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Vikings players pay their respects at George Floyd memorial service

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings canceled all virtual team meetings on Thursday and ended the business day at noon to allow players, coaches and all staff members the opportunity to view a local memorial service for George Floyd, who died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on Memorial Day.

Several Vikings players, including Kyle Rudolph, Adam Thielen, Garrett Bradbury, Mike Hughes, Aviante Collins, Alexander Mattison, Chad Beebe, Cameron Smith, Tajae Sharpe, Tyler Conklin, Jake Browning and Dakota Dozier, attended Thursday’s service, which was held at North Central University in downtown Minneapolis.

The players met at U.S. Bank Stadium and made the walk over to the memorial service shortly before 1 p.m. Celebrities, political activists and friends joined members of Floyd’s family inside the sanctuary of the university to hear a eulogy delivered by Rev. Al Sharpton.

Outside, hundreds gathered to mourn Floyd while the service was broadcast over the university’s loudspeakers. Several miles away, residents and supporters flocked to the site where Floyd died outside of Cup Foods in south Minneapolis, where the service was also heard playing over loudspeakers.

Floyd’s death fueled protests across the nation, which led to looting and property destruction throughout the Twin Cities. On Friday, Rudolph and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, who joined Vikings players at the service, are holding a charitable drive for donations of food and other essential goods from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cub Foods at 2850 26th Ave. South in Minneapolis.

Three memorials over six days are planned for Floyd in the cities where he was born, grew up and died. Thursday’s memorial was the first.

Floyd’s body will next be taken to Raeford, North Carolina, where he was born 46 years ago, for a two-hour public viewing and private service for the family on Saturday.

Finally, a public viewing will be held Monday in Houston, where he was raised and lived most of his life. A 500-person service on Tuesday will take place at The Fountain of Praise church. A private burial will follow.

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Colin Kaepernick, Disney announce partnership deal

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Colin Kaepernick will be featured in an exclusive docuseries produced by ESPN Films as part of a first-look deal with The Walt Disney Co.

The deal between Kaepernick’s production arm, Ra Vision Media, and Disney was announced Monday. The partnership will focus on telling scripted and unscripted stories that explore race, social injustice and the quest for equity. It also will provide a platform to showcase the work of minority directors and producers.

“I am excited to announce this historic partnership with Disney across all of its platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers, and producers, and to inspire the youth with compelling and authentic perspectives,” Kaepernick said in a statement. “I look forward to sharing the docuseries on my life story, in addition to many other culturally impactful projects we are developing.”

Despite being exiled from the NFL since the 2016 season, when he took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, Kaepernick still wants to play.

A person close to the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback told The Associated Press that Kaepernick is in excellent shape and ready to play, but he hasn’t received any calls.

Following the nationwide protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to players for not listening to their concerns about racial inequality earlier. He encouraged them to protest peacefully and denounced racism.

Kaepernick, who became the face of a Nike campaign in 2018, will work closely with The Undefeated, which is expanding its portfolio across Disney, to develop stories from the perspective of Black and brown communities.

His deal with The Walt Disney Co. will extend across all Disney platforms, including Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Hulu, Pixar and The Undefeated.

“During this unprecedented time, The Walt Disney Company remains committed to creating diverse and inclusive content that resonates and matters,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s executive chairman. “Colin’s experience gives him a unique perspective on the intersection of sports, culture and race, which will undoubtedly create compelling stories that will educate, enlighten and entertain, and we look forward to working with him on this important collaboration.”

The docuseries chronicling Kaepernick’s journey and his last five years is the first project in development.

“Developing exceptional storytelling told through a wide array of voices is at the core of who we are at ESPN,” ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said. “Colin has had a singular path as both an athlete and an activist, and, as the nation continues to confront racism and social injustice, it feels particularly relevant to hear Colin’s voice on his evolution and motivations.”

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Patriots offering free parking for home games

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The New England Patriots are offering free parking for home games during the 2020 season, the club announced in a letter to its season-ticket members on Monday.

“In order to show our appreciation for your commitment to the Patriots during this unique season — and in acknowledgment that it will be different than any other season we have ever experienced together — we want to share that we will provide free parking in all Gillette Stadium lots this year,” the letter read. “From both a safety and convenience standpoint, we hope this will simplify one aspect of your game-day experience in 2020 and serve to express our gratitude for your support.”

There are thousands of parking spots around the Patriots’ home stadium, which produce significant revenue for owners Robert and Jonathan Kraft. The exchange of cash to enter the lots, and the potential safety hazards with COVID-19, sparked the decision to offer free parking.

The club also announced that all ticketing, and entry to the stadium, will be digital.

The Patriots continue to also offer season-ticket members at an elevated risk of COVID-19 infection the chance to skip the 2020 season and still on to their seats for the next year.

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Ben Roethlisberger’s new puppies, Dwyane Wade’s new haircut and what you missed this weekend

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Here’s what you might have missed over the weekend …

The coronavirus put a halt to virtually every sport there is, but nothing, NOTHING, stops Joey Chestnut on the Fourth of July.

My stomach hurts just from reading the above — how about you?


Maybe you went fishing over the holiday weekend? But you probably didn’t do as well as Jawaan Taylor did.

That certainly looks like a catch worthy of an offensive lineman.


They don’t celebrate Independence Day across the pond, but Manchester United surely celebrated a 5-2 win over Bournemouth. Paul Pogba was not among the goal scorers, but he still made an impact — in more ways than one.

Pogba’s barber is clearly back in business.


A couple of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks — Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady — were celebrating other things over the weekend as well.

Tom’s the one in his dad’s arms, by the way, in case you couldn’t figure that out.


Fireworks are a traditional part of July Fourth celebrations, but Dwyane Wade went above and beyond this year.

Whose hair do you like better, Pogba’s or Wade’s?


And finally, if you wanted to see some real fireworks, here you go — thanks to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Hope you all had a good holiday weekend.



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