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Report: All Browns Players, Staff Test Negative after Odell Beckham Jr. Illness Scare

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All Cleveland Browns players and staff members have tested negative for COVID-19 after star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was sent home from practice with an illness Thursday, according to a report by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Beckham did not test positive for the virus on Thursday, but Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski decided to keep him at home and off the practice field out of “an abundance of caution,” adding that he was “just feeling under the weather.”

While Beckham’s ailment likely caused some alarm in Cleveland on Thursday, the news of negative tests across the club should remove any doubt regarding Sunday’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field being played as scheduled.

The Steelers have already had to deal with the positive tests of opponents altering their season, as their game against the Tennessee Titans had to be rescheduled from Week Four to Seven.

Pittsburgh themselves have not had any virus-related issues since they removed running back Jaylen Samuels from the Reserve list back in mid-August.

Cleveland’s successful battery of tests Thursday also comes after an increasing number of teams have had to temporarily shut down their facilities due to COVID-19 concerns, including the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts just this week.

Atlanta has reportedly been cleared to reopen their practice facility after no new positive tests from Thursday, while the Colts are working remotely as the work to confirm testing results.

NFL

Federal Judge Orders NFL, Class Counsel to Address Racial Concerns Brought by former Steelers in Concussion Settlement

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The federal judge who overseas the NFL’s concussion settlement program is sending class counsel Seeger Weiss and the league back to negotiations resolve to the racial concerns in the raised by former players.

Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Steelers Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, telling the two sides to “address the concerns relating to the race-norming issue.”

Henry and Davenport have accused the league of discriminating against Black players who have filed dementia-related claims. The lawsuit alleged that the NFL used separate criteria for judging mental degradation in black and white athletes, making it more likely for white players to receive benefits.

Brody dismissed their lawsuit as “an improper attack on the Settlement Agreement,” but added that “the Court, however, remains concerned” about the reservations they raised. The NFL and Weiss will now appear before Magistrate Judge David Strawbridge to reach a new agreement on the concerns.

Davenport, played with the Steelers from 2006-08 and also spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts in a seven-year NFL career. Henry spent eight seasons in Pittsburgh from 1993-2000 after being drafted in the fourth round out of Mississippi State and played in Super Bowl XXX with the team.

The NFL originally settled with its former players in 2013 and agreed to pay out over $750 million to players that suffer neurological conditions from playing professional football. The settlement has been regarded as controversial overall, and there have been several attempts from players to re-litigate portions of it.

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Maia Chaka Becomes First Black Female Official in NFL History

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NFL

Maia Chaka has been added as an NFL’s game official for the 2021 season, making her the first Black female referee in league history.

Chaka previously served as an official at the college level in both the Pac-12 and Confederate USA.

Chaka was also selected to the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014, which “identifies top collegiate officiating talent to expose them to some of the same experiences as NFL officials, working to determine if they have the ability to succeed as an NFL official.”

“I am honored to be selected as an NFL official,” Chaka said in a league statement. “But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture.”

When not officiating, Chaka is a health and physical education teacher from Virginia Beach. She graduated from Norfolk State University with a bachelor’s in education in 2006.

“Maia’s years of hard work, dedication and perseverance – including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program – have earned her a position as an NFL official,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent Sr. said. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field.”

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Ryan Switzer Asks for Prayers for COVID-19 Positive Son

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Former Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer asked for prayers for his 9-month-old son Christian Saturday morning. Switzer’s son has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19.

In Switzer’s tweet, he asked everyone to say a prayer for the little guy. Thousands of fans have interacted with the tweet, with many voicing their prayers and well wishes.

The 26-year-old receiver signed a 1-year deal with the Cleveland Browns in January after spending time on their practice squad last season. Switzer was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He then spent both 2018 and 2019 in Pittsburgh before being released by the Steelers before the 2020 season.

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