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NFL’s stay-at-home order means no travel for training camp

Tim Flynn was looking forward to one final year as the mayoral host of training camp for the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California.

So much for that.

The pandemic forced the NFL to abandon, at least for this year, the fading but still time-honored tradition of teams traveling to training camp.

The league’s version of a stay-at-home order will end the latest California run for the Cowboys, stop the 54-year streak for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and keep the Carolina Panthers away from the only campsite the 25-year-old franchise has known.

And Flynn won’t get that final, formal goodbye with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Camps are scheduled to start July 28.

“It’s a little bit of a disappointment for me individually because I’m moving on,” said Flynn, who is running for another office in Ventura County after 14 years on the Oxnard City Council, the last eight as mayor.

“But you know what? I’ll still be able to see the practices. I just won’t be mayor doing it. That’s kind of like my own special relationship there.”

Flynn is confident the Cowboys will be back after one year in Texas. Dallas will hold the entirety of camp in its home market for the first time. It will be in the sparkling facility that opened four years ago and can handle the logistics because of an indoor field that can keep players out of the Texas heat.

But even before the opening of the sprawling complex 30 minutes north of Dallas, Flynn said he never worried about whether Jones would quit bringing the Cowboys to California.

Likewise, Flynn isn’t concerned that Jones & Co. will suddenly realize they have everything they need in the suburb of Frisco and don’t have to make the NFL’s longest trip for training camp: about 1,500 miles.

Among the biggest assets about 60 miles north of Los Angeles are mild weather and two side-by-side outdoor grass fields next to a hotel that houses all players, coaches and staff members.

“There’s just nothing that can replace it,” Flynn said. “The lure of California will always be there. And if not just for the Cowboys, it is for many other teams. But we have a very special relationship with the Cowboys and we want that to continue.”

Officials with Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, are preparing for the permanent departure of the Panthers. The club is building a practice facility in Rock Hill, still in South Carolina but about 40 miles closer to downtown Charlotte.

When the new building opens, training camp and everything else will be held there — as it is with the majority of NFL teams. For decades, most or all teams trained elsewhere in the summer. That number has dwindled to single digits.

Wofford, the alma mater of former owner Jerry Richardson, built locker rooms and facilities specifically for the expansion Panthers, who debuted in 1995.

“We’ve enjoyed hosting them, made a lot of friendships and learned a lot,” said athletic director Richard Johnson, who was Wofford’s men’s basketball coach when the Panthers showed up.

“I think the ancillary benefit to hosting camps is you get kind of the side benefit, the expertise of that organization. We’re going to miss that. It’s always good to have visitors on campus. So we’re gonna miss that as well.”

Saint Vincent College in Latrobe hasn’t seen a summer without the Steelers since 1965, when they trained in Kingston, Rhode Island, before splitting the 1966 camp between the University of Rhode Island and Saint Vincent.

In a brief statement after the NFL announced that teams would stay home, Steelers President Art Rooney II said the club planned to return to Latrobe next year.

The Cowboys had a 27-year streak in Thousand Oaks, not far from Oxnard, that ended in 1990, a year after Jones bought the team and fired longtime coach Tom Landry. The club has bounced between Texas and California since. The latest streak in Oxnard lasted eight years.

The Buffalo Bills have trained about a 90-minute drive from home at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, since 2000, and their current deal covers next season.

Sean McDermott has preferred shorter stints away from home, and there’s been speculation the fourth-year coach wants to spend the entire time at the Bills’ facility. McDermott takes issue with such talk.

“I think there was some myth, for some reason, mixed messaging early,” said McDermott, who has led the Bills to the playoffs twice in three seasons after Buffalo missed the postseason 17 straight years. “I just believe in that for a lot of reasons, one of which is getting away I think builds fellowship and camaraderie.”

Super Bowl champion Kansas City has trained about an hour north in St. Joseph’s, Missouri, for the past decade, and coach Andy Reid prefers going away. Like the Cowboys, the Chiefs have two outdoor fields and one indoor field, so being at home won’t be a huge issue.

It’s not much of a blip for Indianapolis either. The Colts have trained not far from home at a massive youth sports complex the past two years and are likely to return next year.

Washington has trained in Richmond, Virginia, since 2013, but was at team headquarters before that. The move to Richmond was mostly for fans, so it might be in play next year.

Flynn is sure the fans will be waiting if — he leans toward when — the Cowboys return to Southern California.

“The Cowboys being a national sports team, it broadens their fan base by coming to California,” Flynn said. “I just always thought they’d be back.”

If so, they’ll be greeted by a new mayor.

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Chiefs, Mahomes agree to 10-year, $503 million extension

The Kansas City Chiefs made sure they’ll have Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes around as long as possible.

Mahomes agreed to a 10-year extension worth up to $503 million, according to his agency, Steinberg Sports. The deal is worth $477 million in guarantee mechanisms and includes a no-trade clause and opt-out clauses if guarantee mechanisms aren’t met.

It’s the richest contract in professional sports history, surpassing Mike Trout’s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

“Since he joined the Chiefs just a few years ago, Patrick has developed into one of the most prolific athletes in all of sports,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement about the quarterback who led them to their first championship in 50 years.

“With his dynamic play and infectious personality, he is one of the most recognized and beloved figures to put on the Chiefs uniform. He’s an extraordinary leader and a credit to the Kansas City community, and I’m delighted that he will be a member of the Chiefs for many years to come.”

The Chiefs had the 2018 NFL MVP under contract for the next two seasons but that wasn’t nearly enough.

“Here to stay,” Mahomes wrote on Twitter.

The contract extension starts in 2022 when the NFL salary cap is projected to be $227.5 million. However, that number could be lower depending on revenue losses due to the cornonavirus pandemic and the possibility any games played this season won’t have fans.

Still, Mahomes will take up a big chunk of Kansas City’s cap space, around 20 percent depending on the annual contract breakdown and final cap numbers. That could potentially make it difficult for the Chiefs to pay several star players big contracts.

The Chiefs already had picked up their fifth-year option in April on Mahomes, who had been due to make $825,000 on the final year of his rookie contract this season, to keep him around at least through 2021. General manager Brett Veach said this deal has been a priority for quite a while and thanked Mahomes’ agents, Chris Cabott and Leigh Steinberg.

“His abilities are so rare, and to couple that with an incredible personality is outstanding,” Veach said of Mahomes. “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to surround him with talent, and this deal provides us more flexibility to do that. He’s obviously an integral part to our success and we’re thrilled he’s going to be the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs for a long time.”

Mahomes threw touchdown passes on consecutive fourth-quarter drives in rallying the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl title in 50 years and the first for coach Andy Reid. That comeback performance earned Mahomes the Super Bowl MVP award and only cemented his status as the face of the Kansas City franchise.

Reid said the best part is that Mahomes is still early in his career. Mahomes won’t turn 25 until Sept. 17.

“He’s a natural leader and always grinding, whether that’s on the field, in the weight room or watching film, he wants to be the best,” Reid said. “He’s a competitor and his teammates feed off his energy. He makes us all better as an organization and we are blessed he’s going to be our quarterback for years to come.”

The Chiefs traded up to select Mahomes 10th overall in the 2017 draft, and he spent one season learning the ropes under Alex Smith before getting the starting job.

Mahomes proceeded to shatter just about every franchise passing record while winning the league MVP award, and he had the Chiefs within overtime of landing in the Super Bowl that season. He also was The Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

He dealt with numerous injuries this past season, including a dislocated kneecap on a seemingly innocent quarterback sneak that left him sidelined for a couple of games. He came back to lead the Chiefs to a long winning streak that culminated with a series of come-from-behind wins in the playoffs, including their second-half rally in the Super Bowl.

He is 24-7 as a starter, completing 65.9% of his passes with 76 touchdowns and only 18 interceptions. Mahomes is 724 of 1,099 for 9,412 yards passing, averaging 303.6 yards per game with a 108.9 career quarterback rating. He also has run 110 times for 500 yards with four TDs.

He has led the Chiefs to back-to-back AFC championship games. In the postseason, Mahomes is 115 of 184 for 1,474 yards with 13 TDs and only two interceptions with a 106.6 rating.

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AP Source: NFL cutting preseason in half, pushing back start

The NFL will cut its preseason in half and push back the start of exhibition play so teams have more time to train following a virtual offseason made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t announced that the preseason will be cut from four games to two.

Players are still discussing with their union whether to ask for cancellation of all preseason games, according to two people familiar with their thinking. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because a decision hasn’t been made.

The pandemic forced teams to conduct their entire offseason programs via videoconference. So, teams will be gathering together for the first time when training camps open July 28.

Minus the usual minicamps, on-field practices and in-person weight training from April to June, players’ conditioning won’t be what it normally is. So, eliminating the first week of preseason games Aug. 13-16 will give them more time to ratchet up their football fitness.

Teams will now play exhibitions Aug. 20-24 and Aug. 27-31 during what were originally the second and third weeks of exhibition play, with all 32 teams playing one home and one road game.

Most of those games will remain the same as originally scheduled, although some matchups in that second slate will have to be changed so every team gets a game at home.

The exhibition finales on Sept. 3 were also scrapped, giving teams more time to get ready for the regular season, which opens Sept. 10 with Houston at Kansas City.

There are no changes to the regular season schedule.

The league continues to draw up protocols, not only for COVID-19 mitigation but for ramping up practices during the first few weeks of training camp.

The annual Hall of Fame Game pitting Pittsburgh and Dallas on Aug. 6 was recently scrapped as the induction ceremonies were pushed back to 2021.

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Asterisk on the NBA title? Coaches, players say not a chance

The 2020 NBA champion, if one is crowned, will have emerged as the ultimate winner from a season that lasted more than a full year from start to finish. A season that saw political unrest between the NBA and China, the deaths of David Stern and Kobe Bryant,racial issues across the nation and, if that wasn’t enough, a pandemic.

It is a season like none other.

So, an asterisk-bearing champion? Not a chance.

To the teams in the NBA, this championship might be the toughest one ever claimed. It’ll come after more than three months of living in a quasi-bubble at the Disney complex near Orlando, Florida, after an entire postseason is played without fans, with most if not all that time spent away from friends and family. And only one of the 22 teams headed to Disney will be able to say it was absolutely worth the trouble.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that there’s going to be, like, a star next to this championship,” Milwaukee forward and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “I feel like at the end of the day this is going to be like the toughest championship you could ever win because the circumstances are really, really tough right now. So, whoever wants it more is going to be able to go out there and take it.”

He’s not alone in feeling that way.

Most of the 22 teams that will be headed to the Disney campus next week — the first arrivals are scheduled for July 7 — spent Wednesday beginning Phase 3 of the NBA’s restart process. Workouts are still individual, but now mandatory. No team can practice or play 5-on-5 until arriving at Disney. Teams won’t be back together, all at once, in person, until getting to Central Florida.

“I think this might be certainly the most worthy of all world championships in the NBA because of all the things that every team is going to have to navigate and overcome to be able to be crowned a champion,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

The season has been daunting and won’t get any easier. That’s why Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel — whose team was in China when the political issues hit this fall, took the enormous emotional blow that followed Bryant’s death, has championed societal change during these troubled times in the country and has had players infected with the coronavirus — wholeheartedly agrees with Antetokounmpo’s stance.

“Our team has been through a lot this year,” Vogel said. “And we’ve endured, and we’ve come out strong each time we’ve faced adversity. I don’t know about other teams but if we were able to come through all of this and achieve the ultimate prize, I do think it deserves a harder-than-ordinary asterisk. If you’re going to put an asterisk on it, I don’t think it weakens it at all.”

There are elements of the restart that are not easy for anyone involved, such as the isolation from the outside world, the daily testing, and the highly restrictive rules that the NBA put in place after consultation with health officials.

Denver coach Michael Malone said that will prove someone’s championship mettle.

“If you’re able to go into a bubble to be isolated from your friends and family, to have no home court advantage, to have a league interruption of four months, and you’re able to spend 90 days and come out of there a champion, I think this will be the toughest championship ever won,” Malone said. “There’s no asterisk. You win an NBA championship anytime, it’s a hell of an accomplishment. But in these circumstances, these unprecedented times, with everything going on … I think it will be a remarkable accomplishment.”

Some may argue otherwise, but the 1999 championship by San Antonio after a 50-game regular season and the 2012 championship by Miami after a 66-game season — both shortened because of labor strife in the league — come with no formal asterisk attached. This NBA season will see the 22 remaining teams all play between 71 and 75 games before the playoffs, and the league’s plan is for a full four-round, best-of-seven-throughout postseason.

No one is being gifted a title this season.

“I saw (Houston guard) Austin Rivers said today, you know that the idea of an asterisk next to this championship, I think he said it exactly right,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday. “This is going to be a super unique situation and whoever wins it is going to really earn it.”

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers — Austin’s father — relayed a recent conversation he had with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who said if anything, the team that wins this title merits more than an asterisk.

“He said the team that wins this will deserve a gold star, not an asterisk,” Rivers said. “If you think about the mental toughness it’s going to take … it’s going to come down to talent. It’s going to come down to teams trying to get back together and play together. There’s going to be so many things that are thrown at us that we don’t even know yet. It’s really going to be a mental toughness challenge.”

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Netflix series to dramatize Kaepernick’s path to activism

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Colin Kaepernick is joining with Emmy-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay on a Netflix drama series about the teenage roots of the former NFL player’s activism.

“Colin in Black & White” will examine Kaepernick’s high school years to illuminate the experiences that shaped his advocacy, Netflix said Monday.

“Too often we see race and Black stories portrayed through a white lens,” Kaepernick said in a statement. “We seek to give new perspective to the differing realities that Black people face. We explore the racial conflicts I faced as an adopted Black man in a white community, during my high school years.”

Kaepernick, born to a white mother and Black father, was adopted in Wisconsin by a white couple who moved to California when he was a child.

In 2016, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, drawing both support and criticism, with his detractors including President Donald Trump. Kaepernick became a free agent in 2017 but went unsigned.

Writing on the six-episode series was completed in May, the streaming service said. DuVernay, writer Michael Starrbury and Kaepernick are the executive producers. Kaepernick will appear as himself as the limited series’ narrator, Netflix said.

Further casting details and a release date were not immediately announced.

Kaepernick called it an honor to collaborate with DuVernay, whose credits include the award-winning “When They See Us,” which dramatized the Central Park Five case, and the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th.”

“With his act of protest, Colin Kaepernick ignited a national conversation about race and justice with far-reaching consequences for football, culture and for him, personally,” DuVernay said in a statement. “Colin’s story has much to say about identity, sports and the enduring spirit of protest and resilience.”

Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl following the 2012 season, filed a grievance against the league in 2017, contending teams colluded to keep him out. The sides reached an undisclosed settlement in 2019.

The 32-year-old Kaepernick still wants an opportunity to play. A workout in Atlanta last November that was organized by the NFL turned chaotic and resulted in no job offers.

In the aftermath of nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to players for not listening to them earlier and encouraged them to protest peacefully. Goodell says he’s encouraged teams to sign Kaepernick.

“This young man is talented enough to play in the National Football League,” league executive Troy Vincent said recently.

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Pats fined $1.1M, lose pick for filming game last season

NEW YORK (AP) — The New England Patriots have been fined $1.1 million by the NFL for inappropriately filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during a game last season.

On Sunday, the league also took away a third-round pick in the 2021 draft.

Also, the team’s production crew will not be allowed to shoot any games in the 2020 season.

ESPN first reported the penalties. NFL spokesman Michael Signora confirmed the discipline to The Associated Press.

The filming occurred at the Bengals game at Cleveland on Dec. 8 of last season. The Bengals hosted the Patriots the following week and lost 34-13.

When the taping became known last season, the team said at the time a three-person crew producing a web series titled “Do Your Job” “inappropriately filmed the field from the press box” as part of a feature on the scouting department.

The filming took place “without specific knowledge of league rules,” the statement said.

Also, the team’s statement last season said that while they were granted credentials for the crew from the Browns, “our failure to inform the Bengals and the league was an unintended oversight.”

When confronted, the team said the crew “immediately turned over all footage to the league and cooperated fully.”

At the time, Patriots coach Bill Belichick says neither he nor his coaching staff had watched any of the video footage.

“I personally have never viewed any video footage at all, anything that those production people have done, other than what’s shown on public television or something like that,” Belichick said in December.

Previously, New England was fined $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick in 2007 for violating NFL rules against using video to steal signals in a scandal dubbed “Spygate.” Belichick was also fined $500,000.

Spygate fueled a distrust of the Patriots that persisted when the team was accused of illegally deflating the footballs used in the 2015 AFC championship game.

The punishment by the NFL in that case was also severe. Quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, and the team was fined $1 million and docked another first-round draft pick.

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NFL training camps still on original schedule for late July

The NFL still plans to hold training camps on time beginning in late July, though contingency plans are in place.

Hours after the league canceled the Hall of Fame game that kicks off the preseason, the 32 team owners on Thursday were updated on a variety of issues, many dealing with working through the coronavirus pandemic. Most notably, according to NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, the owners were told about plans to fully reopen team facilities for training camp next month.

“The clubs have been advised that training camps are expected to open on the normal schedule,” Pash said. “The dates set forth in the collective bargaining agreement, for most clubs that would be July 28. Obviously they can bring in rookies and certain other players before that.

“The preseason number of games, we’re in active discussions with the players association on those issues, and will continue at that and expect to have some resolution relatively soon and will advise the clubs at that time.”

Earlier Thursday, the league and the Pro Football Hall of Fame canceled the opening preseason game between Dallas and Pittsburgh set for Aug. 6. The hall’s induction ceremonies set for Aug. 8, and for mid-September for a special centennial class, have been moved to August 2021, when the Cowboys and Steelers will play in the game.

Team facilities were closed in late March due to the pandemic and have been reopened to limited personnel. No players other than those rehabilitating injuries are allowed at those facilities.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, stressed that what the general public should be doing during the pandemic is exactly what the league and its players should be doing.

“We remain in very active discussion with the players association on the protocols dealing with testing and screening and treatment, response and travel,” Sills said. “And so we updated the ownership about where we stand with those issues and our approach to that.

“We certainly emphasized through that that testing alone is not going to be sufficient to keep everyone healthy. It’s still vitally important that everyone respect physical distancing, the use of masks when possible and overall good health habits of reporting symptoms and limiting contact with individuals that may be sick not only at the team facility, but away from the team facility.”

In response to Tom Brady and other NFL players holding private workouts even after Thom Mayer, the union’s medical officer, advised against it, Sills said:

“This is, again, a place where the NFLPA and the NFL are in the same exact place, which is we want whatever makes it the safest possible environment for all of our constituents. … Again, this is all about risk reduction and trying to mitigate risk. We know that we can’t eliminate risk. And so we will work very much hand in hand with the players association because, again, this is where everyone in that team environment is going to share the same risk. But they’ll also share the same responsibility to each other.”

Sills also noted that the league and union are looking into the use of personal protective equipment by players. That includes modifications to the helmet that may provide additional risk reduction.

“Obviously we have to think about any potential unintended consequences of that modification. So a lot of work is still being done on that,” he said.

Also:

— Barring the unlikely prospect of having full stadiums, every stadium will have seat coverings during the season in an effort to protect people in the stadium, something owners approved Thursday.

“They will provide clear separation between the players and the fans,” said Renie Anderson, the NFL’s chief revenue officer.

“Clearly, obviously, it will provide a unified look on broadcasts as well. … There’s no requirement for the clubs to integrate advertising. It’s somewhat of an added benefit if there is an opportunity there. There’

— If limited attendance is allowed by local governments, tickets would be distributed to long-term season ticket holders and personal seat license holders. Contingencies exist for moving games from where they can not be played safely.

“But the focus would be on playing in home stadiums, even if initially that is without fans in some stadiums,” said Peter O’Reilly, the league’s executive vice president of club business and events.

— The NFL is kicking off a voting education and registration initiative. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is developing programs and working with the players association, Players Coalition and other organizations such as RISE and the US Vote Foundation. The programs will focus on education, registration and activation.

The goal is for NFL players, coaches, executives and staff to register to vote, inspire others to vote and vote themselves. The NFL also will support players who have plans or programs to achieve the same in their communities.

In recent conversations with players, Goodell said voting was a subject they consistently stressed as important to them.

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Cowboys’ Prescott signs $31M tag, still time for longer deal

Dak Prescott plans to be at training camp with the Dallas Cowboys, if and when it starts, on the richest one-year contract in franchise history.

There is also still time to work out a long-term deal for the star quarterback.

Prescott signed his $31.4 million tender under the franchise tag Monday. That comes just over three weeks before the July 15 deadline to agree on a long-term deal.

By signing the offer under the franchise tag, Prescott is obligated to report for all team activities or risk being fined. He didn’t participate in the club’s virtual offseason program while unsigned.

Prescott played the final year of his rookie contract on just a $2 million salary. He was the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year while leading the Cowboys to the NFC’s top seed in the playoffs and won his first postseason game two years later.

There has never been a question of whether Prescott is the franchise quarterback in Dallas. Owner Jerry Jones has repeatedly made that clear as the sides have spent more than a year trying to agree on a long-term contract.

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has the highest per-year average in Dallas history at $21 million. The two-time Pro Bowler signed a $105 million, five-year deal last year.

Prescott has started every game of his career after replacing the injured Tony Romo during the 2016 preseason. He led a franchise-record 11-game winning streak during the regular season before Dallas lost to Green Bay in the divisional round.

The Cowboys missed the playoffs in Prescott’s second year when fellow rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott was suspended six games. With his running back in the fold for a full season in 2018, Prescott led Dallas to another NFC East title and a wild-card win over Seattle before losing to the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round.

The two-time Pro Bowler started his rookie season third on the depth chart after getting drafted in the fourth round out of Mississippi State. He moved up a spot when Kellen Moore was injured in training camp, and took over as the starter after Romo injured his back in a preseason game. Romo never got his job back.

Despite missing the playoffs again last season, Prescott had career bests with 4,902 yards passing and 30 touchdowns.

The Cowboys didn’t renew coach Jason Garrett’s contract after a season that fell far of expectations and hired Mike McCarthy. The former Green Bay coach won a Super Bowl with Aaron Rogers a decade ago.

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Ford stepping down as Lions owner, daughter taking over

DETROIT (AP) — Martha Firestone Ford is stepping down as principal owner of the Detroit Lions.

The Lions announced Tuesday that Ford’s daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, is taking over as the team’s principal owner and chairman.

“It has been a great honor for our family to be associated with the Lions and with the National Football League,” the 94-year-old 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. It is clear to me that Sheila will provide superb leadership and is fully committed to competitive excellence and community involvement.”

Ford had been in charge of the Lions since 2014, when her husband, William Clay Ford, died.

“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.”

Hamp, 68, has been one of the team’s vice chairmen during her mother’s ownership.

“Martha Ford has led the Lions with skill and grace for the past six seasons,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “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.”

Ford, a granddaughter of tire magnate Harvey Firestone, seldom spoke to reporters or commented publicly on the direction of the franchise, but her influence was felt. In 2015, the team fired its president and general manager in a midseason shakeup, and when she announced the changes, Ford told fans that the franchise intended to “identify and hire the very best leadership in order to produce a consistently, winning football team.”

The Lions eventually hired Bob Quinn as their new general manager, and they made the playoffs in 2016. However, they haven’t been back since. Detroit replaced coach Jim Caldwell with Matt Patricia, who has gone 9-22-1 in his first two seasons.

Although she kept a low profile publicly, Ford was a presence within the organization.

“I think visible ownership is great, and Mrs. Ford does it extremely well,” Caldwell said in 2015. “She’s there before games and she’s there after games, and I think guys enjoy that part of it. She comes to practice and things of that nature, so it’s been fun.”

Ford was one of four female team owners who were profiled in the documentary “A Lifetime of Sundays,” along with Kansas City’s Norma Hunt, Chicago’s Virginia Halas McCaskey, and Pittsburgh’s Patricia Rooney.

Hamp serves on the NFL’s Super Bowl and Major Events Committee and the board for Detroit Lions Charities. She was part of the first class of women to graduate from Yale, where she played tennis.

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Redskins retire Mitchell’s jersey, rename stadium level

The Washington Redskins will retire the jersey of Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. They will also rename the lower level of FedEx Field for him, replacing the section named for former owner George Preston Marshall.

The team, which is under pressure to change its name during the ongoing national reckoning over racism, said Saturday that Mitchell’s No. 49 will become only the second jersey in the franchise’s 88-year history to be retired. The other is the No. 33 of Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh.

Mitchell, Washington’s first African American player, died in April. The Redskins were the last NFL team to integrate the roster.

Significantly, dropping Marshall’s name from the lower bowl of the stadium follows by one day the removal of his statue at RFK Stadium, the team’s former home. Marshall moved the team from Boston to Washington and resisted integrating the roster with Black players until “forced to do so” in 1962.

The team’s announcement of the change did not mention Marshall, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1963 and died in 1969.

Events DC officials who oversee RFK Stadium in Washington — FedEx Field is in Landover, Maryland — called the removal a “small and overdue step on the road to lasting equality and justice.”

Calls for the team to change its nickname have ramped up, too, and the Washington Post’s editorial board on Friday called on Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to do so.

Mitchell, who played running back and receiver, not only was one of Washington’s greatest players, but a trailblazer.

“Bobby was our Jackie Robinson,” said Brig Owens, an outstanding safety for the team. “He had to handle the pressure of being the first African American football player to integrate the Washington Redskins. He, like Jackie, was a military officer headquartered in the D.C. area when he received notice of his trade (from Cleveland).

“In the face of great adversity, he served as a role model for the Washington, D.C. community, the Redskins, its fan base and the NFL. He was committed to the National Leukemia Society and the Shaw Food Committee where for 40 years they fed over 500 families at Thanksgiving. He was more than an exceptional football player and athlete, he was an exceptional human being. He was like a brother to me.”

After four seasons with the Browns, Mitchell spent seven years in Washington . He was an All-Pro in 1962, his first season in Washington and also his first at wideout. Mitchell even led the NFL in yards receiving that season and again in 1963.

He made four Pro Bowls and finished his career with 2,735 yards rushing, 7,954 receiving, and 3,389 return yards. When he retired in 1968, his 14,078 all-purpose yards were second in NFL history. In 1983, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

He also worked in the team’s front office, spending 41 years with the franchise.

Mitchell once said he recognized he was alone as a Black football player in Washington.

“Bobby was an individual that was thrown into the arena of being a victim for no reason,” said NFL great Jim Brown, a former teammate. “He had to suffer for being Black more than any person I know that played football at the time I played. With that kind of ability, if he were white, everybody on this earth would know who he was.”