in Foxborough, Brady threw two interceptions in the team's season opener.

The 43-year-old had a pick-six, finishing 23 of 36 for 239 yards and two touchdowns, while he was sacked three times.

Brady started well, scoring a two-yard touchdown. He led a nine-play, 85-yard drive, completing his two passes for 37 yards before running the ball into the endzone for the first points of the game.

But Brady turned the ball over twice, with the second turnover resulting in a touchdown for the Saints' Janoris Jenkins.

It was a far better outing for fellow veteran quarterback Drew Brees, who passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, without turning the ball over – throwing TD passes to Alvin Kamara and Emmanuel Sanders in New Orleans.

 

CARDINALS RALLY AMID GAROPPOLO WOES

The Cardinals – led by their star QB Murray – completed a comeback to upstage the highly rated 49ers on the road.

Murray's throw to DeAndre Hopkins set up Kenyan Drake's one-yard score with just over five minutes remaining as the Cardinals topped the 49ers.

The Cardinals overcame a pair of fourth-quarter deficits thanks to Murray, who threw for 230 yards and a touchdown, while running for 91 yards and another score.

It came as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggled as criticism grows.

After a disappointing display in the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, further questions have been raised after Garoppolo led just one scoring drive in the second half.

Garoppolo finished 19 of 33 for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and he missed two crucial throws, with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan saying: "He's gotta play better. We've all gotta play better. The entire offense missed opportunities."

 

RAMS OPEN NEW STADIUM WITH WIN

In their first game at SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Rams topped the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 behind a career-high 79 yards and two touchdowns from Malcolm Brown.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff passed for 275 yards, while Cowboys counterpart Dak Prescott was 25 of 39 for 266 yards and a touchdown.

Number one draft pick Joe Burrow put the Cincinnati Bengals in a position to claim a dramatic last-gasp win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

But after running 23 yards for a touchdown, Burrow watched Randy Bullock miss a 31-yard field goal with seven seconds to play as the Chargers prevailed 16-13.

 

Week 1 scores:

Seattle Seahawks 38-25 Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens 38-6 Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills 27-17 New York Jets
Las Vegas Raiders 34-30 Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears 27-23 Detroit Lions
Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 Indianapolis Colts
Green Bay Packers 43-34 Minnesota Vikings
New England Patriots 21-11 Miami Dolphins
Washington Football Team 27-17 Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona Cardinals 24-20 San Francisco 49ers
New Orleans Saints 34-23 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Chargers 16-13 Cincinnati Bengals
Los Angeles Rams 20-17 Dallas Cowboys

Cam Newton helped the New England Patriots get off to a winning start and the Chicago Bears staged a remarkable late comeback against Detroit Lions in the NFL on Sunday.

The Pats were comfortable 21-11 winners against the Miami Dolphins in their first game since Tom Brady's departure, with Newton contributing two rushing touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Bears hit back at Detroit, who had linebacker Jamie Collins ejected for making contact with an official with his helmet in a bizarre incident.


PATS UP AND RUNNING POST-BRADY

The Pats kicked off a new Brady-less era at Gillette Stadium with a routine opening-day victory thanks in no small part to the performance of Newton.

The 2015 MVP scored the 59th and 60th rushing TDs of his career, going 75 yards on 15 carries while also throwing 15 of 19 for 155 yards.

Sony Michel also rushed home from a yard out in the fourth quarter after Jordan Howard had given the Dolphins some temporary hope.


TRUBISKY DRAGS CHICAGO BACK FROM THE DEAD

Chicago scored 21 unanswered points on three touchdown passes from Mitch Trubisky to claim an improbable 27-23 win at Detroit.

The hosts carried a three-score lead into the final quarter yet somehow failed to see out victory

Trubisky picked out wide receiver Anthony Miller for a diving 27-yard touchdown catch with a little under two minutes remaining complete the fightback.

Detroit lost Collins in the second quarter, the linebacker ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct after lowering his head and made contact with an official as he appeared to signal another incident.


RODGERS DISMANTLES MINNESOTA

Aaron Rodgers looked back to his old self, helping himself to a couple of touchdown passes in the second quarter of the Green Bay Packers' 43-34 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

He did not look back from that point on, finishing with four touchdown passes, Davante Adams profiting from two of those, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling also got in on the act.

There was also a scintillating quarterback display from Russell Wilson in the Seattle Seahawks' 38-25 victory against Atlanta Falcons.

Wilson threw for 322 yards and four TDs for the Seahawks, who saw Greg Olsen and Carlos Hyde register debut scores.


JACKSON RESUMES MVP FORM
 
Lamar Jackson was nine-of-10 for 180 yards on throws of 10 yards or more downfield, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Willie Snead, as the Baltimore Ravens beat Cleveland Browns 36-6. 

He completed 20 of 25 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns in total in a formidable performance, helping the Ravens win a season opener by more than 30 points for a third straight season.

It was a tighter contest in the clash between the Carolina Panthers and the Las Vegas Raiders, meanwhile, with the latter clinching a slender 34-30 road win.

Josh Jacobs rushed for three touchdowns, one of those a six-yard scoring run with 4:08 left, to inspire the Raiders to victory in their debut as Las Vegas' NFL team


JACKSONVILLE SHOCK COLTS

The Jaguars got off to a 1-0 start by overcoming divisional rivals Indianapolis Colts 27-20 at EverBank Field.

The Colts, in their first game with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, were second best against a Jaguars side containing a number of rookies.

Andrew Wingard intercepted with less than five minutes of a tight contest remaining to set up Josh Lambo's second field goal in a surprise result.

Elsewhere, the Washington Football Team - inspired by Peyton Barber - rallied to beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17 from a 17-0 deficit.

Barber ran for two touchdowns in Ron Rivera's debut game, profiting from some poor defensive play from their opponents.


Week 1 scores:

Atlanta Falcons 25-38 Seattle Seahawks
Baltimore Ravens 38-6 Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills 27-17 New York Jets
Carolina Panthers 30-34 Las Vegas Raiders
Detroit Lions 23-27 Chicago Bears
Jacksonville Jaguars 27-20 Indianapolis Colts
Minnesota Vikings 34-43 Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots 21-11 Miami Dolphins
Washington Football Team 27-17 Philadelphia Eagles

The new NFL playoff format will see seven teams from each conference reach the postseason, and that presents the division widely regarded as the league's best with an opportunity for history.

A realignment of divisions following the addition of the Houston Texans to the league in 2002 had made it impossible for four teams from the same division to reach the playoffs.

That is no longer the case in the wake of playoff expansion, though, providing the NFC West with the chance to do what the five-team AFC East last did back in 1998.

With division champions the San Francisco 49ers still considered the class of the NFC by many and the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals all likely to be competitive, there is a clear possibility all four could be playing postseason football come January.

How likely is that? Here we look at each team to assess the chances of the NFC West having three wild card teams to go with its division winner.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are attempting to avenge their Super Bowl LIV agony. Kyle Shanahan's team were minutes away from lifting the Lombardi Trophy before Patrick Mahomes propelled the Kansas City Chiefs to glory.

It is typically usual for great defensive teams as the 49ers were in 2019 to experience some kind of regression and San Francisco traded All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason.

However, the Niners still have a ferocious pass rush and a dynamic offense overseen by arguably the league's premier play-caller in Shanahan. The addition of seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams as a replacement for the retired Joe Staley could see a devastating running game get even better while tight end George Kittle is the most versatile offensive weapon in the game.

The question surrounds quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo – maligned by some after the Super Bowl loss – and whether he can take the step forward to keep the Niners atop the conference. With Shanahan calling the plays, the smart money is on Garoppolo and the 49ers silencing the doubters.

Seattle Seahawks

On offense, the Seahawks are the inverse of the 49ers. There are no doubts about their quarterback but there are plenty around the coaching staff's ability to maximize his MVP skill set.

Despite Seattle's bizarre focus on running the ball rather than putting the game in the hands of Russell Wilson, they have missed the playoffs only twice in Pete Carroll's 10 seasons as head coach and the Seahawks were inches away from beating the 49ers in Week 17 and winning the division last year.

There are concerns about the pass rush after Jadeveon Clowney was not re-signed but an underrated secondary was significantly bolstered by the acquisition of All-Pro safety Jamal Adams in a blockbuster trade.

The hope will be that Adams can slow down Kittle and the 49ers. That may be wishful thinking but, as long as Wilson is around to perform his trademark late-game heroics, there appears little chance of Seattle missing out on an expanded postseason.

Los Angeles Rams

Had playoff expansion happened before last season, the Rams would have made the postseason in 2019, a fact that serves as evidence their 'Super Bowl hangover' was not as bad as perceived.

Head coach Sean McVay was overshadowed by Shanahan last year but he remains among the league's best in terms of play-calling acumen. He should continue to put Jared Goff in favourable positions in 2020 but the success of the Rams' quest to get back to the playoffs hinges on two things: their offensive line and their defensive coordinator.

Injuries and a decline in performance from the O-Line was a significant factor in a disappointing 2019 for Los Angeles. They chose to bring back veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth and the hope is that better continuity up front will fuel a committee group of runners to production the departed Todd Gurley was unable to deliver last year.

Brandon Staley is a relative unknown that has the huge responsibility of replacing legendary defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. To his advantage is that he gets to coach perennial Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and the new highest-paid cornerback in football Jalen Ramsey.

If he delivers a resurgence on that side of the ball, expect the Rams to again be a force in the NFC.

Arizona Cardinals

After an Offensive Rookie of the Year season from 2019 first overall pick Kyler Murray, the Cardinals have been the darlings of the offseason.

The stunning trade for All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins won them more admirers who anticipate an exciting offense helping Arizona challenge in the division.

While the NFL is an offense-first league, there is not enough on defense in Arizona to provide the support needed for the Cardinals to contend for the division title.

Pass rusher Chandler Jones is frequently in the Defensive Player of the Year mix and Budda Baker is a versatile playmaker at safety, but a lack of talent elsewhere on defense should stymie their hopes of an NFC West crown.

The offense could be productive enough to keep them in the mix for a wild card berth, however, in a loaded conference, Arizona's shortcomings when Murray is not on the field may just be what stops the entire NFC West from going to the playoffs in 2020.

NFL Sundays are back with a bang this weekend as Tom Brady and Drew Brees duel in New Orleans.

The two future Hall of Famers are set to face each other twice this year following ex-New England Patriots quarterback Brady's decision to join the Saints' NFC South rivals the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason.

Six-time Super Bowl winner Brady - the league's most decorated quarterback - will be aiming to bring the success he enjoyed in New England to a Bucs team deprived of postseason action in recent years.

Here, using Stats Perform data, we take a look at some of the most intriguing Week 1 matchups.

 

FEATURE GAME

Bucs at Saints - Sunday, 4.25pm (all times Eastern)

- Tampa Bay have gone 12 straight seasons without making the playoffs, the second-longest drought in the NFL (Cleveland Browns, 17 straight). The Buccaneers have not won a playoff game since defeating the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003.

- Brady has joined the Buccaneers after 20 seasons and 285 career games played with the Patriots – the most games with a franchise all-time by a player who subsequently played for another team. Brady has an all-time best .774 career win percentage as a starting QB (minimum 100 starts); the Bucs' .387 all-time win percentage is the worst among current franchises.

- The Saints have won the NFC South three straight years, posting a 13-3 record in each of the last two. They are the fourth NFC team since the merger to have back-to-back seasons of 13-plus wins, joining the 1985-86 Chicago Bears, 1989-90 San Francisco 49ers and 1996-97 Green Bay Packers; no NFL team has ever had three straight 13-win seasons.

OTHER KEY GAMES

Browns at Ravens - Sunday, 1pm

- Since the franchise returned in 1999, the Browns are 1-19-1 in season openers, with the lone win in 2004 versus Baltimore (20-3). Every other team has won at least seven season openers in that span. 

Seahawks at Falcons - Sunday, 1pm

- Ten of the Seattle Seahawks' 11 wins last year – and two of their five losses – came by eight points or fewer. They joined the 1978 Houston Oilers as the only teams in NFL history to win 10 one-score games in a season (defined as seven points when there was no two-point conversion rule, and eight points when there was).

Chargers at Bengals - Sunday, 4.05pm

- Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow will be trying to become the first Heisman-winning QB drafted first overall to win his first start in the NFL since Jim Plunkett in 1971.

Cardinals at 49ers - Sunday, 4.25pm

- In their three-game postseason run in the 2019 campaign, the 49ers outrushed their opponents 612 yards to 212 yards, the best playoff differential for any team since Washington in 1982 and the best all-time by a non-champion.

Cowboys at Rams - 8.20pm

- The 2019 Los Angeles Rams finished third in the NFC West with a 9-7 record. Los Angeles were 7-0 when allowing fewer than 17 points last season, but just 2-7 when allowing 17 or more.

ELSEWHERE...

Dolphins at Patriots - 1pm

- When Cam Newton starts for the Patriots on Sunday, it will snap a streak of 471 consecutive games – regular season and playoffs – in which the Pats have started a QB that they drafted. This is the longest such streak in NFL history.

Bears at Lions - 1pm

- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is set to make his 150th career start on Sunday. His 41,025 career passing yards are already the most by any QB through 150 career starts, with only Aaron Rodgers (40,715) also reaching the 40,000 mark.

Free agent wide receiver Josh Gordon has re-signed for the Seattle Seahawks, according to his agent.

Gordon remains suspended indefinitely for violation of the NFL's policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse, though he applied to be reinstated in June.

That was Gordon's sixth suspension since the 2013 season and the fifth for substance abuse.

He played in five games for the Seahawks last season prior to his suspension, having started the campaign with the New England Patriots.

When he has been on the field, Gordon has been productive. He led the NFL with 1,646 yards in 2013 – his second year with the Cleveland Browns – though that remains the only campaign in which he went over 1,000 yards receiving.

Gordon, a Pro Bowler in 2013, has played in 63 games since entering the NFL in 2012 and he has made 247 catches for 4,252 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said the NFL franchise are monitoring Antonio Brown as they weigh up a move for the seven-time Pro Bowler.

Brown – a free agent – will serve an eight-game suspension after breaching the NFL's personal conduct policy following a January incident in Florida.

The 32-year-old wide receiver is looking for a new home after being cut by the New England Patriots, who axed Brown after just 11 days and one game in September.

Seattle have emerged as a possible destination and Carroll addressed the Seahawks' rumoured interest in Brown on Monday.

"What I'd say to you is what we always say because it's what we always do and who we are," Carroll said.

"[General manager] John [Schneider] is competing at every turn. There's never been a process, unless we just missed it, that we weren't involved with to understand what the chances were of helping our club.

"He's all over it. He understands what's going on right now, as much as you can. It's a very complex situation.

"We just need to see where it fits somewhere down the road. That's all I got for you."

Having entered the league with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010, Brown has amassed 11,263 receiving yards and caught 75 touchdowns in his career.

Carroll, meanwhile, said the Seahawks are "very open" to reuniting with star wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Gordon was banned indefinitely in December for violations of the NFL's policies on performance-enhancing substances and substances of abuse.

A Pro Bowler, Gordon – who would become an unrestricted free agent if and when he is reinstated – made five appearances for the Seahawks last season after he was released by the Patriots in November.

"It's not in our hands," Carroll said. "Josh did a really good job with us last year. He fit in really well. He was part of this team by the way we opened and embraced his coming to us but also by the way he adapted.

"So we are very open to that thought and we'll see what happens. I don't know. I can't tell you what's going to happen on that."

Jamal Adams says his "plan is to retire" with the Seattle Seahawks after being traded by the New York Jets.

The All-Pro safety was last week shipped to the NFC West franchise by the Jets, who landed two first-round draft picks, a 2021 third-rounder and Bradley McDougald in exchange for Adams and a fourth-round selection in 2022.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas had previously expressed a wish to make Adams "a Jet for life", with the defensive back saying at the time "I want to be a Jet for life too".

However, the relationship between Adams and the Jets deteriorated in recent months after the 24-year-old became angry at hearing his name in trade rumours last season.

Adams' frustration at not getting a new contract led to him requesting a trade last month and he then took public shots at both head coach Adam Gase and Douglas shortly before the trade went down.

The Seahawks have inherited the final two years of Adams' rookie contract but his wish to become the highest-paid safety in the league has not gone away.

"The plan is to retire here," Adams told reporters.

"This is my plan. But obviously, those things handle themselves. When all you have to do is just go on the field and perform, do the right things on and off the field, and those things will take care of itself, man.

"So I'm very excited to be here. I know the rest of the guys are excited to have me, and the coaching staff, and everybody else. So again, man, we'll worry about that when the time comes."

Given the Jets had Adams had under contract through 2021, it seemed he had little leverage to try and force his way out of New York.

But the two first-round picks ultimately swayed Douglas and left Adams elated that he had a fresh start elsewhere for his fourth season in the league.

"When I got the call, honestly, I broke down in tears of joy," Adams added.

"A lot of mixed emotions. I'm gonna miss a lot of the guys over there. But at the end of the day, man, this was my calling. This was where I need to be."

Adam Gase cited Jamal Adams' reluctance to remain a part of the New York Jets as one of the reasons behind his blockbuster trade to the Seattle Seahawks.

All-Pro safety Adams was shipped to the Seahawks on Saturday in a move which cost Seattle two first-round picks and defensive back Bradley McDougald.

While the haul the Jets recouped was significant, they gave away their best player of the past decade, and one who was under contract for at least the next two seasons.

However, Adams' relationship with the Jets had been strained ever since his name did the rounds in trade rumours midway through the 2019 campaign, and he publicly took shots at both Gase and general manager Joe Douglas just a day before the move was announced.

Upon learning he had been dealt, Adams - who had requested a trade from the Jets this offseason having been frustrated at a lack of progress on contract talks - filmed himself smoking a cigar and Gase suggested his desire to leave was a motivating factor behind his departure.

"Every situation is different with every player. For us, we look at it as we want guys who want to be here," Gase told reporters on a conference call.

"Obviously he didn't want to be here anymore so the decision was made to move on.

"It's a team game. We've got a bunch of guys that are excited to get going and those are the guys that I'm going to focus on. I'm extremely fired up to get this roster that Joe D and our personnel guys did a great job of assembling this offseason.

"From the conversations I've had with a lot of guys, they're extremely excited to get this thing rolling."

Adams had suggested Gase, who led the Jets to a 7-9 record in his first year as head coach in 2019, was not "the right leader" for a franchise with a recent history of repeated woe.

Yet the Jets head coach elected not to bite back at Adams on Tuesday.

"We wish him nothing but the best," Gase added.

"He was an incredible talent that I feel lucky enough to be around for that year. The whole situation ends up being a win-win for both sides."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlos Hyde believes the NFL can prove it is making progress by bringing back quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Amid anti-racism protests in the United States and around the world after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month, the NFL apologised for not listening to its players earlier.

Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem, starting in 2016, in protest against racial injustice and police brutality, but that was the last season the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback played in the NFL.

Hyde, a former team-mate of Kaepernick's at the 49ers, said the quarterback should be signed by another team.

"The NFL could start by signing 'Kaep' back," the Seattle Seahawks running back said on Monday.

"If they sign 'Kaep' back, that'll show that they're really trying to move in a different direction. 'Kaep' was making the statement four years ago about what's going on in today's world, and the NFL didn't bother to listen to him then.

"I think they should start by doing that."

Hyde, who signed with the Seahawks last month, said he agreed with Kaepernick's move in 2016.

"I remember 'Kaep' making his peaceful protest, and I was all for it. I understand the message he was putting out," he said.

"I understood, because I came from Cincinnati, Ohio – Lincoln Heights in Cincinnati, it's not the best area. I would see police brutality, pretty much everybody in the neighbourhood struggling, violence, drugs, all that. There's not opportunity there.

"I was fortunate enough to have my grandmother live in Naples, Florida, so I was able to get away from all of that and pretty much start my life over.

"But not everybody is fortunate enough to have grandparents who live other places. So with that, I was all for what 'Kaep' was saying, I'm still for it."

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is praying to see the end of "a lot of hate" in the United States as protests continue in the country.

Protests have broken out across the USA in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest last week.

Seahawks star Wilson, who has played in the NFL since 2012 and is a Super Bowl winner, is hoping for change in the country.

"Ultimately, it's a lot of pain, there's a lot of history in America. There's a lot of hate in America, there's a lot of division. I pray that we can be better as people," he told reporters via a video call on Wednesday.

"Some of this police brutality is staggering, and honestly that's not something I understand fully. It's pretty emotional just to watch some of the videos. Even in Seattle, my home, watching the things happening there, it's pretty heavy.

"It's important that we understand that being black is a real thing in America, it's a real thing in the sense of the history and pain, even my own family personally – my great, great grandparents were slaves.

"There's a lot of history there, and what I'm praying for is that we learn how to love and to communicate and to overcome, to try to have perspective."

Wilson, 31, said he had a "heavy heart" as he considered the future of his family.

"The reality is that me as a black person, people are getting murdered on the street, people are getting shot down, and it's not like that for every other race," he said.

"I think about my stepson, I think about my daughter, I think about our new baby boy on the way. It's staggering to watch these things happen right in front of our faces. So I have a heavy heart right now."

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson made their first public statements since the death of George Floyd sparked protests against racially driven police brutality in the United States.

Floyd died in police custody last Monday in Minneapolis when an officer kneeled on his neck while he lay handcuffed on the ground, leading to widespread demonstrations and riots in multiple American cities.

Wilson said he fears for the lives of his children in the current climate, recalling stories he heard of the tension and violence of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, saying, "The past has never left us."

"As a stepdad to one of the most amazing kids I've ever known, a young boy with so much passion, talent, intelligence, and love for others; as a father to one of the most bright, brilliant and vibrant young girls in the world and a new baby boy on the way . . . I fear," Wilson wrote on Twitter.

"I fear for their lives just like my grandmother feared for my dad's life and the lives of her other children. I fear because of the colour of their beautiful chocolate skin.

"The video of George Floyd broke my heart. Seeing someone's life taken so cruelly makes us want to rage and lash out. 

"But then I ask myself, what would George Floyd want? He told us. He just wanted his mother. He wanted his life. He simply wanted to breathe."

Mahomes said he has been "blessed to be accepted" as a mixed-race man and hopes sports can provide a blueprint for greater racial harmony in the future.  

"The senseless murders that we have witnessed are wrong and cannot continue in our country," Mahomes said. "All I can think about is how I grew up in a locker room where people from every race, every background, and every community came together and became brothers to accomplish a single goal. 

"I hope that our country can learn from the injustices that we have witnessed to become more like the locker room where everyone is accepted. We all need to treat each other like brothers and sisters, and become something better."

Mahomes, the 2018 NFL MVP, led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory in February, while Wilson is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who helped the Seahawks win the Super Bowl following the 2013 season.  

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