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Monday's NFL: Four Buffalo Hall of Famers to support shooting victims


Buffalo, N.Y. — Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas tells The Associated Press he and several former teammates are coming together in Buffalo this week to help support families of the shooting victims.

Among those players expected to make the trip are Hall of Famers defensive end Bruce Smith and receiver Andre Reed, along with Thomas and Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who like Thomas lives in the area.

“Those guys said right away, `We’ll be here this week because that’s our city. We love it and we want to be supportive,‘” Thomas said. “They want to see what they can do and how they can help, because they were really a part of this community for a number of years and they want to continue to help.”

The four Hall of Famers were key members of the Buffalo teams that won four straight AFC championships, though they lost in the Super Bowl each year.

Thomas and his wife, Patti, said their family foundation has raised more than $100,000 to help the city and its residents in the aftermath of the shooting.

“I’m a little emotional right now. Really, I am,” Thomas said at a news conference with city officials Monday. “I’m hurting for the city that I love. I’m hurting for the people on the east side, their families, our friends and our community. You read about stuff happening in other states, but when it’s right here at home, it’s tough. It really is tough and this is a time that we need to come together.”

Ten people were killed in the shooting spree.

Watson, NFL reps to meet

NFL officials will meet this week with Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson as the league continues to investigate whether he violated its personal conduct policy, a person familiar with the plans told The Associated Press on Monday.

Watson, who is facing 22 civil lawsuits from massage therapists accusing him of sexual misconduct, is scheduled to speak with the league’s representatives in Texas, said the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Watson is facing potential discipline by the league, which is independently investigating his actions while he was with the Houston Texans. Commissioner Roger Goodell said as recently as April 28 at the NFL draft that there was no timeframe on any possible ruling on Watson.

Reporter Josina Anderson was first to report the planned meeting on Twitter.

“We have no update and will decline comment on that tweet,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to the AP. “There’s no timetable as the review is active and ongoing.”

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told the AP he will leave it to the NFL to discuss its schedule of interviews, but he assumes that “Watson will be interviewed at great length soon.”

The meeting with league officials is a significant development for Watson, who signed a fully guaranteed $230 million contract in March with the Browns after initially turning down a trade to Cleveland.

The Browns, who sent three first-round draft picks and six total selections to the Texans for Watson, are eager to find out if they’ll be without him for any portion of this season after making such a major investment in the three-time Pro Bowler.

In March, two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints from 10 women. He has denied all wrongdoing and said during a news conference with the Browns in April that he “never assaulted or disrespected or harassed any woman in my life.”

Jets' Johnson signs rookie deal

The New York Jets signed defensive end Jermaine Johnson, the No. 26 overall pick in the NFL draft, to a fully guaranteed four-year, $13.1 million rookie deal Monday.

Johnson joins Detroit native Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, selected fourth overall, as Jets first-round picks under contract. Gardner signed his four-year, $38.7 million deal on May 7. Wide receiver Garrett Wilson, the No. 10 pick last month, is unsigned.

The deal for Johnson includes a $6.7 million signing bonus and the standard fifth-year option for the Jets.

New York traded back into the first round to snag Johnson, who is expected to be an immediate contributor as a pass rusher. The former Florida State standout was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year last season after leading the conference with 12 sacks and 181/2 tackles for loss.

“Mindset, violence,” Johnson said recently during rookie minicamp when asked what the keys are to setting the edge on defense. “There’s no pretty boy work in the trenches. It’s fun and sacks look good and stuff like that, but first and second down are primarily runs, so you have to earn the right to rush the passer.

“And what comes with that at my position is setting the edge, and you have to be violent and take your job serious.”