Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker found himself in need of an assist to help the state fight the coronavirus pandemic.
He called on the New England Patriots.
The team's private plane was on schedule to return to Boston from China on Thursday evening carrying more than one million masks critical to health care providers fighting to control the spread of the virus.
Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers but had no way of getting them to the U.S. He reached out to Patriots team owner Robert Kraft, who loaned the Boeing 767 painted in the team's colors and logo that is usually used to carry the team to and from NFL games.
Baker confirmed the joint venture in a news conference Thursday.
"The Krafts were terrific," the Republican governor said. "They were a phone call away and immediately went to work on the logistics associated with this and did not stop until they could make it happen. This was a total team effort on every level."
Kraft Sports and Entertainment chief operating officer Jim Nolan said in an interview on Patriots.com radio that the Chinese government didn't officially sign off on the trip until March 27.
• The Ivy League decided not to allow its spring-sport athletes who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility, despite the NCAA granting that option earlier this week. The move was consistent for the Ivy League, which hasn't allowed athletes who received medical redshirts to play for a fifth year.
• The Senior PGA Championship, which was scheduled for May 21-24 in Benton Harbor, Mich., was canceled.
• British Open organizers say postponement is an option for this year's tournament at Royal St. George's, but no decision has been made.
• MLS extended its team training moratorium through April 24. Team training facilities remain closed to players and staff except for players who are receiving medical treatment or rehabilitation under the supervision of the team's medical staff.
The league last month suspended play through mid-May. All Minnesota United games through a May 9 game at Orlando have been postponed.
• Former baseball All-Star Jim Edmonds says he tested positive for the new coronavirus and for pneumonia but is symptom-free now.
Packers sign Funchess
Green Bay signed receiver Devin Funchess as he tries to bounce back from an injury-shortened 2019 season.
Funchess played for the Colts last year but went on injured reserve after breaking his collarbone in a season-opening 30-24 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The 25-year-old Funchess spent his first four NFL seasons with the Panthers, who selected him out of Michigan in the second round of the 2015 draft. He has 164 career receptions for 2,265 yards and 25 touchdowns, including 44 receptions for 549 yards in 2018.
• The Saints agreed to bring back free agent cornerback P.J. Williams.
• The Raiders remain the market for a potential starting cornerback after their free-agent deal with Eli Apple wasn't finalized and the cornerback opted to re-enter the market.
AROUND THE HORN
Baseball: Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow's one-year suspensions for illegal sign-stealing will still count even if the 2020 season gets canceled due to the ongoing pandemic, according to a report from ESPN's Buster Olney.
• Ed Farmer, an All-Star reliever who spent nearly three decades as a radio broadcaster for the White Sox, has died. He was 70. Farmer was 30-43 with a 4.30 ERA and 75 saves while pitching for eight teams over 11 seasons.
College basketball: Ohio State junior Kaleb Wesson plans to enter the NBA draft.
• Former Wake Forest and Marshall basketball coach Carl Tacy has died at 87. Tacy spent a year as Marshall's head coach before 13 seasons with the Demon Deacons from 1973-85, compiling a 222-149 record.
• DePaul and coach Dave Leitao agreed to a contract extension through the 2023-24 season after a year in which the Blue Demons went 16-16.