5 Chicago athletes who are helping in the fight against COVID-19

Everyone in the community is pitching in right now to battle this crisis, including some of the city's biggest sports stars

Good morning, frents …

Just a reminder that I’m planning on running the first Midway Minute mailbag this Friday. I received a crop of great questions yesterday (plus an unsolicited list of baseball’s greatest catchers from my friend Art), but I’m still looking for more.

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Our stars step up in tough times

It’s been just around three weeks since sports packed it in and postponed themselves for the foreseeable future. With the games went our athletes, destined for a hermit’s existence that looks a lot like ours right now … although their occasional social media check-ins are being sent from nicer digs.

Like everyone else, many are trying to pitch in where they can whether it’s financially or by sending messages and PSAs to their sizable followings. With that in mind, here are five Chicago athletes who are trying to get things done around the city.

Jason Heyward

Heyward was one of the first Chicago athletes to make a public donation and I still haven’t seen any local athlete top his charitable largesse. Per this Jeff Passan tweet on March 18, Heyward planned to donate $200,000 to Chicago’s COVID-19 relief fund, $100,000 to a foundation gathering supplies and meals for families affected by the virus and $100,000 for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Huge.

Anthony Rizzo

Can someone please promise me that Rizzo never plays anywhere other than Chicago? The Cubs first baseman is normally among the most charitable athletes in regular times, so it only stands to reason he’s on the front lines during this crisis. His Hope 44 Fund has been arranging meals for first responders in both Chicago and Florida hospitals. Rizzo’s Twitter feed right now is a good mix of food being delivered to nurses and doctors and crowd-sourced videos of medical staff being cheered from Chicago’s buildings every night at 8 p.m.

You can donate to Rizzo’s foundation here.

Allen Robinson

The Bears wide receiver is using his Within Reach Foundation to partner with the Greater Food Depository to make sure Chicago Public School students aren’t going hungry with school not in session. Robinson pledged to match the first $12,000 in donations (12 is his jersey number), which led coach Matt Nagy to pledge the same amount while Charles Leno Jr. pledged $7,200. (Yep, you guessed it: Leno wears No. 72). Almost $15,000 had been raised by fans and supporters by Tuesday night. You can donate to Within Reach here.

Jonathan Toews

The Blackhawks captain donated $100,000 from his personal foundation to the city’s COVID-19 response fund and participated in a conference call with other NHL stars on Monday. He said he’s currently holed up in his new condo, catching up with his to-do list and season 3 of Ozark while also hanging with his girlfriend’s Yorkie.

Zach LaVine

The Bulls star committed 12,500 meals through Feeding America in his hometown of Seattle on March 20 and says he’s exploring ways to help in Chicago. He’ll participate in this weekend’s NBA2K video game tournament with 15 other NBA players on ESPN; winner gets $100K for the COVID-19 charity of his choice.

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How confident is the NFL that the 2020 season will start on time? Confident enough to tell reporters on a Tuesday conference call that it expects to get the full season and playoff run with no delays or cancelations. The league hasn’t even started on contingency plans. On one hand, that first weekend is still months away and the NFL might have more immediate fish to fry in figuring out how to pull off the draft later this month. On the other, seems like there should be at least a thought of figuring out a Plan B if a ban on large gatherings extends into the fall.

• Potentially good news for the Bears: Earlier in the day, the NFL owners formally approved the expansion of the 2020 playoffs to seven teams per conference.

• Lastly, it’s officially official. Nick Foles has signed on the line that is dotted.

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• We are all Ozzie Guillen right now.

Why the Cubs are in a bad spot with the luxury tax, no matter if the season is shortened or canceled. (Bleacher Nation)

What Colleen Kane learned about Nick Foles while reading his book. (Tribune)

•  Mike Oz on why Fourth of July might be the perfect Opening Day. (Yahoo Sports)

It’s surreal to see pictures of the United Center floor filled with food as a satellite storage facility for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. (Twitter)

Phil Rosenthal on Siera Santos’ next move: Returning to the Fox affiliate in her hometown of Phoenix. (Tribune)

Ah yes, the old “our Zoom call between two Chicago politicians got hijacked by pornography” situation. Happened to Da Mare all the time. (Sun-Times)

• I wasn’t fooling about this becoming a Lightfoot meme newsletter.

Today’s winner:

That’s it for today. Remember to send those questions in. And thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter.

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