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Pittsburgh Steelers attend funeral for brothers killed in Tree of Life Synagogue shooting


Two buses of Steelers players and staff attended the joint funeral on Tuesday for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, who were killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Michele Rosenthal, the sister of the two victims, used to be the Steelers’ community relations manager. Several players mentioned Rosenthal by name after the Steelers’ 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

“It was tough, it was crazy tough, especially with Michele and the closeness we have with her,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We’re thankful for the victory but we all understand, there are bigger things, there’s life. I’m glad we could gift people three hours with a break.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Sunday said he was “a member of the Squirrel Hill community” and that “words cannot express how we feel.”

More than 1,000 people poured into Rodef Shalom — one of Pittsburgh’s largest synagogues — to mourn the two intellectually disabled brothers who were killed in the massacre that left 11 dead in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Members of the team took two buses to the funeral, and the Steelers moved Tomlin’s weekly news conference from noon to 1 p.m. so that he could attend.

The Rosenthal family had asked media and the public to respect their privacy at the Rodef Shalom Temple as they mourned the passing of their loved ones.

The Steelers held a moment of silence before Sunday’s game, and Tomlin addressed the tragedy during a Saturday night meeting with his team. In pregame warm-ups, defensive end Cam Heyward wore a T-shirt featuring a heart around the word “Pittsburgh.” “Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community,” said team president Art Rooney II in a statement issued Sunday morning.

Prior to Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Islanders, the Penguins observed 11 seconds of silence for the 11 killed in the shooting. Three members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh stood with Jeff Jimerson as he sang the national anthem and the puck drop featured Pittsburgh’s police chief, its public safety director and two first responders, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Prior to the game, the Penguins collected money at all three gates and the team’s foundation donated $25,000 apiece to the Jewish Federation and to a fund established to benefit police officers injured in the shooting. On Monday, the team held a blood drive.

Penguins players wore “Stronger Than Hate” patches and their sweaters will be auctioned after the game. The team is also donating its share of the 50/50 raffle.

Sidney Crosby, who scored late in the first period to forge a 2-2 tie after the Panthers fell behind 2-0, said the victims were on his mind.

“We wanted to go out there and play for them,” Crosby said. “You try to recognize that and play as hard as you can to show your appreciation. Words are one thing, but you try to go out there and follow it up the same.”

Crosby had hoped for a better result.

“We had a lot of different emotions going through our minds to start, but the bottom line is that we wanted to find a way to get a win for a lot of reasons,” Crosby said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”

Information from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and The Associated was used in this report.





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Rae Carruth’s son to attend Carolina Panthers game


Six days after former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth was released from prison, where he served nearly 19 years for conspiracy to commit murder, one notable person in attendance at Sunday’s NFL game at Bank of America Stadium will be Carruth’s son, Chancellor Lee Adams.

Thanks to Carolina fan Jason Underwood and the Panthers, Adams and his grandmother Saundra Adams will have field access, lower-section seating and special parking for the 1 p.m. game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Underwood informed Riley Fields, Carolina’s director of community relations, earlier in the week that he had tickets for Chancellor and Saundra Adams in the upper section. Fields, aware that Chancellor was born with cerebral palsy, upgraded them to VIP access to make it easier to get around the facility.



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New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. says he’ll attend training camp


Odell Beckham Jr. said he will attend the New York Giants‘ training camp next month, despite his desire for a new contract.

When asked Saturday if the media will see him at training camp, Beckham replied, “Yes, sir. Yes, you will.”

“No holdout,” added Beckham, who was working at his youth instructional camp Saturday.

Giants coach Pat Shurmur said Thursday that he expected everyone at training camp, which starts July 25, and there was “no reason to believe” that Beckham wouldn’t be able to participate fully.

Beckham didn’t participate in all drills at minicamp this past week even though he was cleared medically. The star receiver is scheduled to make $8.5 million this season.

Beckham also attended a good chunk of the voluntary portion of the team’s offseason workouts and OTAs. This was considered a good-faith gesture. He did not attend most of the Giants’ offseason program the previous year, when he was also looking for a new deal.



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Julio Jones won’t attend Atlanta Falcons’ minicamp


Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones informed the team he won’t attend mandatory minicamp, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement released Monday.

“We have been in contact with Julio and his representation,” Dimitroff said. “We will not discuss those conversations publicly except to say we feel they have been productive and constructive. We understand the concerns and thoughts from their perspective. Although not ideal, Julio informed us today he would not be attending mini-camp.

“We have much respect for him and what he means to our team, our city and our fans.”

Sources told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that Jones’ side had sent a proposal to the Falcons, the response was not satisfactory and Jones did not see fit to attend the mandatory minicamp at this time.

Jones has three years and almost $35 million remaining on his contract. He is aware of the seven other receivers who average more than his $14.25 million per year, led by Pittsburgh‘s Antonio Brown at $17 million per year. When Jones signed a five-year, $71.25 million contract extension in August of 2015, he received $47 million guaranteed. That’s the same amount of guaranteed money Jarvis Landry after being traded from Miami to Cleveland.

The Falcons understand Jones’ contract concerns and seem willing to work with him at some point. Jones did not show up for any part of voluntary workouts, including organized team activities. Now he’ll face maximum fines of $14,070, $28,140, and $42,215 for missing mandatory minicamp Tuesday through Thursday.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn initially said he expected Jones at camp but didn’t say that message was relayed directly from Jones.

Jones told TMZ last month there was no bad blood between himself and the team. He has been working out with Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens this offseason.

Quarterback Matt Ryan said he had “no concern” about Jones being missing from the voluntary part of the offseason program despite much talk about Jones being healthy enough to work on timing with Ryan.

Jones, entering his eighth NFL season, is looking for his fifth straight season with 1,400-plus receiving yards.



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Philadelphia Eagles will not attend White House ceremony with President Donald Trump


The Philadelphia Eagles will not be attending a ceremony at the White House to honor their February Super Bowl victory, according to a statement by President Donald Trump.

The decision comes a day before the event was to occur.

The statement says that the defending Super Bowl champions disagree “with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

A large group of Eagles players had decided not to attend, including most — if not all — of the black players, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

In addressing players’ decision to stay home, the president’s statement said “the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”

Trump said that he will instead have a “different type of ceremony — one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.”

The team did not learn of the cancellation until the White House put out its statement, a source close to the Eagles told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

The source said that team owner Jeffrey Lurie was planning on attending the White House ceremony, despite some of the negative comments Lurie reportedly made about Trump in a private NFL meeting last fall. Head coach Doug Pederson and his wife, Jeannie, were also planning on making the trip, the source said.

“A lot of people in the Eagles organization are very disappointed,” one league source said.

There had been ongoing conversations within the Eagles organization in the weeks leading up to the scheduled visit in an attempt to map out an itinerary that the team felt comfortable with.

Former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith — now with the Carolina Panthers — tweeted his reaction to the decision.

In a subsequent tweet, Smith added: “Here are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go. It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you.”

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long had said earlier that they would not have attended the White House ceremony.

“I don’t want to take away from anybody’s experience or make it a big distraction. It’s a celebratory event, and I want the guys who choose to go or whatever to enjoy that,” Jenkins said in February. “Me personally, because it’s not a meeting or a sit-down or anything like that, I’m just not interested in the photo op.

“Over the last two years, I’ve been meeting with legislators, both Republican and Democrat, it don’t matter. If you want to meet to talk about events in my community, changing the country, I’m all for that. But this isn’t one of those meetings, so I’ll opt out of the photo opportunity.”

Source close to the team say the team will now be expected to be at the team’s training facility Tuesday in South Philadelphia to attend what is called a Phase II day of organized team activities, which includes meetings, weight training and individual on-field drills. Pederson is expected to address the media on Wednesday, when players are also expected to be available.

ESPN’s Tim McManus contributed to this report.





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Rob Gronkowski confirms he’ll attend New England Patriots’ minicamp


Tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed Sunday he’ll attend the New England Patriots‘ mandatory minicamp this week after skipping the team’s voluntary organized team activities this offseason.

“We’ve got mandatory minicamp this week. So I’ll be there this week. I’ll be full go. I’m looking forward to it. Can’t wait to get back to work. I’m excited,” Gronkowski told reporters from the ninth annual Buzz Off charity event for kids with cancer at Gillette Stadium.

Gronkowski once again got his head shaved at the event and posted pictures to Twitter.

Quarterback Tom Brady, who also hadn’t attended the Patriots’ OTAs, also is expected to be at this week’s minicamp, owner Robert Kraft has said.

Gronkowski, 29, told coach Bill Belichick in April that he would play for the Patriots this season, ending speculation he could retire that began with his noncommittal answer about his future after the New England’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gronkowski earned All-Pro honors in 2017 as he bounced back from a 2016 season in which he was limited to eight regular-season games and underwent back surgery. He led the Patriots with 69 receptions, along with 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.





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Robert Kraft says Tom Brady will attend New England Patriots mandatory minicamp


New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Wednesday morning that he has spoken recently with Tom Brady and that he expects the star quarterback to attend the team’s mandatory minicamp next month.

When asked about Brady’s absence from this week’s OTAs, Kraft emphasized to reporters that the workouts are voluntary and mentioned Brady’s “responsibilities” to his family. Kraft said that he thinks the 40-year-old Brady is “in great shape.”

Kraft also said that he expects star tight end Rob Gronkowski to attend minicamp, which starts June 5.



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Aaron Donald informs Los Angeles Rams he won’t attend voluntary OTA’s


Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald has informed the Los Angeles Rams that he will not be attending the team’s organized team activities that start Monday, a team official told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Donald still is seeking his new contract with the Rams. Attendance for the OTAs is voluntary. The Rams are scheduled to hold their mandatory minicamp June 12-14.

Donald also didn’t attend the start of the Rams’ offseason program in April. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year was absent for most of last year’s program and is still in search of a new deal, one that would make him one of the game’s highest-paid players. He is headed into the final year of his rookie contract, with no interest in showing up without a more lucrative deal.

Donald is set to make $6.89 million in what constitutes the fifth-year option of his rookie contract. The Rams can then keep him for up to three additional years with the franchise tag, but they have expressed a desire to sign Donald long term dating back to last year’s scouting combine.



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Rob Gronkowski won’t attend start of New England Patriots’ offseason program


Like quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski will not attend the start of New England’s offseason program Monday, according to a source.

Gronkowski still is considering whether to play the upcoming 2018 season, and has had “good communication” with the Patriots, per the source.

Gronkowski has a $250,000 workout bonus in his contract for 2018, which is paid out based on attending a percentage of the voluntary workouts.

Brady also is not expected to attend the start of the offseason program; he has been on a business trip to Qatar. In other years, Brady has been a regular participant at the team’s offseason program, but he will miss at least the beginning this year.

“We have the voluntary offseason program that starts on Monday,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said last week. “It will be heavily attended, but I know there are a couple players that I’ve talked to that have other commitments, but that’s the way it always is. So, not really anything new there.”

Information from ESPN’s Mike Reiss was used in this report.



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Pat Shurmur of New York Giants expects Odell Beckham Jr. to attend offseason program


ORLANDO, Fla. — New York Giants coach Pat Shurmur says he expects Odell Beckham Jr. to attend offseason workouts when they start in April.

Trade rumors are surrounding the controversial star receiver, and there has been strong speculation that Beckham will hold out during training camp because he doesn’t want to play the fifth and final year of his rookie deal without a new contract.

“All reports are he will be ready to go as we get going,” Shurmur said Tuesday morning at the NFL meetings. “There are steps he has to take. All indications are he will be back healthy by the time we start playing in September.”

Beckham is recovering from a broken left ankle that forced him to miss the last 12 games in 2017. Giants owner John Mara on Sunday expressed his disappointment in Beckham, saying no player is untouchable.

“That’s another way of saying we’re going to try to do everything we can to make our team better,” Shurmur said. “I understand that. It’s sort of refreshing to know that we’re going to look under any rock and turn over every stone that we can to make sure we make the New York football Giants the best team we can make it.”

Beckham recently was seen in a video in bed with a woman and what appeared to be white powder, though the timing of the video and its content is uncertain. Mara said Beckham uses “bad judgment” too often.

“I think it’s important that you get all the information,” Shurmur said. “Who knows how that video appeared? We all understand that there are certain ways we need to act and certain things we don’t want to be doing.”

Shurmur met with Beckham in Los Angeles earlier in the offseason when the coach went to California to visit college prospects.

“He’s a very charismatic guy. I think he really cares. I’m looking forward to working with him,” Shurmur said. “It’s important as coaches and players and anybody who is working together to visit and get a chance to know one another. I really don’t think you can know somebody by seeing reports, reading reports, hearing what people think and say. I think it’s important, especially in the player-coach relationship, to get to know him.”

Beckham was the 2014 Offensive Rookie of the Year and has been New York’s best offensive weapon when healthy. In his first three seasons, he had 288 receptions for 4,122 yards and 35 touchdowns. But he is known not only for his highlight-reel catches but also for incidents that are distractions.

“We always want weapons,” Shurmur said. “He’s been an outstanding player, especially his first three years. We want really, really good players. We want guys who are passionate about playing the game. We want guys that understand the importance of relationships, which means they want to be coached. And we want guys that understand what it is to be a good teammate.”



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