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Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs among Bills working out in Florida

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Several Buffalo Bills players gathered in Florida this week to work out together, including quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

It’s the latest example of Allen training with his teammates this offseason, after he and quarterback Matt Barkley threw to Bills rookies Isaiah Hodgins, Gabriel Davis and Zack Moss in California earlier this month.

It also marked not only the first time Allen and Diggs trained together since the latter was traded to Buffalo in March, but the first time the new teammates have met.

The list of Bills players present included Allen, Barkley and rookie quarterback Jake Fromm, wide receivers Diggs, Hodgins, Davis, John Brown, Robert Foster, Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie and Nick Easley, running back Devin Singletary and tight ends Dawson Knox, Tommy Sweeney, Nate Becker and Jason Croom‬.

This is a pivotal off-season for Allen and the Bills, who are favored to win their first AFC East title since 1995. With the addition of Diggs, Buffalo figures to improve on its 24th-ranked offense and 26th-ranked passing attack from 2019.

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In letter, NFLPA directs player agents to educate clients on coronavirus risk factors

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As the scheduled start of NFL training camps gets closer, the NFL Players Association has instructed player agents to talk to all of their clients about risk factors that could make them more susceptible to severe illness as a result of the COVID-19 virus.

In a letter sent to agents Monday, which was obtained by ESPN, the NFLPA wrote, “The NFLPA is directing you to provide each of your clients with important risk factor information provided by the Centers for Disease Control that appears below, and by mid-July, you must engage each of your clients in a conversation about the vital importance of carefully reviewing this information with their personal physician. They should ask their personal doctors any and all questions they have regarding these risk factors in light of their personal medical history and their job as an NFL player. They should also discuss any risk factors with their team doctor.”

The letter provides a link to the CDC page that discusses “people of any age with underlying medical conditions” and also spells out what the conditions are that put an individual at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

They include, per the letter:

1. Chronic kidney disease

2. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

3. Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant

4. BMI of 30 or higher: Obesity

5. Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies

6. Sickle cell disease

7. Type 2 diabetes mellitus

The letter includes a second list of conditions that the CDC has determined “might” put someone at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including asthma, hypertension or high blood pressure, other immune deficiencies, liver disease, pulmonary fibrosis and Type 1 diabetes, among others.

“We want each player to be fully informed about his personal medical situation as he makes decisions about returning to play in the league and throughout the course of the season,” the letter reads. “Proactive engagement in this manner will help players achieve that goal.”

Per the new collective bargaining agreement between the players and the league, training camps may start no earlier than 47 days before a team’s first regular-season game, which makes July 28 the reporting date for most teams. The NFL said last week that it is still planning to open camps and the regular season on time, although coronavirus health and safety protocols have yet to be finalized. The NFL and the NFLPA have been in regular discussions about those protocols as well as other matters, such as what would happen to players who decided it was too risky to play and what might happen with the 2021 salary cap as a result of lost revenue in 2020.

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Netflix to produce 6-part series on Colin Kaepernick

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Colin Kaepernick will be the subject of a six-part series produced by acclaimed director Ava DuVernay, Netflix announced Monday.

The series, “Colin in Black and White,” will explore the quarterback’s high school years, attempting to show the experiences and insights that led to his activism.

Kaepernick will appear as a narrator, with an actor playing him as a youth in the scripted drama of a Black child adopted by a white family.

“Too often we see race and Black stories portrayed through a white lens,” Kaepernick said in a release. “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. It’s an honor to bring these stories to life in collaboration with Ava for the world to see.”

Kaepernick will also be an executive producer for the series, which was written by Michael Starrbury. No date has yet been set for its release. DuVernay and Starrbury previously worked together on the Emmy-winning Netflix miniseries “When They See Us” about the Central Park Five case.

Kaepernick, 32, spent six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers but has not played in the NFL since 2016, when he started kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the United States. The actions became embroiled in a debate about the national anthem, and despite his qualifications, including a Super Bowl appearance, Kaepernick has been a free agent since 2017.

“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 release. “Colin’s story has much to say about identity, sports and the enduring spirit of protest and resilience.”

DuVernay directed the 2014 drama “Selma,” about the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights, becoming the first black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

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Johnny Manziel says his football career is probably ‘in the past’

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Johnny Manziel is at a point in his life that he’s ready to concede that his football career is probably “in the past.”

The former Cleveland Browns quarterback made the declaration in an interview with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal for a story that was published Saturday.

“In the past, probably, is the way I’d characterize it,” Manziel told the newspaper when asked about his football career. “I’ve finally got to a point where I’m trying to achieve happiness in life, not happiness on the football field.

“I know a lot of people probably want me to come back and play and give it another chance, but I don’t know, as far as being a person and figuring out life as a young adult — trying to make it and figure it out — if I’ve ever been in a better place than I’m in right now. I can honestly say I’m happy and I’m doing the right things to try and put a smile on my face every day, and that means more to me than going out and grinding on a football field.”

The 27-year-old Manziel’s last appearance on a football field came with the Memphis Express in the Alliance of American Football in 2019 before the league folded. He joined the AAF after being released by the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. That league also said he couldn’t play for another CFL team.

The former Heisman Trophy winner was taken by Cleveland with the No. 22 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. But after two tumultuous seasons, the Browns released him in March 2016 after he posted a 2-6 record as their starter.

“During that time when I got drafted, I didn’t put in the time that I needed to be a great player and I don’t think my heart was in it,” Manziel told the newspaper. “And I think when I went back to Canada, it was the same way. I truly believed and truly thought it was what I wanted to do, and my heart wasn’t in it, and it worked out the way it did.”

Manziel has dealt with several off-field issues. In 2016, a domestic assault charge against him in Dallas was dismissed after he took an anger management course and participated in the NFL’s substance abuse program. In a recent interview, he said he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has stopped drinking.

Now living in Scottsdale, Arizona, Manziel told the newspaper that the game of football “humbled” him and for that he’s grateful.

“Thank God I did get a chance to be humbled, because when you think you’re at the top of the world, it’s a dangerous place,” he said.

He told the newspaper that he was thankful for the impact Kliff Kingsbury, his former Texas A&M coach, had on him. He said Kingsbury, now the Arizona Cardinals‘ head coach, is a “guy who’s changed my life for the better and who I’ll always be thankful for.”

Manziel had a historic 2012 season with the Aggies, culminated by becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman. He also became the first freshman in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

His college success didn’t translate to professional football and the label of being a failed NFL prospect has stuck with him but he told the Avalanche-Journal he is content with what he was able to accomplish on the football field.

“People can call me whatever they want, but at the end of the day, I’m proud of what I did. I’m proud of what I accomplished. I bettered myself. I bettered my family’s life. I got a chance to play amazing college football, and it didn’t work out in the NFL and that’s OK,” he said.

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