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    Wary of Other Leagues’ Battles, N.F.L. and Players Agree on Terms to Return

    The N.F.L. and the N.F.L. Players Association have finalized the last key financial issues related to this season, paving the way for an on-time start to the regular season on Sept. 10.In the deal reached late Friday after a vote by the union’s 32 team representatives, the salary cap — or the maximum amount teams can spend on their rosters — will remain at just under $200 million per team this season. But the cap will have a minimum of $175 million next season. Any shortfalls in revenue next year will be made up by reducing the salary cap through the 2023 season.The owners also agreed to a player proposal to scrap all preseason games to reduce the risk of infection.The sides had already agreed on several measures to reduce the risk of infection from the coronavirus as teams return to camps, meetings and practices, including outlining who can be inside team facilities and daily player testing for the virus.But the owners and the players’ union had remained deadlocked on thornier questions, even as players began reporting to team facilities this week, leading some star players to start a public relations offensive on social media pushing for their concerns. Those included how much players will be paid if the season is shortened or canceled, and how to reduce the players’ share of the loss of revenue if teams do not allow fans at games this season. More

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    Washington’s N.F.L. Team Will Retire Its Logo and Adopt a Temporary New Name

    Washington’s N.F.L. team will retire Redskins branding and adopt a placeholder team name until it can decide on a permanent name, the organization said Thursday, weeks after announcing it would yield to pressure from sponsors and activists and drop the name it has used for nearly 90 years.“For updated brand clarity and consistency purposes, we will call ourselves the ‘Washington Football Team’ pending adoption of our new name,” the team said in a news release, adding that the logo would be retired by the start of the 2020 season in September.The team also said it would roll out an aesthetic that would reflect the direction of the new franchise as it changes.The team’s Twitter account and official site on Thursday took on the temporary name and logo, a large W, though images of original logo remained in some places and its web address using the old name remained unchanged.The team also tweeted a design for new uniforms, which featured its existing color scheme and a numeral on its helmet instead of the drawn profile of a Native American face.The team advertised forthcoming “Washington Football Team” merchandise, and on its website shared prototypes of the temporary logo, uniform concepts and field designs that included an N.F.L. logo at midfield. The end zones in its mock field design read “Washington Football Team, Est. 1932.”Team officials did not return messages seeking comment on Thursday. It was not immediately clear whether fans — if spectators are allowed at all during the coronavirus pandemic — would be allowed to wear merchandise with the old logo to games. It was also not clear whether the team would eventually change its distinctive burgundy and gold colors, a move sought by Native American groups and nearly 150 federally recognized tribes in a letter sent to N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell this month.The team is scheduled to open its season Sept. 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles.On July 13, 10 days after announcing it would review the 87-year-old team name and under mounting pressure from corporate sponsors, fans and Native American activists, the team said it would drop its logo and the name “Redskins,” a term many had long considered a racial slur.The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, had previously been uncooperative in changing the team’s name, but said the new name would “take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”The name change came after weeks of national unrest following the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in late May, and as much of the country quickly moved to change historical representations that use racist symbols.Last month, the Washington franchise spent several days removing a monument and remembrances honoring its former owner, George Preston Marshall, from team facilities and its website. The change came amid pressure on the team to acknowledge Marshall’s resistance to signing and drafting African-American players and his decision in 1933 to name the team the “Redskins.” A memorial of Marshall, which had stood in front of R.F.K. Stadium, the team’s former arena, was removed by a city agency after being defaced.Last week, the team was once again in the spotlight as 15 women said they were sexually harassed while employed by the team. More

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    Michael Bennett, a Protest Pioneer, Retires From the N.F.L.

    Michael Bennett, the standout defensive end who spoke out forcefully against racial injustice during his career, said he was retiring after an 11-year N.F.L. career, primarily with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks.“Retiring feels a little like death of self, but I’m looking forward to the rebirth — the opportunity to reimagine my purpose,” Bennett, 34, wrote on Instagram. “I have never been more at peace in my life.”Bennett, like his younger brother, Martellus, a tight end who last played in the N.F.L. in the 2017 season, never shied away from sharing his opinions. In 2017, after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Bennett was part of a group of players who began protesting during the playing of the national anthem to raise awareness of police brutality and other forms of injustice. But while most players knelt or raised a fist during the anthem, Bennett drew extra attention because he chose to sit on the bench.He was later joined by a white teammate, offensive lineman Justin Britt, who put his hand on Bennett’s shoulder in solidarity.Doug Baldwin, a Seahawks wide receiver who retired after the 2018 season, said Bennett was never afraid to share his opinions, often backed by data, in and out of the locker room. But he was also willing to listen to others who did not agree with him. At the same time, he followed unconventional paths, as when he chose to sit during the national anthem.“Obviously, he cared deeply about the same issues as we did, but he had his own way fighting and speaking out,” Baldwin said. “He was never afraid to express himself. Whether it was trying to bring people together or being divisive, his intention was to get people to look outside themselves.”Bennett’s protests were informed by his personal experience. In August 2017, Bennett was outside a Las Vegas nightclub when the police were investigating a report of shots fired. Two officers approached Bennett and eventually handcuffed him at gunpoint. Bennett later said that the officers had racially profiled him and used excessive force, including an officer kneeling on his back. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department denied that its force was unwarranted.In 2018, Bennett was indicted on a felony charge, accused of assaulting an elderly security guard when he rushed the field after the 2017 Super Bowl, which Martellus won as a member of the New England Patriots. The charge was dismissed in 2019 because of a lack of evidence.He shared his views about racial inequality, police violence and athletes’ roles in protest movements in “Things That Make White People Uncomfortable,” a book he co-wrote that was released in 2018.In college, he said he was astonished at how white coaches tried to mold Black players in their image.Bennett said about his experience at Texas A&M: “We had white coaches, and they wanted the Black players to be the embodiment of who they were. They would tell us to wear our pants and shoes a certain way; this is what it meant to ‘be a man.’”He called out the N.F.L. for effectively banning Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 but who has gone unsigned since becoming a free agent after that season.“The N.F.L. holds up as leaders players who have been accused of rape, violence against women, and even manslaughter,” Bennett wrote. “They’re right in front of us, playing quarterback and winning Super Bowl M.V.P. awards. I’d much rather call a leader someone who helps his community.”Bennett was signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He was waived early that season and picked up by the Buccaneers, who moved him to defensive tackle.After four seasons at Tampa Bay, the Seahawks signed him again, this time to a one-year contract in 2013. He joined what was already the league’s most dominant defense, helping the Seahawks win their only Super Bowl championship that season in large part because of a strong pass rush and defensive backfield.Bennett was chosen to play in the Pro Bowl three times in his career. In 2018, he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played one season.In 2019, he played with the Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys. Last October, the Patriots suspended him for one week, citing conduct detrimental to the team; Bennett said it was after a philosophical disagreement with his position coach.In the button-down, just-do-your-job world of the N.F.L., Bennett never seemed to shy away from asking questions and philosophical disagreements.“But if you don’t ask why, nothing, not a damn thing, is ever going to change,” he wrote. More