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NFL owners approve new national anthem policy, will fine teams that allow players to kneel

Update 4:52 p.m. ET: U.S. vice president Mike Pence has responded to the NFL decision on Twitter, using the hashtag #winning.

Donald Trump Jr. echoed Pence’s statement on Twitter, “STILL NOT SICK OF WINNING.”

Update 1:21 p.m. ET: The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) issued a statement on the new NFL policy:

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new “policy.” NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

“The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principals, values and patriotism of our League.

Our union will review the new “policy” and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

Original story: NFL owners approved a new policy Wednesday regarding players who wish to kneel during the national anthem, according to a statement by the National Football League

>> Read more trending news 

According to the NFL, individual teams will have the ability to fine players and other personnel who do not stand and, “show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

The change will go into effect for the upcoming season, according to the Washington Post.

Players who choose not to stand during the national anthem may stay in the locker room or off-field while it is being played. 

The official statement from the National Football League states:

“The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities. 

The membership also strongly believes that:

  1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
  2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the Anthem.
  3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the Anthem has been performed.
  4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
  5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.
  6. The Commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”

In an official statement on the NFL website, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote:

“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society. 

The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress. 

It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case. 

This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the Anthem may stay in the locker room until after the Anthem has been performed.

We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it—and on our fans who enjoy it.”

Aaron Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins announces pregnancy

The late Aaron Hernandez's fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins, announced Tuesday that she's expecting another child.

Jenkins took to Instagram to announce the pregnancy and didn't reveal who the father of the baby is.

>> Read more trending news 

"Many of you have had speculated that I may be expecting another miracle which is very accurate," Jenkins wrote in her Instagram post. "We are beyond excited about the new addition and chapter we will soon begin."

Jenkins revealed she'd be having another daughter, saying she "couldn’t be a luckier woman to have such a perfect little girl that’s prepared to become the best big sister, and even more blessed to welcome another baby girl to our home."

On Boston25News.com: 'He could've been saved,' Shayanna Jenkins tells Dr. Phil

The pregnancy comes just over a year after Hernandez's death, when he hanged himself in prison on April 19, 2017.

Hernandez's suicide note to Jenkins featured him calling her his "soul-mate" and saying she would be "rich" after his death.

Houston Texans star J.J. Watt visits Santa Fe High School shooting victims 

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt continues to make an impact in the wake of the mass shooting at a southeastern Texas high school, KTRK reported.

>> Read more trending news

Watt visited some of the victims injured in the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School on Monday and took photographs with them and their nurses at the hospital. He also visited several victims at their homes, KHOU reported.

A gunman opened fire Friday at the high school in Santa Fe, Texas, killing 10 and wounding 13.

Among the students Watt visited Monday was Chase Yarborough, who he visited at home; and Clay Horn, who remains in the hospital after suffering a gunshot wound.

Horn could undergo more surgery Tuesday, KTRK reported.

>> J.J. Watt offers to pay for funerals of Santa Fe victims

Last week, Watt offered to pay the funeral expenses for the people who were killed.

>> Exchange student, substitute teacher among those killed

Former Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel signs with CFL team

Johnny Manziel is taking his football career north of the border.

>> Read more trending news 

The former Texas A&M star quarterback who had two disappointing seasons with the Cleveland Browns marred by off-the-field antics has signed a two-year-deal with the Canadian Football League.

Manziel will play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the league announced Saturday. Manziel confirmed his decision on Twitter. "I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I’m eager for what the future holds," Manziel wrote.

Manziel last played professional football in 2015. He has a 74.4 career quarterback rating in the NFL.

Manziel has been working on a comeback since being released by the Browns in 2016. Known for his excessive partying off the field, Manziel says he is now sober and has been receiving treatment for bipolar disorder. 

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt offers to pay for funerals of Santa Fe victims

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has offered to pay for the funerals of all the victims in Friday morning’s mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, KRIV reported.

>> Read more trending news

“Absolutely horrific,” Watts tweeted Friday in response to the shooting, which left 10 people dead and 10 others injured at the high school located southeast of Houston. 

The Texans confirmed Friday night that Watt will pay for the funerals, KTRK reported.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, a student at the school, was arrested and charged with capital murder and aggravated assault of a peace officer in the shooting in which 10 people were killed and 10 others were injured. 

>> Santa Fe High School shooting: 10 dead, 10 injured

Watt has been honored for his philanthropic efforts. He was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year in 2017, along with Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, for his work in helping Houston recover after Hurricane Harvey. Watt helped raise $37 million through the Houston Flood Relief Fund.

Watt was also given the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award during Super Bowl LII weekend.

On Facebook, Chris Allen of Crowder Funeral Home wrote that Mount Olivet Cemetery was offering free plots for the victims, KHOU reported.

Former Green Bay Packers lineman Carlos Gray shot to death in Alabama 

Former Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Carlos Gray was shot to death in his Alabama home, AL.com reported.

>> Read more trending news

Gray, 25, was found dead at his Pinson home Monday night, according to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. Police and first responders were sent to Gray’s home when a friend found Gray wounded and unresponsive, AL.com reported.

Authorities said they found marijuana, digital scales, a Glock handgun with an extended magazine and an AK-47 rifle with a large capacity magazine at Gray’s home, AL.com reported.

Gray played collegiately at North Carolina State University and left after his junior year to enter the 2014 NFL draft. He signed with Green Bay as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He played in four preseason games for the Packers in 2014 and was released in 2015. 

Gray was the father of two young children. He was renovating houses, selling cars and working as a party promoter, AL.com reported. 

’Mr. Irrelevant’: NFL draft’s final pick has 'big chip' on his shoulder

Trey Quinn said he has “a big chip” on his shoulder, and he is determined to prove his relevance in the NFL.

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Quinn, a wide receiver from Southern Methodist University, was tabbed as “Mr. Irrelevant” -- the final pick in the 2018 NFL draft -- when he was drafted at No. 256 by the Washington Redskins.

It was the first time the Redskins chose the final player in the draft since 1992, when they picked Matt Elliott, ESPN reported.

“There's a big chip on my shoulder, and you'll see it on me, but I'm excited," Quinn told ESPN. “I'm excited to be a part of an organization, and after a long day, I'm kind of stressed out. I'm just excited to be a part of the Skins and go dominate a little bit.”

While quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy and was the No. 1 pick in the draft, Quinn receives a few perks for being the final pick. He will get a trip to Disneyland, a custom Rolex watch and a trophy that is called the Lowsman -- the opposite of the Heisman, ESPN reported.

Quinn was not irrelevant for SMU. He led the Football Bowl Subdivision with 114 catches in 2017 and scored 13 touchdowns.

"Trey Quinn is a very exciting prospect," Redskins coach Jay Gruden told ESPN. "He caught a lot of balls, did some punt returns. He's a great option route runner, great feel in the zones. Strong hands. Good physical blocker. Good after the catch.”

The final pick bounced around during the third day of draft. It was originally owned by the Falcons. Atlanta traded the pick to the Los Angeles Rams, who subsequently dealt it to Washington, NFL.com reported.

Shaquem Griffin's inspirational story not limited to football fans

Shaquem Griffin’s story is an inspirational one, and it moved to another level after he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL draft. His legion of well-wishers continues to grow.

>> Read more trending news

Griffin, who was drafted in the fifth round, received encouragement and best wishes from players and fans on Twitter. 

The outside linebacker had his left hand amputated as a child because of amniotic band syndrome, but was a two-year starter at the University of Central Florida and was a first-team all-conference selection both seasons. 

He was reunited with his twin brother Shaquill when the Seahawks made him the 141st overall pick. That brought Griffin full circle from the NFL scouting combine, when he bench-pressed 225 pounds 20 times with a prosthetic left hand.

"I couldn't breathe," Griffin told ESPN said after he was drafted. "I didn't know what to say. I was trying to get the words out, but I couldn't talk."

Griffin’s well-wishers included pro athletes and people who have faced the same hurdles as the linebacker. They were joyous in their posts.

“Thrilled for you,” former major-league pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, wrote on Twitter. “Beyond words.”

“So grateful for this moment!!!” Twitter user Gienelle wrote, showing a picture of her son displaying a prosthetic left hand. “This pick is powerful for my boy!! His dreams just went through the roof!! “

Chris Pugh, whose daughter lost fingers to amniotic band syndrome, called Griffin “inspirational.”

“No matter what team he plays for, I'm a big Shaquem Griffin fan,” he wrote.

Drew Carfrae, a Steelers fan from Iowa who said he used a wheelchair, wrote that “to see someone that other people would say had a ‘disability’ prove doubters wrong, is amazing.” 

“Cheering and crying that his dreams came true,” wrote Amy Eldridge, whose son has one hand. 

Twelve-year-old Julianna Linton was born with amniotic band syndrome and posted a video before the draft. She also got to meet Griffin when the Knights played Houston in 2016.

On Twitter, Griffin thanked “everyone who has helped push me, motivate me and support me. Most importantly, thank you Seahawks.”

Buffalo superfan 'Pancho Billa' announces team's 3rd-round pick

The Bills Mafia took care of its biggest fan during the NFL draft Friday night.

>> Read more trending news

Ezra Castro, known as “Pancho Billa,” was called to the podium by Buffalo Bills legends Andre Reed and Fred Jackson to read the team’s third-round pick, The Buffalo News reported.

Castro, a Dallas resident, was in attendance at the draft, which was held at AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington, Texas. 

Castro is president of the Dallas Fort-Worth Bills Backers chapter and a lifelong Bills fan. He has been battling cancer since last fall and recently had chemotherapy, the News reported.

At the podium, Jackson acknowledged Castro, calling him “one of the most recognizable fans in Buffalo’s history.”

Then Reed, the Bills’ the Hall of Fame wide receiver, said that Castro “has been battling cancer, but this is not to dampen his spirit and his love for the game and his Bills.

Jackson returned to the microphone and invited Castro on stage to read the Bills’ draft choice.

"With the 96th pick, the Bills Mafia selects Harrison Phillips, defensive tackle, Stanford," Castro said, his voice cracking.

Reed and Jackson presented Castro with a Bills No. 18 jersey that had “NFL Draft” stitched on the back.

General Manager Brandon Beane said Castro’s moment at the podium “sent chills up everybody’s spine in the draft room."

“We’re all praying for him,” Beane told the News.

Who's Honor? Vince Young fumbles Harold Landry's name during NFL draft

New Tennessee Titans linebacker Harold Landry suddenly has a new nickname thanks to a verbal gaffe by Vince Young during Friday’s NFL draft.

>> Read more trending news

The NFL allowed each team to select a “franchise legend” to announce its second-round pick, ESPN reported. When Young stepped to the podium in Arlington, Texas, to announce the Titans’ pick, he butchered Landry’s name.

“Titan Up. Titans Up, baby. With the 41st pick in the 2018 draft, the Tennessee Titans select Honor, Honor Landry,” Young said during the live broadcast.

Landry, who starred at Boston College, has never been called Honor.

Young apologized to Landry in a tweet, while Landry responded on Twitter that the former quarterback’s name fumble was not a big deal, ESPN reported

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