The NFL has given a $200,000 grant to a mentoring program that supports children who have lost a parent in the military.
Tuesday’s Children, a nonprofit providing long-term support to communities and people impacted by terrorism and traumatic loss, received the grant this week. The NFL first worked with Tuesday’s Children following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, providing grants to aid thousands of first responder families.
For 15 years, Tuesday’s Children has provided youth mentoring programs to children who lost a parent in those attacks. The new NFL grant will be used to expand this program to include children ages 6 to 18 who have lost a parent in the military. The program matches children with carefully recruited and screened mentors who provide guidance, support and direction that help the children succeed academically and socially.
“The NFL is enabling us to take our youth mentorship program to a new base of children in need,” says Terry Sears, executive director of Tuesday’s Children. “Losing a parent under any circumstance is traumatic and can often put a child on a negative and destructive path; our mentorship program works to help children overcome their loss and go on to live successful and fulfilling lives.”
THE WRIGHT WAY: Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright has never been the go-to target or the every-down player, standing just 5-foot-10. But there’s always a niche for the type of sure-handed hard worker he has been in six seasons with the team.
After appearing in eight games last season and being thrown to a career-low 14 times, his spot on the roster for 2017 appeared tenuous, especially after the Vikings took wide receiver Rodney Adams and Stacy Coley in the draft after selecting Laquon Treadwell in the first round the year before.
But with Stefon Diggs and Michael Floyd out last week against Baltimore with injuries, Wright came through with three catches for 54 yards. The first two were third-down conversions in the first half, keeping drives alive that ended in field goals. The third was a diving grab for 30 yards that set up another field goal in the fourth quarter.
“I know how to prepare. I know how to handle things, and most of all I know how to play football,” Wright said. “So when it comes down to it, just staying in it throughout the week, always paying attention, always knowing each and every position and what to do there. When your number is called, because this is a league of injuries, people get hurt all the time, the next guy has to step up. We have a great team here. We have a lot of guys who can do that.”
TEAMING UP: The San Francisco 49ers have teamed with several major law enforcement unions around the country to try to ban “bump stocks” and other mechanisms that convert semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons.
The 49ers pledged $500,000 to the campaign called the “Pledge for a More Understanding and Safer America.” The pledge calls for the banning of “bump stocks,” armor-piercing bullets and gun silencers; advocating for additional mental health services; getting sports teams, law enforcement and other groups together on public service announcements designed to improve police and community relations; and improve dialogue around all these issues.
Niners CEO Jed York signed a pledge supporting these causes, along with representatives from law enforcement unions from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York and other places around the country.
SPECIAL CAMP: Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill, one of the league’s most dynamic wide receivers, slowed down long enough to bring some smiles to the faces of about 50 unique prospects this week.
Hill joined teammates Albert Wilson, Marcus Kemp and Gehrig Dieter in holding a clinic for Special Olympians from Kansas and Missouri on Tuesday night. Each participant received a personalized jersey that hung in the home locker room, along with personalized name plates and other swag.
The wide receivers led the Olympians through a variety of football drills, including throwing and catching, while Hill spent extra time working with the participants on their touchdown celebrations.
There were also plenty of autographs and a post-fantasy camp pizza party.
SCOREBOARDING: Ask Washington coach Jay Gruden about Dallas vice president of player personnel Will McClay, and he immediately remembers an Arena League playoff game 11 years ago.
Gruden’s Orlando Predators rolled to a 45-28 road win over the heavily favored Dallas Desperados, coached by McClay. The Desperados hadn’t scored fewer than 46 points in the high-scoring arena style all season.
“One of my favorite games I ever coached was against the Dallas Desperados when they were like 20-point favorites,” Gruden said. “We put an (expletive) whooping on them. You can tell him I said that. Make sure you remind Will about that game.”
Naturally, Gruden’s recollection led to the question of Arena League games actually having point spreads. The league essentially disbanded a few years later, then came back in various forms.
“Heck yeah,” he said. “It was big-time back then, man. It was a heck of a league back then.”
McClay joined the Cowboys as a scout after the Desperados folded and has risen to the No. 3 personnel man behind owner and general manager Jerry Jones and son Stephen Jones.
DOLPHINS SONGS: Miami Dolphins fans can now access a streaming channel dedicated to their team that will contain the official playlists of the Dolphins, their cheerleaders and their mascot.
The channel (www.dolphins.com/deezer) will feature songs that help players with their pregame routine, and fans can access podcasts, audiobooks and sports commentary. The channel is the result of a partnership with the music streaming company Deezer.
The Dolphins say they’re the first North American professional sports team with such a partnership.
“This Dolphins channel gives our fans direct access to the players’ favorite music, be it what they listen to off the field, or in getting pumped for a game,” Dolphins senior vice president Todd Kline said.
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner, Dave Campbell, Josh Dubow and Schuyler Dixon, and Sports Writers Steven Wine, Dave Skretta and Stephen Whyno contributed.