Adrian Peterson is an all-time great football player, but he's not coming off well this offseason.
The rumors that he wanted to be traded didn't come out of nowhere. Let's understand that. But now he's doing a 180 and acting like he never wanted out, that he actually just wanted more stability from Minnesota Vikings and "Go Vikings" and whatnot. Sure. What a coincidence that this turn came after Vikings coach Mike Zimmer basically told him there was no way he was playing with anyone else.
For some reason Peterson thinks that his 2014, with only one game played because of a messy legal situation that involved injuring his young son when he disciplined him with a switch, should lead to the Vikings giving him more guaranteed money. Which is crazy. Much crazier than his request to be traded, actually.
Peterson took to Twitter to try to set the record straight, with a long series of tweets.
I love people who think they know it all! Smh, Research how many NFL teams hasn't honored a player's contract & learn something.— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015
Question for the people, is a contract two sided or one?— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015
Ok great two sided! Well why when one party decides ... Mr. ? we wan't you to take a pay cut now or better yet flat out release you!— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015
There's never no talk about honoring a contract!— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015
I know hundreds of player's that wished their team would've HONORED the contract! But instead got threw to the side like like trash.— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015
A lill crazy how one side has so much power that they can do as they please when it come to the contract! But when the other-side (player's)— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015
Feels for whatever reason! Family, Change of scenery or simply - what they feels just might work best for them! Those same laws don't apply!— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015
It's all about honoring you're contract! Sounds like free will is being a lil challenged to me!— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) May 28, 2015
In general, Peterson is right. NFL players should get as much as they can when they can get it. Their careers are short and they play a dangerous game. So when a player has leverage, take advantage of it.
To repeat: When. A. Player. Has. Leverage. Peterson has none right now.
Peterson is getting paid $12.75 million this season, and for all intents and purposes that's guaranteed because the Vikings aren't cutting him this year (if they did, good luck to Peterson finding a better deal at this point). His $14.75 million salary for 2016 is not guaranteed. That's pretty much life for anyone in the NFL, and probably should be the same for a player who appeared in one game last season, and got paid for most of the year while he was on the commissioner's exempt list. Peterson signed that contract — which is an incredible deal for a running back in this era — with that non-guaranteed money, by the way.
And yes, NFL contracts are one-sided. That stinks for the players. But, through the NFLPA, that's what they signed off on. In a perfect world the union would battle the NFL for more guaranteed deals, like Major League Baseball and the NBA has for far less dangerous sports. But that hasn't happened. That's the world Peterson lives in. It's not fair, really. But that's what it is. And Peterson comparing his situation, where he's practically assured of making $12.75 million this year (again, a phenomenal amount of cash for a running back these days), to others who have been cut when their usefulness runs out, is just incorrect. The situation he's referencing has almost nothing to do with his own.
It this all unfair? In Peterson's case ... no. He missed most of last year because he got in legal trouble, and whether you think he got a raw deal or if he didn't get punished enough, I think we can all agree he didn't do anything over the past year to earn $14.75 million more in guaranteed money. Peterson has acted like a victim through his whole ordeal. It's a bit odd.
I'm not sure what Peterson thinks he'll get out of this rant. I have a tough time believing the Vikings guarantee his salary for next year. He does have "free will," so he can retire and pass up the $40-plus million left on his contract. A few NFL players retired this offseason. That's his right. But he's in no position to ask for a better contract right now. Maybe if he has another vintage Peterson season he can then hold some cards to force the Vikings to improve his deal. But he doesn't now. All that one of the greatest players ever is doing is looking petty as he battles for something he's in no position to ask for.
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The Denver Broncos' offense needs to protect Peyton Manning and run the ball effectively, and both tasks got a lot tougher when left tackle Ryan Clady blew out his knee on Wednesday.
In an OTA practice Clady tore his ACL and will likely miss the 2015 season, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Thursday. The Broncos confirmed the news shortly after. Clady, who has been dominant at left tackle since his rookie year of 2008, has been to four Pro Bowls and has been selected first-team All-Pro twice. Now the Broncos have likely lost him for the 2015 season, months before the season starts.
The Broncos' replacements seem to be this year's second-round pick, Ty Sambrailo, or Michael Schofield, a second-year player who has yet to appear in an NFL game. The team also signed veteran Ryan Harris, ESPN said.
That's not to say the Broncos can't still be successful without Clady. In 2013 Clady played in just two games because of a foot injury. The Broncos went on to score the most points in NFL history and made it to the Super Bowl without him. However, this is a much different Broncos team. In 2013 the Broncos could survive without Clady because it was a pass-first offense, and quarterback Peyton Manning is masterful at getting rid of the ball before he gets hit. But Manning won't be able to throw that much again, not after he faltered late last season under a heavy workload. With a 39-year-old quarterback the Broncos will be forced to play the same style offense they played late last season, which is plenty of extra linemen or tight ends and a lot of handoffs to C.J. Anderson. Doing that effectively is more challenging without one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. So is making sure Manning doesn't take any hits, a year after he faded physically down the stretch. The Broncos also lost another top lineman, Orlando Franklin, in free agency to San Diego this offseason.
The Broncos aren't going to tumble down the AFC just because Clady is likely out for the season. But given how last year ended, it's a blow they didn't really need well before the season.
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Since he was traded from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Buffalo Bills, LeSean McCoy has had plenty to say about Chip Kelly, his former head coach. Most notably, in an interview with ESPN.com, McCoy basically insinuated that Kelly is racist.
"The relationship was never really great," McCoy said about Kelly to ESPN’s Mike Rodak. "I feel like I always respected him as a coach. I think that's the way he runs his team. He wants the full control. You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That's the truth. There's a reason. ... It's hard to explain with him. But there's a reason he got rid of all the black players – the good ones – like that."
Kelly met with the media Thursday for the first time since McCoy’s comments came out, and he addressed them head-on.
“I’ve got great respect for LeSean, however, in that situation, I think he’s wrong,” Kelly said. “We’ve put a lot of time into looking at the characters and factors that go into selection and retention of players, and color has never been one of them.”
Kelly said he hasn’t felt the need to address McCoy’s thoughts in the Eagles’ locker room and he was not hurt by the comments.
“It doesn’t hurt me. I’m not governed by the fear of what people say,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he twice reached out to McCoy, but did not get a response. He also said he attempted to get in touch with Drew Rosenhaus, McCoy’s agent. Still, he hasn’t heard from the All-Pro running back.
McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards in 2014, third-best in the league, but Kelly traded him in in March for linebacker Kiko Alonso. Kelly also infamously released wideout DeSean Jackson last offseason – but that doesn’t mean McCoy’s comments hold up.
Kelly has dramatically shaken up his roster throughout the offseason, but has brought in a significant number of black players including running back DeMarco Murray, defensive backs Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond. Additionally, Kelly signed running back Ryan Mathews and wide receiver Miles Austin, both of whom are mixed. Kelly also drafted five black players – so McCoy’s assertion doesn’t make sense.
Personnel decisions in the NFL are made for an array of reasons. In a league that is nearly 70 percent black, it would be far-fetched to intimate that race is one of them.
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Brandon Marshall has only been with the New York Jets for a few months, but he has gone the extra mile to establish a connection with Geno Smith, his new quarterback.
According to the New York Post, Marshall and Smith have been living together at Smith’s home in New Jersey for the past month.
From the Post:
To help accelerate the chemistry between he and Smith, Marshall moved in with Smith in New Jersey. The two have been living together for the past month. Marshall said he and Smith first met a few years ago and they bonded. The duo got together in South Florida shortly after the trade in March to work out.
Marshall has been impressed with Smith, who is entering his third season as a pro.
“I was just blown away by his maturity and how much he knows,” Marshall said. “This kid is really smart. The sky is the limit for him.”
Marshall was traded to the Jets in March after a tumultuous 2014 season with the Chicago Bears that included a bevy of injuries and reported locker room issues. Despite missing a handful of games, Marshall still caught 61 passes for 721 yards. Both totals were his lowest since his rookie season with the Denver Broncos.
The Jets hope the 31-year-old Marshall can provide a boost to an offense that has been stagnant in recent years. Marshall says he’s up to the task.
“I really feel like I’m better now than I’ve ever been,” Marshall said Wednesday, per the Post. “There’s the physical part, feeling healthy. … Now I’m starting to see the game differently being older and having a lot of experience. Having all of that working for me and going against those guys every single day, I’m excited about doing my job this year.”
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There are more than a few troubling stories of NFL players struggling to find their way once their football careers are done, but there are also many great stories like Kareem McKenzie's tale.
A fantastic story by Lisa Zimmerman at the NFL's player engagement site tells of how McKenzie, who played in 161 games over 11 seasons with the New York Jets and New York Giants, needed something to do when his playing career was done after the 2011 season. McKenzie was just 32 and even though he had made plenty of money (including a $37 million deal in 2005) and was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Giants, he was really just beginning his life.
So he decided to become a psychologist.
The NFL site said McKenzie is on track to earn his Masters of Education in Professional Counseling from William Paterson University’s College of Education in 2016. He'll pursue his doctorate after that. He wants to provide counseling to retired athletes and also retired members of the military.
“[The question] was, what to do with my free time,” he told Zimmerman. “You can only go to the gym so many times, visit family and friends. You have to find something to do with your time, if not everything becomes very chaotic and dangerous. An idle mind is the devil’s playground.”
McKenzie said he got counseling before his retirement from the NFL and saw firsthand how beneficial it was. Now he wants to be on the other side of those talks. He told Zimmerman that he wants to help assist current players in planning for the next stages of their lives. He'll be a great example for them.
The professional and major college football world isn't really set up to prepare players to walk into a new profession after they've retired at 30 ... if they're lucky enough to have their football career last that long. Because it takes all of their time and effort to make it to the highest level of the sport, preparing for a career after the game is difficult at best. But many players have done well in careers outside of football after they're done playing, as Dr. McKenzie will be able to tell those who are searching for a new identity after football.
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Conventional wisdom holds that three teams -- the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders, and the St. Louis Rams -- are in the mix to move to Los Angeles. How true, or likely, that scenario is depends on whom you ask, but what's indisputable is that the threat of moving to L.A. is spurring action in each city ... which, of course, is what the NFL has wanted all along.
Start in San Diego, where the possibility of losing the Chargers has, at long last, galvanized the city into action. The Chargers are meeting with city and San Diego County officials in the coming weeks to discuss a replacement for Qualcomm Stadium, which opened in 1967.
This marks the first time that San Diego officials have actually reached the negotiating table with the team, and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is winning credit for actually spearheading the effort. Faulconer's nine-person team developed a $1.1 billion financing proposal that, in theory, underestimates revenues and overestimates costs of a new stadium. Even so, both the Chargers and San Diego officials have said they could owe up to $1 billion under the plan. Negotiations will now begin in earnest.
A couple thousand miles to the east, negotiations are a bit more fractious. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and St. Louis officials are investigating the possibility of building a new stadium to replace the Edward Jones Dome, but six Missouri lawmakers have filed suit against that effort. The lawsuit, filed in Cole County Circuit Court, charges Nixon with misuse of state funds and violations of state statutes. The St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority has already spent $40 million on pre-planning efforts.
"I want nothing more than for the Rams to stay," said state Rep. Rob Vescovo (R), one of the suit's plaintiffs. "But I don't think the governor has the authority to bury us under the additional debt without proper vetting."
The current Los Angeles proposals with the most heat involve the Chargers and Raiders splitting a $1.7 billion Carson-area stadium, while Rams owner Stan Kroenke continues to pursue a site in Inglewood. A new team or teams could, in theory, move to Los Angeles as soon as the start of the 2016 season.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
Ray McDonald and the Santa Clara Police Department must be quite familiar with each other by now.
McDonald, the NFL defensive lineman who was arrested on Monday for an alleged domestic violence incident, was arrested again on Wednesday. This time McDonald was arrested for violating a restraining order that was issued as a result of Monday's incident, the Santa Clara Police Department said. At least this time around there's no NFL team embarrassed by him, considering he was cut on Monday by the Chicago Bears.
McDonald spent his first eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before the team cut him last December, following an arrest for domestic violence (he wasn't charged) and an accusation of sexual assault.
McDonald was out on $15,000 bail after Monday's incident. McDonald violated the order at a residence in Santa Clara on Wednesday afternoon. On Monday he was arrested after he was accused of physically assaulting his ex-fiancee while she held their child. McDonald's lawyer said there was an argument but no physical confrontation.
On Wednesday, after being informed McDonald had violated the restraining order, Santa Clara detectives found McDonald at a nearby Togo's Sandwiches restaurant. The police report said McDonald was arrested without incident on Wednesday.
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That smell of body spray and tanning lotion can only mean one thing: "Entourage" is back. For those not in the know, "Entourage" was an HBO series, now a movie, about a Hollywood star and his best pals trundling through a five-star life.
As the movie nears its debut, series creator Doug Ellin sat down with Graham Bensinger to discuss many aspects of "Entourage"'s creation, including all the athlete cameos. What burns Ellin, though, is one that didn't come to pass: Eli Manning, who said he wanted to be on the show and then stood everyone up. Not cool, Eli. Not cool. But in this instance, Tom Brady would get the best of Eli, subbing in at the last second.
You can see the clip of Brady's appearance right here (language warning for the tender-eared). And according to Ellin, Brady almost aced the hole:
"Entourage" opens June 3. And if Eli wants to see it, he'll have to buy his own ticket.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
When you sign a player with off-field red flags, publicly rationalize the move with bad logic and then the player gets in trouble, you end up in a mea culpa press conference to explain what went wrong.
Will the Chicago Bears, and specifically chairman George McCaskey, learn anything from the Ray McDonald situation? Maybe. McCaskey certainly spoke like he would, two days after the Bears cut McDonald following an arrest over a domestic violence allegation.
But, many executives talk like character matters, until they need a pass rusher or red-zone threat.
“I’ve asked myself that question a lot: ‘What more could I have done? Is there somebody else we could have consulted with? Should I have taken more time to make a decision?’" McCaskey said on Wednesday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Patrick Finley. "I don’t know. We thought we had a good structure, a good support system. We thought we had safeguards in place in case something like this happened.”
The Bears heard what they wanted to hear as they debated whether to sign McDonald, which every team does when it justifies signing someone with off-field issues. The Bears tried to sell the public on bad reasoning, like how McDonald impressed them by buying his own plane ticket for a meeting, and that they talked to McDonald's parents and they vouched for him. It's always tough to tell if a team is trying to fool its fans or themselves in these situations.
Either way, it turned out bad, and ended shortly after McDonald was arrested on Monday morning. The previous statements on why it was OK to sign McDonald probably made the situation worse. But it's not like the Bears haven't acquired someone with serious red flags before. This wasn't some first-time experiment. It's hard to imagine it's the last time they acquire someone whose off-field record isn't clean, either.
But, after this public shaming, it might be a while until they try again.
“The overriding emotion for me was sadness," McCaskey said, via Finley. "Sadness for the child, for the child’s mother and for the entire situation. Domestic violence is a vexing social problem. The NFL has had some high-profile cases, including this one.
“And the NFL — because it’s a leader in society — is called upon to take action, which we are doing. We’re not going to do it by ourselves but I think we have an opportunity to make an impact.”
Whether the NFL is really a "leader in society," rather than a football business, can be debated. But the Bears wanted to move on quickly from this embarrassment. McCaskey said that he wasn't even consulted on Monday when the Bears cut McDonald because "They knew what needed to be done and did it." He detailed some other regrets. But it really just came down to McCaskey admitting a mistake for approving McDonald's signing, after general manager Ryan Pace asked for permission.
"As a I said, we had safeguards in place," McCaskey said, according to the Sun-Times. "(General manager) Ryan (Pace) came to me for permission. So we have the reinforcement of that process. I just need to make a better decision.”
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The Adrian Peterson saga is leading to one of two conclusions, no matter how many alternate paths are suggested.
And if there was any ambiguity about the situation, Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer laid them out very simply.
"Adrian really has two choices: He can either play for us or he cannot play," Zimmer told reporters on Wednesday, via the NFL Network. "He's not going to play for anyone else, that's just the way it's going to be."
That's it. That's the list. And the "he'll retire" part of that equation seems like the emptiest of threats.
(UPDATE: Peterson released a statement on Wednesday night through the Vikings in which he denied wanting to be traded: "The reason I'm not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It's about securing my future with the Vikings. It's business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings.")
Peterson is looking quite petulant in this battle, which isn't really a battle. It's one side stomping its feet while the other shrugs. Peterson, apparently, isn't happy with how the Vikings handled the situation last year regarding his legal issue. Peterson was indicted in a child-abuse case after his then 4-year-old son suffered injuries when Peterson punished him with a switch, and Peterson eventually pled no contest.
Here's the problem with Peterson being upset, and his agent's bickering in public: He has no leverage. His only hint of leverage is to not play, which isn't much leverage at all. The Vikings just keep his $12.75 million base salary and go on without him. Peterson has much more to lose in that scenario. If Peterson retires, he'd be doing so in his prime and walking away from the more than $40 million remaining on his contract. He also wouldn't do many favors for his Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy, though it's possible he has done enough already in that regard. But he wouldn't really gain much from it.
This is a staredown in which only one side is staring. The other side is just waiting to fast-forward to the part in which we reach the conclusion everyone knows we'll reach, and Peterson is in the Week 1 lineup. A trade seems extremely unlikely, and that has been the case since the draft ended. The Vikings should have playoff hopes this season so they won't sell low on a former MVP, and if a team was going to give up what Minnesota wanted they have had ample opportunity to do so. He's not getting cut; there's zero point in that. Peterson is likely not retiring either, for the reasons we all know. Even a reworked contract seems like an unreasonable request, considering Peterson already has a mega-deal that looks phenomenal compared to recent running back deals. Peterson sitting out of OTAs will just cost him $250,000; it won't change anything regarding his situation. Simply, no good is going to come out of this stance for Peterson.
Like Zimmer said, either Peterson plays for Minnesota, or he doesn't play. Everyone should expect he'll play. Peterson just looks bad by his camp continuing to press for a trade or leaking hard-to-believe retirement rumors. The conclusion likely won't change no matter what other threats he or his handlers can invent.
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The show gives viewers a behind the scenes look at training camp and what it takes to make an NFL roster. Beyond the usual storylines focusing on players on the edge of the final 53-man roster, the show highlights the personalities of some of the league’s high-profile players.
The Texans reportedly edged out the Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins as HBO’s selection. While some may be disappointed they won’t get some new Rex Ryan soundbites, the Texans have plenty of fun storylines that will make for engaging TV.
A big focus of the weekly documentary series will undoubtedly be All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He’s shown to have quite a colorful personality when he was mic’d up for a game against the Tennessee Titans last season. He’s not afraid to talk trash, and he does it with unique flair.
Watt has plenty of characters around him, too. Hopefully we’ll see the hilarious dance moves of Vince Wilfork, who signed with the Texans as a free agent after 11 years in New England, and the British accent of running back Arian Foster. And don’t forget about Jadeveon Clowney, the 2014 No. 1 pick whose rookie season was ravaged by injuries. Clowney’s comeback should be fun to see.
Additionally, there’s a quarterback competition between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett (and Tom Savage) to watch play out with head coach Bill O’Brien – a highly respected quarterbacks coach – calling the shots.
Through the show, we’ll get a better feel for O’Brien, who is entering his second year with the Texans. O’Brien, the former head coach at Penn State, comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, but he’s far more gregarious than his mentor. He showed his dry, sarcastic sense of humor when his PSU program was featured on ESPN’s “Training Days” in 2013. O’Brien can yell with the best of ‘em, and there’s no doubt we’ll hear our fair share of f-bombs.
Another coach who I hope sees some significant airtime is strength coach Craig Fitzgerald, who is insane in the most lovable way possible. One time he did this in 30-degree weather before a Penn State-Purdue game.
We’re going to need to see a lot more of that, HBO.
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This offseason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end George Johnson has been engrossed in film study. It isn't film from last season, when he had six sacks with the Detroit Lions, or even clips from other defensive ends around the NFL.
Johnson has his DVR set for something entirely different than football. He watches dog shows.
It may be the most unusual off-the-field interest for any player currently in the NFL. Johnson, who is entering his sixth NFL season and first with Tampa Bay, loves competing on the dog show circuit. He is involved in a local kennel club near his home in Florida and he spends time in the offseason watching dog shows such as the Westminster Kennel Club and other videos online to pick up some tips.
Johnson has two American bullies — like a pit bull, he says, but with more density. His girl, Pepper, has competed in and won several shows and his voice speeds up when talking about her accomplishments. Mambo is a boy and will start competing this summer. Johnson has high hopes for Mambo, and people at the kennel club have begun asking when Mambo will compete.
The dogs are judged on how they walk and present themselves and hold their posture during the line-up. Training is involved and Johnson spends 15, perhaps 20 minutes a day on routines and other training with Pepper and Mambo.
“It's basically a beauty pageant, they look to see how graceful the dog is,” Johnson told Yahoo Sports. “It's walking the dog around but the walking around is not as simple as people think. You have to walk around in a certain way, stay in a certain position. When they stack-up, they have to look a certain way like they are at attention. You have to train him from a pup.”
He loves it and says it is tremendous stress relief during the NFL season. He has always had a love for dogs and his growth into this sport followed a natural path from pet owner to professional showman.
As a junior in college at Rutgers, Johnson began the process of getting to know the ins and outs of competing with a dog. He got involved in local groups and a kennel club, practicing certain aspects to ready a dog for a show. In college he couldn't afford the upkeep and resources to compete, a commitment he couldn't make until he made the NFL. But even in college he would attend meetings and practice so that someday he could compete.
Back then he worked with his dog, an American pit bull named Lupe, on weight-pulling. That's when a harness is attached to the dog. Lupe would pull weight “like the Iditarod," Johnson said.
At the kennel club Johnson stood out a bit — “seemed like everyone there was petite” — but he was determined to fit in. And he consistently attended classes at the club and took advantage of any opportunity to work with Lupe. He took the time to listen and learn from others who had been in the field for decades.
Here he was, an All-Big East selection and an upperclassmen in college, trying to blend into this genteel and slightly snooty sport.
“I was big and tall, sometimes my dog was out of control and theirs were very well handled. I did it for fun and for my dog, it was something for him to do,” Johnson said. “Some people, when they get into it, it is about their name and stuff like that. But for me and my dog, it was fun. I just wanted to learn.
“I went to my first show with Lupe and he was completely over-matched. I thought to myself 'This might not be the best fit for us.' I was in college, didn't have the resources to keep up with it.”
Lupe may not have been cut out for shows but now he lives with a trainer in Florida, where he is used for demonstrations when visitors come to a kennel club near Johnson's hometown. Johnson is back at it with with Pepper and Mambo, and he sees them both growing and developing.
It isn't easy for Johnson to balance being in the NFL and his passion for competing in dog shows, something that is borderline full-time for some in this sport. Especially when he has a dog like Mambo.
“During the football season for me is more of their offseason. Working on commands and basically training them to get ready,” Johnson said.
“During my offseason is their in-season, when they really start to do their shows. Mambo has the qualities to do it. People have been asking me to do it. There's a lot of people who want their dog to breed with Mambo. He's like a hidden gem."
Johnson's teammates have gotten into it and are impressed with his dogs. They ask him questions and Johnson hopes that they too will get into the sport. No one laughs at his side hobby; they seem to genuinely respect this most unusual of passions.
Johnson is an NFL veteran but still relatively new to competing in dog shows, a sport that some in his kennel clubs have been involved in for decades. When asked which one he gets more nervous for, a dog show or an NFL game, Johnson chuckles.
Then there is no hesitation.
“One of the shows,” Johnson said. “Because with a show, it is like a child. You want them to do so well. You get anxious for them, you want them to do well in the show. On Sundays, I know what's coming. I know how to prepare, I know my mentality.
“But a show? You don't have that. I admit I get nervous before those, more than a game.”
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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer
DeSean Jackson was noticeably absent on the first day of the Washington Redskins’ organized team activities Tuesday. Later that day, we found out why.
Pictured above is Jackson sitting courtside at Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals in Cleveland alongside Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe and NBA draft prospect Montrezl Harrell.
Jackson also posted a photo of himself with LeBron James after the Cavs clinched a spot in the NBA Finals.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said that Jackson’s absence from OTAs was expected and that the talented wideout will rejoin the team next week. OTAs are completely voluntary, but Jackson was one of only five Redskins players who were not in attendance Tuesday.
The others, according to the Washington Post, who missed OTAs were tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jordan Reed, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, and cornerback Tracy Porter. Reed and Kerrigan are injured, Williams missed a flight from Houston due to heavy flooding in the area and Porter’s flight was canceled.
OTAs are classified as voluntary, so Jackson is within his rights to not attend. Still, it’s become pretty rare for players to miss them – especially to attend a basketball game when your team is coming off a 4-12 season.
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If nothing else, Tuesday's unfortunate joke should teach San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to be a little more careful on social media, especially when it comes to a tragic event.
Kaepernick posted an unfunny and pretty regrettable joke to his Instagram account about the floods in Houston. He referenced his jersey No. 7 in the joke, saying "I warned you the #7tormsComing !!! #Houston." He deleted the post shortly after he posted it but it's not like it's possible to completely erase that from the Internet, given how many people follow Kaepernick (h/t to NBC Bay Area).
Kaepernick wildin pic.twitter.com/HXoDzS38bW— Joshua (@JOSHYHENRIX) May 26, 2015
There has been massive flooding in Houston. According to ABC News, at least five people were dead as of Tuesday evening.
First, Kaepernick tweeted out a quick apology.
No disrespect intended! Prayers up!— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) May 26, 2015
A couple hours later, after hearing plenty about his dumb message on social media, Kaepernick offered a more complete apology.
That does seem like a sincere message from Kaepernick. He clearly made an error in judgment, and it didn't take long for those on social media to let him know about it.
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Ray McDonald was just mad and going to take his TVs after a non-physical argument with the mother of his child, his lawyer said Tuesday.
McDonald was arrested on charges of misdemeanor domestic violence and child endangerment, released on $15,000 bail and cut by the Chicago Bears on Monday. The 911 call from McDonald's ex-fiancee's mother, which surfaced Tuesday, said McDonald broke down a door and tried to take his baby before leaving. The police report said that McDonald was accused of physically assaulting a female while she was holding a baby.
That's just a big misunderstanding, his lawyer told the San Jose Mercury News.
McDonald's lawyer Steve DeFilippis said there was an argument but it never became physical. He said the incident was witnessed by McDonald's driver and videotaped in part by the ex-fiancee, and that will show McDonald never attacked or tried to imprison her. He just wanted to take those flat screens after the argument.
"They're arguing and he gets mad and says he's leaving and says he's taking his TVs," DeFilippis said, according to the Mercury News.
The Bears moved quickly to cut McDonald, in large part because of McDonald's past. McDonald was arrested in a domestic violence incident last August and also accused of sexual assault later in 2014, but he was not charged in either case. Last December the San Francisco 49ers cut McDonald, and the Bears signed him in March. The Mercury News said it's not known yet if Santa Clara police will forward McDonald's latest case to prosecutors for review.
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It’s been six months since Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer, and head coach Andy Reid said Tuesday the All-Pro is “doing well.”
“He’s going to get his big end-of-the-school [year] exam down here. He’s been through all the treatments, so now the doctor is going to sit down with him and go over exactly what the results of all that are,” Reid said at the Chiefs’ first day of organized team activities, per the Kansas City Star.
When the initial diagnosis came out last December, the team said that Berry’s diagnosis was “very treatable” and “potentially curable.”
So far, so good, according to Reid.
“Everything up to this point has been very positive from the doctor and from Eric,” Reid said. “So I think we’re heading in the right direction with that.”
Berry, who turned 26 in December, originally complained of chest pain following the Chiefs’ game against Oakland in late November. Tests found a mass in his chest, shutting him down for the season. A week later, the diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma was confirmed.
After news of his diagnosis was made public, Berry released a statement with an optimistic outlook for his recovery.
“My family and I are very grateful for the amount of support we have received over the last couple of weeks. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate all the words of encouragement, the blessings and well wishes. I want to thank the Emory University School of Medicine, along with Dr. Flowers and his team, for all of their hard work and effort in diagnosing and creating a plan for me to battle this thing. I will embrace this process and attack it the same way I do everything else in life. God has more than prepared me for it. For everyone sharing similar struggles, I’m praying for you and keep fighting!"
In parts of five seasons for the Chiefs, Berry was named an All-Pro three times and registered 289 tackles, 31 passes defended and eight interceptions.
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Last year, the Dallas Cowboys rode running back DeMarco Murray to a 12-4 record and had Dez Bryant's fourth-down catch in Green Bay held up, who knows how far they could have gone?
So the template was set. The Cowboys could run the ball, control the clock, keep their defense off the field and make sure Tony Romo wasn't asked to do too much. But with Murray being a free agent, who would their running back be?
They'd certainly re-sign Murray, the NFL offensive player of the year, right? When that didn't happen, of course they'd land Adrian Peterson or sign an established free agent. Nope. So they had to land a running back in the draft. That didn't happen either. The Cowboys did virtually nothing at running back.
The Cowboys are making a statement. They don't need a big-name running back. They have an offensive line that is widely considered the best in football (and got better when they signed LSU tackle La'el Collins, a first-round talent, as an undrafted free agent), and they think that will be enough.
Every agent of a big-name running back hopes they're wrong.
ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer said he expects Joseph Randle to be the Week 1 starter. That has been the assumption since the draft, although Ryan Williams, Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden are also around.
Randle is a 2013 fifth-round pick with 507 career yards who had more than seven carries in a game once last year. Williams suffered a brutal knee injury as a rookie in 2011 and since then he averaged 2.8 yards on 58 career carries. Dunbar is an undersized, undrafted back who has 80 carries in three NFL seasons. The oft-injured McFadden hasn't averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry in a season since 2011.
This isn't just a minor gamble by the Cowboys. It's an announcement to the rest of the league that their line is so good it doesn't matter who runs the ball. I mean, just look at that group. Then the Cowboys reportedly worked out Felix Jones, Daniel Thomas and Ben Tate, and none of them are anyone's idea of a solution in 2015. Yet it looks like the Cowboys are going to depend on a pretty risky option — whoever it is — to replace Murray.
if they're right? Maybe that further devalues the running back position. You can talk yourself into any of those backs being talented enough to have a nice year behind that line, especially Randle after he averaged 6.7 yards on his limited carries last year. Not everyone has the Cowboys' line, so the no-name approach at running back isn't going to suit everyone. But if Randle and another back or two from that uninspiring list can come close to Murray's production, it will further along the narrative that it's folly to invest much in a brand-name back in the draft or free agency. Just wait for the next Joseph Randle to plug in.
The Cowboys might be screwing this up. Going cheap at running back seems to discount how good Murray was for them. But if they're right and it doesn't matter who runs behind their line this season, it won't be great news for any other running back around the league. Conversely, if the Cowboys fall flat on their faces without Murray at tailback, maybe teams reconsider the plug-and-play approach at running back. A lot of people will be watching to see how it plays out.
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All of our favorite franchises have their down stretches. Sometimes they last a few games, sometimes they last a few seasons, and sometimes they're down so long that they can't even remember what "up" felt like. Which of sports' franchises fit this category? You can probably guess without even watching the video, but we humbly request that you do.
The Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns represent everything inept about the NFL, from on-field play to coaching strategy to front-office management to fan relations. They win our "award" as the worst franchises in sports, but they are most definitely not alone. As a bonus, we've added the five worst contracts in sports history. See if your team is struggling under the weight of one of these!
This debate is part of Yahoo Sports' new ongoing Grandstanding series, in which Jay Busbee and Kevin Kaduk kick around every topic in sports. Check out the Grandstanding podcast, where we dive deeper into the day's big stories, and find us on Twitter (@kevinkaduk and @jaybusbee) Facebook (Kaduk here, Busbee here) or via the hashtag #grandstanding. Thanks for checking it out!
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
R.I.P. Tammy We all love u more than life it self! We know u are looking down on us Today Tomorrow & Forever!— Jimmy Graham (@TheJimmyGraham) May 26, 2015
Meyerson passed away on Friday at the age of 45. Graham was named in her obituary along with her three children as “the number one priority in her life.”
“Tammy loved and mentored Jimmy as a son,” her obituary read.
Graham is entering his first season with Seattle after spending the first five seasons of his career with the New Orleans Saints. He was traded along with a fourth-round pick to the Seahawks in March in exchange for Max Unger and a first-round pick.
In addition to Graham and Wilson, defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett were also reportedly absent from the voluntary workouts. Avril posted on Instagram that his father passed away over the weekend while Bennett is reportedly seeking a change to his contract.
According to ESPN.com, the Seahawks were aware of Graham, Wilson and Avril's absences, but not Bennett's.
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The time an NFL player has to establish himself in the league seems to be getting shorter and shorter.
Take Dee Milliner. He has gone from a top-10 pick by the New York Jets to an unquestioned starter at cornerback to on the roster bubble in two calendar years.
"When you look at Dee coming in, you see a guy still kind of working off of an injury, trying to get himself to 100 percent," Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said to ESPN New York's Rich Cimini. "But as we looked at him, we expect Dee to compete for a position on the roster like everyone else. This was a top-10 pick, and we think he has a lot of ability and we expect him to compete."
It's not good when a defensive coordinator has to pump up optimism about a player competing for a spot on the 53-man roster.
These seemingly aren't empty words, either. The Jets signed Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine to huge deals this offseason. Right now it seems that Milliner's best-case scenario is battling to be the No. 4 cornerback on the team. He was the ninth overall pick of the 2013 draft out of Alabama. But the coaching staff and front office that took him that high have been replaced.
What happened? This one is easy to track. Milliner tore his Achilles tendon last October. Cimini writes that Milliner was "very limited" at OTAs last week. While players seem to come back as good as new from ACL surgeries now, the same isn't true for Achilles injuries. They can sap a player's movement. It's hard for the Jets to know if he'll be anything close to what they thought they were getting two years ago. The fact that Milliner hasn't been great when healthy doesn't help.
[Slideshow: Top 10 NFL draft pick flameouts since 2005]
It's the rare instance where Milliner's contract might be his saving grace, however. Cimini points out he has $3.7 million guaranteed coming to him over the next two seasons. it wouldn't make a ton of sense to dump Milliner now, even if there's no obvious spot for him on the defense or if he's slow to rebound from the injury.
But it's a reminder to all NFL players that nothing is guaranteed. Nobody would have thought two years ago, or even a year ago when Milliner said he thought he was the best cornerback in the NFL, that in 2015 he would be battling for a roster spot to likely be the team's fourth cornerback, and maybe his best shot of making it would be that monetarily the Jets were already invested anyway. It's a good lesson to this year's draft class: Establish yourself early, because patience might be very thin.
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You can make an argument that Jameis Winston is a similar player to Matt Ryan.
That's theoretical, of course, because Winston hasn't played in the NFL yet. But physically and stylistically there are similarities, especially to Ryan when he was coming out of Boston College.
And that's good, because we can get a better idea how Winston will transition to the pros seeing as how he'll be with the same offensive coordinator Ryan had the past three years.
This offseason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Dirk Koetter to be their offensive coordinator. I like that fit between him and Winston, because I think Koetter is a very good offensive coach.
When Koetter coached in college he ran the spread offense, and those offenses put up huge numbers. Then he came to the NFL and adapted. He'll spread you out on occasion, but he had Ryan under center with two backs a lot of times. Koetter is not like a Chip Kelly, where he'll coach a guy to put him in the shotgun. Koetter has run multiple offenses and been successful running all of them. I think he'll do whatever his personnel, including Winston, is best at. One thing about Atlanta is they did a lot of max protection with deeper routes, and I think Winston could do that as a rookie.
Ryan was successful with Koetter. He had the classic NFL quarterback development and got better every year (his numbers may have fluctuated a bit as his supporting cast got better or worse, but as a quarterback he has steadily improved). Coming out of college Ryan was a bit of a strider as he threw, not a great quick-twitch athlete, but a natural thrower who can also make firm touch throws that are required in the NFL. You can say these same things about Winston. Ryan had good years with Mike Mularkey as his offensive coordinator early on, and then fit Koetter's system well. I think Winston will fit Koetter's offense well too.
[ThePostGame: Bucs WR Mike Evans shows off his dunking skills (Video)]
I also really like the marriage of Winston and the receivers he'll have, particularly because of Winston's aggressive style.
You could argue that Roddy White-Julio Jones and Mike Evans-Vincent Jackson are similar receivers. Jones is the most explosive of the four (a healthy Jones is a top three or four receiver in the NFL because he's very explosive for a man that big), but Evans is a similar style receiver. And they're all big receivers who can make tough catches and run every route. They can run vertical routes because of their size. They don't have T.Y. Hilton speed, but they're vertical threats because of their long strides.
And the one thing about Winston is he's willing to pull the trigger on throws. That's a positive. And that makes it important that Winston has big targets to throw to. When you have size out there, those receivers can theoretically be open even when it looks like they're covered. Winston will throw a pick every once in a while because he's a rookie, but you don't want to pull back on his conviction to pull the trigger. That's who he is and that's what his game is. Having Jackson and Evans will help.
One thing Koetter will have to determine is how good the offensive line is, because that will dictate how many deep drops he can call for Winston. You can argue the Buccaneers had one of the worst lines in the NFL last season, and they addressed that a bit in the offseason. But the one thing you don't want to do with Winston, particularly because he's not a naturally quick-twitch athlete, is get him in a situation where he gets hit a lot. If you get hit a lot early in your career you might start to see ghosts. The last thing you want a quarterback to do is anticipate and perceive pressure that isn't there, so Koetter will have to keep that in mind with Winston.
Another thing the Buccaneers need is a running game. Going back to the Ryan example, he had Michael Turner piling up a lot of carries early in his career. Winston will need similar help from the running game. The Buccaneers don't have an obvious lead back, but that's a question they can answer in training camp. One way or another though, it's critical the Buccaneers have a running game to help Winston.
But right now, everything seems to be on the table for Koetter as he figures out what Winston does best. It seems like a good fit for both of them.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.
The Chicago Bears could have said that they were signing Ray McDonald because he was a good defensive end and they didn't care at all about his past. That would have been the truth, right? Instead they tried to spin it, and that looks pretty dumb after McDonald was arrested again on Monday.
CSN Bay Area confirmed that McDonald was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Damian Trujillo of NBC Bay Area first broke the news, and he said McDonald was arrested for domestic violence and possible child endangerment. The Santa Clara Police Department, in a news release, said McDonald was accused of physically assaulting a female while she was holding a baby.
UPDATE: The Bears cut McDonald on Monday afternoon, shortly after that police report was released. "We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear," Bears general manager Ryan Pace said, via tweets on the team's Twitter feed. "He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him."
Bears guard Kyle Long tweeted this right after the Bears cut McDonald:
Good riddance— KL (@Ky1eLong) May 25, 2015
McDonald was involved in another domestic violence case last year when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. Charges were never brought because there was insufficient evidence. The NFL cleared McDonald of any personal-conduct policy violation. He was also accused of a sexual assault, and according to the San Jose Mercury News he planned to sue the woman who made that accusation. The 49ers released him late last season. The Bears, knowing McDonald could help their defense, ignored his legal past (Bears owner George McCaskey used the time-honored excuse for signing McDonald that "my assessment was 'bad decision-making,' allowing himself to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," via the Chicago Tribune), and signed him.
"An alleged victim, I think -- much like anybody else who has a bias in this situation -- there's a certain amount of discounting in what they have to say," McCaskey said in March about McDonald, via the Chicago Tribune. "But our personnel department had done its work looking into the background and the incidents."
McCaskey said he had deep conversations with McDonald that led him to giving Pace permission to sign McDonald. Wonder how the owner feels about that now.
What makes it weird is the Bears' excuses for signing him. The Bears actually tried to sell the public on McDonald's gesture of paying for his own plane flight to Chicago to meet with the team as a big turning point in the decision. No matter that he had a history of arrests, a very rich man paid for his own flight! They really, seriously put this forth as a good reason to sign him. No lie. McCaskey actually said in that interview, via the Tribune, that his first answer to signing McDonald had been no, but he started to change his mind after McDonald said he'd come out to visit. Unbelievable.
They talked to who they wanted to talk to and heard what they wanted to hear. What message did they really expect from McDonald? McCaskey said he talked to McDonald's parents, who aren't exactly impartial in the matter. Like most NFL teams who want to add a player with red flags — the Seattle Seahawks and their drafting of Michigan defensive end Frank Clark comes to mind — they hear what they want because the player in question is really good at football and then try to spin the public (and maybe themselves) on it being OK to make the move. When you start hearing about "decision making" and being in "wrong place at the wrong time," just know that you're being played.
Now there are more questions after McDonald's latest arrest that need to be answered. Pace, the team's new GM, brought the idea to McCaskey. Vic Fangio, McDonald's defensive coordinator with San Francisco who is now with the Bears, supported the move. Fangio actually called two teams after McDonald was released by San Francisco stumping for the player, the Chicago Sun-Times said. Presumably head coach John Fox was on board too. They helped convince the owner to sign the guy, who less than three months later was arrested again.
It's a mess for Chicago now, something they could have seen coming if that's what they wanted to see.
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The Tennessee Titans' draft was fascinating.
They had a conviction in quarterback Marcus Mariota and took him with the second overall pick in the NFL draft. I won't knock them for that, and for the most part I like Mariota. But the rest of their draft showed they want to play a certain way that you don't necessarily think of when you think of Mariota.
Mariota comes from a spread shotgun offense at Oregon. There has been a lot of talk of how coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff will incorporate some spread concepts for Mariota, and they likely will, but they don't appear to be trying to build a spread-based offense over the long haul. Two of the Titans' picks tell us that.
With the second pick of the third round, Tennessee chose 335-pound guard Jeremiah Poutasi out of Utah. He could end up at right tackle or guard in the NFL, but he's big and physical way more than he's athletic. He's not the type of player you picture fitting with a spread zone-based team. It was a sign the Titans want a power-running offense.
Their second of two fourth-round picks left little doubt about that. They took 254-pound fullback Jalston Fowler out of Alabama. That was an interesting pick, and I don't think it's a bad idea. If you draft a fullback — and this was a valuable fourth-round pick they used on a fullback — you're going to line up with two backs at times. Sure, they'll go three-wide at times and do some things Mariota did in college, but they want to be a power-running team in which the quarterback lines up under center with two backs behind him. Also running back David Cobb, the team's fifth-round pick out of Minnesota, is more of a gap scheme runner (power, counter). This wasn't a draft to build an offense to cater to Mariota; Mariota will have to transition to what the Titans run.
This is the right approach. At some point you need to teach Mariota to be an NFL pocket quarterback if you want sustained success. Scheme supremacy works in college, but it doesn't always work in the NFL. At some point you're going to have to be an NFL quarterback. And Mariota can do that. He showed some good signs of being a progression reader as a passer, although that wasn't a foundation of Oregon's passing game, and threw with consistent velocity and accuracy, especially at the intermediate levels. There are some things he'll have to prove he can do, like passing from a muddied pocket, making tight-window throws and anticipation throws, but he has good skills.
Mariota will do some things we saw him do at Oregon, especially early on as he makes a challenging transition to the NFL. But the Titans are going to stick with what they want to be, which is a conventional power-running NFL offense. Their draft told us that's what they want to do. Mariota will have to adjust and learn to fit that, and become a traditional NFL pocket quarterback. In the long run, that's the best way to go.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.
Randy Moss obviously took a friendship forged with a young fan early in his career pretty seriously. That's why he was at her high school graduation this week.
Moss reportedly promised Kassi Spier, who he reportedly met during his rookie year of 1998 at an autograph signing, that he'd be at her high-school graduation. Spier, who according to the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead battled leukemia when she was young and was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013, graduated from Pelican Rapids High School in Minnesota. On Friday, Spier was one of 72 graduates to walk across the stage, according to the Pelican Rapids Press, and Moss handed Spier her diploma.
“She’s had many struggles in her life, and he’s been there for her,” Pelican Rapids Public School District Superintendent Deb Wanek told the Forum. “He told her he’d be at her high school graduation.”
Moss is a legend in Minnesota from his days with the Vikings. He was also a controversial figure at times through his football career, but he clearly has a soft side. A 2003 story by the Associated Press, via the Forum, detailed his friendship with Spier. She would follow him to lunch during training camp that year with Moss holding her hand. It said that in 2000 Moss visited Spier, then 4 years old, at the Mayo Clinic after her leukemia diagnosis and cried when he had to leave.
It's obviously a friendship that means a lot to both of them, enough that Moss made sure to be there for a huge accomplishment in Spier's life.
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The NFL Players Association isn't happy with Roger Goodell, and the NFL's refusal of the union's request that Goodell recuse himself from hearing Tom Brady's appeal won't help.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Friday that the NFL unsurprisingly denied the NFLPA's request that Goodell be recused from hearing Brady's appeal for his four-game suspension stemming from deflate-gate. Other reports, such as from Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, say that the NFL said late Friday it had not made an official decision on the matter.
Relations between the union and the league were clearly strained before that announcement. It was easy to see that during NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith's interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, in which the union chief criticized Ted Wells' report and Goodell, and laid out his reasons why Goodell should not oversee the appeal. That interview came before the NFL's official rejection of the request.
The NFLPA said in its request that Goodell “must designate a neutral party to serve as an arbitrator in this matter” and that the entire process “contained procedural violations” of the collective bargaining agreement. Smith reiterated this stance while taking issue with the Wells report, the NFL-sanctioned investigation into the New England Patriots’ alleged efforts to deflate footballs for a competitive advantage.
"The first thing that jumps at you from that report is how negotiated the language is,” Smith told ESPN. “When it comes to the rights of our players, every player deserves a process that is fair, every player deserves a finding that is clear, every player deserves an investigation that is thorough.
"In the Wells report alone – and this is the only instance where I’ll actually get into it – you have one part of the Wells report crediting the recollection or the memory of the referee, and then you have the other part of the Wells report criticizing or questioning the memory of the same referee. You can’t really have credibility just because you slap the word ‘independent’ on a piece of paper."
Smith said the commissioner’s recent history of overturned cases (Bountygate, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson) and “looking the other way” concerning three separate incidents with NFL owners “creates a credibility gap” with his ability to oversee disciplinary issues. Smith referred to legal cases concerning Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.
"On one hand you have a commissioner who has been overturned three times. On the other hand you have a commissioner who has looked the other way three times,” Smith said. “Somewhere in the middle of that is a huge yawning gap. That’s where our players and our union believe we lack the credibility we most desperately need."
Smith added that he does not know if the commissioner and Patriots owner Robert Kraft came to some sort of agreement before Kraft agreed to concede to the penalties (fine, loss of draft picks) levied to the franchise by the NFL.
Meanwhile. Brady’s appeal is still pending and no date has been set for the hearing.
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The Canadian Football League wasn't defensive end Michael Sam's first choice, but it was his best one right now as he tries to establish a professional career.
Sam, the former co-SEC defensive player of the year at Missouri, was the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL when the St. Louis Rams took him in the seventh round in 2014. Despite a productive preseason, the Rams cut him before the regular season started. The Dallas Cowboys added Sam to their practice squad, but cut him before the regular season was done. That was Sam's last NFL job.
Maybe a good season in the CFL will generate some interest from NFL teams, if that's his goal.
“With the signing of Michael Sam, we have become a better organization today,” Alouettes’ general manager Jim Popp said, according to the team's site. “Not only have we added an outstanding football player, we have added even a better person that brings dignity, character, and heart to our team.”
Sam's arrival will generate more interest than most signings. His story has been a big one in the sports world since he publicly announced he was gay last year. Sam has been a bit of a controversial figure, with questions if him being gay kept him from being drafted higher by NFL teams, or if it's behind him not being able to get an NFL job.
If Sam goes to the CFL and shows the pass-rushing skills he showed at Missouri and flashed during his preseason with the Rams, it'll be hard for NFL teams to keep passing him up.
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It seems like our list of "Hard Knocks" candidates is down to three, and no, the Cleveland Browns aren't on the list.
The Browns did not want to be on the HBO reality show that follows a team through training camp, because quarterback Johnny Manziel is returning from a stint in rehab and he doesn't need that kind of spotlight on him. That's fair. But ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi seemed to come up with our list of three candidates: Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins.
Grossi pointed out that those three teams were the willing participants, so that apparently isn't the official list of finalists (though, the Houston Chronicle confirmed that the Texans are one of three finalists). So perhaps we could get a surprise pick from one of the other forced candidates, based on the NFL's criteria: Cleveland, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings. Teams are exempt if they have a first-year head coach, have made the playoffs in either of the past two seasons or have appeared on the show in the previous 10 years. But it seems unlikely any of the teams that aren't exempt but haven't volunteered would be picked because the producers want to feature a team that actually wants to be on the show.
So let's rank the three teams that appear to be the real candidates:
3. Houston Texans
It's a strong field if the Texans are third.
We'd get to see Arian Foster's wit, J.J. Watt's mega personality ("Sno-Caps, perhaps?") and the seemingly always irritated ways of coach Bill O'Brien. There would also be a quarterback controversy, Jadeveon Clowney trying to return from knee surgery, DeAndre Hopkins announcing himself to a bigger audience ... a lot to like here.
But as a whole, there's just a little more to like with the other two.
2. Buffalo Bills
I mean, it's Rex Ryan. Come on, that's enough. Not like anyone wasn't entertained when the Jets were on "Hard Knocks."
There's also a quarterback controversy here, LeSean McCoy with a new team, future star Sammy Watkins and a peek inside pass rusher Mario Williams' world. And, again, Rex. It would not be bad. Yet ...
1. Washington Redskins
We all want a peek behind this curtain, right?
Forget DeSean Jackson, the much-discussed Jay Gruden-Robert Griffin III relationship and Griffin himself. Those are all interesting story lines. But a chance for expanded access to Daniel Snyder's kingdom? This is widely considered the most dysfunctional NFL team, even by many of its own fans. A lot of that comes from Snyder, the owner who seems to have the thinnest skin in the entire league. How would an owner who has spent so much time and effort trying to manipulate the media in Washington (another less complicated way to get positive media coverage: actually winning games) react to NFL Films having so much access?
What would we get to see? Would we get an honest look at Snyder? Even if it turns into the Griffin Show, that's still not too bad.
Sign us up for Washington on HBO this summer.
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Aaron Hernandez appeared in Superior Court in New Bedford, Mass., on Thursday, this time featuring a large new neck tattoo that reads "LIFETIME" over a star design. The photo below on the left was taken in court on April 15, the day Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Odin Lloyd; the photo on the right was taken Thursday:
In superior court Thursday, Hernandez pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted witness intimidation. Hernandez is charged with trying to silence a witness in a double-murder case against the former New England Patriots player.
According to prosecutors, Hernandez shot the man, Alexander Bradley, in the face in 2013 after Bradley, a former friend, made a comment about a 2012 Boston double homicide. Bradley is expected to testify as an eye witness against Hernandez in that case, in which the former Patriots star is accused of killing two men in a dispute that began over a spilled drink in a nightclub.
The case will continue on June 4.
At virtually the same time Thursday in a Bristol County (Mass.) courthouse, Hernandez faced a civil hearing filed by Ursula Ward, Odin Lloyd's mother.
Hernandez was found guilty in April of the 2013 murder of Lloyd, another former associate. More recently, Hernandez served as a lookout during a prison fight, according to guards. According to ABC News, the fight was gang related and "after the fight, prison officials found that the former NFL standout had been inked with a new tattoo that references the Bloods gang." The five-point star is, in some usages, a Bloods symbol. It's also a violation of Massachusetts prison regulations to get a tattoo while incarcerated, according to the Associated Press. No word yet if Hernandez will be punished for that, too.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
The team announced Thursday that starting left tackle Will Beatty suffered a torn pectoral muscle while lifting weights on Tuesday. The injury required surgery, which will keep him out of action for “five to six months.”
Beatty, entering his seventh season, has played in 82 games and started 63 for the Giants since the team selected him in the second round of the 2009 draft.
The 6-foot-6, 319-pound Beatty hasn’t missed a game for the Giants in three seasons, but now will conservatively miss the first half of the 2015 campaign. Beatty’s injury likely opens up the starting role for first-round pick Ereck Flowers to fill in at a tackle spot. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Miami product was picked ninth overall, but there’s undoubtedly a steep learning curve that comes with protecting Eli Manning’s blindside.
Right tackle Justin Pugh, the team’s first-round pick in 2013, could also potentially slide to the left side. Another option is five-year veteran Marshall Newhouse, a recent free agent signing. Newhouse has past starting experience during his time with the Green Bay Packers, but was signed as a backup.
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The best thing about Bud Grant holding a garage sale is not that an NFL icon is selling some old stuff, it's that he's having a freaking garage sale.
Grant's garage sale, in which he's tweeting out his home address to come on by, includes old Vikings stuff, fishing and hunting gear and now we're a backyard hockey rink and some lutefisk from this being the most Minnesota thing that has ever happened.
Grant is a legend in Minnesota in just about every way. He won nine letters as an athlete at the University of Minnesota, played for the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers in addition to an NFL playing career. He then coached the Minnesota Vikings to four Super Bowls. He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And now Grant is inviting everyone to his house for some deals on his used stuff. There are dozens of tweets chronicling the event @HPBudGrant, but here are some highlights:
8134 Oakmere road Bloomington, mn 5pm pic.twitter.com/YKtvCr75H6— Bud Grant (@HPBudGrant) May 20, 2015
Unique items 50.00 pic.twitter.com/6ZdFLgtPr8— Bud Grant (@HPBudGrant) May 20, 2015
5:00 pm sharp! No earlybirds. Park responsibly. Coach Grant. pic.twitter.com/LSLndP8tYh— Bud Grant (@HPBudGrant) May 20, 2015
Buds personal hunting equipment pic.twitter.com/w83IMZk01E— Bud Grant (@HPBudGrant) May 20, 2015
"Park responsibly." Perfect.
This is Grant's 11th garage sale, the Fox affiliate in Minneapolis said. How is there so much stuff then? "Grant said he had some closets that he hadn't journeyed through in a while," the story said. Oh.
All of this started on Wednesday, which happened to be Grant's 88th birthday. He signed autographs ($25 each) and watched folks pick through old Vikings shirts and a Hall-of-Famer's fishing lures. In 20 years I want to see a Bill Belichick garage sale.
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Denver Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith is being investigated in Texas for child abuse.
No charges have been filed, but Fort Bend County district attorney John Healey Jr. confirmed to 9News Denver that an allegation was received.
“Our Sherriff’s Office has received some information, they’re working with our office to try and find out as much information as we can about the allegation,” Healey said. “At this particular point anything in reference to Mr. Smith is just than – an allegation.”
The news of an investigation into Smith was first reported by TMZ early Thursday morning.
The Broncos are aware of the situation.
“Last night, we became aware for the first time of an allegation involving Antonio Smith,” the team said Thursday in a statement. “We are now in the process of gathering more information.”
The Broncos signed the 33-year-old Smith to a one-year deal on April 2 after he spent the 2014 season with the Oakland Raiders. Before his lone season in Oakland, Smith spent five seasons with the Houston Texans from 2009-2013 and four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals from 2005-08.
In his 157 career games (133 starts), the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Smith has 302 tackles and 44.5 sacks.
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A New Jersey judge dismissed the domestic violence charges against former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice on Thursday.
The charges stemmed from a February 2014 incident in which Rice struck his now-wife Janay in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino. The NFL originally suspended Rice for two games, but the suspension became indefinite and the Ravens cut him after the graphic video of the altercation surfaced in September.
Rice, who was charged with third-degree aggravated assault, avoided jail time after being accepted into a pretrial intervention program (including anger management) for first-time offenders. Rice completed the program this week, and Judge Michael A. Donio dismissed the charge Thursday, according to NBC News.
The NFL’s indefinite suspension of Rice was eventually lifted following an appeal that was heard by federal judge Barbara S. Jones, who criticized the NFL’s handling of the situation.
Rice, who remains a free agent, told the Baltimore Sun in February that the completion of the program would give him “a refreshing start.”
“I’m actually done in my case,” Rice said. “Really, I just have to call the state of New Jersey once a month. After May 19, I’m done. It will be a full year. It will be like a refreshing start.”
Rice called the situation a “nightmare” and told the Sun that he is trying to move forward.
“It’s an unfortunate situation for me and my wife. It’s unfortunate. There’s people that go through domestic violence on all different levels. We truly know we had one bad night, but I always preach that one bad decision and your dream can turn into a nightmare,” Rice said. “We truly lived it, but now the way to come clean with it is to own it and try to help now. There’s no reason that no one should have to go through what me and my wife been through, no one. I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Rice is hopeful another NFL team will give him a second chance.
“I’m optimistic that I’ll get a second chance,” Rice said. “I don’t think this boils down to whether I can play football or not. Obviously I know that. I just think there’s so much more that comes with it. I know the PR side of it will be tough. I understand that. I just know that if a team that really truly genuinely looks at me and understood that this guy made a horrible mistake then they can structure a plan for me. I don’t like to be singled out, I like to be part of the team, if they can understand that I’ll do anything to help the situation and go out and give them the best football I got, I think I’ll get a second chance.”
Rice rushed for 6,180 yards and 37 touchdowns and caught 369 passes for 3,034 yards and six touchdowns in six seasons for the Ravens.
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Roger Goodell didn't answer many questions directly on Wednesday, but in a roundabout way he answered a big one from deflate-gate.
Why wouldn't Tom Brady give up his text messages and emails in Ted Wells' investigation? If you scoffed at the answer that it would set a bad precedent for other players, I want you to read Goodell's answer concerning the league's cooperation with the Mueller Report (investigation of the Ray Rice domestic violence case) and consider again where Brady was coming from (bold emphasis on Goodell's answer added):
Question: When there was an investigation on the league, there was an open book, “Here’s our stuff, you can look at it.” Now when Brady was asked to provide his stuff, maybe he resisted in giving some of his private communications. Did that have anything to do with the penalties that were imposed and maybe the sanctions that were done?
Goodell: "Well, I think we were very clear in the letter, in Troy’s letter, that noncooperation was a factor in the discipline, absolutely. You point out in Director Muller’s investigation there was full cooperation, he had access to every text, every email, every bit of communication that I had and that everyone in our office had and there were no restrictions on that whatsoever. So, we do expect to have that in investigations. That’s an important part of it and when there isn’t full cooperation, that is certainly part of the discipline."
The NFL Players Association should be up in arms about that answer.
Goodell said that he expects players like Brady, when investigated, to give access to "every text, every email, every bit of communication." Expects. And if you don't? "That's certainly part of the discipline."
In other words, this business believes it has the right to punish an employee (in Brady's case costing him about $2 million in salary over the four-game suspension) if he or she does not turn over texts, emails and other communication from personal phones or other devices. Even if you've answered every question an investigator has for you, as Brady did. Why does the NFL think this is OK?
All NFL players should raise an eyebrow about this. If the NFL feels that not turning over personal texts and emails (there has been no indication in any of the reports that multi-millionaire Brady was texting from a Patriots-issued phone) is a punishable offense, where's the line? Does someone trying to get reinstated off a failed drug test need to turn over all texts so the league can see if they've discussed drugs with anyone else? Will an arrest prompt the league to search someone's home for evidence? All the time knowing that a refusal will "certainly be part of the discipline"?
There's nothing I can find in the collective bargaining agreement saying a player has to turn over private correspondence to the NFL. In Mueller's investigation, league employees turned over league-issued devices with no mention of personal devices in the report, which makes Goodell's comparison disingenuous. Also, Wells had all of Brady's texts to assistant equipment manager John Jastremski, from Jastremski's phone, and concluded he sent none to officials locker room attendant Jim McNally, so what texts do they think Brady has that will crack the case wide open? Pro Football Talk said the union concedes that players have to "reasonably cooperate" with the league in investigations, but that doesn't mean "jump through every single hoop" either.
So now we see Brady's motivation. One part of his refusal is the NFLPA precedent, which his agent Don Yee has said before. The other is that the NFL has lost its freaking mind as it tries to play FBI. The league is drunk off its own imagined power over the players, and feels bolder with every collective-bargaining win over the union. Even as Goodell spoke, it's pretty obvious that in Brady's appeal that either he gives in to the NFL's wishes to see his texts or else. If you're an NFL player, especially a prominent one like Brady, this has to end somewhere.
Not to mention that Brady's decision to not share texts was vindicated when Wells made the very unprofessional decision to use Jastremski's texts about having Brady sign a football when he passed 50,000 career yards in the report. Those texts had absolutely, positively no bearing on the report ... other than to embarrass Jastremski. Ask Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin too if they'd share all their texts again, after Wells' report on the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal revealed some that were quite embarrassing and had little to do with the case. Seeing all of that, I doubt Brady has any regret about not sharing his text messages or emails with Wells.
Goodell told us what we needed to know on Wednesday. The NFL has an explicit expectation that its employees turn over personal communications when asked, or the petty league has no problem suspending them and costing them millions of dollars and their reputation. And now we can see why Brady was correct to refuse.
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Hey, you may have heard that David Letterman is retiring! It's true! And unlike Brett Favre, he's probably going to stay retired! On Wednesday night, Letterman aired his final show, a well-earned farewell after decades of hilarity and absurdity. As part of the shenanigans, he invited an all-star panel of guests to offer up the final Top Ten list: "Top Ten Things I've Always Wanted To Say To Dave."
Among that august group were Chris Rock, Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld ... and one Peyton Manning, who stepped onto the stage sporting Broncos colors and that forehead of his. Manning's joke was solid, though it didn't compare to the drop-the-mic hammer Julia Louis-Dreyfus threw down right before him. Poor Peyton. At least it wasn't Eli stealing his thunder this time.
Nice work, Peyton, and farewell Dave.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
Everyone has an opinion on deflate-gate, and most of it doesn't matter. But it's different with Darrelle Revis, because he was there.
Revis, who earned a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots last season, has moved on from that lone season in New England pretty quickly. When the current New York Jets cornerback was asked by the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta about deflate-gate and Tom Brady, he didn't sound like someone who just benefited from Brady's play in Super Bowl XLIX.
"(The Patriots) have a history of doing stuff," Revis said, according to Mehta. "You can't hide that … Tom was there when they did that stuff in the past.
"New England's been doing stuff in the past and getting in trouble," Revis continued to Mehta. "When stuff repeatedly happens, then that's it. I don't know what else to tell you. Stuff repeatedly happened through the years. You got SpyGate, you got this and that and everything else. Obviously in those situations in the past, they had the evidence. So they did what they needed to do."
Revis did not say if he would give his Super Bowl ring back because he feels bad about being with such a disreputable organization when he won it. If nothing else, the reunions of that championship team might be a bit awkward.
It seems a bit disingenuous for Revis to rip the organization that he was just with, at a price tag of $12 million for that one season. Maybe not disingenuous, but just cheap. it seems pretty quick to turn on a team and a teammate you just won a championship with. But, Revis is a Jet again. The rivalry is back on.
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When the New York Jets acquired Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Houston Texans, many thought he would compete with Geno Smith for the team’s starting role at quarterback.
According to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, that won’t be the case.
Gailey said Wednesday that Smith will “probably” be the team’s starter in Week 1 and there won’t be a competition with Fitzpatrick (Gailey’s former QB in Buffalo) when training camp rolls around. In fact, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post, Gailey said “it wasn’t a thought” to have the two compete. It’s Smith’s job.
“He can make every throw in the book,” Gailey said.
Smith, a second-round pick in 2013, is 11-18 as a starter over the past two seasons. Inconsistent play cost him the starting role for part of the 2014 season, but he regained the job in Week 13 and showed some improvement down the stretch.
Smith has more playmakers than ever to spread the ball around to in 2015. The Jets brought in veteran Brandon Marshall (61 catches, 721 yards, eight TDs) via trade from the Chicago Bears and drafted Ohio State product Devin Smith, a deep-play threat, in the second round. Additionally, the Jets return Eric Decker (74 catches, 962 yards, five TDs) and talented young tight end Jace Amaro (38 catches, 345 yards, two TDs).
Overall, Smith threw for 2,525 yards, 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 59.7 percent of his passes last season. He played his best game of the year in the season finale, completing 20 of 25 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns in a road win over the Miami Dolphins.
Gailey, alongside new head coach Todd Bowles, hopes that precision carries over to the 2015 season.
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If there was some kind of deal, that Robert Kraft accepting the NFL's deflate-gate punishment might positively affect Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension, Roger Goodell wasn't saying.
Goodell, during his news conference on Wednesday at the league's spring meetings in San Francisco, was asked directly if Kraft giving up the fight on the New England Patriots' punishment would impact Brady's appeal, which he will rule on.
"No," Goodell said.
And with that he looked around for the next question. Whether you believe that there was some deal in place between Kraft and Goodell is up to you, but Goodell denies it.
Goodell avoided questions about whether he thinks it's fair that the league office rule on the punishment, and then have the commissioner oversee the appeal. The NFLPA has called for Goodell to recuse himself. Goodell kept talking about the system in place — basically, that he has the right to rule on appeals via the collective-bargaining agreement — but didn't address the situation directly.
He wants to hear from Brady directly, he said a few times, and wants to see if Brady has any new information that wasn't in Ted Wells' investigation report. But he said the league took the punishments of the Patriots and Brady seriously.
"I have a great admiration and respect for Tom Brady, but the rules have to be enforced on a uniform basis, and they apply to everyone in the league," Goodell said.
Brady not giving Wells his texts and emails was obviously a major sticking point with Goodell, who said that was a part of the punishment. He said he expects players to give up that information in investigations.
"When there isn’t full cooperation, that is certainly part of the discipline," Goodell said in his news conference.
It was clear that if Brady is to have his suspension reduced (unless you believe that there was a deal with Kraft after he did a 180 and accepted the deflate-gate punishment) then Brady will have to provide some new information or convince the commissioner of something that wasn't in the Wells report. Brady hasn't admitted to any wrongdoing.
"I’m not going to get into hypotheticals, but that’s the reason for the process," Goodell said. "That’s why we continue to have an open mind and we’ll do everything possible to understand all the facts."
Goodell also said that the league did not ask the Patriots to suspend employees John Jastremski and Jim McNally, who were implicated in the Wells report, that the team did that. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that the NFL asked the Patriots to suspend those two employees.
Goodell also said that Kraft's decision to give up any potential fight of the deflate-gate punishment was completely his own.
"The decision Robert made was his decision," Goodell said. "I admire and respect Robert, as you all know. We’ve had plenty of discussions over the last couple weeks. This was his initiative and something he wanted to do. I certainly admire the step he took. We may disagree on things, but that’s usual. That happens."
Goodell also said he anticipates that the protocol on the handling of game balls will be changed.
Here are some other highlights of Tuesday's news conference:
Teams in Los Angeles?
Goodell said that progress was being made to get a team to Los Angeles, citing stadium plans in Carson and Inglewood, but that it wasn't a done deal that a team would move there.
"I think there’s significant process but I don’t think it’s inevitable," Goodell said.
Goodell sounded optimistic about stadium plans in St. Louis, and that he knew San Diego was working hard on a plan for a new stadium too. Oakland? Not so much.
"Oakland, I have not heard directly from," Goodell said. "I don’t have an update on that. It’s not something we’ve seen anything, to my knowledge, of a significant proposal."
Goodell seemed frustrated by that.
"We don’t have a deadline, but this is not a new issue we’re dealing with here," Goodell said.
More games in other countries?
Goodell said that reaching fans in "Germany, Mexico and South America" was addressed during the meetings. He said there is a possibility of games in Germany, specifically a regular-season game in Mexico, and perhaps a game in Rio de Janeiro (it has been reported the league might consider a Pro Bowl there). The NFL will have three regular-season games in London this season.
"There’s a growing passion for our game on a global basis, and we want to respond to it," Goodell said.
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The locations for the next three Super Bowls are already set in stone (Santa Clara, Calif., Houston, and Minneapolis), but there are a number of cities in the running to host the big game in 2019 and 2020.
According to the Miami Herald, Miami, along with New Orleans, Atlanta and Tampa were all invited by the NFL to bid on Super Bowls LIII and LIV. Additionally, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Los Angeles “will be considered a potential host city” in 2020 (Super Bowl LIV), as long as “the market has at least one NFL team by then.”
A Super Bowl hasn’t been played in Southern California since 2003, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Los Angeles has hosted seven Super Bowls – five at the Rose Bowl and two at the Coliseum.
The league won’t make its decision until next May for the 2019 game. The city that wins that bid is taken out of the running for the following Super Bowl, narrowing the field by one.
Of the available cities, Miami and New Orleans have each hosted the big game 10 times, while Tampa and Atlanta have hosted four and two times, respectively.
The newly built Sun Life Stadium (Miami) and the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, slated to open in 2017, make those two cities attractive options. Of course, the NFL’s familiarity with New Orleans and Tampa make them comfortable choices as well, but the emergence of Los Angeles – the country’s second-biggest media market – could raise the intrigue level when the votes are finally tallied next May.
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It appears Aaron Hernandez is keeping himself busy during his life sentence by being a lookout for prison fights.
Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end was convicted of murder this year, is in trouble after acting as a lookout for a fight among two inmates, CNN reported. CNN, citing a law enforcement source, said the fight was believed to be gang-related.
Hernandez allegedly was a lookout for one inmate while he went into another inmate's cell, and that's where the fight happened, CNN said. All three inmates will be disciplined.
Hernandez still has an upcoming trial for a double murder charge related to the killing of two men in a 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston. In April Hernandez was convicted of the 2013 murder of semipro football player Odin Lloyd.
It's not the first time Hernandez has found himself in trouble since being arrested on Lloyd's murder. In February of 2014 he was involved in a fight with another inmate while he awaited trial.
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The extra point won’t be so automatic anymore.
NFL owners voted Tuesday to approve the competition committee’s proposal to move the extra point back to the 15-yard line for the 2015 season, creating a 33-yard attempt – 13 yards farther than the long-used 20-yard attempt.
Approval for the idea was nearly unanimous. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said that the only teams to vote against the proposal were the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins.
The 20-yard extra point was converted at close to a 99 percent clip, Blandino said, so the thought behind the alteration was to make the play “more challenging.”
As pointed out by ESPN’s Field Yates, kicks in the 30-35 yard range were converted at nearly as high a rate.
Re: new extra point rules. NFL teams went 163-171 (95.3%) on field goals between 30-35 yards in 2014. http://t.co/soAjq9TRkd— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 19, 2015
The change in line of scrimmage could potentially prompt teams to attempt more 2-point conversions, especially in poor weather conditions.
In addition to the change made to the extra point, the owners voted to keep the line of scrimmage for 2-point conversions at the 2-yard line. The Philadelphia Eagles proposed moving the 2-point try a yard closer to the goal line, but that idea was shot down. However, as suggested by the competition committee, defenses are now allowed to return a turnover on a 2-point try to the other end zone for two points.
A three-fourths majority vote is required for any rule change to pass, meaning votes from at least 24 of the 32 league owners.
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The NFL has gone out of its way to pick at the NFLPA the last couple of years, so it should be no surprise that the union is fighting back at every chance.
On the heels of the NFLPA on Tuesday calling for Roger Goodell to recuse himself from Tom Brady's appeal, which was expected, came the out-of-the-blue motion by the NFLPA in federal court to hold the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell in contempt of court over the Adrian Peterson case. You know, the case of the suspended Minnesota Vikings running back, who was reinstated a month ago from his 2014 suspension? Yeah, that one.
A federal judge vacated Peterson's suspension in late February, and ordered the case to go back to arbitration proceedings. The NFL appealed, and that bought enough time until the league could reinstate Peterson on its terms, in mid-April. If you question the NFL's authority, it will not be happy.
Well, the NFLPA brought up that now-seemingly inconsequential ruling, seemingly because it can.
Here's a key section of the media release, signed by NFLPA president and Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Eric Winston:
"On February 26th, the NFL was ordered to change their decision in the Peterson matter and reissue a ruling consistent with our collective bargaining agreement. The Union made multiple requests to the League office asking the arbitrator, who serves at the direction of the Commissioner, to comply with the law and avoid further litigation. Despite our attempts, they have done nothing and leave us no choice but to seek this motion.
"The delay tactics, inconsistencies and arbitrary decision making of the League has continued to hurt the rights of players, the credibility of the League office and the integrity of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the absence of any action by the NFL's governing board of owners, the players have acted to hold the NFL accountable to our players, the CBA and to the law."
Of course the entire point of the NFL's appeal appeared to be to stall until it could reinstate Peterson at the time it deemed appropriate. It would have been easier for the NFL to just let it go in late February and reinstate Peterson after the court's ruling, but it wanted to make a point. And now the NFLPA wants to make one too.
Adding to the public battle is that the NFL told Sports Business Journal's Daniel Kaplan that the union four days ago didn't object to an extension of the deadling on filing in the appeal of the Peterson case. The NFL asked the court for more time to argue why the Eighth Circuit Court should overturn a lower court's decision that sided with Peterson, and the court granted that. In that filing, Kaplan wrote, the NFL said the NFLPA did not object to that extension.
The case itself is practically meaningless at this point, but the underlying message is not. The NFL has in many ways seemed to taunt the union since scoring what most everyone considers a decisive victory in the last collective-bargaining agreement, in 2011. The latest was Goodell appointing himself to oversee Brady's appeal, then publicly reminding everyone that the union agreed to give him that power in the CBA.
The union and league, at some level, need a cooperative relationship for the best of the sport. That relationship seems like quite the opposite of cooperative lately.
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The NFLPA said last week in its appeal letter on behalf of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that commissioner Roger Goodell is “inherently biased” to decide his punishment. On Tuesday, the NFLPA formally requested the commissioner to recuse himself as the arbitrator in the appeal hearing that will ultimately decide Brady’s punishment in the deflate-gate saga.
Goodell and executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent announced a suspension of four games for Brady in addition to a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots as a result of the findings in Ted Wells' report, which investigated the Patriots’ alleged effort to deflate footballs for a competitive advantage.
While Patriots owner Robert Kraft begrudgingly said Tuesday that he would not appeal the penalties levied on the franchise, Brady and the NFLPA predictably have fought back and seek a “neutral party to serve as an arbitrator” in the quarterback’s appeal.
“Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner's role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as an arbitrator in this matter,” the NFLPA said. “The players also believe that the Commissioner's history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.”
Though it’s clear that Goodell had a major role in coming up with the four-game suspension, he ultimately assigned the duty to Vincent, who sent Brady a strongly worded letter detailing the league’s position and reasoning for the suspension. But in its initial appeal letter, the NFLPA made it clear that it had problems with Vincent handing down the punishment to Brady. That sentiment is reiterated here.
Additionally, Goodell’s recent history in flubbing disciplinary matters gives the NFLPA no confidence that he could make a fair ruling in this instance.
In the end, the NFLPA wants the ability for a neutral observer to scrutinize the suspension in the same way the Patriots’ actions were scrutinized in Wells' report, by a purported neutral party.
“If the NFL believes the Ted Wells report has credibility because it is independent, then the NFL should embrace our request for an independent review,” the NFLPA said.
Whether Goodell goes along with the request is anybody’s guess.
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Robert Kraft put the NFL's interests as a whole over what he thought might have been best for the New England Patriots. The Patriots owner will accept the punishment of commissioner Roger Goodell in deflate-gate, sanctions that include the loss of two draft picks and a $1 million fine.
On Tuesday, Kraft took the unusual step of holding a news conference at the start of the league's annual spring meetings. But it's an unusual circumstance. He spoke for a few minutes, taking no questions, and explained that the discussion of deflated footballs in January's AFC championship game had continued too long and he wanted it to end. So to end the continuing argument, he took the NFL's punishment, which included a $1 million fine, and the loss of a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017.
Quarterback Tom Brady appealed his four-game suspension through the NFLPA. It would be a surprise if he drops that. And judging by the response from George Atallah, NFLPA assistant director of external affairs, it doesn't appear as if Brady will accept the league's punishment the way Kraft did on Tuesday:
The Patriots may not appeal, but this will not impact the NFLPA appeal of the 4 game suspension of Tom Brady.— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) May 19, 2015
"Believing in the strength of the partnership and the 32 teams, we have concentrated power of adjudication in the office of the commissioner," Kraft said. "Although I might disagree with what was decided, I do have respect for the commissioner, and believe he’s doing what he perceives is in the best interest of the full 32. In that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that has gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us. And not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. We won’t appeal."
Kraft thought the fight over the controversy was not in the best interests of the league.
There had been reports that the Patriots and NFL could work on a solution to lessen the penalties from deflate-gate, although that would be an admission by the league that its original penalties were wrong. Kraft's decision to accept the punishment relieves the NFL from that potentially awkward situation, as well as a contentious appeal or any legal action.
It worked out perfectly for the NFL. Kraft, however, didn't admit any wrongdoing in his statement. He just wanted the conversation to end. He did not take any questions for that reason. He said he hoped Patriots fans understood.
"The heart and soul and strength of the NFL is it's a partnership of 32 teams," Kraft said. "What has become very clear over those two decades is that at no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the full 32."
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The time that someone on Twitter told Erin Kelly that he hoped her dad died of cancer could have soured her and the family on sharing so much of Jim Kelly's battle.
Jim Kelly's two bouts with cancer have been very well documented, because it was unavoidable as a Hall of Fame quarterback but also because the Kelly family shared so much of it. A lot of the ordeal played out on their social media accounts and the blog of Jill Kelly, Jim's wife. Most of the feedback has been incredible. Not all of it was, though.
In 20-year-old Erin's new book, "Kelly Tough," one of the stories she tells is of that Twitter message wishing death on her father. And after the initial moments of anger passed, the Kelly family decided that the best thing to do was to pray for the Twitter bully, to ease the anger and sadness that forced him to send that message. So they did.
"It taught me a lot about forgiving and bringing those circumstances to God when at first you want to fight back," Erin Kelly said in a phone interview, regarding that Twitter troll. "This person obviously is hurting. For a person to say that they have to have a lot of hatred in their heart. Seeing that encouraged me to say, there are other people who are hurting and going through a struggle, and I want to be an encouragement and share our story."
As you can find in the pages of "Kelly Tough," the family is able to turn just about any situation into a positive.
Jim Kelly's battle with cancer (both occurrences have been in his upper jaw area) became much more than a football story. His battle was inspiring. So was the way that fans everywhere, whether or not they cared at all about the Buffalo Bills, rooted for Kelly. The family's strength struck a chord with just about everyone.
Jim Kelly initially didn't want to share what he was going through.
"I’m a very private person, and I didn’t want my wife and daughter going to social media and advertising what was happening," Jim Kelly said in a phone interview. "But [Kelly's wife Jill] told me, 'You need as many prayers as you can get. And you can be an inspiration and share the never-give-up attitude you’ve always had and change their thoughts on life and how their faith can get them through any tough circumstance.'"
Then Jim Kelly, football legend, sounds any other husband.
"It didn’t take me long to realize my wife was right," he said.
They decided to share their story and didn't hold back. There's no shortage of stories on the Internet detailing every step of the journey. Jim Kelly struggled physically, like any cancer patient, and that made some of the updates difficult. But it also gave people images like one that Erin posted in March of 2014 of her laying with her dad in a hospital bed after Jim Kelly had found out that the cancer had returned. If there's an image that encapsulated everything about the story, it was this one:
It was a touching image, but normal for the Kelly family.
"At the time I didn’t think anything of it," Jim Kelly said of the photo. "It was just a daddy’s love for his daughter and her love for me, and I’d embrace every moment my daughter would hug with me and pray with me."
The story ended well, of course. Jim Kelly was found to be cancer free last year. He had an awesome moment at the NFL draft when he announced the Bills' second-round pick, as the crowd in Chicago gave him a huge standing ovation that clearly touched him. And Jill and Erin were there chronicling the whole event, of course.
"Nobody knows what tomorrow holds," Jim Kelly said. "With all the things I’ve been through, all the surgeries, cancer, all these things I’ve went through, knowing I can spend that quality time with my daughters and wife means everything."
The book sums up the Kellys' triumph. It's a deeply personal book, sharing the heartbreaking story of Erin Kelly's brother Hunter's death in 2005 after his battle with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, other personal stories like Jim Kelly's admission of infidelity and revealing stories about Erin herself. it also talks in depth about the Kelly family's religious faith and how that helped them through all of their battles.
"At the beginning of everything my dad was very hesitant, and so was my mom and I, about sharing and how much to share," Erin Kelly said. "We were going through a deep situation. To share that with the public was extremely hard at first because we didn’t know what the feedback would be. Ultimately we came to the point where we decided that we’ll do this and encourage other people. Sharing this struggle so publicly, people surrounded us in prayer and were encouraged in their own struggles.
"Honestly we were all very surprised and humbled by all the people who reached out. I truthfully didn’t anticipate the amount of people who gravitated towards our story."
Erin Kelly talked about how she has heard from many people, not just those dealing with cancer but many different struggles. One family that reached out had a member dealing with cancer, and they made shirts like the "Kelly Tough" shirts the Kelly family had, but with their last name and then "Tough" on them. That stuck with Erin. That showed how they had reached others.
Was it all worth it? To say so would trivialize the physical pain Jim Kelly went through and the emotional stress for his family and friends. But the book shows that the Kelly family turned a terrible situation into a positive one, and it has strengthened them all.
"I would say, not that cancer necessarily is the blessing, but what God did in the midst of cancer is a blessing," Erin Kelly, who is a student at Liberty University, said. "He showed us who He is and how we are in desperate need of His strength. And through my dad’s suffering, our relationships have grown so much. We are living fearlessly, holding onto every minute. We're holding onto God and each other in the midst of whatever circumstance we find ourselves in."
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STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING. We have BREAKING NFL NEWS. This will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Ready?
No, seriously, are you ready? Because this, reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, is big...
Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft already have met, spoke and even hugged, per an industry source who witnessed it.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 19, 2015
THEY EVEN HUGGED. The NFL commissioner and the Patriots owner, former BFFs now divided by deflated footballs, have metaphorically kissed and made up.
Goodell-Kraft attended Sean McManus’ 60th birthday Sat in NYC; they were spotted “on a couch, talking by themselves for quite a long time."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 19, 2015
On a couch? Talking by themselves? Hang on, we need some mood music here:
Aw yeah. That's what I'm talkin' bout. Let's continue with this story, shall we?
The fact that Goodell and Kraft are on amicable terms could help cool tensions between the two sides and help lead to truce on Deflategate.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 19, 2015
Mmmm, that sounds just delightful. Deflate-gate becomes reunite-gate. And all is right with the world, yes? Roger admits that this whole thing was just a little overreaction, and Robert says it's OK, we all make our mistakes. Life goes on, properly-inflated footballs once again dot the sky in Massachusetts.
Recall that this is the same Robert Kraft who just unloaded on the Wells Report and the NFL's entire investigative process. "The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn’t fair," Kraft told The MMQB. If we’re giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting. But in this report, every inference went against us … inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us. That’s the thing that really bothers me." That followed an angry public statement and, no doubt, some even more choice words that never reached the public.
So, yes, the outward appearance of a hug could seem to indicate a cessation of hostilities and a road to recovery. Or it could indicate something very, very different, as anyone who's seen "Godfather Part II" knows all too well:
*-Please note that Yahoo Sports is neither suggesting nor implying that Robert Kraft will commit any act of harm, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological, upon Roger Goodell or any member of the NFL. We are merely indicating that a hug may be more than just a hug.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jesse Williams has cancer.
The team announced Monday that Williams, a third-year player out of Alabama, was diagnosed with “papillary Type 2 cancer” and is set to undergo kidney surgery.
“Although disappointing, I am a fighter and will handle this,” Williams said in a statement released through the team. “I am going to focus on my health and fighting this battle with a return to football as my ultimate goal. Thank you for your thoughts and support. Go Hawks!”
Added general manager John Schneider: “Jesse is an extraordinarily tough individual who has overcome a great deal in his life and we will support him in any way possible. He is in our thoughts and prayers.”
Williams, 24, is a native of Australia who picked in the fifth round in 2013 out of Alabama. He has yet to see the field for the Seahawks since being drafted due to knee injuries suffered prior to both the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
After coming over to the United States, Williams signed a scholarship to play at Arizona Western College. He started in two seasons at Arizona Western before transferring to Alabama and immediately jumped into the starting lineup.
In two seasons with the Crimson Tide, the 6-foot-3, 325-pound Williams started all 26 games he played in, registering 61 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
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There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the San Diego Chargers, but a couple of news items on Monday might start to clear some of it up.
San Diego announced a financing plan for a new $1.1 billion stadium for the Chargers on the same day that longtime owner Dean Spanos shifted day-to-day operations of the team to his sons John and AG. According to ESPN.com, Dean Spanos will remain chairman of the board of directors and oversee efforts to get a new stadium ... wherever that ends up being.
San Diego wants to keep the Chargers, with the threat of Los Angeles getting a team cropping up again. The $1.1 billion stadium would be paid for, under the plan released by Mayor Kevin Faulconer's task force, by the team, the NFL, taxpayers (of course), and fans who attend games according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The plan, according to the Union-Tribune, would include $200 million from the NFL, $300 million from the Chargers, another $300 million in rent payments from the Chargers at $10 million per year over 30 years, and $120 million each from city and county taxpayers. Taxes would not increase, the Union-Tribune reported, because the money would come from each agency's general fund over a 30-year period. Another $111 million would be generated by parking and ticket surcharges and $120 million would be raised from personal seat licenses. There would be rent increases for San Diego State football, the Holiday Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl too.
The plan became more urgent with another juke toward Los Angeles, a bluff the NFL has successfully run for 21 yearsto get taxpayers to pay for new stadiums.. The shift in Chargers ownership responsibilities doesn't seem to change much for the team when it comes to the stadium issue, or anything else really. Michael Gehlken of the Union-Tribune said that John and AG Spanos, who are 35 and 36 years old respectively, have been effectively running the team for a while. John will be president of football operations and AG will be president of business operations, ESPN.com said. Dean Spanos will still work on the stadium issue, which is the biggest question the Chargers face in the near future.
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After a 14-year NFL career, San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith is retiring, the team announced Monday.
Smith, 35, was a two-time All-Pro and made the Pro Bowl five times – all with the 49ers. Smith began his career with the Cincinnati Bengals after being drafted fourth overall in 2001. Smith spent seven seasons with the Bengals before moving on to San Francisco in 2008.
“Justin is the consummate professional whose impact on this organization can never be measured by statistics alone,” said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. “His durability, competitiveness, work ethic, strength and rare stamina helped set him apart over his 14-year career. Cowboy will go down as one of the best to ever wear a 49ers uniform and his candidness, work ethic and pure passion for the game will be missed. We wish the very best for him and his family!”
Smith proved to be one of the most durable players during his time in the league. From his rookie year through December 2012, Smith started 185 consecutive games. Overall in 221 games, Smith totaled 880 tackles, 87 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, three interceptions and 30 passes defended. Smith had at least five sacks in 12 of his 14 years in the league, including a career high 8.5 in 2001 – his rookie year – and 2010.
“Tough. Physical. Durable. Hard-working. Dedicated. Selfless. Justin embodies each of those qualities and brought even more with him to work each and every day,” 49ers CEO Jed York said in a release. “Whether it was chasing down a wide receiver and forcing a fumble to seal a win, or driving a tackle back into the quarterback’s chest, he gave everything he had every play. Justin has earned the respect of the entire NFL community and he will always be remembered as one of the 49ers all-time greats.”
Reports of Smith’s impending retirement first emerged in March on the same day 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis announced his shocking retirement, so the team had to know this decision was coming.
Smith becomes the third defensive player for the 49ers to retire this offseason, joining Willis and linebacker Chris Borland, who retired after one season due to the risk of head injury.
“As a football coach, you will always be searching for the next Justin Smith, knowing full well you will never find a player quite like him,” 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula said. “Everybody knows about his toughness, durability, and instincts, but his greatest attribute does not get the attention it deserves. Justin never concerned himself with personal accomplishments, his unselfish nature made that impossible. People like to say ‘they broke the mold with him’ but there was never a mold. Justin Smith is a hand-crafted football player.”
With those three removed from the defense, Tomsula, who is entering his first season as head coach after serving as defensive line coach since 2007, has a challenge ahead of him.
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With so many teams either in desperate need of a quarterback or watching their quarterback near retirement age, the Miami Dolphins were quite glad to lock up their young, rising QB through the rest of the decade.
Ryan Tannehill signed an extension with the Dolphins through 2020. Although Tannehill hasn't gotten the fanfare of other 2012 draft classmates like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, he has steadily improved through his three NFL seasons.
ESPN's Adam Schefter said the extension is worth $96 million with $45 million guaranteed. Tannehill got a lengthy extension before Luck, Wilson or Robert Griffin III. If that's what Tannehill is worth, add on plenty more to predict what Luck and Wilson will get. But Tannehill's promise makes that figure worth it for the Dolphins, who haven't had much to get excited about at quarterback since Dan Marino retired.
Tannehill's passer ratings have gone from 76.1 as a rookie to 81.7 to 92.8 last season. That 92.8 rating was 12th best among quarterbacks with at least 400 attempts last season. He threw for 4,045 yards and 27 touchdowns last season. That's not too bad for a quarterback who doesn't turn 27 until late July. It's especially encouraging that Tannehill, the eighth pick of the 2012 draft who played almost entirely at receiver at Texas A&M until midway through his junior season, has gotten better in just about every statistical category in each of his three NFL seasons.
The Dolphins are paying a bit on what Tannehill will become, not necessarily what he has done so far. But they see the promise, and in a league with a lot of quarterback uncertainty, they're just fine with their young signal caller.
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Athleticism can run in a family. Just ask Steven Borden Jr., a tight end trying out for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Borden Jr., who played collegiately at Kentucky, is the son of Steven Borden Sr.
If the name isn’t ringing any bells, just watch this:
That’s right. Borden Jr. is the son of professional wrestling legend Sting and says his father’s success in the ring has been a motivating factor throughout his football career.
“It’s actually been one of those things that has pushed me my entire life,” Borden Jr. said Sunday per the Kansas City Star. “You see what your dad has done, you want to beat him out.”
Borden Jr. said he hears wisecracks from time to time in the locker room, but doesn’t let what other people may say about his father’s career bother him.
“It’s never bothered me. I’m used to it by now,” he said. “You’re going to get a couple comments here and there in the locker room, but eventually people just see me as Steven Borden, and that’s what it is.”
Borden Jr. says his father has always been in his corner and wants him to blaze his own path.
“He’s always kind of pushed me to do what I want to do, make a name for myself outside of what he’s done,” Borden Jr. said. “So that’s been the goal my entire life, not really to follow in his footsteps necessarily, but to make my own name. He never really was one of those dads who kind of wanted to push their son into their own deal.”
The 6-foot-3, 246-pound Borden Jr. started his college career at Kligore Junior College before playing two seasons at Kentucky. During his time with the Wildcats, Borden caught seven passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.
He went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft, but caught on with the Chiefs. If things don’t work out in Kansas City, does Borden Jr. have any desire to follow in his father’s footsteps as a pro wrestler?
“I always tell people, if one day I’m homeless on the streets, then I might try it,” Borden Jr. said.
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Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten experienced domestic violence firsthand during his childhood and shared his story in a piece for ESPN’s E:60 last year. Just five months after that piece aired, the Cowboys signed defensive end Greg Hardy, who missed all but one game last season and will miss 10 games this season because of a domestic abuse incident.
The signing of Hardy was met with expected controversy, but Witten is doing his best to embrace him as a teammate.
“I think more than anything I think everybody knows [I’m against] domestic violence,” Witten said per ESPN.com. “That’s unwavering. That’s something that I lived, my family lived. But that guy is a teammate of mine, so I think you have to look at it from that standpoint. As coach [Jason] Garrett says, it’s our job to invite those guys in and create a standard of how we do things. I think he’s done a great job since he’s been here. It’s not my job to decide who comes in. I’m a tight end.”
Witten, whose SCORE Foundation provides assistance to victims of domestic violence, said he’s seen good things from Hardy, especially when observing his work ethic.
“I’ve been really pleased how he’s approached it and how he goes to work and what kind of teammate he’s been,” Witten said. “The day he got suspended, the next day he’s in there working out, so I think that’s kind of the mentality he has, what kind of work ethic (he has) and what he’s trying to prove in Dallas.”
A month after Hardy signed with Dallas, the NFL levied a 10-game suspension on the defensive end – a suspension Hardy is appealing. Hardy was initially found guilty on a domestic violence charge in North Carolina while he was a member of the Carolina Panthers, but the charges were later dismissed in February when the alleged victim did not make herself available for a jury trial.
Now that he’s joined the Cowboys, Hardy has impressed people in the organization with his approach.
“I think when you add the guy like that and then he gets suspended and you never know how it’s going to come out,” Witten said. “The guy works his tail off.”
Witten added that he thinks Hardy has “learned a lot” during his time away from the game.
“Our job is to welcome him and show him the way we do things and embrace him as a teammate, and he’s done everything that you want,” Witten said, per ESPN. “Obviously he’s a talented player. I think he’s learned a lot from what he’s gone through in the last year. He’s had a good offseason.”
In parts of five seasons for Carolina, the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Hardy recorded 204 total tackles and 34 sacks.
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The biggest draft mistakes might come when teams don't necessarily like a quarterback, but hey, they really need one so might as well take the best available. Call it Christian Ponder Syndrome.
Two years after the Buffalo Bills selected EJ Manuel with the 16th pick of the draft, it certainly looks like they made that mistake.
Manuel is young and has a chance to turn his career around. The Bills have to hope that through the summer he looks like the player they took so early in the 2013 draft and had a few decent moments as a rookie. But, based on the reports out of Buffalo, he better look good this summer or else.
WKBW's Joe Buscaglia, the station's Bills beat writer, wrote after conversations with people in the organization that "the Bills will use all the workouts to decide not only if EJ Manuel will be their starting quarterback, but also if they believe he warrants a spot on the roster." The Bills traded for journeyman veteran Matt Cassel this offseason, and he immediately became the favorite to start. That Manuel isn't even guaranteed to be his backup says a lot.
Would the Bills dump Manuel before his third season? ESPN.com's Mike Rodak seemed to validate Buscaglia's report by explaining the best ways for the Bills to dump Manuel and why, in a series of tweets:
Bills desperately need 2016 cap space. Trading Manuel would have extra benefit of effectively clearing $2.8M in space (w/ carry over).— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 18, 2015
The Bills would save $0 off their cap in 2015 and $0 off their cap in 2016 by cutting Manuel, since his base salaries are guaranteed.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 18, 2015
That’s why, even if it’s for a conditional 2025 7th rounder, Bills should consider any trade offer for EJ.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 18, 2015
And if no team wants to give up even a late-round conditional pick for a player the Bills took 16th overall, well, that would be telling.— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) May 18, 2015
Again, judging by how casually Manuel's lack of a future in Buffalo is being discussed by the media there, it doesn't look good.
That can all change. Manuel doesn't have a ton of experience. There's room for growth, even though the bar for young quarterbacks has been raised to nearly impossible levels after the success of players like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson as rookies. The days of waiting until a quarterback's third or fourth season to judge him are over. Manuel got 14 starts, 10 as a rookie after he was rushed into action following Kevin Kolb's career-ending concussion. Yet, the opinion on him already seems to be set.
Of course, there's a reason former coach Doug Marrone gave up on him so quickly and why the new staff seemingly hasn't warmed to him either. They know his flaws, like his inaccuracy. It's in the Bills' best interests for Manuel to succeed, so the fact that there doesn't seem to be much optimism is probably telling. The fact that the team didn't consider him for a start in Week 17 after Buffalo was eliminated from the playoffs was a bad sign.
And if the reports accurately sum up the Bills' feelings and Manuel needs a good summer just to keep a roster spot, that pick will go down in franchise infamy.
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You've just been suspended from your job, your name is a national punch line, your reputation in tatters. What do you do? Why, fly off to the Bahamas and play golf with Michael Jordan, of course.
Well, not you. You're not Tom Brady. But the once-and-future Patriots quarterback reminded us this weekend that even when his life's going bad, it's still pretty damn good:
According to the Daily Mail, Brady, Jordan and others played a little golf in advance of a weekend wedding in the Bahamas. The report is about what you'd expect from a British publication, referring to Brady's "Boston Red Socks" hat and leaping straight into speculation: "The pressure of his appeal against the league may be taking its toll on Brady, who was pictured standing by himself in many of the photos, rarely smiling or talking to Jordan and his other friends on the course."
Back in March, Brady and Jordan also hit the Bahamas for some pickup basketball and golf with PGA Tour pros Keegan Bradley and Luke Donald. Brady is unsinkable, man.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
If you believe Tom Brady cheated, as many do, then you also have to believe that he has lied to the team owner and head coach who have done so much for him.
What makes deflate-gate interesting — and what has made the story one of the most talked about in recent NFL memory — is that there are so many layers, and that includes personal relationships. You can turn it into a soap opera. When New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick asked Brady if he knew anything about the ball deflation stories in the media, Brady replied, "Absolutely not," according to Ted Wells' investigative report. Brady did the same with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Again, if Brady knowingly cheated, he has now also betrayed the trust of two of the most important people in his professional life too.
Kraft had much to say to Peter King of The MMQB in his first public comments, outside of an angry statement when the league's surprising penalties were handed down, and some of the most interesting included his conversation with Brady, who told Kraft he was innocent even when Kraft offered him a last chance to come clean if he did anything wrong, via King:
“Yes. Because we had the discussion—if you did it, let’s just deal with it and take our hit and move on," Kraft said. "I’ve known Tommy 16 years, almost half his life. He’s a man, and he’s always been honest with me, and I trust him. I believed what he told me. He has never lied to me, and I have found no hard or conclusive evidence to the contrary.”
Even for those who believe the Wells report's so-called evidence is thin at best and that the NFL has punished the Patriots too excessively in an attempt to curry public favor rather than follow any kind of precedent, it's very hard to believe that Brady had absolutely no knowledge of anything. Not necessarily that he masterminded the whole scheme and deserves the four-game suspension he got, because Wells spent three months investigating and found nothing to prove that was the case, but that Brady knew something. But given the chance to admit to something to the coach who he has written an incomparable legacy with, or to an an owner who has also been with him for four Super Bowl titles, Brady has continued to maintain complete innocence.
Don't forget that, even though deflate-gate has been discussed to the point of exhaustion, the one compelling figure remaining is Kraft because nobody is sure about his next move is. When asked directly if he'd go to court, Kraft continued that mystery by telling King, "I'm not going to comment ... I won't say."
King wrote that in his conversation with Kraft, he "sounded alternately defiant and angry." And, like the few impartial people who have read Wells' report and can't figure out how the NFL can match the punishment with the evidence, Kraft continued to question what evidence Wells really had.
"To receive the harshest penalty in league history is just not fair," Kraft told The MMQB. "The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn’t fair. If we’re giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting. But in this report, every inference went against us … inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us. That’s the thing that really bothers me."
The league's annual spring meetings start Tuesday, and that should be a nice and awkward get-together.
Kraft discussed a lot of things with King, and he also touched on Spygate, the 2007 videotaping controversy that played a part in the harsh punishment this time around. The Patriots last week were fined $1 million (the largest single team fine in league history), and stripped of a 2016 first-round draft pick and a 2017 fourth-round pick. When Kraft compared this to Spygate, it becomes more clear why he's so angry: This time around, the Patriots don't think they did anything wrong and they don't think the league has proven otherwise.
"This is very different. In 2007 we did something and acknowledged the fact of what was done," Kraft said. "This is an accusation of wrongdoing, without proof."
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In Namath's playing days, they called a concussion “getting their bell rung,” as he recalls. Not much was known about concussions or the long-term effects. The former New York Jets star, who was as influential off the field as he was on it, is now leading the charge for treatment of brain injuries for those who played when concussions weren't fully understood.
Over the past few years he has seen teammates scared and confused mentally and physically, as they age and suffer the effects of playing in the NFL. Seeing that led Namath to consider the avenues to treatment.
Until recently, the NFL had been lacking in helping players with their medical issues after their careers were done. Namath knew that more needed to be done, so he reached out to Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Fla. and asked about possible ways that brain injuries could be dealt with. He was willing to be tested to see how possible treatments may – or may not – work.
That led to the creation of the Joe Namath Neurological Research Center at the Jupiter Medical Center.
Namath started a series of hyperbaric treatments – 120 dives during the span of roughly nine months. Each chamber dive takes about an hour and 20 minutes. The first 15 minutes is used to get to the proper atmosphere. The chamber is designed to allow the atmospheric pressure to be doubled or tripled, allowing the lungs to take in more air.
Conceptually, injured body tissue needs more oxygen to heal. So for someone with a brain injury such as a concussion, the hope is that these treatments can and will restore the function of damaged or dead brain cells.
The chambers are used for burn victims, people with diabetes and for those like Namath who are suffering from brain trauma.
“To be able to see, to literally be able to see, with the nuclear scan the cells that had stopped working to start working, to get blood flow. To be restored, renewed and start looking like the rest of my brain. The FDA approved this study and they want another study, this one on 100 people,” Namath told Yahoo Sports.
“I know I've had a change in my being, my physiology. It's quite a relief to see those pictures and take those tests and take it again and again and see improvement each time. I know it's worked for me. I'm thankful.”
His memory has improved as has his retention. There is hope that these treatments can and will aid other former NFL players who have suffered such conditions.
But to understand what is happening to Namath and his brain – and to thousands of NFL alumni like him – first a concussion has to be understood.
“A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain,” said Dr. Lee Fox, Chief of Radiology at Jupiter Medical Center and Co-Medical Director of the Joe Namath Neurological Research Center at Jupiter Medical Center.
Even though a concussion is considered by many medical professionals as a rather “mild” brain injury, there are long-term effects.
And while it may not be life-threatening, it can be “life-changing” according to Dr. Fox. Fox said that a concussion can affect things such as memory, learning, coordination and balance, speech, hearing, vision and it can even cause emotional changes or problems. A severe brain injury can also negatively impact all aspects of people’s lives, including relationships with family and friends, as well as their ability to work or be employed, do household chores, drive or do other normal daily activities.
Enter the hyperbaric chamber, where pressurized oxygen is introduced with the idea that dormant brain cells are essentially re-awakened.
“After Joe completed 40 [hyperbaric] treatments or 'dives' as they’re called, we repeated the SPECT scan and cognitive test. We compared them to the initial tests and we saw a dramatic change. The scan showed his left temporal lobe was completely normalized,” Dr. Fox said. “We could see normal blood flow, normal activity and it was symmetrical when compared to the right temporal lobe. Joe continued with an additional 80 treatments. We did scans at regular intervals throughout his treatment and conducted another scan one year after he completed the full course of therapy. We were very pleased to see that his scan remained normal and unchanged since his last day of therapy.”
Namath says that he is seeing the promise of the treatments and believes that it can be beneficial to him long-term. He is confident that the treatment has helped him with memory but also current cognitive functions.
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Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer
Well, we know why Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo got on Twitter. He wanted to get something off his chest.
Romo, who gained almost 100,000 followers in his first 20 hours on Twitter, sent one test tweet when he joined, saying just "9." Meh. But he came out swinging on tweet No. 2.
I mean, how about this to get some retweets and comments:
Looking back on it...it was a catch :) pic.twitter.com/jq29XpkGAn— Tony Romo (@tonyromo) May 15, 2015
Troll on, Tony. Nothing like bringing up one of the NFL's biggest non-deflated ball controversies of 2015, Dez Bryant's non-catch that looked like a catch in Dallas' playoff loss to Green Bay, on your first Twitter day.
If this is what we can expect from Romo on Twitter, it might end up being a lot of fun.
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Jameis Winston has only been a member of the Tampa Bay Bucs for just over two weeks, but he’s already drawing rave reviews from coaches and teammates – especially when it comes to his work ethic.
Winston has been rooming with wide receiver Kenny Bell, a fifth-round selection, since the start of mini camp. Bell went so far as to say that Winston is “the best roommate” he’s ever had.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Bell said on WDAE-AM 620. “We’ve been going from about 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and then we get back to the hotel and he wants to study more. He’s dedicated to his job, that’s for sure.”
According to the Bucs website, rookie lineman Ali Marpet, a second-round pick, said that Winston was up studying until 1 a.m. on the first day of rookie mini-camp.
Head coach Lovie Smith loves what he’s seen.
“He’s cramming like it’s the final exam right now and doing a good job,” Smith said. “We’ve seen marked improvement from the moment we gave him his playbook.”
Earlier in the week, Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter lauded Winston for his ability to process the playbook despite being two weeks behind the team’s veterans.
“Arm strength and all of that stuff, you can see that on tape,” Koetter said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “You cant always see how a guy (processes information). But Jameis can process, and that’s reassuring, because that’s an important thing.”
Added quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian: “You only have to tell him once and his absorbs it pretty quickly. Part of that is his foundation, but he works hard at it, too. So it’s also a credit to his work ethic.”
Any trepidation the Bucs may have had about Winston have to be eased to an extent with that way he’s started his tenure with the team. Sure, there’s still a long way to go until the season, but Winston’s issues have never been with his on-field ability or preparation. Now that it’s all football all the time for Winston, he appears to be in a good mindset.
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The NFL handed down a three-game suspension to Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell last month after he was charged with possession of marijuana and DUI.
Bell, who was second in the NFL with 1,361 rushing yards last season, told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that the punishment is just.
“I made a mistake. I’m going to just have to do my time, whatever the final decision may be,” Bell said. “Get past it, and get ready for next season and continuing to be the great football player I know I can be.”
Bell’s suspension stems from the Aug. 20 incident in which he was pulled over with former teammate LeGarrette Blount hours before a team flight to a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Bell ultimately reached a plea deal and was sentenced to 15 months’ probation that includes abstaining from drug and alcohol use. Bell, who reportedly appealed the NFL’s ruling, also completed community service, which he hopes will influence the league to reduce his suspension.
“I still have to do my time that they gave me, but if (the league) were to look into that and all the community service that I did and the classes that I had to take in eventually getting (the arrest) off my record, that should be something that maybe they consider and help me knock some time off,” Bell told ESPN.
Bell says he’s learned from the ordeal and that marijuana “is not an important thing” in his life.
“It’s something that got me in trouble,” Bell said. “Football is what I love. I love the game of football and nothing will come to jeopardize that.”
It’s refreshing to see Bell take ownership of his transgressions. Of course he’s going to take any steps necessary to possibly cut into the suspension, but if not, he’s not making excuses.
If the three-game suspension holds, Bell will miss the Thursday night season opener against the New England Patriots, a home game against the San Francisco 49ers and a road contest with the St. Louis Rams. In his absence, newly-signed DeAngelo Williams will likely see the bulk of the carries. Williams, who spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Carolina Panthers, rushed for a career-low 219 yards in an injury-plagued 2014 season.
Prior to the 2014 season, Williams rushed for at least 700 yards in six of his previous seven seasons.
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The NFLPA's appeal letter to the NFL in Tom Brady's appeal is a good look at how little the union thinks of the NFL's case against Brady and of commissioner Roger Goodell's ability to be neutral.
The most interesting part might be that the NFLPA said it plans to call Goodell and NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, whose name was on the punishment to the New England Patriots and Brady, to testify in the appeal hearing. That's in a clear effort to force Goodell from overseeing the appeal. The same happened in the Ray Rice case, which the NFLPA discusses in its letter. It's probably the best shot the NFLPA has at forcing Goodell's hand. The NFLPA also threatens to go beyond the NFL's appeal process if a neutral party doesn't oversee the appeal.
"If the Commissioner does not appoint such a neutral arbitrator, the NFLPA and Mr. Brady will seek recusal and pursue all available relief to obtain an arbitrator who is not evidently partial," the letter says.
There are other interesting parts of their appeal letter, and you can boil it down into three main parts:
1. The NFLPA doesn't think Goodell should determine the punishment
It likely won't matter. Goodell has said he will rule over the appeal. It's very clear the NFL would rather take the criticism for not having someone independent rule over the case than to let the flimsy evidence against Brady be heard by someone impartial. A loss in this case would be a real possibility if the appeal was fair, and that would be a huge embarrassment to the league.
But the NFLPA said it expects Goodell to testify, mostly about when he heard about the Indianapolis Colts' complaints that were made before the AFC championship game and why no action was taken until halftime of the game.
"(Y)our personal involvement in the game-day events surrounding this matter render you inherently biased in any disciplinary determination," the NFLPA said, regarding Goodell.
The union asks that Goodell use someone independent as the hearing officer. It's hard to imagine that happening. The NFL can't afford to lose, so it has made sure it won't by having Goodell rule on what amounts to his own punishment. Although, the NFLPA had a problem with how the punishment was presented.
2. The NFLPA has a problem with Vincent handing down the punishment
The letter is addressed to Vincent. His name was on the punishment to the Patriots and Brady. It's nearly impossible to believe that Goodell wasn't the one making the ultimate determination on such a high-profile case that generated arguably the largest punishment in league history. But that's what the NFL said, and the NFLPA attacked it. The union calls Vincent's involvement "a plain violation of the CBA."
"The CBA grants the Commissioner—and only the Commissioner—the authority to impose conduct detrimental discipline on players ... [the CBA] contains no corresponding provision authorizing the Commissioner to delegate his exclusive role to impose conduct detrimental discipline to you or anyone else. You have no authority to impose discipline on Mr. Brady under the CBA, and such discipline must therefore be set aside."
Good luck with that. But it points out another NFL error. It's reasonable to think (perhaps even more probable than not) that Goodell wanted anyone else's name to be on the punishment because he planned all along to rule on an appeal that he absolutely could not afford to lose. The NFLPA said that shell game was a violation of the CBA.
3. The evidence against Brady is weak and doesn't justify the punishment
This much is clear to most objective people who have actually read the entire Wells Report. The Wells Report itself uses vague terms about Brady. The letter points them out, saying it says it was "more probable than not” that Mr. Brady was “generally aware of” “inappropriate activities.” They didn't have much else.
Based on the evidence of the alleged crimes (it's still hard to express what the crime is, because Brady is never really accused of anything specific in the 243-page report), the NFLPA says it's an unprecedented punishment.
"Your decision to suspend Mr. Brady for four games—i.e., one-quarter of the NFL season—for his alleged 'general aware[ness] of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of the footballs' and 'failure to cooperate fully and candidly with the [Wells] investigation' is grossly inconsistent with the League’s prior disciplinary treatment of similar alleged conduct, including lack of cooperation and not complying with League rules regarding game balls or other equipment."
The letter goes on to say that "no player in the history of the NFL has ever received anything approaching this level of discipline for similar behavior," which is a change that is "forbidden by the CBA and the law of the shop." And it is very clear that this punishment is excessive when compared to other similar cases.
Unless the NFLPA can somehow get Goodell to give up his role overseeing the appeal, perhaps by expressing that it wants him to testify, none of this will matter. Goodell can't lose this appeal, and he obviously won't if he rules on the case. It's unfortunate. A real appeal instead of the farce it will be would have been interesting to watch unfold.
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In the big picture, getting a job at age 21 that pays you $1.599 million is pretty good. But it'll be really hard for La'el Collins to not continuously think about all the money he should have made.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun had Collins' exact contract numbers as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys: $1.599 million overall over three years, with a $21,000 signing bonus and base salaries of $435,000, $526,750 and $616,750. Or, about one-seventh of what he likely would have made in his first contract had police not sought him for questioning right before the draft.
Collins, an offensive tackle from LSU, was projected to be a first-round pick. Then the week of the NFL draft he was wanted for questioning by the Baton Rouge Police Department in the shooting death of former girlfriend Brittney Mills, although he was never named a suspect. Collins left the draft in Chicago to go back to Louisiana. He went undrafted. He passed a polygraph test and a paternity test showed that the child Mills was pregnant with when she was killed was not Collins' child. Not long after that, the Cowboys signed him.
Collins was all over the place in mock drafts before the incident, but in the first round in just about every one. Let's say he'd have gone somewhere in the middle part of the first round. Miami Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker, the 14th pick, signed a $10.9 million deal over four years with a $6.2 million signing bonus. That total contract is about seven times what Collins got. The signing bonus is about 295 times what Collins got. Even if Collins fell near the end of the first round, he missed out on a ton of money. Linebacker Stephone Anthony, the 31st pick, signed a four-year deal with the New Orleans Saints worth $7.7 million that included a $3.9 million signing bonus.
Teams were restricted by the collective-bargaining agreement in what they could offer Collins, no matter his talent. His $21,000 signing bonus is actually on the higher side for undrafted free agents. The contract is fully guaranteed, according to The MMQB, a rarity for an undrafted free agent. Collins can make some extra money in the NFL's performance based pay system. Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, a seventh-round pick in 2014, made $373,671 last season because his playing time wasn't commensurate with his salary. It will be hard for Collins to crack the starting lineup on Dallas' great line, but he could win a starting spot at guard. Collins can also sign an extension after just two seasons, which is one year sooner than players who were just drafted.
Still, NFL players have a limited time to earn money in their careers. The timing of Collins being sought by police for questioning cost him a lot of money. It's fair to guess that he lost out on about $9 million, and maybe a little more, in salary from his rookie contract. That won't change, so all he can do now is earn a big second and third NFL contract to help make up for it.
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