Johnny Manziel (AP)Johnny Manziel's entire off-field life, from Texas A&M until now when he has virtually no chance at getting back in the NFL  has played out in an intensely public manner.

In a normal world, an athlete's father sharing his pessimistic and dark feelings about his son's future through the media would be very odd, but Manziel hasn't lived a normal life since he burst on the scene as a redshirt freshman in college and won a Heisman Trophy.

So on the heels of a story that Manziel's lawyer accidentally texted the Associated Press with his concerns that Manziel could stay clean as an apparent part of a plea bargain in his domestic violence assault case, Manziel's father again had some startling words about his son.

"He's a druggie," Paul Manziel told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "It's not a secret that he's a druggie. I don't know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn't seeked it yet. Hopefully he doesn't die before he comes to his senses. That's about all you can say. I don't know what else to say. I hate to say it but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. So we'll see."

It seems like a desperate plea for anyone to get help for his son, who he clearly can't get through to in any other way. Paul Manziel shockingly said earlier this year that he doesn't know if his son will see his 24th birthday. Manziel turns 24 in December.

There have been numerous public messages from soon-to-be former agents, ex-teammates, friends and family begging Manziel to make changes in his life. It's pretty clear nothing is working yet.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 25, 2016, 1:18 am

Tarvaris Jackson (AP)Tarvaris Jackson, a longtime NFL quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks who is currently a free agent, was arrested after he allegedly pulled a gun on his wife, according to Chris Hush of WESH in Orlando.

Hesh reported the news in a series of tweets, citing the police report that he also tweeted. Hesh said an intoxicated Jackson allegedly loaded a gun, pointed it at his wife and said "I'll kill you."

According to Hesh's tweets, Jackson's wife said, "You better be accurate (because) you ain't accurate on the field."

Jackson, who was in Kissimmee, Fla. visiting family, was grabbed by a witness to stop him from shooting, Hesh reported. The police report, which was cited by Hesh, said the victim grabbed a kitchen knife and a clothing iron for protection. The Osceola County County Corrections website said Jackson was booked Friday on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Jackson, who is 33, played in four games with the Seahawks last season. He spent five seasons before his time in Seattle with the Vikings. He has 39 touchdowns and 35 interceptions in 10 NFL seasons.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 24, 2016, 11:10 pm

Johnny Manziel sits at the defense table as his attorney Bob Hinton, center, looks on during a hearing (AP)Even by the standards of Johnny Manziel's 2016, the story the Associated Press reported on Friday is unbelievable.

The AP reported that Manziel's lawyer Bob Hinton mistakenly sent the AP a long text message, which he said later was meant for another attorney, presumably discussing a plea bargain in Manziel's domestic violence assault case and apparently suggesting he believes Manziel might have trouble staying clean if that is part of any deal.

"Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle," Hinton accidentally wrote to the AP, the news organization says.

Hinton also wrote, the AP said, that he was emailed a "heads up" receipt "which purports to reflect" that Manziel spent more than $1,000 at a drug paraphernalia store this week, 15 hours after an incident in which his car was hit and the other car that hit his drove off.

"I don't know if the receipt is legitimate or not," Hinton responded when asked about it by the AP. "I just know that it doesn't say Johnny's name on it anywhere that I can see. It's just that somebody in that store, I guess, circulated that to the other store managers and employees saying, 'Guess who was here today and spent this amount of money.' That's all I know."

The AP story said it got the accidental text after a reporter texted Hinton to ask about the hit-and-run incident. Hinton told the AP he meant for the text to go to another attorney. According to the AP's story, Hinton threatened to sue the AP if certain details were published, citing attorney-client privilege.

CBS 11 in Dallas reported that it talked to Hinton, and Hinton claims the texts are not from him.

#BREAKING: CBS 11's @jdmiles11 says he just spoke to Manziel's attorney, Bob Hinton, who said the texts are NOT from him. (4/4)@CBSDFW

— Tami Carr (@CarrTamicbs11) June 24, 2016

Manziel has been photographed at parties often this offseason, with many of the photos making their way to social media or the gossip site TMZ. During the 2015 offseason, when he was still a quarterback with the Cleveland Browns, Manziel spent some time in a rehab facility.

Manziel was indicted on a charge of assault, stemming from an altercation with his ex-girlfriend earlier this year. Hinton told AP that this week he met with an administrative chief in the Dallas County District Attorney's Office who is "very interested" in working toward an agreement in the case.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 24, 2016, 10:15 pm

Russell Wilson played very well in 2015 (AP)This offseason, Greg Cosell and Frank Schwab will explore key questions for each of the 32 NFL teams in "The Shutdown" podcast, going team-by-team for each division over eight episodes. Links to previous division preview podcasts are at the end of this post.

The NFC West this season should have two of the best teams in the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals will wage a very interesting battle for the division crown.

There are some changes for each team that bear watching. In Arizona, the defense added Chandler Jones, the type of pass rusher the Cardinals haven't had in a few years. Seattle will begin life after Marshawn Lynch retired, which might bring about some changes in their offensive identity.

The other two teams in the division are intriguing as well. The Los Angeles Rams added a new quarterback, Jared Goff, who should improve the offense over time. And the San Francisco 49ers have a quarterback battle to watch between Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick. We discuss all that and more in this episode of "The Shutdown" podcast:

Previous division preview podcasts:

NFC East

AFC East

NFC North

AFC North

NFC South

AFC South

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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.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: June 24, 2016, 8:50 pm

In our opinion, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman had it right earlier this month when he told a Seattle radio station the NFL's billionaire owners should pay for new stadiums out of their own pockets, instead of making taxpayers foot the bill, affecting the ability to handle more pressing municipal needs.

But Sherman's message apparently hasn't made it to Las Vegas.

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the 15th richest person in America with an estimated net worth of $26 billion, has proposed that Las Vegas build a domed stadium to woo the Oakland Raiders to Sin City. Under Adelson's plan, the building would be funded using $750 million in municipal bonds. 

That's a staggering number. 

Think about how many schools could be built, how many roads could be improved, how many far more important things than building a giant stadium could be done with three-quarters of a billion dollars. Here's an idea - if Sheldon Adelson wants the Raiders in Las Vegas so badly, why doesn't he ante up the money (see what we did there?) for the place? 

But we digress. According to Bloomberg, if Las Vegas puts up $750 million (the money would be raised by increasing the tax on hotel room stays), it will set a sad new record for the most money a municipality gave toward stadium construction. Indianapolis subsidized Lucas Oil Stadium to the tune of $620 million.

An economic advisor to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has suggested that the public contribution be a mere $500 million, with $900 million coming from the private sector.

Oakland lawmakers have refused to pay any money toward a new stadium to keep the Raiders in the city. 

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 24, 2016, 6:39 pm

More than six months after five current and now-former NFL players were named in an Al-Jazeera America report linking them to performance-enhancing drug use, at least four will be interviewed by the league next month.

According to a report by USA Today's Tom Pelissero, the NFL has notified the NFL Players' Association that it will conduct interviews with Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews III and Julius Peppers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers' James Harrison on the first day of their respective training camps.

The Packers are scheduled to hold their first practice of camp on July 26, and the Steelers set to open July 29.

Additionally, free agent linebacker Mike Neal, a former Packer, will be interviewed on or before July 22.

However, the "strongly worded" (according to Pelissero) letter from Adolpho Birch, NFL vice president of labor policy and league affairs, to NFLPA counsel Heather McPhee makes no mention of Peyton Manning, the most prominent player named in the Al-Jazeera report.

Manning recently retired and is no longer a member of the union; citing a source, Pelissero reports that investigation is progressing.

Birch's letter to the NFLPA reads:

“On January 11, 2016, the league notified Messrs. Peppers, Neal, Matthews and Harrison that it had initiated an investigation following the airing of the Al-Jazeera America documentary, which raised serious issues concerning their possible violation of the NFL/NFLPA Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances. The players were further advised that, with their full and timely cooperation, the investigation would be conducted expeditiously and with minimal disruption.

“While the investigation has proceeded, we have yet to interview the players.  We have attempted since early April to work through the NFLPA to schedule them, but despite multiple requests the NFLPA has failed to respond, except to seek reconsideration of the basis for the investigation.  This continuing delay and avoidance has obstructed our ability to conduct and conclude the investigation.

“In fairness to all, including the players involved, we must move forward with the interviews.  Accordingly, this will advise that the interviews of Messrs. Peppers, Matthews and Harrison will be scheduled for the first day of their respective training camps, and the interview of Mr. Neal (free agent) will take place on or before July 22.  The players will be advised of the specific scheduling details by separate correspondence on which the NFLPA will be copied, and of course an NFLPA representative may attend each interview should the player so request.”

The AJA documentary featured Charlie Sly, a former intern at an anti-aging clinic, telling a reporter wearing a hidden camera about players in the NFL and Major League Baseball he had worked with, providing them with performance-enhancers. Sly has since recanted his statements.

According to Sly, Manning and his wife received human growth hormone, or HGH.

There is no word on why it has taken the NFL so long to get around to interviewing the players.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 24, 2016, 5:47 pm

Steve Young, left, with his agent Leigh Steinberg after signing with the USFL's Los Angeles Express (AP)This offseason, Shutdown Corner will travel down memory lane with a series of stories presenting some interesting and sometimes forgotten stories from the NFL's past. Join us as we relive some of the greatest and craziest moments in the sport's history.

A $42 million pro football contract barely causes a ripple anymore. In 1984? Steve Young's deal that brought him to the USFL was a tsunami.

Oh, and the deal was for 43 years. Yeah, it was a memorable one.

The historic contract and the story behind how it got signed, from Young’s agent Leigh Steinberg, sum up the USFL’s existence in general: fun, different and a little insane.

First things first: Young’s contract with the Los Angeles Express never came close to paying $42 million or spanning 43 years. There are conflicting reports on how much the contract was supposed to be worth; most say the deal was $40 million though Steinberg remembers it being about $42 million in total. The numbers in the deal weren’t necessarily exaggerated, but it wasn't exactly all guaranteed money either (this is apparently a never-ending theme with football contracts). The many years and millions tacked on the end were in the form of an annuity. But when it came time for Young to fund the annuity, he decided to get whatever money he could out of the failing league before it disappeared.

So no, Young won’t still be getting paid on that contract in 2026. He made a reported $4.8 million total from the deal.

Even though the contract was a fraction of what it was supposed to be, it still lives on in football lore. So does the story of how it got signed.

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Young was a star at BYU but didn’t want to play in the USFL. It’s not like he grew up rooting for the Express or the Philadelphia Stars or Chicago Blitz.

“Steve grew up with a poster of Roger Staubach over his bed,” Steinberg said. “He wanted to play in the NFL.”

But the USFL wasn’t shy about bidding against the NFL for star college talent. And Express general manager Don Klosterman also tried selling Young on how he'd develop as a player with the Express. The Express had John Hadl, a former Pro Bowl quarterback, as their new coach. Legendary offensive guru Sid Gillman was working as a consultant with the team. The Express was signing other talented players on offense, including future Hall-of-Fame left tackle Gary Zimmerman.

The Express also knew Young had interest in law school. Klosterman played at Loyola and said he could help get Young into law school there. The Express went all out to convince Young to come to the USFL.

Steve Young with the Los Angeles Express (AP)Then there was the money. Steinberg went to Klosterman’s home overlooking Los Angeles to negotiate. At that time Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, the first pick in the 1983 NFL draft, was making a little less than a million a year. The Express offered Young more than Elway was getting. And they just kept offering more.

“They kept increasing the offer,” Steinberg said. “So it was easy enough to just say no.”

When the offer got to a certain point and it was going to cost a fortune in taxes for Young, Steinberg wanted to get creative. Did they ever.

Steinberg said the deal was for $5 million over the first four years, with a $37 million annuity bringing the total value to about $42 million in total. The Cincinnati Bengals had the top pick in the NFL draft. They were reportedly offering about $3.5 million. Steinberg called Mike Brown, then the Bengals assistant general manager, and told him about the Express’ offer.

“I said, ‘Here’s where we’re at financially, would you have any interest in matching this?’” Steinberg said. “He said, ‘Yes, if I discover an oil field under our practice facility.’”

The Bengals were out. And in the early morning hours Klosterman and Steinberg agreed to the basic framework of a historic deal.

And that was just the start of the madness.

Steinberg flew up to San Francisco to meet with Express owner J. William Oldenburg at his offices and execute the deal. As you can imagine, it takes time to actually put together a 43-year, $42 million contract. As you can imagine, if you know much about the USFL’s sometimes laughable history, the Express’ executives hadn’t prepared any of it before Steinberg arrived.

Oldenburg is a colorful figure in USFL history. He was known to fly off the handle. He was seen, for lack of a better term, as a crazy man.

"He was," said Chris Dufresne, who covered the Express for the Los Angeles Times. "We were kept at arm's length from him most of the time. He was this short guy with a bulbous nose and a red face, and we'd hear him during games pounding his fist and yelling. He'd be running around like Yosemite Sam, with smoke coming out of his ears."

By the time Young had finished his rookie season with the Express, Oldenburg was outed as a fraud who didn’t have nearly as much money as he said. He went under federal investigation for alleged business irregularities and the USFL took over the team. The Epxpress didn’t have an owner the entire 1985 season, the last season before the USFL folded.

But in early March of 1984, Oldenburg was in charge of the Express. And as Young's massive contract was written up, it wasn’t getting done quick enough for Oldenburg.

“He got progressively angrier,” Steinberg said. “And he had more adult beverages.”

At one point Oldenburg started yelling at Young, asking if the holdup was over guarantees.

“’He says, ‘Here’s all the effing guarantees you need,’ and he started throwing $100 bills on the floor,’” Steinberg said.

“He points at me, ‘Is it more money you want? Money’s the problem?’ And he takes a wad of $100s out of his pocket and throws them at me,” Young said in the ESPN documentary “Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?” “And I’m like, ‘Well, it doesn’t hurt, I have nothing right now.’ So I’m kind of quietly picking it up.”

The hours passed. Oldenburg kept having drinks in his private office, Steinberg said, while the lawyers wrote up the contract.

“It’s 2 a.m. He’s now really furious,” Steinberg said. “He says ‘I want to see Steve and Leigh in my office now.’

“We go up to his private office. And he’s yelling at Steve. And poking Steve.”

Oldenburg punctuated all of the things he was giving Young in the deal with a poke to the chest.

“Poke, poke, poke,” Steinberg said. “Steve finally says, ‘Mr. Oldenburg, I’ve never done this, but if you poke me one more time in the chest, I’ll deck you.'"

Young with Express owner J. William Oldenburg (AP)That didn’t exactly calm Oldenburg down. Steinberg said Oldenburg stepped away, still enraged, and grabbed a chair like he was going to throw it out the window.

“We’re up 40 floors. Steve grabbed his arm and stopped him,” Steinberg said. “I’m like, wow, is this really happening?”

That was the scene as one of the most famous contracts in sports history was signed.

Meanwhile, Dufresne was reporting on the story for the L.A. Times. The USFL being what it was, Dufresne was a young reporter asked to cover the Express and UC-Irvine basketball, because the Times didn't want to put an older reporter on an Express beat they didn't really want to cover. So in between filing a UC-Irvine basketball story, Dufresne was in the sports information office at Irvine reporting on Young's historic deal. And his editors weren't excited about the story.

"They almost laughed in my face, for good reason. They were skeptical to say the least," Dufresne said. "There was a sense we were getting played for publicity, and you know what? It was formulated to announce a huge number. A lot of it was smoke and mirrors. But the actual dollar amount was still big money."

After Oldenburg's blowup in his office, everyone broke to get some sleep. Oldenburg apologized to Young. And in this time, Steinberg said, Young started getting phone calls as word started getting out that Young was close to signing with the USFL. Howard Cosell called to lobby him to come to the NFL. The next call was from NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. Joe Namath and Staubach called.

“It goes on and on and on,” Steinberg said.

But the deal got done. Young became a member of the Express. The contract was officially announced at a fancy Beverly Hills hotel. To get attention in Los Angeles you need to make a big splash, and this was a huge one for the fledgling league. Steinberg said it was the biggest press conference he had ever seen.

"Take the money part of it away, and it was still a huge signing," Dufresne said. "No matter how illegitimate the operation was, these were legit people they were signing."

Unfortunately, signing the contract might have been the highlight of Young’s Express career. Young played on a mediocre Express team for two years. In the second he played for a team without an owner, for a league that was clearly struggling.

[Click here to read about Young's classic battle against Jim Kelly in the USFL, as the Express and Houston Gamblers squared off in the greatest game nobody saw.]

When it came time for Young to fund the annuity at $900,000 or take about a million in cash, he opted for the cash payout.

“Nobody could be sure if the league would be there,” Steinberg said.

The league wasn't around for long. The USFL folded after the 1985 season. It made the ill-fated decision to sue the NFL as part of a plan to move its games from the spring to the fall. The owner who pushed the lawsuit hardest was the New Jersey Generals’ Donald Trump (whatever happened to that guy?). The USFL won in court but received only about $3 in damages. The USFL was done.

Young went to the NFL, first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then with the San Francisco 49ers, where he became a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

While the Express contract ended up being worth nowhere near $42 million, it was still historic. Because of the USFL bidding war, big-name players finally had options and leverage. There was no free agency in the NFL at that point.

“The USFL was the Oklahoma Land Rush for players and agents,” Steinberg said.“It was a golden age for player compensation. A liberating experience.”

Maybe NFL free agency, the incredible boom in rookie contracts (which has since been quelled with the 2011 collective-bargaining agreement) and a major increase in all NFL contracts would have happened with or without the USFL. But there’s no question some of the most famous USFL deals started to change the landscape.

And no deal, maybe in football history, is more famous than Young’s USFL contract.

"They were starving for attention," Dufresne said. "And this was certainly an attention-getting deal."

Previous Shutdown Corner NFL throwback stories: Joe Montana's underrated toughness | Barry Sanders' long-forgotten final game | Jake Delhomme's playoff nightmare | Barry Switzer, outspoken as ever | Was Sebastian Janikowski worth a first-round pick?How Jim Harbaugh punching Jim Kelly helped Colts land Peyton Manning | Jay Cutler makes the greatest throw ever | "Has anyone ever kissed your Super Bowl rings?" | How the Patriots once faced a fourth-and-63 | The Packers survived a miserable two-decade run | "NFL PrimeTime" changed how we watch football | One of pro football's greatest games happened in the crazy USFL | The time Warren Moon should have had 650 yards in an NFL game | In 1979, Lyle Alzado boxed against Muhammad Ali. Seriously | Meet the NFL team that lost its only game before folding | In 1969 the NFL demanded Joe Namath sell his bar, so he retired | Let's Ram It! An oral history of 1985 Los Angeles Rams' rap song | The historic AFL-NFL merger 50 years ago | Was O.J. Simpson's 1973 the best season in NFL history? | Hertz made advertising history with O.J. Simpson's airport runs | Before they were coaches, Bill Cowher once broke Jeff Fisher's leg | The man who turned down the NFL because of his religious beliefs | The short list of players drafted by the NFL and NBA

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 24, 2016, 5:45 pm

The league's three Florida-based teams - the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers - have joined with the NFL Foundation to do a little good.

It was announced on Friday that the four groups are combining to donate $400,000 to the OneOrlando Fund, created to support victims' families as well as survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre on June 12, in which 49 indivduals were killed.

In a statement, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said, "Our city has just begun to recover from the impact of the Pulse tragedy. The support of partners like the NFL and the NFL’s three Florida-based teams sends a signal to our City that we are not in this alone. The money we are raising will provide a way to help us respond to the needs of our community, now and in the time to come. Words cannot begin to express how grateful we are for the outpouring of support from across the globe.”

If you'd like to donate to the OneOrlando Fund, you can do so here:

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 24, 2016, 4:53 pm

Jalen Ramsey will wear No. 20 (AP)How much is a jersey number worth? For Jalen Ramsey, $30,000 sounded about right. For James Sample, that wasn't enough for the No. 23 he has and Ramsey wanted. Sample made it clear his number was not for sale.

This week Ramsey, the cornerback who was the Jacksonville Jaguars' first-round pick a couple months ago, happily announced on Twitter that he's going to wear No. 20. That's not really his number of choice, but he was happy to give up No. 38, which was assigned to him when he found out the No. 23 he wanted was already taken by Sample.

His dislike of No. 38 apparently became a running joke among the Jaguars, because both Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson acknowledged on Twitter how happy Ramsey is to be done with No. 38.

@jalenramsey lol that man happy he out that 38 lol bout time

— Allen Hurns (@A1hurns) June 21, 2016

Lol & you know this

— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) June 21, 2016

@A1hurns @jalenramsey wasn't playing no games getting out that 38 😂😂

— Allen Robinson (@Thee_AR15) June 21, 2016

Not 1 game hahaha

— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) June 21, 2016

Ramsey wanted No. 23 though, so what happened? Sample had already squatted on it and wouldn't give it up. Not even for a sum that, for many people, is a ton of money.

According to (h/t to CBS' Eye on Football), the rumor is that Ramsey's offer to Sample for No. 23 "surpassed $30,000." Ramsey has signed an endorsement deal with Nike's Jordan brand, and of course Michael Jordan wore No. 23. Ramsey has a four-year deal worth a little more than $23 million, all guaranteed, so he could afford to pay for the number. And Sample, a second-year player who appeared in four games last year and is set to make $525,000 this season, said no.

"No offer he could give me [could make him part with 23]," Sample told "Money isn't the issue."

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According to ESPN, Sample didn't elaborate on the reason he has such an attachment to No. 23 (it's not Jordan, he said), but said that it goes back to his community in North Sacramento, California.

Sample is keeping No. 23. Ramsey said he plans to wear No. 20 his entire career, and he's saving at least $30,000 in the process. And we all found out that for some players, a jersey number isn't for sale no matter how much is offered.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 24, 2016, 2:29 pm

Hello. In lieu of grim worldwide economic and political news, here's video of a guy getting hit by footballs:

Yes, that's everybody's favorite beer commercial in a man suit, Rob Gronkowski, slinging footballs at "The Late Late Show" host James Corden. Gronk matched up against Liev Schreiber (best known to NFL fans as the voice of HBO's "Hard Knocks") and Luke Wilson (best known to NFL fans as ... I dunno, the guy who gets his arm chopped off in "Anchorman").

So who "won" the game? Well, Gronk notched a 10-point strike early on, but Schreiber appeared to fire a ball through the 20-point hole with time expiring. No word on whether anyone tested the balls' air pressure.

Elsewhere in the show, Gronk held forth on the rules of his family ("No hitting in the face, no hitting in the gonads") and set up a possible cage match with the Wilson brothers:

Preseason begins soon, friends. Hang in there.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 24, 2016, 12:59 pm

Trying to break into people's houses is a no-no. Trying to break into someone's house while naked? Um...

But that's what police in Portland, Ore. say former Detroit Lions cornerback Stanley Wilson II was doing on Wednesday afternoon. Via television station KGW, Wilson was shot by the homeowner while trying to break into a house in the southwest area of the city. He was naked at the time. Stanley Wilson II

Wilson, 33, was shot just before 4 p.m., and sheriff's deputies found Wilson in a water fountain of the home's backyard. He was taken into custody and then rushed to the hospital, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

A third-round pick of the Lions in 2005, Wilson has been accused of first- and second-degree attempted burglary and first- and second-degree trespassing. More charges are expected as the investigation into the incident continues.

Wilson played three seasons with Detroit, playing 32 games with 9 starts. He was released in 2008.

Oddly enough, Wilson's father, Stanley Wilson Sr., is also known for a bizarre incident: as a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals, he missed Super Bowl XXIII when he was found in a hotel bathroom the night before the game with cocaine and drug paraphrenalia.


Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 23, 2016, 10:13 pm

Ravens QB Joe Flacco heard a rumor he was dead. So he had fun with it. (AP)Word got around Wednesday night on Twitter that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had died. That word, like a lot of garbage on Twitter, turned out to be false.

Flacco eventually caught wind of the rumor, which was confirmed to be false by the Baltimore Ravens' official account and later retracted by the account that first "reported" it. Ravens Nation, which has no affiliation with the team itself but has more than 60,000 Twitter followers, claimed it was hacked.

Of course it did. Standard playbook response.

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Was Flacco mad? Irritated? Unaffected? Turns out, he had a good sense of humor about the whole deal.

— Joe Flacco (@TeamFlacco) June 23, 2016

For all you Ravens and "Game of Thrones" fans out there, this is some solid gallows humor.

More on Ravens

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm


Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 23, 2016, 8:22 pm

People have been trying to rattle Steve Smith with words since he entered the NFL in 2001. But the Baltimore Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. is usually the one winning the battle of words and wits.

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. can talk a little, but he stayed quiet when a young Patriots fan tried to razz him. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)Smith, who rehabbing an Achilles injury as he enters his final season in the league, faced a serious test recently when volunteering his time at a football camp. As he was leading a cheer with the military kids at Ft. Mead, one young camper threw some serious shade Smith's way when after the cheer, he clowns Smith:

"Go Patriots!"

"Imma ..." the Baltimore Ravens receiver started to say before stopping himself in a terrific display of restraint. Instead, he shooed the camper away gently before something worse came out of his mouth. "Go on, go on over there," Smith said.

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it was a hilarious moment — the Patriots and Ravens don't care for one another too much — and a sign that the occasionally hot-headed Smith has matured quite a bit over his 16-year career. The kid's dad probably put him up to doing it, and even if it was meant to be a funny jab, Smith stopped himself in his tracks before taking it further.

Smith taught the kids some finer points of football, signed autographs and also had fun at the event. The video of the event on the Ravens' website shows the off-the-field Smith at his finest, so natural with the kids of all ages and able to relax from the NFL persona a bit. That's what having four children will do for a man, apparently. This is the Smith the public doesn't get to see enough of.

For a different reason, the video caught the eye of Patriots Nation, which of course has turned the young boy into a hero. It was also brought to the attention of Patriots receiver Julian Edelman, who is a big fan of Smith, per NESN's Doug Kyed.

@Steve_Weissman lol that's a bold man to talk to like that. Smitty had to hold back lol. Nothing but respect for smitty and the young buck!

— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) June 23, 2016
“I’m a huge fan of Steve Smith,” Edelman said before the Patriots and Ravens met in the playoffs following the 2014 season. “I love his game. I love his mentality. I’ve looked up to a guy like him ever since I was a little kid. I’ve got nothing but respect for him, and I’m glad he got settled where he’s at, and I’m glad I’m here. That’s all I’ll say on that.”

Remember, Smith came down to the Patriots and Ravens when he was dumped by the Carolina Panthers two years ago, so they could have been teammates. Now they're on rival teams that have taken shots at one anothers after some tense battles the past few seasons, and they face again in 2016.

Smith has said it will be his final season, and unless the two teams meet in the postseason the last chance he'll get to quiet Patriots fans will be in Week 14 at Foxboro. We'll wait to see what he has to say that night.

h/t ESPN Boston

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 23, 2016, 7:50 pm

Eric Decker (AP)Wide receiver Eric Decker seems worn out by the speculation of whether Ryan Fitzpatrick will sign with the New York Jets before the preseason. We hear you loud and clear, Eric.

Decker wants Fitzpatrick back, for obvious reasons. Fitzpatrick had a good year, with 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns, nearly leading the Jets to the playoffs. Fitzpatrick wanted to be rewarded for that season by the Jets, who haven't been willing to meet his demands. So he remains unsigned. Decker has made it clear what his feelings are on the matter, holding his own version of a sit-in by skipping OTA practices in an apparent protest over Fitzpatrick being unsigned.

It's late June now, we've been talking about this for months, and there's no end in sight. When asked by NFL Network (h/t Around the NFL blog) how tired he is of answering Fitzpatrick questions, Decker said, "On a scale from 1 to 10, I'm at a 10."

"All offseason, in New York, having to answer questions, it's at a point now where we don't have an answer going into camp on who is going to be the quarterback," Decker said on "NFL Total Access." "Get that timing, build that identity offensively so hopefully something gets figured out."

Decker told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he thinks a deal will eventually get done. While that seems like the logical conclusion it seems a little more uncertain than, say, Von Miller making up with the Denver Broncos before July 15. It would get especially tricky if a team suffers a fluke injury at quarterback before Fitzpatrick signs with the Jets and gives him a call. 

Decker seems like he's to the point where he just wants a clear answer on who the Jets' quarterback will be.

“I hope something gets worked out, one way or the other, so we cannot have distractions going into training camp,” Decker said on Sirius XM NFL Radio. “I think for any team to have success, you have to have some kind of direction. And, with training camp, that’s where you get the timing, that’s where where you kind of build the team and build your identity."

Fitzpatrick missing all of the Jets' pre-training camp work this offseason isn't great, because it never hurts to keep mastering the offense and working with receivers. But it's not like Fitzpatrick, a longtime veteran, can't get right back into the flow of things right after he signs. And it's not the worst thing for the Jets for their younger quarterbacks to get extra practice reps through the offseason. Fitzpatrick is 33 years old, after all. As long as he's signed before training camp starts in late July, everyone should be able to put this behind them quickly.

But this standoff has now dragged on into the summer, and something needs to be settled relatively soon. If nothing else, a resolution would mean an end to the constant speculation over who will quarterback the Jets this season.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 23, 2016, 6:23 pm

As we all know, the NFL is all about building its brand, and making the NFL a 365-day-a-year experience. 

Its newest venture in that mission? The NFL Times Square Experience.

On Thursday, the league announced it is partnering with Cirque du Soleil to create a first-of-its-kind fan experience in the heart of New York City. 

From the press release:

Spanning 40,000 square feet, the four-story innovative exhibit, located on the corner of West 47th Street and 7th Avenue at 20 Times Square, is set to open Fall of 2017.

Located in the crossroads of the world, the NFL Times Square experience will be a must-see attraction for football fans in North America and around the world. The revolutionary exhibit will capture fans' incredible passion for football through an engaging blend of high-tech displays, as well as immersive and interactive elements. Fans will have the opportunity to test their skills to see how they measure up to professional football players, learn game strategy, in addition to experiencing the adrenaline-pumping action of the NFL.

There was no date given for when it's expected to open, but we came up with some exhibit ideas for the league and Cirque, free of charge:

  • An NFL vs. NFLPA  interpretive dance show, a la the Sharks vs. Jets
  • The Greg Hardy Hall of Denial
  • A Clown Car featuring Ted Wells and the Experian Crew, sponsored by Ideal Gas Law
  • The What Is A Catch? interactive game (frequently malfunctions)
  • The Jim Mora Playoffs?!? Playoffs?!? sing-along
  • Throw millions in pretend money out the window in the Roger Goodell Appeals room

Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves. Have any exhibit ideas of your own? Drop 'em in the comments.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 23, 2016, 3:46 pm

This offseason, Shutdown Corner will travel down memory lane with a series of stories presenting some interesting and sometimes forgotten stories from the NFL's past. Join us as we relive some of the greatest and craziest moments in the sport's history.

There was a lot of talk amid the Cleveland Cavaliers’ run to an NBA title about LeBron James’ greatness, and it even leaked over into his athletic versatility — and just how good an NFL player the former high-school receiver might be.

Fascinating discussion, but thankfully, James stuck with hoops. He’s pretty good at that.

But with the NBA draft upon us, it brings up a really interesting fact as it relates to the NFL: There have been shockingly few crossovers in football and basketball, at least in the professional ranks.

[Yahoo Fantasy Football is open for the 2016 season. Sign up now]

Just recently, we had former NBA dunk champ Nate Robinson — the former Apple Cup hero who played cornerback at Washington — try out for the Seattle Seahawks, who are passing for now. Although Robinson claimed to want to be the first player to play in both sports, we believe he’s wrong on that fact.

Bud Grant (fifth from right) was best known as Minnesota Vikings head coach, but he also was a member of the 1950 world-champions Minneapolis Lakers (Photo by NBAPhotos/ NBAE/ Getty Images)The first — and only — known man to play in a regular-season game in both leagues is believed to be Bud Grant, the former Minnesota Vikings coach. Last we saw Grant, he was strutting around shirtless before the Vikings' playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. But back in the day, before his great coaching career, Grant was a former fourth-round pick of the Minneapolis Lakers who played two seasons (averaging 2.6 points per game) and winning a championship on their 1950 team. He also was a first-round selection by the Philadelphia Eagles who played two NFL seasons before going on to stand out in the CFL before coaching.

That’s it, we think, as far as appearing in both leagues. But there have been a handful of elite athletes to be drafted into the NBA who had NFL ties.

Of course, there have been lots of basketball players who made it in the NFL. Otto Graham was an NFL star who played in the National Basketball League (NBL) for the Rochester Royals from 1945 to 1946; the NBA draft didn’t come around until 1947.

Terrell Owens, Jim Brown, Donovan McNabb, Tony Gonzalez, Cris Carter, Antonio Gates, Robert Griffin III, Jimmy Graham, Julius Peppers, Antwaan Randle El (who also played baseball) and plenty others who played college basketball and made the NFL, but none likely were good enough to make much NBA impact. Owens at least sniffed the NBA — from afar — when he played in the Sacramento Kings' summer league and with the USBL's Adirondack Wildcats.

What kind of NBA or NFL player might have Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield made? He was drafted in all three sports. (Getty Images)Other terrific two-sport stars who might have had a chance include:

• Ronald Curry a McDonald's All-American basketball player who went from college quarterback to make it in the NFL as a receiver;

• Charlie Ward, the Heisman Trophy-winning QB who gave up the chance to play in the NFL but had a nice NBA career (and also was darned good at tennis and baseball);

• Arizona Cardinals tight end Darren Fells, who played college basketball at UC Irvine and played professional basketball overseas from 2008 to 2012 before coming to the NFL;

• Chuck Connors played a year with the Boston Celtics, spent two years in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Cubs and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1952 but never played in the NFL. But “The Rifleman” actually became most famous as an actor, synonymous in the role of the same name.

(One more of almost note: Jay Triano, the former Toronto Raptors head coach, was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers and the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders but never had a shot in the NFL that we know of.)

Then there were those who just were in the special athlete category.

Bo Jackson — you saw the commercial — could do just about anything he wanted and play on a semi-pro basketball team in Los Angeles.

Jim Thorpe was a gold medal-winning Olympian, a football player for the Canton Bulldogs, played baseball for the New York Giants and — in a fact that went undiscovered until 2005 — played semi-professional basketball with the World Famous Indians in 1927.

Wide receiver John Havlicek of — yes — the Cleveland Browns in 1962. (Photo by: Henry Barr Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)Did you know that John Havlicek was in the Cleveland Browns’ training camp in 1962? Or that Wilt Chamberlain was offered a contract by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1966 (even if it was more of a publicity stunt)? Or that Carl Lewis was drafted in both the NBA (10th round, by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, the same year they picked Michael Jordan) and NFL (12th round, 1984, by the Dallas Cowboys as a wide receiver)?

That fact puts Lewis into rare company: men, like Grant, who were drafted into both the NFL and NBA.

Kenny “The Enforcer” Easley was a hard-hitting safety taken fourth overall by the Seahawks in 1981, but he also had enough hoops cred to be drafted in the 10th round by the Bulls — six picks after the San Diego Clippers took Tony Gwynn, for you trivia folks.

Dave Winfield, Dave Logan and Mickey McCarty are the answer to another great trivia question: Who are the only three men to be drafted into three sports?

And Winfield was actually drafted onto four professional teams in three sports. The San Diego Padres used the fourth pick on him in the 1973 draft. Both the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA (Round 5, 79th pick) and the Utah Stars of the ABA (supplemental pick) drafted him to play hoops. And the hometown Minnesota Vikings picked Winfield in the 17th round of the NFL draft even though he never played college football.

Winfield skipped the minors rose directly to the big leagues. And like LeBron, we’re glad Winfield picked the sport he did, although we’d love to imagine what kind of football or basketball player the 6-6, 220-pound Winfield might have become.

In 1976, Logan was picked by the NFL’s Browns (third round, 65th overall pick), the NBA’s Sacramento Kings (ninth round, 143rd pick) and previously had been taken in the 1972 draft by MLB’s Cincinnati Reds (30th round, 662nd overall) but settled on football and had a nine-year career with the Browns and Denver Broncos.

McCarty played one year with the Kansas City Chiefs after he had been a fourth-round pick in the 1968 NFL-AFL draft. That same year he was a 14th-round pick of those oh-so-creative the Bulls in the NBA draft, by the Dallas Chaparrals in the ABA draft and by the Cleveland Indians in the 25th round of the baseball draft.

One NFL-NBA draft crossover who isn’t often mentioned is Randy Matson — the Olympic shot putter who won a silver medal in 1964 and a gold in 1968. He eschewed all other sports to focus on track and field despite being drafted by teams in the NFL (as a tackle by the Baltimore Colts in Round 17 of the 1966 draft, No. 260 overall), NBA (by the Seattle SuperSonics in Round 11 of the 1967 draft, No. 122 overall) and the ABA.

Imagine Pat Riley catching passes for the Dallas Cowboys instead of dishing them on the hardwood. (Photo by Rich Clarkson /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)But one of the wilder NBA-NFL draft doubles is Pat Riley. Yes, the slick-haired former Los Angeles Lakers head coach and Miami Heat executive was a great basketball player who was picked by the San Diego Rockets in the 1st round of the 1967 NBA Draft, but he also was also drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL Draft. He had been a high school all-American quarterback recruited by the likes of Alabama and Notre Dame, but Riley’s dream was to play hoops for Adolph Rupp. Another can’t-blame-em deal.

Ultimately, most players have to choose one sport or the other. These days, it’s far less likely for a player to continue playing two sports long enough to get drafted into two different professional leagues. It’s the era of specialization. Even position switches are more rare, much less players who can be considered good enough to play in both the NBA and NFL. So we’re left with a lot of “what might have been?” questions.

Did we forget any who played both sports professionally or who were drafted into both the NBA and NFL? Let us know in the comments below.

Previous Shutdown Corner NFL throwback stories: Joe Montana's underrated toughness | Barry Sanders' long-forgotten final game | Jake Delhomme's playoff nightmare | Barry Switzer, outspoken as ever | Was Sebastian Janikowski worth a first-round pick?How Jim Harbaugh punching Jim Kelly helped Colts land Peyton Manning | Jay Cutler makes the greatest throw ever | "Has anyone ever kissed your Super Bowl rings?" | How the Patriots once faced a fourth-and-63 | The Packers survived a miserable two-decade run | "NFL PrimeTime" changed how we watch football | One of pro football's greatest games happened in the crazy USFL | The time Warren Moon should have had 650 yards in an NFL game | In 1979, Lyle Alzado boxed against Muhammad Ali. Seriously | Meet the NFL team that lost its only game before folding | In 1969 the NFL demanded Joe Namath sell his bar, so he retired | Let's Ram It! An oral history of 1985 Los Angeles Rams' rap song | The historic AFL-NFL merger 50 years ago | Was O.J. Simpson's 1973 the best season in NFL history? | Hertz made advertising history with O.J. Simpson's airport runs | Before they were coaches, Bill Cowher once broke Jeff Fisher's leg | The man who turned down the NFL because of his religious beliefs

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 23, 2016, 3:22 pm

The owner of a home in DeSoto, Texas is suing Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant after he says Bryant left the home in terrible condition after he moved out earlier this year.

Reporting via court documents filed last week, the Dallas Morning News writes Texas state Rep. Royce West is seeking between $100,000 and $200,000 in damages from Bryant. After the 27-year old moved out in January, West found a home "littered with trash and feces, missing blinds and shutters, with cracked windows and blackened carpeting." 

West's lawyers say Bryant will not accept responsibility for the damage to the 6,400 square foot home, which is located in a gated community. Bryant moved into the house in September 2013, and records show he paid rent of $4,720 a month; the lease agreement required Bryant to keep the property clean and beyond normal wear-and-tear, it was to be left in the same condition as when he moved in.

But after Bryant moved out, and West did a walk-through of the property (neither Bryant nor someone representing him was present for the walkthrough), he found “irreparable damage to carpeting, flooring, windows, shutters, and blinds; the presence of animal feces, trash, debris, and personal property inside the residence; and distinct and pervasive odors throughout."

West says he's had to spend over $60,000 on repairs, including extensive cleaning, repainting the entire house, cleaning or replacing all of the flooring and carpeting, and replacing the home's security system as well as broken doors and windows. West has not been able to rent the home again since Bryant left because of the repairs.

The two sides traded letters before the lawsuit, with Royce asking Bryant and his agent in April to pay for the repairs, and Bryant's lawyer responding that he would sue West if West continued to seek payment. West replied that repair reimbursement was required under terms of the lease.

The lawsuit would seem to mark the end of a personal relationship between West and Bryant. The Morning News story says West was part of an "informal support group of prominent residents" created to mentor Bryant and help keep him out of trouble; other members of the group include cardiologist Dr. Donald Arnette as well as former Cowboys Michael Irvin and Nate Newton.

You can see some photos of the property damage and the lawsuit on the Dallas Morning News page.


Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 23, 2016, 1:01 pm

"Any Given Wednesday," Bill Simmons' new HBO show, debuted on Wednesday night with searing hot fire courtesy of Simmons' fellow Bostonian Ben Affleck. The grizzled Batman unleashed a deflate-gate rant for the ages, scorching the NFL, Roger Goodell, and pretty much anyone outside of a two-mile bubble around Gillette Stadium.

Here, check it out, but put on your headphones if you're at work, because the curse words start right up:

Yeah, that's an opinion, all right.

Affleck's not wrong here as deflate-gate was and is a farce, an absurd overreaction to an event that may or may not have happened. (We don't need to rehash deflate-gate here for you, do we?) But, as always, it's wrapped in that characteristic Boston brew of arrogance and victimhood, the they-hate-us-cause-they-ain't-us mindset that makes everyone else in the country thrilled that all this madness is happening to the poor, downtrodden, four-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Simmons was fired from ESPN after taking some shots at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on a radio show; the NFL and ESPN being broadcast partners surely had nothing to do with that. Regardless, as fellow graying sportswriters we wish Simmons and his new show all the best. It'll be tough to top this performance, though.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 23, 2016, 12:37 pm

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was the victim of a hit-and-run incident, according to a report. (AP)Johnny Manziel is not having a good 2016, but the latest incident doesn't appear to be his fault.

Manziel's car was damaged and he reported it to police as a hit-and-run accident, the Associated Press reported. Manziel had a witness from his car and an impartial witness say his car was struck on the driver's side and then that car left the scene, AP said.

Manziel was not seriously injured, according to the report, although his publicist said he hit his head in the accident.

TMZ had a picture of the damaged vehicle.

This isn't the first car accident Manziel has had in 2016. In April the former Cleveland Browns quarterback was a passenger in a car that crashed into a light pole in Los Angeles. Manziel wasn't accused of any wrongdoing in that accident either.

Manziel has had a horrendous year so far. He was cut by the Cleveland Browns and his NFL career appears to be over, barring a serious change in his lifestyle. He has been seen partying often this offseason and has been a darling of the gossip site TMZ. Most seriously Manziel was indicted on a domestic violence assault charge stemming from an altercation with his ex-girlfriend earlier this year.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 22, 2016, 4:46 pm

Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez reportedly had about $7.8 million taken from him. (AP)Denver Broncos quarterback Mark Sanchez was among several professional athletes who were reportedly bilked out of more than $30 million in a "Ponzi-like scheme."

Even worse, the man accused of cheating the athletes out of money was reportedly an NFLPA-approved financial adviser.

Sanchez, San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy and former Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt were named by federal investigators as being the victims in the case, according to the Associated Press. An adviser, Ash Narayan, put about $33 million of the athletes' money into a ticket business without their knowledge. Even worse, the lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Narayan says he was given a $2 million finder's fee from the ticket company for directing the money its way. The ticket company, The Ticket Reserve, had lost money for four straight years.

"Narayan exploited athletes and other clients who trusted him to manage their finances. He fraudulently funneled their savings into a money-losing business and his own pocket," Shamoil T. Shipchandler, director of the SEC's Fort Worth regional office, said in a statement.

According to, Narayan was listead as an NFLPA-approved financial adviser on its site. Vice reported that Sanchez directly deposited game checks into investment accounts managed by Narayan. Although Narayan claimed to be a certified public accountant, he never had a CPA Vice said.

According to the AP Sanchez said he agreed to make a $100,000 investment in the company but never would have invested more in what his statement said was "a risky investment." As part of the lawsuit, Peavy and Sanchez say they believe their signatures were forged by Narayan to transfer money from their accounts to the ticket business.

The AP reported $15.1 million was taken from Peavy, nearly $7.8 million from Sanchez and nearly $7.6 million from Oswalt. The players said they hired Narayan in part because "he represented himself as a devout Christian involved in charitable causes," the AP reported.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 22, 2016, 4:15 pm

Rodney Sumter isn't Tim Tebow's most famous former football teammate, but Tebow came to be with his friend after Sumter was shot in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

Sumter was Tebow's teammate at Ponte Vedra Beach Nease High. While Sumter is still in the hospital recovering from being shot three times and suffering two broken arms in the attack, he was visited by Tebow. According to Sumter's Instagram post, "My high school quarterback left the Bahamas to come and see me. Tebow has always been an awesome person."

Sumter went on to play at Jacksonville University after high school, the Orlando Sentinel said. Tebow, of course, became a phenomenon at the University of Florida and for a brief time in the NFL.

Sumter was a bartender at Pulse. During his recovery Sumter quoted a Bible verse that Tebow has cited too, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Tebow would often write "Phil. 4:13" on his eye black. Here's what Sumter wrote on Instagram:

"No weapons formed against me shall prosper. Life changing experience and I don't want to do anything but share my testimony and turn my life over to the lord. I don't have my phone so I can't respond to you all through text or Facebook just yet. ... But thank you so so so much for the heavy support that I have received. It definitely hasn't gone unnoticed.

"Still in excruciating pain but, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' - Philippians 4:13."

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 22, 2016, 3:03 pm

Eli Herring (Courtesy of Mountain View High School)This offseason, Shutdown Corner will travel down memory lane with a series of stories presenting some interesting and sometimes forgotten stories from the NFL's past. Join us as we relive some of the greatest and craziest moments in the sport's history.

Eli Herring was good enough to play in the National Football League. He was so good that even though he told teams he would not play, the Oakland Raiders picked him in the sixth round of the 1995 NFL draft anyway. He never joined Oakland.

That's unfathomable to most of us. Who would turn down the money, fame, the thrill of playing on Sundays? It's that last part playing on Sundays that kept Herring away.

Herring, who went to Brigham Young University, is a devout Mormon. In the LDS church, Sundays are for worship and rest. Not sports. That's why BYU is never scheduled for a Friday-Sunday location in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

And that's why Herring, who was a mountain of an offensive lineman for the Cougars, turned down a fortune to play in the NFL and became a math teacher instead.

"If they ever change to Saturdays, I'd be very interested," Herring said in 1995, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Herring could have been a great fit in the NFL. He was 6-foot-8, 330 pounds, a fine player at BYU and considered one of the top offensive line prospects in that year's draft. When he sent a letter to all NFL teams, saying he wouldn't be going pro, every NFL team called BYU to make sure the letter was serious. Many called Herring to say they would draft him in the seventh round anyway, BYU's Daily Universe paper reported. The Raiders took him in the sixth, hoping to convince him to play.

After Herring was drafted, the Times said Raiders executive Bruce Allen flew to see him and offered him a contract that would have paid him $1.5 million over three years. The story said he'd start out making about $22,000 a year as a teacher. He could work for 68 years as a teacher at that rate and not make $1.5 million.

To be an NFL player and make that kind of money is what many people dream of. But it wasn't for Herring, who has said in recent interviews that he has no regrets. He's very happy with his decision, and his life as a math teacher and assistant football coach at Mountain View High School with his wife and seven children.

“I would have been in a bigger home with nicer cars somewhere else," Herring told the Deseret News in 2015. "But I wouldn’t have been happier than I am now.”

Back in 1995 it was a fascinating story, one that was covered by many outlets right after the draft. Had it happened today, it would have been a white-hot topic on social media. Even though Herring's story has mostly faded over time, it hasn't in the Mormon community.

“The respect in my community that I have received because of the decision I made far exceeds what I ever had as a football player,” Herring told the Deseret News. “I’m very grateful for that. I can tell when people know that. I have the benefit off the bat. They give me credit for being a guy who tries to do what I believe, anyway. I appreciate that.”

It wasn't an easy decision for him back then. Herring has said he spent his senior season praying and reading scriptures, searching for an answer. In the end, he felt observing the law of the Sabbath was more important than the NFL.

Most understood the decision. Others did not. Herring has said he was not condemning anyone, including some of his friends who played pro ball, for working on Sundays. It's just a decision he had to make for himself.

"The evidence that I’ve obtained in my life since then has confirmed to me that for me, it was the right decision," Herring told the Deseret News. "I believe the Sabbath is an absolutely important law. If a person decides they need to work on Sunday, fair enough. I’m going to say, understand that I believe the law of the Sabbath is important. We have doctors and policemen and firemen that work on the Sabbath and thank heavens that they do. The Sabbath is important, I believe that."

Previous Shutdown Corner NFL throwback stories: Joe Montana's underrated toughness | Barry Sanders' long-forgotten final game | Jake Delhomme's playoff nightmare | Barry Switzer, outspoken as ever | Was Sebastian Janikowski worth a first-round pick?How Jim Harbaugh punching Jim Kelly helped Colts land Peyton Manning | Jay Cutler makes the greatest throw ever | "Has anyone ever kissed your Super Bowl rings?" | How the Patriots once faced a fourth-and-63 | The Packers survived a miserable two-decade run | "NFL PrimeTime" changed how we watch football | One of pro football's greatest games happened in the crazy USFL | The time Warren Moon should have had 650 yards in an NFL game | In 1979, Lyle Alzado boxed against Muhammad Ali. Seriously | Meet the NFL team that lost its only game before folding | In 1969 the NFL demanded Joe Namath sell his bar, so he retired | Let's Ram It! An oral history of 1985 Los Angeles Rams' rap song | The historic AFL-NFL merger 50 years ago | Was O.J. Simpson's 1973 the best season in NFL history? | Hertz made advertising history with O.J. Simpson's airport runs | Before they were coaches, Bill Cowher once broke Jeff Fisher's leg

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 22, 2016, 2:26 pm

Ralph Wilson Stadium. (AP)Being an NFL owner is like playing in a 32-hand poker game. You can kick back and enjoy the camaraderie, but every so often, you're going to have to ante up big. The ante? A sweet new stadium, of course.

With new stadiums built or in development in Minnesota, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, the Buffalo Bills now find themselves square in the sights of the NFL's ruling elite. At the spring meetings, the Bills learned that commissioner Roger Goodell and the other 31 owners believed it was "imperative" for Buffalo to get a new stadium. More recently, Goodell dropped a not-particularly-subtle hint that it was time for the Bills to locate their wallet ... or someone else might locate theirs.

“Stadiums are important, just to make sure the team here can continue to compete, not only in the NFL, but also to compete in this environment,” Goodell said earlier this month while at Jim Kelly's celebrity golf tournament. “You’ve got great facilities (around the league), and the Bills have to stay up with that.”

“I don’t think it’s urgent like it has to happen tomorrow," Giants owner John Mara said in March. "But I think, for the long-term best interests of that franchise, they need to be in a new building. Listen, we’ve been in much worse stadiums, believe me. And they still have great fan support. But there’s a growing disparity in income between the top quartile teams and the bottom quartile teams, and that’s something we have to be conscious of. And a new stadium would help them a great deal.” Left unsaid is the fact that a new stadium would help all the other owners a great deal too, what with a rising tide of cash filling all coffers.

The Bills are taking the threat seriously, and with good reason. Ralph Wilson Stadium doesn't just have the worst nickname in all of sports ("The Ralph"? Really?), it's a four-decade-old concrete block built more for function than aesthetics. The facility has undergone considerable renovation, most recently a $130 million upgrade several years ago, but NFL owners have reportedly criticized the team for continuing to pour money into an old stadium rather than building a new one.

Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula aren't quite ready to commit to a new facility, however. “We’re in the fact-finding mode,” Kim Pegula said. “We want to make sure we have all the information that is relative to our community, to our fan base. We’re not Atlanta, so it’s hard for us to say we’re going to build a stadium like Atlanta. We can’t. It’s not just a yes or no, it’s a lot more involved than that. We don’t talk about it now because we don’t have all the answers and we don’t want to get misconstrued because things change.”

Worth noting: Buffalo is the second-smallest market in the NFL, ahead of only Green Bay, and Bills fans have the lowest gameday experience prices (tickets, concessions, etc.) in the game. Those are two factors that don't bode well for a team to build a gargantuan new football palace; something has to give. Whether it's local governments ponying up more cash, fans paying more in tickets and Personal Seat Licenses for their beloved Bills, the Pegulas dipping into their own resources, or the Bills looking elsewhere, the current state of affairs can't exist forever in Buffalo. Change is coming.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: June 22, 2016, 2:15 pm

I just realized Tom Brady and Drew Brees, who will face each other in the preseason opener this year, both are sitting tied at 428 passing touchdowns currently. That's good for third place all time.

The late spring and early summer months are great for doing background and research on the NFL for us as the Shutdown Corner, and though this is not any deep statistical dive here, I didn't know this fact until this week.

Tom Brady (left) and Drew Brees could finish their careers first and second all time in TD passes. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)It begs an interesting question or three:

Which one will reach 450 faster? What about 500? (Or will they even get there?) The next marks come at 508 (Brett Favre) and 539 (Peyton Manning), the only two men ahead of Brees and Brady in league history. Will either active player top those? And, ultimately, which of the two quarterbacks will finish his career with more?

There are more factors than just age and games played, but both are relevant to the argument.

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Brees is 37 and won't turn 38 until the Sunday of the divisional round of the playoffs. He has played 217 regular-season games (starting 216) and 11 more in the playoffs. Brady turns 39 in about six weeks. He has played in 225 regular-season games (223 starts) and 31 more in the postseason.

So we can safely surmise that Brady, who also has taken 102 more sacks total than Brees, likely has been beaten up more. But both being tough, durable players — Brees has missed two games since 2009, Brady none — it's hard to imagine the physical edge slants heavily toward Brees.

That said, Brees has said he'd like to play until he's 45 years old. Brady also has lofty goals — to play until he's 48-ish? Here's what he said last season, at age 38:

"I'd like to play a long time, yeah, a long time," Brady said via MassLive. "There's a lot that goes into playing well. I've played with a lot of great teammates. But I want to play for a long time, maybe 10 more years. I think that's probably what my goal is."

So 500 touchdowns should be easy for both, right? Well, except that there only have been a handful of quarterbacks who made it past the age of 43, per the Pro Football Hall of Fame — Steve DeBerg, Warren Moon and Vinny Testaverde (Brady's former backup). George Blanda played until he was 48 but didn't start a game at QB after his 41st birthday.

And, of course, there's that whole deflate-gate thing to consider. Right now, Brady must sit out the first four games of the season. Brady has 43 touchdowns in his first four games over the past five seasons (2.15 per game), so we could be talking about missing out on eight or nine scores if the appeals court ruling holds up.

Can we assume five more seasons for each? That might be the best we can hope for. We have no idea if Brees will be with the Saints or Brady with the Patriots, or whether Sean Payton and Bill Belichick, respectively, will still be coaching them the entire time. There are a million factors in looking past a season or two.

If we stick to 2016, the per-game numbers would appear to favor Brees. He has averaged more TD passes over the past five seasons — 38.6 to Brady's 33.4. But Brady led the NFL with 36 TD passes last season to Brees' 32, and Brady would appear to have the best individual touchdown maker of the two right now in Rob Gronkowski, who — barring injuries — could finish his career with the most scores by a tight end ever.

For what it's worth, not taking into consideration any defensive changes, the teams the Patriots play in 2016 allowed a total of 406 TD passes last season, or 1.59 per game. The Saints' 2016 schedule features teams that allowed 371, or 1.45 per game.

It's a tough call, right? We'll go with this prediction: Both Brees and Brady will pass Manning and blow a little ways past him before they walk away. Right now it would not stun us if Brady surpasses Manning first, even with deflate-gate. To put a number on it, we'll say Brady finishes with 569 and retires after the 2020 season. But Brees will then play one more year in 2021 and finish with 586.

What do you think?

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 21, 2016, 8:51 pm

Bruce Arians has been living quite well since the end of the 2011 NFL season.

He was given a chance to coach the Indianapolis Colts when Chuck Pagano was ill in 2012 and won an NFL coach of the year award. He got his first head-coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals a year later, and won another coach of the year award in 2014. He has established himself as one of the most respected coaches in the NFL and has forced everyone to wonder why he never got a head-coaching job until he was 60.

Bruce Arians (AP)But that doesn't mean he has totally let go of some grudges from his past.

At the end of the 2011 season, his contract as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator was up, and he wasn't given a new one. Basically, he was fired. And even though that ended up being the best thing to happen to his career, Arians still remembers how his career in Pittsburgh ended. Arians had been with the Steelers eight years and had great success. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had become one of the NFL's best quarterbacks under his watch.

But he told Andrea Kremer of "Real Sports" on HBO, in an episode that premieres on Tuesday, he felt betrayed.

"Oh yeah. Yeah," Arians told Kremer. "Because I had done a good job. Maybe not the right image, but it was a damn good job."

Arians said he thought he was fired because of his style of offense and that some in the organization thought he was too close to Roethlisberger.

Arians said when he told his wife Christine he was fired, he saw her cry for the first time.

"I had admired [Steelers coach] Mike Tomlin so much, and I really thought he was a coach who really cared about his people," Christine Arians told HBO. "For him to do this, I felt very disillusioned."

On the radio show "PFT Live," Kremer said the Steelers had no comment but "made it clear" Tomlin was the one who made the decision to move on from Arians. In the preview clip from HBO, Arians never says specifically that he's upset with Tomlin.

Arians' comments might just be an outspoken coach answering a question honestly. However, Pro Football Talk wrote that in the HBO interview, when mentioned that the Cardinals have T-shirts which have the words “trust,” “loyalty,” and “respect,” Arians said: “Yeah, well, those are words that I don’t think are on the Steelers’ jerseys.”

Arians said "time heals things," but it sure seems that four-plus years hasn't healed much.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 21, 2016, 8:17 pm

This offseason, Shutdown Corner will travel down memory lane with a series of stories presenting some interesting and sometimes forgotten stories from the NFL's past. Join us as we relive some of the greatest and craziest moments in the sport's history.

The story has become apocryphal at this point, a joke between two successful NFL coaches, or, really, a chance for Bill Cowher to razz his coaching contemporary a bit.

But from Jeff Fisher’s perspective, it’s important to put the right context in the story of what happened after he suffered a broken leg in a 1983 game: “I played the next year.”

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Chicago Bears punt returner Jeff Fisher in 1981. (Getty Images)See, Cowher has enjoyed telling people over the years — always in good fun, both agree — that back when two of the NFL’s 20 winningest head coaches were players, his oft-forgotten tackle on Fisher on a punt return in a semi-meaningless game more than 30 years ago was the reason Fisher got into coaching.

“To this day, I tell him: ‘Heck, had I not been a part of that tackle, you wouldn’t be where you were today,” Cowher told Shutdown Corner over the phone, laughing as he tells it.

Cowher was indeed one of three Philadelphia Eagles players to converge on the leg of Fisher, a punt returner for the Chicago Bears that late October day, and yes, Fisher's leg broke in fairly gruesome fashion on that wet Veterans Field.

And, lo, perhaps not in the way Cowher tells it, but the moment served as a career-changing one for Fisher. A moment similar to one Cowher himself faced a year later.

Both players were try-hard, overachieving special teamers a few years into their NFL careers, and also close to the ends of them. Cowher was an undrafted free agent in 1979 who had to scrap his way onto the Eagles’ roster after a stay with the Cleveland Browns; Fisher, a seventh-rounder in 1981, was the least-known member of a USC secondary that featured future NFL standouts Ronnie Lott, Joey Browner and Dennis Smith. Fisher was a punt returner and fringe member of an emerging Bears defense.

“One thing Jeff and I had in common, we played on a lot of fourth downs,” Cowher said. “We were both special-teams players pretty much.”

Added Fisher: “I was a pretty mediocre player.”

But Fisher was thrust into the starting lineup that 1983 season in place of Bears All Pro free safety Gary Fencik, who suffered a groin injury and missed several games. That meant the Bears wanted to limit the punt-return duties of Fisher, who handled them that season along with Dennis McKinnon and Willie Gault, while Fisher started in the secondary.

On his first and only return try of the game, and his 13th of the season, Fisher went back to his own 15-yard line. It was late in the third quarter with the Bears clinging to a 7-3 lead in a defensive slugfest with a combined 132 passing yards in the game to that point. Eagles punter Tom Skaldany mishit his kick, and the ball line-drived its way from the Philadelphia 46-yard line to the Chicago 22, skidding on the notoriously bad Veterans turf.

“It was a short punt and I kind of ran up to field it,” Fisher said. “I kind of got spun around.”Bill Cowher was a linebacker and special teamer for  Cleveland and Philadelphia. (Getty Images)

Fisher reached the 30-yard line before the posse arrived. Cowher was the first of three Eagles to converge on him in the messy crash.

“I was making a tackle on him, and a few guys all came in in a big, big pileup,” Cowher said. “I heard him yell and scream and trying to get people off.”

Fisher admits to the screaming and yelling — hey, you would too. But his response serves as a cheeky volley of Cowher’s initial serve when he starts telling the story.

“Then I see Bill Cowher come in and I got hit by him. Low … hard … heavy,” Fisher said, placing extra emphasis on the final three words for effect. “I had this pile of people on me, and I am trying to get them all off. I said, ‘Get off, it’s broken.’ I just knew. Other guys were like, ‘No it’s not,’ but I knew it was.”

“I realized then he probably broke his leg,” Cowher said. “I knew it wasn’t good.”

Fisher’s season was done as a player. But after he rehabbed for a few weeks, he rejoined the team in another capacity — as Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan’s unofficial assistant during games.

"He was a kid interested in the total game," Ryan told the Los Angeles Times in 1989. "He really impressed me."

Coaching staffs were far smaller back then, so Ryan was happy to have the extra set of hands on deck as the Bears had fallen to 3-7 and had allowed more than 31 points three times in losses. While the other defensive coaches were up in the booth on game days, Fisher stood next to Ryan on the sidelines and helped him with personnel, learning how to call a game defensively and helping plant a seed for coaching down the road. “Almost like a grad assistant kind of deal,” Cowher said of his coaching rival and friend.

But here’s where Cowher was wrong about the story: Fisher returned in 1984 and played with the Bears the entire season, all the way through the NFC championship game loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He even returned to camp the next summer but suffered an ankle injury and was done for the season — the one where the Bears crushed almost everyone in their path en route to winning Super Bowl XX.

So actually, Fisher’s playing career actually outlasted that of Cowher. In the fourth game of 1984, Cowher suffered a knee injury that ended his season. It would be the last time he’d play in the NFL.

Jeff Fisher learned defense from Buddy Ryan, here in 1985 with the Bears. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)“How about that?” Fisher said with a playful jab.

Marty Schottenheimer took over as Cleveland Browns head coach midway through that same season, replacing Sam Rutigliano, and was brought back the following season. Schottenheimer had coached the gritty Cowher for two years in Cleveland as defensive coordinator and offered him his first coaching job with the Browns before Cowher had officially retired as a player: a special-teams assistant position, which was close to his roots.

It was a tough call, one the competitor in Cowher wrestled with as he considered how long he might want to keep playing.

“I went right from playing to coaching,” he said. “I was offered the job and I thought about it for a month or two while I was rehabbing in Philadelphia. Having never coached before, it certainly was a challenge. But obviously, it’s been the best career move I’ve ever made.”

Fisher felt the same. He reprised his injured player-coach role in 1985 and followed Ryan to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he’d been named head coach. Ryan offered Fisher a job as a defensive backs coach, and two years later he was Ryan’s defensive coordinator at age 30.

Cowher followed a similar ascent. A year after Fisher, Cowher became the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive coordinator at 32, running one of the best units in the NFL for three seasons. In 1992, he replaced Chuck Noll as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers at age 35.

Fisher spent time on the staffs of the Los Angeles Rams, 49ers and Houston Oilers before taking over as the Oilers' interim head coach midway through the 1994 season — also at 35. The next year, he was named full-time head coach and two seasons later the team relocated to Tennessee to become the Titans. In the span of a decade, Cowher and Fisher had gone from bit players to head coaches in the NFL.

“I think for both of us, our careers certainly flourished more as coaches than as players,” Cowher deadpanned.

Cowher’s Steelers beat the Oilers in overtime in 1994, and two weeks later Jack Pardee was fired, replaced by Fisher. Over the following 12 seasons, Cowher’s and Fisher’s teams met 18 times and were division rivals for half that time in the old AFC Central until 2002. Fisher’s teams held a 11-7 head-to-head edge in those games (despite losing four of the first five) and won the only playoff game between the two — a 34-31 overtime classic at The Coliseum in Nashville following the 2002 season.

When the teams met at Heinz Field, right before a key defensive play, the Steelers’ video board would show the hit Cowher laid on Fisher all those years earlier, and the crowd ate it up. Fisher also was able to have fun with it, though, when the teams played.

“We had some great, great battles between the two teams. And anytime we played them I told our guys — you know, just joking around — ‘If you happen to go out of bounds on their sideline, hey, make sure you hit the guy low … hard … heavy,’” Fisher said, echoing a certain tackle of yore.

Bill Cowher got his coaching start as a Cleveland Browns special teams assistant. (Photo by Dennis Collins/Getty Images)For a long time, their careers were near parallels. Cowher became the third-youngest coach to win 90 regular-season games at age 44; Fisher was fourth at 46. By 2006, Cowher and Fisher joined an exclusive fraternity of (at the time) 12 coaches to notch 200 games with a single team. That was the same year Cowher left coaching, after having won the Super Bowl the season prior. Fisher reached the big game in 1999 with the Titans but lost to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

They’ve been connected since, including both rumored to be strong candidates for the Dallas Cowboys’ head coaching job in 2012 to replace Bill Parcells. But Cowher has remained in his TV analyst’s role while Fisher has followed the Rams as head coach from St. Louis back to L.A. Although Cowher has occasionally been critical of Fisher’s teams, such as calling out Titans players stomping on the Steelers’ Terrible Towel after a 2008 game, but they maintain a healthy measure of respect for each other.

“We’ve always had a good relationship,” Fisher said.

Added Cowher: “It was never a rivalry like some said. It was just good competition between two guys who had a lot of passion for the game.”

And a healthy sense of humor, too.

“Yeah, we’ve never lost that,” Fisher said. “I fully expect to hear about the tackle anytime I see him nowadays. It’s part of the deal.”

Previous Shutdown Corner NFL throwback stories: Joe Montana's underrated toughness | Barry Sanders' long-forgotten final game | Jake Delhomme's playoff nightmare | Barry Switzer, outspoken as ever | Was Sebastian Janikowski worth a first-round pick?How Jim Harbaugh punching Jim Kelly helped Colts land Peyton Manning | Jay Cutler makes the greatest throw ever | "Has anyone ever kissed your Super Bowl rings?" | How the Patriots once faced a fourth-and-63 | The Packers survived a miserable two-decade run | "NFL PrimeTime" changed how we watch football | One of pro football's greatest games happened in the crazy USFL | The time Warren Moon should have had 650 yards in an NFL game | In 1979, Lyle Alzado boxed against Muhammad Ali. Seriously | Meet the NFL team that lost its only game before folding | In 1969 the NFL demanded Joe Namath sell his bar, so he retired | Let's Ram It! An oral history of 1985 Los Angeles Rams' rap song | The historic AFL-NFL merger 50 years ago | Was O.J. Simpson's 1973 the best season in NFL history? | Hertz made advertising history with O.J. Simpson's airport runs

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 21, 2016, 4:32 pm

The Texans signed Brock Osweiler to a huge contract this offseason (AP)This offseason, Greg Cosell and Frank Schwab will explore key questions for each of the 32 NFL teams in "The Shutdown" podcast, going team-by-team for each division over eight episodes. Links to previous division preview podcasts are at the end of this post.

The AFC South was supposed to be won by the Indianapolis Colts in a landslide last season, but that didn't happen. The Houston Texans won the division after the Colts struggled and then lost quarterback Andrew Luck to injury. And going into 2016, the division seems to have gotten better.

Luck will be back for the Colts. The Texans added a lot to the offense, including free-agent quarterback Brock Osweiler. The Jaguars have a good young core, and added to it in the draft. The Titans are building around quarterback Marcus Mariota. There's something interesting about each team in the AFC South heading into the season.

We talked about each of the AFC South teams in depth in the latest episode of "The Shutdown" podcast:



Previous division preview podcasts:

NFC East

AFC East

NFC North

AFC North

NFC South

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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.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: June 21, 2016, 3:56 pm

There doesn't seem to be anything New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham can't do. Odell Beckham Jr.'s athleticism isn't confined to the football field. (AP)

He can make incredible one-handed catches, as we know, and just about every catch on an NFL field. He's a good dunker on the basketball court. He thinks he had the skills to make it as a professional soccer player, and maybe he's right.

He can also crush a softball too.

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At a charity softball event Monday night hosted by Giants punter Brad Wing and Beckham in Fishkill, N.Y., Beckham showed off his unusual approach at the plate ... and blasted a pitch well over the fence.

Odell Beckham's swing: unorthodox, but effective. @OBJ_3

— Stephen Haynes (@StephenHaynes4) June 21, 2016

You have to love the Happy Gilmore-esque swing there. Here's another angle, with the bat flip.

Odell Beckham Jr (@OBJ_3) Happy Gilmore HR and bat flip at @DrinkRoar @bwing38 Celeb Softball Game (via @b_a_kirsch)

— Jeffrey Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) June 21, 2016

It would be nice to see Beckham look awkward doing something, just to know he's not a natural at everything.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab


Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 21, 2016, 2:43 pm

There is zero debate of when Vince Wilfork owned the fashion world. That would be the moment the Houston Texans nose tackle was seen in "Hard Knocks" last summer strutting around oh-so confidently in his shirtless overalls look. It slew Twitter and put Wilfork in the sartorial royalty, at least as far as the NFL is concerned.

Now that status is taking the next step. Wilfork is baring all — or as much as he can — for ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue," which has sort of become a bizarre cousin to Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition.

“I know I don’t have the six-packs and the eight-packs and all that … but I’m perfectly fine with what I am,” Wilfork said in an ESPN press release on Tuesday. “If people can look at me, look at a guy that’s 325-plus [pounds] doing an issue like this, I’m pretty sure that they might have a little confidence after seeing that it’s OK to be who you are.”

Vince Wilfork will be featured in ESPN The Magazine's Body issue.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)Yeah, about that: Wilfork has been listed as 325 since about the day he left Miami to join the New England Patriots, but it's a weight of suspicious veracity. Some believe he has touched the high 360s, or perhaps even in the 370 range at some point through his mostly exceptional career.

Is this going to be another Prince Fielder situation? Two years ago, Fielder graced the issue and drew a wide range of responses. Many, though, were impressed with Fielder's self-confidence in posing strategically nude and baring all for a lot of judgy eyes.

With Wilfork, we're talking about a man who is not that much taller but at least 50 pounds heavier. We frankly can't wait to see how he's displayed. And as one who could stand to shave off a few doughnuts ourself, we salute Big Vince.

Other NFL players participating in the "Body Issue" include Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller of the Denver Broncos. Both have had busy summers in the spotlight. But Wilfork definitely threatens to steal both of their thunder with this spread.

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 21, 2016, 1:21 pm

Half of the 32 NFL teams will have gone 25 seasons or more between championships by the end of this season, or never won one at all. Think about that for a minute.

A league that prides itself on the idea that any team has a chance to win it all has produced only 11 different championship franchises in the past 20 Super Bowls and 14 in the past 30 years.

But all bad things must end, as the city of Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought across all pro sports with the Cavaliers’ NBA title Sunday night proves. (We hope, anyway.)

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With that in mind, here's a ranking of NFL teams that have suffered the most and the longest by which ones actually have the best chance to end said drought with a Super Bowl championship.

1. Minnesota Vikings
Last NFL championship: None

Formed in 1961, the Vikings have reached four Super Bowls and won none. For these purposes, we don’t consider their 1969 NFL title prior to the AFL-NFL merger because the Vikings went on to lose SB IV to the Kansas City Chiefs the next game.

But these Vikings appear to have something special brewing. There’s a young, impressive core on defense. The offense is still developing, but there’s a lot to like. The two factors to wonder about: Can Teddy Bridgewater take that next step? And can Adrian Peterson help deliver a title in his prime?

As they get set to move into their impressive new stadium, Mike Zimmer’s Vikings have the look of a perennial contender for the next four or five seasons. Will there be a great team among those? It's unclear but they’ll get ample opportunities to make runs before the end of the decade.

2. Arizona Cardinals
Last NFL championship: 1947 season

The Cardinals last won a title as residents of Chicago (playing in Comiskey Park before a small crowd of just over 30,000 for the game), before enduring title-less streaks of 28 years in St. Louis and another 28 as the Phoenix/Arizona team. It’s the longest-running streak of any team that has won a title. But this team has come close a few times in the past eight seasons, losing a Super Bowl and losing the conference championship game last season to the Carolina Panthers.

Now the Cardinals are set up to contend the next few seasons with a talented defense, an offense with enough playmakers and a head coach in Bruce Arians who will take the necessary dice rolls at key times to turn the odds in his favor. The biggest question is the length of the window. Does Carson Palmer have one or two years to make a run at a ring? Is Larry Fitzgerald looking at the same timetable? There’s no doubt they’re making a push for right now, but it might close quickly.

3. Oakland Raiders
Last NFL championship: 1983

It’s wild to think that there are only four players on the Raiders’ roster now who were born the last time the Raiders won it all, back in Super Bowl XVIII in early 1984. That speaks to the youth on this roster, one that has added an incredible amount of talent the past three years to one that looked largely devoid of any not long ago.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr hopes to lead a Super Bowl contender soon. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)That championship team was based out of Los Angeles, and the Raiders might be in Las Vegas (or elsewhere) the next time they vie for a championship. But that window is starting to open — very quickly. They have the young QB in Derek Carr; the offensive line is one of the NFL’s top groups and the defense has intriguing talent at all three levels.

Will they miss the veteran leadership of Charles Woodson or Justin Tuck? Perhaps this year, but those shepherds can be found if needed.

One fun question: Can Sebastian Janikowski win a title before he hangs them up?

4. Cincinnati Bengals
Last NFL championship: None

The Bengals came into existence in 1968, and their two Super Bowl appearances (both losses to the San Francisco 49ers) basically bookended Cris Collinsworth’s career from 1982 to 1988. The first appearance was his rookie season, and Super Bowl XXIII in January 1989 was his final NFL game.

What does that have to do with these Bengals winning it all? Well, not much — except Collinsworth and his NBC cohorts are not slated to broadcast the Super Bowl until LII in February 2018. The Bengals have been as close to being in contention for a title the past seven years for a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in that stretch (OK, that was cruel) or, well, since A.J. Green was 2 years old.

So even if the Bengals take a half-step back this season, they appear set up to be in contention with a sound roster and some high-level talent. The question appears to be whether Andy Dalton can take them to the next level. He admittedly looked improved last season before getting hurt right before the postseason.

5. Kansas City Chiefs
Last NFL championship: 1969

This next tier of teams is tricky. There are some potential contenders here, but do we believe any of the current quarterbacks are Super Bowl-caliber? You’re basically having to assume a little luck and project the state of the rest of the roster for the next few seasons to buttress your argument.

Such is the case with Alex Smith. The inoffensive quarterback is just good enough typically to not reach the big game, so we don’t love his chances of ending the Chiefs’ streak (currently at 46 years since Super Bowl IV) this year or next, much as we respect a good roster and a good coaching staff. It just feels like plenty of good and not enough great.

6. Chicago Bears
Last NFL championship: 1985

It’s the 30th anniversary of the Super Bowl XX champions, so the good news is that we can wake up the members of that squad out of their hibernation and find out what that secluded bunch has been up to all these years. Seriously, if there’s a more time-honored tradition in Chicago it’s that you don’t need a multiple of five to honor this city’s most favorite sporting group ever. Basically you need a day ending in the letter “y” and a group of two or more people in the limits of Cook County.

But the current iteration of the Bears might really be trending back toward respectability, and they have a quarterback in Jay Cutler who — all jokes aside — can get hot for stretches, even if those haven’t tended to be when the games matter most in his career. An improved defense, a few nice pieces elsewhere and a coach in John Fox that at least knows how to get a team to the Super Bowl (two different ones) means the Bears might surprise at some point in the next few seasons.

7. New York Jets
Last NFL championship: 1968

The Jets have the incredible ability to go from trash to flash in a hurry — and then quickly back again — like almost no other NFL team. Following that pattern, the 2014 Jets were a hot mess at 4-12. The 2015 Jets won five straight after Thanksgiving (two in overtime) and were anointed that cliché “dangerous team” before imploding in Week 17 and missing the playoffs.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to re-sign with the New York Jets. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File)So even though they might appear closer now to contending than a few teams above them on this list, their chaotic existence — highlighted by the spring contract distractions of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Muhammad Wilkerson — remind us not to start doing too many Super Bowl III look-back features just yet.

There’s a very intriguing nucleus here, and a coaching staff that gets it. But without more stability, we can’t put them any higher on this list.

8. Miami Dolphins
Last NFL championship: 1973

For the past 42 years, the Dolphins have come close a few times to winning it all and had only one losing record from 1977 to 2003. But this team’s hasn’t legitimately contended since the 1990s and hasn’t won a playoff game since Dec. 30, 2000.

How much hope is there with Adam Gase? A fair amount. And the guy might be an excellent head coach one day. But with owner Stephen Ross hinting Gase has three years to turn them into a winner and we have yet to see Super Bowl-like ability from Ryan Tannehill consistently over the course of a full season.

We were this close to putting them a spot or two higher on the list, as the Dolphins — flawed as they might be — have some fascinating parts to them. But until we see if come together and as long as the New England Patriots hold reign on this division, we’ll hedge a bit for now.

9. Philadelphia Eagles
Last NFL championship: 1960

The 55-year drought has been tough enough, but now the Eagles are in this weird limbo where they feel talented enough to contend now in a diluted NFC East but pretty darned far from the next championship. Hey, maybe the team is right about Carson Wentz or Sam Bradford (or Chase Daniel) and one of them will be good enough to get them there in the next few years. Just don’t book your tickets quite yet. This streak could reach 60 before they are ready to end the darned thing.

10. Buffalo Bills
Last NFL championship: None

The city of Buffalo has been title-less across the major sports since the Bills’ 1965 AFL championship, and as a cruel side joke they’ve had O.J. — as we know him now — to deal with for almost half that time. Fifty years is a long time, to the point where most Bills fans don’t know what a championship feels like.

Has Rex Ryan brought them any closer? Throughout his head-coaching career, Ryan has shown the ability to turn his team into feisty winners but ones with fatal flaws and the propensity to eat their own vital organs when most crucial. One huge flaw on Ryan-coached teams has been quarterback play, which has never reached any type of steady plateau and remains that way until Tyrod Taylor can stay healthy and prove himself to be counted on for reaching the heights he sniffed at times last season.

But hey, Buffalo, Rex said the Bills won the offseason. Time to throw down!

11. Washington Redskins
Last NFL championship: 1991

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins — is he a Super Bowl QB? (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)We might be shortchanging Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden a bit here, admittedly. Yes, this is a team that won a division last season, hosted a playoff game and has some semblance of QB insurance for the first time in a good, long while. There’s also the Scot McCloughan factor; the GM has built deep winners elsewhere and appears to be filling up the roster nicely. In two years, this team could be loaded?

But what’s missing? Maybe we’re stuck in an older line of thinking that this team invariably will screw things up at some crucial point. Frankly, it’s not fair. But it’s all we have to go off of since Daniel Snyder bought the team. Super Bowl XXVI feels like it happened several generations ago, and even bringing back Joe Gibbs couldn’t rekindle the magic for very long.  

12. Atlanta Falcons
Last NFL championship:

The franchise is entering its 50th year if existence, with no championships to show for it. They host the Super Bowl LII following the 2018 season — can we see a path to playing in one by then? Dan Quinn looked to be a semi-genius early last season, and some Seahawkian imprints on the team have started to show. But there are some limitations outside the excitement of Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman.

Matt Ryan has been an annual 4,000-yard passer who, even his biggest apologists must admit, not Matty Icy enough in big games or reliable enough in key situations. So in a quarterback-loaded division with an MVP candidate (Cam Newton), a far better 4,000-yard passer than Ryan (Drew Brees) and an up-and-comer who could be really good (Jameis Winston), there’s just a limit to the championship-winning capabilities the Falcons have.

13. Tennessee Titans
Last NFL championship: None

A year from now we might be saying that Marcus Mariota is the kind of young quarterback who can help deliver a championship, and the Titans’ broadening roster could be in good shape with all the draft picks they received from the Jared Goff trade. But we’re still at least a driver and a 3-iron away from saying they’re able to get on the green, and head coach Mike Mularkey has a 9-33 record over his past 42 games.

So, yeah, we’re willing to look shortsighted for the time being. For now, Nashvillians will have to sit back and enjoy the franchise’s 1961 AFL championship — won by the Houston Oilers, ha — just a little longer.

14. San Diego Chargers
Last NFL championship: None

It takes some serious guts (stupidity?) to say that a Philip Rivers-led team isn’t close to winning a title. This is a quarterback who has fought through adversity every step of his career, has had a very good playoff record in his career and has played 161 consecutive games despite tearing an ACL in the middle there. He also might one day be a Hall of Famer and has thrown for 4,000 or more yards in seven of eight seasons.

But he’s turning 35 this year, and his championship window appears to be almost shut. The roster has lost a ton of talent the past few seasons, and trusted compadre Antonio Gates is in the twilight of his career. We just don’t know what to make of the Chargers, and the rest of the division has made strides while they appear to have regressed.

The 52-year streak since the team’s 1963 AFL championship can expect to grow.

15. Detroit Lions
Last NFL championship: 1957

The Lions last won a playoff game early in the Barry Sanders era, and this generation’s Sanders, Calvin Johnson, walked away from the Lions with years left on his body. All respect for his decision aside, Detroit fans had to know that took some real bite out of their chances to make a run. Does Johnson play a position where he can be, in essence, displaced? Perhaps. But he was an elite player who made a middling quarterback look respectable.

Can the Detroit Lions win a Super Bowl without Calvin Johnson (81)? Matthew Stafford's job just got tougher. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)What is Matthew Stafford without Johnson? We’re not sure — and we’re not sure we’re excited to find out. There are some solid parts to the Lions, who played well down the stretch last season. But we believe it’s fool’s gold long term and that Stafford isn’t suddenly going to turn into a top-level QB without a future Hall of Famer to throw to.

16. Cleveland Browns
Last NFL championship: 1964

Enjoy your Cavaliers, Cleveland. They were incredible winners, taking down a team with the league’s best regular-season record and a 3-1 advantage in the Finals, with two of those wins coming on the road. That’s impressive, almost legendary stuff right there. The city has every reason — for the first time in forever — to stick out its chest and proclaim, “We are the champions!”

At least until the Browns report to training camp. Yeah, the climb from here is Kilimanjaro. There are so many unknowns, we don’t even know where to start. Let’s be fair and mention that Hue Jackson might be an excellent coach. Heck, Moneyball (or whatever you want to call it) might be the wave of the future, the kind of mode that other teams are desperate to mimic in the coming years.

But are you staking your IRA on it? If you’re considering such a move, peruse the roster the way the guys in the diner did before spring training in “Major League.”

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 20, 2016, 5:15 pm

( screen shot)All serious sports fans have had the conversation many times over by now: Which “30 for 30” was the best one? We play the episodes like they’re trump cards.

Oh yeah, the Marcus Dupree one was great. But what about "The U," that one was the best they've done!

It’s a testament to ESPN’s documentary series, because it re-invented the genre. And when we talk about which one was best, there are many great ones to pick from. With it’s most ambitious venture of the series, “O.J.: Made in America,” having aired in full, it’s time to rank the “30 for 30” films.

For our purposes here, we’re only considering the full-length documentaries under the “30 for 30” and ESPN Films umbrella. There won’t be any “30 for 30 Shorts,” although “The Irrelevant Giant” and “Judging Jewell” were fantastic. Films for the SEC Network like “The Book of Manning” aren’t included. There are 84 documentaries considered then, with “O.J.: Made in America” counted as one documentary and not five separate episodes, and one of ESPN’s full-length “Soccer Stories” is also included in the discussion.

Most of the 84 documentaries were at least good or decent; there aren’t many duds in the series. Except for “Silly Little Game,” the one about the origins of fantasy baseball that has basically become to “30 for 30” what the infamously awful Columbus Day episode is to “The Sopranos.”

Before we get to the top 10, here’s Nos. 20-11, in order: “Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?” “Of Miracles and Men,” “Unguarded,” “The Legend of Jimmy the Greek,” “Big Shot,” “Tim Richmond: To the Limit,” “You Don’t Know Bo,” “Brian and The Boz,” “The U,” “Pony Excess.”

10. “June 17, 1994”

I give this one, chronicling the day of the famous Simpson Bronco chase, extra credit. Because the idea shouldn’t have worked — there are no new talking-head interviews, just old footage spliced together: the Bronco chase, Arnold Palmer’s last U.S. Open, the New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup parade, the NBA Finals game between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets and other sports highlights from that day. It is a strange concept on paper, but the actual documentary was captivating.

9. “Playing for the Mob”

An underrated one. It examines the point-shaving controversy with Boston College’s college basketball team. The star of the doc is Henry Hill, of “Goodfellas” fame. Thoroughly entertaining.

8. “Elway to Marino”

This look at the 1983 NFL draft is great because agent Marvin Demoff, who represented John Elway and Dan Marino, kept his notes from that year and had some amazing secrets. The San Francisco 49ers briefly thought about trading Joe Montana? The Los Angeles Raiders believed their proposed trade for Elway’s draft rights was nixed by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle? Great stuff.

7. “Survive and Advance”

Jim Valvano in 1983 (AP)I generally like but don’t love the documentaries in this series that take well-known stories and rely on our nostalgia to carry the film. It was fun reliving the 1990s Orlando Magic or the 2000s USC football team, but those episodes weren’t groundbreaking or anything. Even though the 1983 N.C. State basketball team’s story is well worn, the emotion in the documentary especially over the loss of coach Jim Valvano made it memorable.

6. “Benji”

Chicago high school basketball star Ben Wilson’s death in 1984 still resonates today, because a young man was senselessly shot and killed before he could reach his dreams. It’s a sad tale, but the documentary was well done.

5. “Once Brothers”

The story of Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic, their fractured friendship over war-torn Yugoslavia and Divac searching for answers after Petrovic’s death in a car accident was heartbreaking. It’s one of the most unforgettable documentaries in the series.

4. “Hillsborough”

This one doesn’t get brought up enough. That’s a shame, because it was great. This was part of the “Soccer Stories” series from ESPN Films, and it documents the 1989 tragedy at Hillsborough Stadium, when overcrowding caused a crush of fans that killed 96 and injured hundreds more. That haunting story, and the ensuing fight for justice in the face of police misconduct, is tough to watch at times and ultimately a spectacular bit of filmmaking about a terrible tragedy. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out. It’s the most emotional documentary in the series.

3. “The Best That Never Was”

The story of running back Marcus Dupree is fascinating. Dupree was perhaps the most sought-after high-school recruit ever (Willie Morris’ tremendous book, “The Courting of Marcus Dupree,” is on a short list of greatest sports books) who only briefly lived up to that billing. Dupree’s football career and his life afterward made for a great tale.

2. “The Two Escobars”

The story of Colombian soccer captain Andres Escobar and drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, and how their tales intersected, made for an amazing documentary. The footage, interviews and story itself are incredible, and for a long time I didn’t think ESPN could produce a documentary to beat it.

1. “O.J.: Made in America”

O.J. Simpson (AP)This was the best documentary ESPN has done. It would be an uphill battle to argue otherwise. It’s eligible for an Oscar and I hope it wins, because I can’t imagine there will be a better documentary this year. While it benefited from having nearly eight hours to tell its story, that length also carries a challenge. It’s not easy to fill more than seven-and-a-half hours with interesting material. Aside from the first episode, which I thought was a bit slow as it laid a lot of groundwork for the rest of the miniseries, the series packed a punch almost the entire time. That’s tough. The documentary covered every possible angle, had many shocking and incredible moments, and ultimately delivered on the hype that preceded it.

Is it the greatest sports documentary, period? With respect to “When We Were Kings,” “Baseball” and the other great sports documentaries, we’re really talking about “O.J.: Made it America” vs. “Hoop Dreams.” And I’m still picking “Hoop Dreams” as the greatest ever.

Most of us lived through the Simpson story when it happened, or heard a lot about it before watching the “O.J.: Made in America” documentary. Viewers were drawn in by the story itself before the first episode started. It wasn’t a hard sell. The producers of “Hoop Dreams” had an entirely different challenge. They asked viewers to follow the tale of two practically unknown high-school players, and trust that we’d be captivated by their tale. And we were. We still know the names Arthur Agee and William Gates. The Simpson documentary was great, and the best ESPN has done, but it’s still not “Hoop Dreams.”

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 20, 2016, 4:45 pm

I caught up with Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher on the phone right after he had put a bow on the team's OTAs and sent the team packing until training camp. There's one player who will have a little extra summer homework as he prepares for the Rams' first camp back on the West Coast after their relocation.

That would be No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, who has the chance to start this season but will not be handed the job, Fisher said, according to some prescribed plan. Fisher said Goff is in control of when he can wrest the job away from de facto starter Case Keenum but that nothing is guaranteed or assured for the rookie right now.

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"We'll start him when he's ready. That's what I've been saying, and that's what I told him and them [Goff's teammates]," Fisher told Shutdown Corner. "Is it the opener? That I don't know. We've got that option [with Keenum] and can easily go that route and be good with that. We're not locked in there.

"Just as I told you last summer, we were not going to set a timetable with Todd [Gurley] only to change it. Now, that was a different deal with an injury, and it's a different position. But same philosophy. The schedule on this thing could change every day up until [the opener]."

Fisher has gleaned that Goff has what it takes physically, backing up what the coach said he and his staff saw on tape and in workouts with their young quarterback. "Nothing has changed there," Fisher said. "We saw the physical tools there, and we've seen them now. They're just what we thought, and actually they might be even better than we thought."

He has received first-team reps and also been relegated to work with the reserves, which includes several rookie receivers, with the hope being that they mesh with Goff. But the Rams are not dialing much back so far with him otherwise.

It might be common practice this time of year to play vanilla coverages and fronts in OTA sessions because NFL teams are allotted so few of them. But the Rams are taking the opposite approach: It works twofold because this is a talented, experienced defense that can handle a lot and that the multiple looks the Rams are throwing at Goff are serving to speed up his education before he gets to camp.

"We are what we call a hybrid defense, I'd say," Fisher said. "We used a lot of different fronts — over, under, odd, even — with our groupings, and [Goff] is seeing a lot of that now so far. He's done a great job to this point thus far of seeing these looks, dissecting them quickly and making decisions."

Have the Rams tricked him a few times?

"Oh sure, but what you notice is he plays the position like a cornerback, like a veteran," Fisher said. "I haven't seen his head slung down once. [Goff] makes a mistake and he's jumping back in that huddle and getting them lined up for the next play."

Fisher believes some of that comes from the fact that Goff started as a true freshman at Cal on a completely rebooted team and faced weekly adversity and a ton of pressure — internal and external.

"You saw how he handled everything that was thrown at him at Berkeley, and you know that made him tougher, made him smarter," Fisher said. "He's not letting one bad play bother him because it shouldn't. All the good ones have some of that somewhere."

Yahoo's Jackie Bamberger spoke with Goff, who said that advice from Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota, plus a few former Rams quarterbacks, has helped him as he gets ready for camp. Fisher noted that Goff is "doing what he needs to do" to master the Rams' offense to this point and put himself in a position to earn that starting spot.

It has been a while since Fisher has worked with a rookie quarterback who had a realistic chance to earn a starting job early on — a decade, in fact. That would be Vince Young in 2006, with the Tennessee Titans. Although Young wasn't Fisher's first choice, the Titans took the ball away from incumbent starter Kerry Collins after the first three games of the regular season before giving Young a chance to start.

Fisher would not compare the two situations, saying they were vastly different, but said he learned from that experience and the experience of working with other first-year quarterbacks. Some things work, and others do not. One thing Fisher believes is bad no matter what: Starting a rookie QB before his time.

"What you don't want to do is set him up to fail," Fisher said. "That's not what you want to do with a young quarterback, and we don't intend to. Nothing is set in stone there."

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 19, 2016, 5:51 pm

The ESPN five-part documentary "O.J.: Made in America" analyzes in stunning detail every aspect of Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson's life and his murder trial, as you'd expect from a film that long.

But there was one loose end after the end of the fifth episode: Where is Simpson's Heisman Trophy, the most famous/infamous individual trophy in sports? The fifth episode shows his former agent Mike Gilbert in the mid-90s taking Simpson's 1968 Heisman Trophy from his house. Gilbert took the trophy before it could be taken by authorities as part of the civil verdict that found Simpson liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

O.J. Simpson with his 1968 Heisman Trophy (AP)"It wasn’t given to me. I basically just took it," Gilbert says in the documentary. "I had an arrangement with Mr. Simpson where he would pay me 'X' amount of money or I could take it out in memorabilia. So I took the Heisman and a few other items."

The documentary doesn't answer what happened to the trophy after that. But it took a crazy route from Gilbert to a safety deposit box in Philadelphia, its last known location.

In 2013, Washington Post reporter Kent Babb did a fascinating series on the whereabouts of every Heisman Trophy. In 1999, Tom Kriessman bought the trophy for $255,500 at an auction. The trophy was auctioned to help satisfy the $33.5 million judgment against Simpson in the civil case. Kriessman said at a press conference that he bought the trophy to impress his girlfriend.

Babb reported that a more mature Kriessman now keeps the Heisman in a safety deposit box. It has become such an afterthought that Babb wrote "many of his closest friends have no idea he owns one of the most infamous trophies in American sports history."

There were rumors that Simpson's Heisman was melted down, or was sold off in pieces, but Babb wrote that's not true. The tale of Simpson's Heisman became even more confusing because USC's copy of Simpson's Heisman (there are two copies of the award, one goes to the player and one goes to the school) was stolen in 1994. It was recovered in December of 2014 after a man named Lewis Starks tried to sell it. Starks was charged with receiving stolen property.

But Simpson's actual Heisman is apparently still with Kriessman, who did not return a message left at his steel company in Pennsylvania.

Tom Kriessman with O.J. Simpson's Heisman Trophy that he bought at the Butterfield and Butterfield auction house on Feb. 18, 1999 (AP)The trophy didn't just go straight from Simpson to Kriessman to a safety deposit box, however. As shown in the documentary, Gilbert had it for a while. Gilbert has plenty of other O.J. artifacts, including the famous white Bronco driven during the slow-speed chase in 1994. The Bronco is in his garage in Hanford, Calif, reported (Simpson's belief that some of his memorabilia had been stolen led to an incident in Las Vegas that ended up with Simpson being convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery).

Gilbert fought to keep Simpson's Heisman, even going to court over it. He turned over the trophy, but with the nameplate removed. Gilbert said he would go to jail rather than give the nameplate to the Goldman family. Later, he gave up the nameplate after a court ordered it.

That led to the auction of the trophy, which was won by Kriessman.

Every other part of the Simpson trial and his life still fascinates the public, but his most famous trophy is reportedly stowed away and living a quiet, boring life.

Podcast: 'O.J: Made In America': Assessing ESPN's landmark documentary:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 18, 2016, 5:07 pm

Good for Michael Oher. The Carolina Panthers offensive tackle has found a home in the NFL, and he just extended his lease.

Carolina Panthers tackle Michael Oher has signed an extension and yet still gets Blind Side jokes from teammates. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Oher has signed a three-year extension with the team worth $21.6 million over that stretch, with $9.5 million guaranteed. That's nice money for a player who was good, not great with the Baltimore Ravens and who was released by the Tennessee Titans after one lousy year there. Last season, Oher settled in nicely with Cam Newton and Co. on what became a dynamic offense for the Super Bowl runners-up, even if he did struggle in the loss to the Denver Broncos.

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But Oher always, for better or for worse, will be the "Blind Side" guy. Even if you did not read the terrific book or watch the mostly crummy Sandra Bullock movie about Oher's story, you've heard of it/them and, transitively, him. And that is almost always going to stick with Oher, no matter what else he does.

So naturally, his Panthers teammates — in a loving, joking way — had to razz him a bit about his new contract. And yes, they made a few references to the movie. (What, you wouldn't?)

— Trai Turner (@trai_turner) June 17, 2016

— Mike Remmers (@Mremmers74) June 17, 2016

— Ryan Kalil (@ryankalil) June 17, 2016

Pretty funny, right? And all in good fun, it appears. Part of what made this group so synergistic last season was the offensive line chemistry. No sense in changing that now.

Maybe that was one of the stipulations that Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, who isn't exactly the most spendthrift guy ever, laid out before Oher could sign: "We'll give you the money, but you have to put up with guff from the other four-fifths of the offensive line." No word on whether the NFLPA would agree to such prerequisites, but Oher seems fine with all of it.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 17, 2016, 6:39 pm

Trent Richardson (AP)Baltimore Ravens running back Trent Richardson's attempt to revive his career was going to be a great story to track in the preseason, but now there is some concern that story might never begin to unfold.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Richardson likely needs arthroscopic surgery on a pre-existing knee injury, and it is unclear how long he'll be out. The Ravens' first training camp practice is July 28.

The timing of Richardson's knee issue couldn't be much worse. Richardson had already missed some OTA practice time with a hamstring problem. Richardson, who was out of football last season after being cut by the Oakland Raiders at the end of preseason, needs a very good training camp and preseason to make the Ravens roster. That gets tougher if he misses any time or is recovering from a knee procedure.

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It also seems like this could be Richardson's last chance. The former No. 3 overall pick of the 2012 draft was out all of last year after being cut. He failed with the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts. But Richardson got in good shape and said he was in a good mental state for his shot with the Ravens. But now he's dealing with injuries, and he was probably a long shot to make the roster before that.

If Richardson does make the Ravens and turn around his career, it'll be a heck of a story, especially considering the latest setback.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 17, 2016, 3:28 pm

LOS ANGELES – Few people can understand the pressure that Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has found himself under.

Luckily for Goff, he just happens to be in touch with some of them.

Goff said he has reached out to Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2015 NFL draft, as well as Blake Bortles, whom the Jaguars took with No. 3 pick in 2014.

“They’ve been all very helpful,” Goff said at Thursday’s NFL All-Access event at the Los Angeles Coliseum. “They have all said, ‘Ask me anything. I’m very happy to help.’ It was good talking to them.”

Mariota in particular has been a welcome resource for Goff as he adjusts to the pro game.Jared Goff says reached out to quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota for advice. (Getty)

“Marcus gave me some good little hints,” Goff said. “Just different stuff when you’re studying and different stuff that he used to transition from college. We ran similar offenses in college. [There’s] different stuff he used to make that transition and I started using them so it definitely helped. Just little different hints.”

Goff has also been in touch with former Rams quarterbacks. He met Vince Ferragamo and Jim Everett the day after he got drafted in April and he has texted with Kurt Warner.

Another Rams great, running back Eric Dickerson, shared some words of advice for Goff, whom he compared to another Cal-bred quarterback.

“He reminds me a little bit of Aaron Rogers with his accuracy,” Dickerson said. “I would tell him just to study. Become a student of the game. As a quarterback, you’ve got to become a student of the game because those defenses move so much and there’s so much happening on that field. He has the ability. I think if he becomes a student of the game, he’ll do very well.”

For now, Goff said he is doing his best to focus on football and not think too much about what they gave up to select him in this year’s draft.

“I’m very honored that they did what they did … At the same time, I’m just one person on the team and I’m going to do my part every day, every week and just not make it more than it is. I’m playing quarterback, I’m playing football and I don’t try to make it more than that.”


Author: Jackie Bamberger
Posted: June 17, 2016, 4:49 am

LOS ANGELES – You might think Rams legend Eric Dickerson would have no trouble finding a seat in the Coliseum when the team returns to Los Angeles this season. But the Pro Football Hall of Famer is taking no chances, and purchased his season tickets just like any other fan. Eric Dickerson plans on taking in a few Rams games this season. (AP)

“I bought my tickets because, you know, everybody thinks tickets are free,” Dickerson said at Thursday’s NFL All-Access Event. “People are like, ‘Hey, can I get a ticket?’ and I’m like ‘Hey, these tickets ain’t free. So I bought them so I don’t have to go beg for tickets.”

Though Dickerson said he’ll probably be invited to be on the sideline at some point, he bought tickets to ensure he can take in as much action as he can.

So count Dickerson, who donned a familiar-looking blue No. 29 jersey, among those excited to see the NFL return to Los Angeles. But, he also noted that the team faces a challenge in building up a younger fanbase.”

“The fans will get more into it as time goes on and the season goes on,” he said. “The Rams have been gone for so long and you know, it takes time for the fans to warm up. They haven’t seen this team in 22 years.”

The key to attracting those fans? Winning, of course, and doing so with young stars like Todd Gurley, and hopes that Jared Goff blossoms into one.

“People come out to see players," he said. "It’s all about, ‘I wanna see Jared Goff’ or ‘I wanna see Aaron Donald or ‘I wanna see Todd Gurley.’ They come out to see their players. So, if players are exciting, the fans will come out.”


Author: Jackie Bamberger
Posted: June 17, 2016, 4:09 am

ESPN’s five-part documentary, “O.J.: Made in America” continued with Part 3 on Wednesday night. Here are some wow moments from the third installment (and our review of the entire series is here):

Had they never done this before? I am not now nor will I ever be a police officer, but the detectives who questioned O.J. Simpson once he was determined to be the prime suspect in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman did a terrible job. As noted, police had one chance – one – to interview Simpson, and he was cooperative, going to headquarters without a lawyer. But as we hear in the recording of the interview conducted by Philip Vannatter and Tom Lange (Lange sat down for director Ezra Edelman’s cameras; Vannatter died in 2012), they never pin Simpson down on where he was at the time of the murders, why his blood was on the outside and inside of his white Ford Bronco if, as Simpson said, he cut his left middle finger while in Chicago (he flew to the city at 11:45 p.m. the night of the murders), or really any of the major details. And then they just released him, another favor from the LAPD to O.J.

Robert Kardashian was on reality TV long before his now-ubiquitous children. On June 17, 1994, the day Simpson was to turn himself in to the LAPD, he was sequestered at the home of his longtime friend, attorney Robert Kardashian. Hours after Simpson hadn’t shown to LAPD headquarters, Kardashian read a letter in front of cameras purported to have been written by Simpson. The letter sounded a lot like a suicide note – “I can’t go on,” “don’t feel sorry for me,” “I’ve had a great life” were among the things written, with Simpson asserting he had nothing to do with Nicole’s death. At the same press conference, lawyer Robert Shapiro says Al “A.C.” Cowlings was with Simpson “for the last few minutes, alone.”

June 17, 1994 remains one of the strangest days in recent American history. Seeing it from the inside, so to speak, hearing the 9-1-1 tape of Cowlings talking to dispatchers, the way LAPD just let Cowlings, with Simpson in the Bronco with a gun to his head, drive on the freeway and around the city with the police following them at a respectable distance like a Presidential motorcade…even 20-plus years later, it’s surreal.

“If O.J. Simpson were black, none of that…would have happened.” The second-most astonishing line in Part 3 (we’ll get to the most astonishing in a minute), and so emblematic of the way Simpson presented himself and the way others saw him. Pilot and reporter Zoey Tur, who covered the “chase” (it’s so hard to call it that) from a helicopter, said this, and she’s right. Simpson may have been black in terms of his skin color, but at no point, whether in the multiple times the LAPD came to his house when Nicole called because he was beating her, or when he was questioned at the headquarters, or during the “chase”, was Simpson ever treated the way many African-Americans in Los Angeles were treated by police.

Mike Albanese is a boss. Albanese, who was then a SWAT team supervisor with the LAPD, provides comic relief as he recounts the insanity of whole thing. He tells us that when he arrived at Simpson’s infamous house on Rockingham Avenue, members of Simpson’s family were inside, eating, while 95 million people were watching Simpson and the world’s slowest police pursuit. “Nutty,” Albanese deadpans.

And the most astonishing line of the night: Over the course of the evening, hundreds and hundreds of fans flocked to Simpson’s ritzy Brentwood neighborhood, holding signs saying “We love O.J.” and chanting, “Free O.J.!” Many of them were black. Simpson is finally arrested outside of his house and is placed in an unmarked police car with, among others, SWAT officer Peter Weireter, who had been on the phone with Simpson, negotiating with him to put down the gun he was holding under his chin and surrender. According to Weireter, as the car is pulling down the street, Simpson was in awe of the crowds but says, “What are all these niggers doing in Brentwood?” Jaw. Dropped.

Oh, Mark Fuhrman. He may well have found the glove on Simpson’s property and not planted it, as the defense tried to assert, but he does not come off well in this movie. In Part 2, he says that the Rodney King situation would have been avoided had LAPD officers still been able to use choke holds, and in the lead-up to the trial, we learn that he had a history of calling African-Americans “niggers” and held a prejudice against them. Fuhrman says those feelings were part of a bad time for him and he came out of it.

The African-American community stood fervently by Simpson even though he’d turned his back on it for decades. A poll taken before the trial began showed that just 10 percent of black respondents believed it was “very likely” that Simpson was guilty. And three-quarters of the eventual seated jurors were black.

With his freedom and life on the line, suddenly Simpson was black. Simpson’s high-priced defense team pounced on the idea that Fuhrman was another white LAPD officer intent on framing a black man for a crime he didn’t commit, and when Judge Lance Ito surprisingly let the jury pool into Simpson’s house on Rockingham Avenue, where no part of the crime occurred (they also saw the murder scene, at Nicole’s house), Simpson’s lawyers replaced many of the pictures on the walls of Simpson with his white friends and associates with pictures of Simpson with African-Americans and with artwork depicting African-Americans.

Part 4 of “O.J.: Made in America” airs Friday at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 16, 2016, 1:39 am

There are certain things you can share on social media when you're not a household name that you probably want to keep to yourself after you become a big-name NFL rookie.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick of the NFL draft, had an embarrassing moment. He somehow ended up locked in a bathroom at a New Jersey gas station. He was rescued by the attendants' use of some garden shears. Imagine the looks on their face when they saw they were saving the 6-5, 237-pound Eagles quarterback of the future.

This is the type of thing that you generally don't want getting out on social media when you're a star, but Wentz offered it up.

Just got locked in a bathroom at a NJ gas station. Praise the Lord for the attendants w/ the garden shears & the other guy w/ the leg kick..

— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) June 15, 2016

And a couple thousand retweets and endless jokes later ...

Hey, give Wentz credit for being able to laugh about the situation. I've never been locked in a gas station bathroom, but can't imagine it's a fun experience. What more can you do but crack a joke about it?

And if this is the worst thing that happens in Wentz's rookie year, he should consider himself lucky.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 16, 2016, 1:17 am

Lawrence Phillips (AP)A coroner has determined that former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips hanged himself in prison, and had a "Do Not Resuscitate" note taped to his chest according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Phillips was found dead in his cell on Jan. 13, with a bedsheet wrapped around his neck. The bedsheet was secured to a TV shelf, the World-Herald said, citing the coroner's report. A guard, who checked Phillips' cell at 11:35 p.m. on Jan. 12 and saw nothing wrong, came around again after midnight and saw a towel over the window of Phillips' cell in the segregation unit. After he got the towel down, he saw Phillips in a seated position with the sheet around his neck. He was seated because the TV shelf was low to the floor.

After the guard tried CPR, Phillips was moved to the triage unit of the prison, then taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The former St. Louis Rams first-round pick was 40 years old.

The Omaha World-Herald said Phillips’ family, friends and supporters have questioned whether he killed himself. The World-Herald said the family had planned to "seek an independent civil rights investigation of his death."

Hours before Phillips' death, a judge found that there was enough evidence for Phillips to stand trial for the death of Damion Soward, Phillips' cellmate who was found strangled to death in April of 2015. Phillips was charged with first-degree murder.

According to the World-Herald, there was no sign of a struggle in Phillips' death, and a pathologist found markings on the neck and soft tissue injuries consistent with hanging, and classified it a suicide.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 15, 2016, 10:06 pm

The Minnesota Vikings are excited to see what Laquon Treadwell can add to their offense this season. The rookie wide receiver has even vowed to learn with a "mouth closed, ears open" approach as he tries to earn a starting spot.

But there's one problem with that approach: That means he has a lot of work with his hands. Yes, catching passes, naturally. Also shoveling out tiny bags of fruity treats from his car.

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Vikings teammate Kyle Rudolph helped prank Treadwell on his 21st birthday with a nice surprise. His entire SUV was filled to the sunroof with thousands of bags of Welch's Fruit Snacks.


It appears the rookie took the good-natured prank in stride, and Rudolph took a smarter approach than by issuing Treadwell a bunch of shots or something. (Also smart marketing by the Welch's folks.)

This is rookie hazing at its finest. Taping first-rounders to goal posts feels a little passé now. This is a more progressive approach.

No word yet if eating his way out is part of Treadwell's regimen.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 15, 2016, 9:35 pm

Von Miller wants to be a Denver Bronco for the rest of his career (AP)In the middle of a contentious contract negotiation, Von Miller made it clear that he's hoping for a happy resolution with the Denver Broncos.

Miller doesn't think he'll hold out this season. And he wants to be with the Broncos the rest of his career. His agents might not love his honesty, but you have to respect it, even as talks have gotten nasty (here's the recap).

"I want to be a Bronco forever," said on Chelsea Handler's Netflix show "Chelsea." "I just want the feeling to be the same from the Broncos."

"Chelsea" posted a teaser video of the interview on YouTube on Wednesday (h/t to Larry Brown Sports). And Miller was asked if he'd consider sitting out the season if he doesn't get a long-term deal.

"No, I mean, we still have a month," Miller said. 

Miller then listed many of his Broncos teammates and said he valued the relationship he has built with them.

"I would like to continue to build that the rest of my career," Miller said.

Here's the teaser clip for the full interview:

Miller has already turned down a huge offer because it didn't include enough guaranteed money, and that's the only figure that really counts in NFL contracts. While most franchise-tagged players have difficult negotiations when it comes to a long-term deal, it seemed for a while like Miller might be an exception. He was Super Bowl 50 MVP and the Broncos don't want to lose their best player. But then numbers from a contract proposal that Miller turned down were leaked, presumably by the Broncos, and it got a bit heated between the two sides. That didn't help negotiations.

Miller didn't sound too worried in that interview, and based on history there's a good chance it all works out. it seems that these negotiations need to get really ugly in June before the July deadline gets close and something gets done at the last minute.

But we do know this: Miller doesn't want to be anywhere but Denver. Now it's up to the two sides to find a contract that makes both sides happy.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 15, 2016, 9:07 pm

The crack sleuths at the website Crossing Broad appear to have discovered a hilarious ringer situation involving a former Philadelphia Eagles player.

Walter Thurmond III announced weeks ago that he was stepping away from the NFL, making thinly veiled references on his Twitter account to concussions, which gave us an idea why he was leaving the league in his prime.

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Now it appears he has a bead on his post-NFL career. We're not sure how much money there is to be made in crushing bombs in beer-league softball, but at worst Thurmond, er, Dick Mahoney is having a blast doing so.

Yes, a player with that hilarious pseudonym joined a Philly-area league recently and carried with him a Roy Hobbs-esque mystique and talent. Such as hitting a combined seven home runs in his first two games and missing out on an eights because he passed his own teammate on the basepaths. This was urban legend personified.

Except that people started questioning who this Mahoney cat was and why he was pulling up to games in his Porsche and surreptitiously bolting for L.A. on short notice because of an acting career. And that's when the curtain started to be pulled back. Folks started figuring out it was Thurmond, masked only by a throwback wig of highly suspicious nature, and his own girlfriend actually had spilled the beans on Instagram before anyone really noticed.

We love this. And we love the fact that this mystery continues, with Eagles reporters trying like heck to find out more about the future plans of Mahoney/Thurmond.

@CrossingBroad Txted w/Dick Mahoney’s agent, Walter Thurmond. He says, unlike Walter, Dick has not retired, but he has “changed locations.”

— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) June 14, 2016

Would it be inappropriate at this time to rewrite Elton John's famous song with this story in mind?

Goodbye Mahoney
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on the treadmill
And they made you change your name

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a softball in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 15, 2016, 7:17 pm

Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee co-champion Nihar Janga seemed thrilled to meet Dez Bryant, his favorite player, at the Dallas Cowboys' headquarters on Wednesday.

Or was it the other way around?

Janga brought his 11-year-old swag to the spelling be and threw up an X Bryant's touchdown celebration when he won.

GESELLSCHAFT!!!! That Nihar celebration dance

— Silvia Killingsworth (@silviakillings) May 27, 2016

Bryant noticed the shout out.

#NiharJanga you just made my whole day buddy.. Congrats on winning the #spellingbee champ.. Some how some way I have to get you to a game #x

— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) May 27, 2016

So Janga made his way to the Cowboys' facility and seemed to have quite a day. He was brought up to the podium to join Cowboys coach Jason Garrett at his press conference. Janga had his own press conference. He got to meet Bryant, of course.

And if this doesn't make you smile, you might have a heart of rock:

Spelling Bee champ Nihar Janga throwing up the X with cowboys receiver Dez Bryant

— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) June 15, 2016

But a funny thing happened. It seemed like the football star was just as impressed with the spelling bee champ as Janga was with the Pro Bowl receiver.

"I'm nowhere near on his level and I'm not afraid to tell the world that," Bryant said, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. "This guy is extremely amazing.

"This is the champ right here ... He makes me want to work hard," Bryant said, via NFL Network's James Palmer.

You'd think that the Cowboys brought Janga to their facilities to let the kid meet his football hero. But it seemed hard to tell who enjoyed the meeting more.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 15, 2016, 7:07 pm

Draymond Green (AP)After Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham, it's natural for football fans to wonder which basketball power forwards could have played in the NFL.

We've been down the "could LeBron James have played in the NFL?" road a lot over the last decade, but here's another name from the NBA Finals that is interesting to think about: Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.

Why not, right? He's got good size at 6-foot-7, 230 pounds. He's obviously agile and athletic. if Gates could go from never having played college football to being a future Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end, why couldn't Green do it too?

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Well, Green did suit up for Michigan State, in their 2011 spring game. And there's probably a reason that Green stuck with hoops:

2011 MSU Spring football game, Draymond Green played TE.
Uh let's see how that went....
(Much better at basketball)

— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) June 15, 2016

That was it, two plays. He had false start on the first one, as he lined up across from future Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting defensive end William Gholston. On the second he had the ball sail incomplete over him, though was interfered with (what else are you going to do when a 6-7 tight end splits out wide?).

“It’s never as easy as it looks,” Green told in 2011. “I thought I knew what I was doing, until I got jammed at the line of scrimmage. It’s not easy. It’s like basketball. It looks easy, but it’s not.” said Green played tight end and defensive end for his high school varsity team as a freshman. Saginaw High coach Don Durrett told that Green "has the abilities to play tight end at the next level."

It all worked out just fine for Green. Green has become a fantastic player, a key member of a Golden State team that won a title last year and is one win away from a second straight championship this season. He has improved his scoring average in all four seasons, and scored 14 per game this season.

With some seasoning Green might have been an NFL star, but he should be content that his Spartans spring game cameo was the extent of his football career beyond high school.

“It was just for fun, something I wanted to do," Green said in 2011 to "I thought it would be my only chance to ever do it at that level.”

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 15, 2016, 4:25 pm

Last June the NFL abruptly told Tony Romo that he could not host a fantasy football convention because — ooh, scary — it was being held in Las Vegas.

And you know what that means ...


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The league long has kept its distance, metaphysical and otherwise, from Sin City for fear of connections with gambling, as thin and distant as they might be. Per a league spokesman at the time, it was said that "Players and NFL personnel may not participate in promotional activities or other appearances at or in connection with events that are held at or sponsored by casinos."

Yes, the venue was owned by a casino; it wasn't actually at one, mind you.

It was as stupid then as it seems now, but given the recent climate with the NFL and Vegas, you'd think times had changed dramatically over the past 50-ish weeks, especially with rampant rumors that the Oakland Raiders could relocate there in the near future — and with no visible signs of pooh-poohing the idea from Roger Goodell or any owners.

But the wildest part is that Romo once more was told that his 2016 event was not happening as scheduled — even though it was scheduled to happen in California, not Nevada. Per PFT, the reason why the National Fantasy Football Convention postponed this year's event was because of the “blatant and continued interference” of the NFL. The two sides have gone back and forth in litigation since last year.

What now?

Could it be that the NFL is mad that Romo and the NFFC (and not the league itself) are treading on money-making turf that it might want to exploit one day? It's something PFT floated in its story and is worth considering. Any opportunity the NFL can find to make money and stake its claim, it will. That theory holds a lot of water, especially with the event no longer slated for the desert.

The NFL has wrapped both arms tightly around fantasy football and yet also has gone all in on preventing Romo and Co. from having their event, which was slated to include more than 100 NFL players. At least that's what an attorney for the company partially owned by Romo is suggesting. Basically, the implication is that the NFL is pressuring the event sponsors to back out.

“Sadly, because of the NFL’s continued and calculated actions against the NFFC, including Tony, and against the other NFL player participants, in addition to the NFFC sponsors and even the NFL’s own media folks who had committed to participate with the NFFC, the event is being postponed,” attorney Michael Hurst said.

The NFL has declined to comment on the matter.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 15, 2016, 3:52 pm

There were many jaw-dropping and cringe-inducing moments during Tuesday night's "O.J.: Made in America" Part 2, and the most unlikely came courtesy of a long-ago interview.

Footage was shown of an interview O.J. Simpson did on the ESPN show "Sports Look" (later known as "Up Close") with broadcaster Roy Firestone. In the undated interview, Firestone comes off as a fawning fan instead of a tough questioner, broaching a New Year's Eve incident in 1988 which Simpson and wife Nicole argued and Simpson beat her so badly she needed to go to the hospital. 

Simpson was actually charged for this event. According to Nicole, it was the ninth time Los Angeles police were called to the couple's Brentwood home to respond to a domestic incident. They hadn't done anything the first eight times.

But at the time of the interview Firestone apparently didn't know that Simpson pled no contest to spousal battery. Though prosecutors recommended a month in jail for Simpson because of the severity of the beating, the judge in the case simply gave him community service, which Simpson completed at a golf course.

“Not to dredge it up again, but more or less, talk about how things can get distorted to such a point that you are portrayed as a bad guy. New Year’s Eve, you had too much to drink…” Firestone said, with Simpson interrupting him to say, “My wife and I have been together for 12 years and when I look at it, it really wasn’t that big of a fight. But because of it being New Year's Eve, because it's 3 o'clock in the morning, just finished a big party. It got a little loud”, finishing the lie with a laugh.

And then Firestone ramped up the idolatry: “Here’s my point. The point I’m making, Juice…it got to such a point that you were portrayed in the press for a while there like a wife beater!” Simpson says that bothered him and bothered his family, that no one was hurt and it was "no big deal."

A little later, another clip is shown from the interview, with Firestone asking about the kind of public and corporate reaction Simpson got and gushing about how "extremely well-involved" Simpson is in the business world, listing some of the companies he was partnered with.

Twitter was rightfully very tough on Firestone, including some current ESPN personalities:

That Roy Firestone interview is so horribly embarrassing. #ojmadeınamerica

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 15, 2016

@karenehowell Roy Firestone telling O.J., "the media portrayed you as a wife beater?!"was the worst line in a truly horrible interview.

— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) June 15, 2016

That ESPN interview of OJ by Roy Firestone is disgusting. The exact opposite of journalism. #OJMadeInAmerica

— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) June 15, 2016

Roy Firestone should’ve had that interview destroyed decades ago. That was awful. #OJMadeInAmerica

— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) June 15, 2016

As it turns out, Firestone addressed the interview on Twitter last month. Apparently ESPN had randomly shown the old clip; Firestone took to Twitter to try to explain the interview.

ESPN is showing my interview w/ OJ TWO years BEFORE the murder.I asked him about his DV rumor, he denied it. I wish I knew what would happen

— Roy Firestone (@RoyFirestone) May 12, 2016

No one feels dirtier in the OJ interviews than me. I asked him about his DV rumor 2 years b4 the murders.He denied it. Wish I knew future.

— Roy Firestone (@RoyFirestone) May 12, 2016

Firestone also tweeted that Simpson had never been charged with domestic violence before the murder of Nicole and Ron Goldman, but that wasn't true.

It doesn't look like Firestone tweets too often (his most recent post was on Saturday, on an interview he did with Muhammad Ali), but if he checks the site today, he's going to see a lot written about him that he likely wasn't expecting.

Podcast: 'O.J: Made In America': Assessing ESPN's landmark documentary:

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Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 15, 2016, 2:30 pm

The Baltimore Ravens tried to pass off their attempts to trade offensive tackle Eugene Monroe as a simple football move. Maybe it was. But it's really, really, really hard to believe this had little to do with Monroe's strong stance that the NFL should adopt marijuana as a pain-killing option. 

The Ravens released Monroe on Wednesday, according to an ESPN report.

After trade talks with Giants fell through, Ravens released OT Eugene Monroe, per sources. Now free agent. NYG, SD, SEA could have interest.

— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 15, 2016


The Ravens wanted everyone to know the decision to trade Monroe was all about his injury history and the team drafting offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley in the first round. But they've known about Monroe's injury issues for a long time and they drafted tackle Ronnie Stanley almost two months ago. Yet, in mid-June the Ravens were suddenly in a rush to dump Monroe.

In late May, Monroe wrote a long piece for The Player's Tribune advocating marijuana instead of the powerful painkillers NFL teams offer their players. He has discussed the issue often on Twitter the past few weeks. The Ravens never supported him, and according to ESPN Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, "I promise you, he does not speak for the organization."

On June 10, Monroe tweeted this:

@Ravens continue to distance themselves from me and my cause. I invite you all to do some research. I won't stop. This is for my brothers

— Eugene Monroe (@MrEugeneMonroe) June 10, 2016

On Tuesday, reports surfaced that the Ravens were trying to trade him.

Monroe has had various injuries that have caused him to miss 15 games the past two seasons. And Stanley is a great left tackle prospect. But again, it's incredibly tough to believe that this was a run-of-the-mill football decision. It's not like the Ravens woke up in June and suddenly realized Monroe has dealt with a lot of injuries the past two seasons, and then decided because of those injuries they needed to place an artificial deadline on extracting him from the organization. The Ravens aren't struggling with the salary cap (more than $7 million in room) and it's not like extra salary-cap room helps much in June. The Ravens just wanted Monroe gone, and were in a hurry to get rid of him as well.

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Monroe has been a good left tackle when healthy. The Ravens gave Monroe a five-year, $37.5 million contract in 2014 after trading for him from the Jacksonville Jaguars the season before. Things change in the NFL. Monroe, mostly because of injury issues, didn't live up to the contract. He was discussed as a possible cap casualty early in the offseason, so it's not like it's a shock the Ravens reportedly got rid of him. But the Ravens held on to the 29-year-old through the offseason. The cap savings for cutting Monroe aren't tremendous. The Ravens get about $4.3 million in savings this year and have $4.4 million in dead money next year.

Maybe this is just a football move and Monroe being outspoken about painkiller use in the NFL and advocating marijuana is a tiny part of this decision. Maybe.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab


Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 15, 2016, 2:22 pm

ESPN’s five-part documentary, “O.J.: Made in America” continued with Part 2 on Tuesday night, and here are some highlights and wow moments from the second installment (our review of the full series is here):

Black community leaders felt O.J. Simpson was "a lost cause.” The issue of race is the most compelling part of this entire series: the history of race relations in Los Angeles, particularly with law enforcement; Simpson essentially shunning the African-American community at a time, during the height of the Civil Rights movement, when his voice could have made a huge impact; how blacks and whites viewed Simpson after the murder trial.

As his star rose, Simpson made it clear he would not become involved, and even those in his inner circle wondered how and why he worked so hard to reject his heritage. We see clips of Simpson saying that he’s not black, he’s O.J. or that he doesn’t see race, but it is entirely possible that Simpson could have helped the black community while also having white friends and doing business with corporate America, which of course was basically all-white at the time.

Los Angeles activist Danny Bakewell says, “O.J. was one of those things you dismissed; the brother’s a lost cause.”

“I don’t know that he felt that he was sacrificing the way other people thought he was, but you’re sacrificing who you are. Who you were raised to be,” Simpson’s former agent Mike Gilbert said. “Did he see everything happening in South Central? Yeah. Did he want that to be who he was, who he identified with? No. He stayed in Brentwood.”

One of Simpson’s daughters drowned as a toddler, but he never discussed the tragedy in depth. Simpson and his first wife, Marguerite, had three children: Arnelle, Jason and Aaren. A few months after their divorce became final, and just before her second birthday, Aaren drowned in the pool at the family’s house in Brentwood.

Childhood friend Joe Bell says Simpson blamed Marguerite for the accident, and another friend, Robin Greer, says, “he got rid of that memory when he got rid of that wife.”

Simpson was already involved with Nicole Brown when Aaren died.

As good as he was at carrying a football, Simpson was that bad at swinging a golf club. Simpson was terrible at golf, and he cheated too. One day, his tee shot on the first hole goes into the trees, and his friend, Joe Kolkowitz, followed him to help him find his ball. Miraculously, Simpson “finds” his ball, sitting on top of a tee, and tries to play it off that the ball actually came to rest on the tee.

Cheating has always been a no-no in golf, but his friends telling the story repeat a familiar refrain throughout these movies: because of Simpson’s charm, his friends let him get away with it.

Simpson’s sense of entitlement included women. “He was an incorrigible womanizer. He just never stopped,” friend Thomas McCollum III says.

“I think O.J. felt entitled to whatever O.J. wanted,” friend Robin Greer says, after revealing that Simpson made multiple sexual advances toward her. Greer says most of Simpson and Nicole’s major fights were over his affairs with other women, and Simpson didn’t do much to hide them, if anything.

According to Greer, Simpson blamed Nicole for his affair with video vixen Tawny Kitaen, because Nicole, according to O.J., got “fat” while she was pregnant. And as we know, that’s not even close to the worst thing Simpson did to his second wife.

Et tu, Roy Firestone? There are few individuals who didn’t make excuses for Simpson, and that apparently includes Emmy Award-winning sports commentator Firestone. On the old ESPN interview show, “Sports Look,” Firestone brought up the Dec. 31, 1988 incident in which Simpson beat Nicole so badly she needed hospital treatment; he also threatened to kill her (Nicole called police, the ninth time she had done so).

Firestone presented it as though it was Simpson who was the victim, and Simpson gladly took the opportunity to go right along with him. “Not to dredge it up again, but more or less, talk about how things can get distorted to such a point that you are portrayed as a bad guy. New Year’s Eve, you had too much to drink …” Firestone said, with Simpson interrupting him to say, “it wasn’t that big of a fight,” playing along with the notion that he was just Poor O.J. stuck in a bad situation.

And then Firestone ramped up the idolatry: “Here’s my point. The point I’m making, Juice ... you were portrayed in the press for a while there like a wife beater!”

Even Nicole made excuses for Simpson on occasion; when Hertz considered cutting ties with its star pitchman, former Hertz CEO Frank Olson says Nicole called him to say things had been blown out of proportion. But if you’re familiar with the behavior of abusers and their victims, that’s not unheard of; as Greer says, Simpson was “obsessed with controlling” Nicole.

And at least one judge was no better. When Simpson finally got in some trouble for abusing Nicole, his “punishment” was community service, which he performed at a golf course, organizing a celebrity golf tournament. Really taught Ol’ O.J. a lesson there.

Part 3 of "O.J.: Made in America" airs Wednesday night at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 15, 2016, 11:15 am

OXNARD, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff has had a lot of firsts recently. He took part in his first NFL practice. He threw out the first pitch at a Dodger game (and ended his feud with Yasiel Puig). He signed his first NFL contract. And Tuesday, he took his first snaps with the first-team offense.

After spending the first seven of the Rams’ organized team activities learning the offense, the No. 1 overall pick spent a substantial amount of time Tuesday with the Rams’ starters during full-team drills.

“It was fun to get out there,” Goff said. “It felt good. It didn’t feel much different than the last few days. It’s just a different group of guys. It’s exciting. I hope to, over time, build my relationship with them. It went well.”

Goff’s teammates Tuesday included running back Benny Cunningham, tight end Corey Harkey and wide receiver Bradley Marquez. Running back Todd Gurley, whose 1,106 rushing yards earned him AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, was given the day off, but looked on in street clothes. Case Keenum, who started six games last season, also received first-team reps. Jared Goff took the majority of first-team reps at Tuesday's OTA. (AP)

Goff admitted that it was challenging at first to recognize and react to the different looks defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ unit threw at him.

“One play is never like the next with them,” Goff said. “They do it well. It’s tough for the offense, even playing them everyday in practice, to keep recognizing the looks in and of itself more quickly, that sort of thing. I was practicing well. I was definitely picking it up. … As you practice in front of it more, you’re able to recognize it quicker.”

And Goff knows the reps he’s getting against the first team in OTAs will pay off down the line as he enters his first NFL season.

“In the long run I think it’s going to be very beneficial and something to look back on and be like, ‘Wow, I saw all that early on, I recognize it now.’”

Goff said he’s becoming more confident every day and was in control Tuesday, with no major miscues aside from one errant interception thrown toward the end of practice. He had a highlight-reel worthy moment when he threw a long pass to wide-open receiver Michael Thomas for a sure touchdown, but Thomas dropped the easy catch.

“It’s a higher speed, especially with the first-team defense,” he said. “But I think, as time went on with the past eight practices, it starts to slow down a bit more. You get more comfortable and you see stuff more often, you see the looks and it starts to slow down.”

The Rams finish up their OTAs this week and will have some time off before picking up practice again in July. Goff isn’t taking his foot off the pedal, though. After making some time to visit family, Goff said he will return to Los Angeles to work out and connect with his teammates.

“That’s the good thing about living in L.A.,” he said. “People want to stay here in the summer.”



Author: Jackie Bamberger
Posted: June 15, 2016, 12:05 am

NFL teams are nowhere near as progressive as some high school or college football operations, but the league might be catching up finally on breaking down a long-held belief.

Namely that you don't chase points; you go for two-point conversions only out of necessity.

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If it was up to Ben Roethlisberger, they'd do it every time. Yes, even when they didn't have to.

Ben Roethlisberger says he would like to go for 2 points after every TD in 2016, and he and Mike Tomlin have discussed it.

— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) June 14, 2016

Yes, necessity is the mother of invention. The Pittsburgh Steelers had an awful kicking situation last season, and it forced them to go for it 11 times (they were successful eight times, for a strong completion rate of 72.7 percent). The next most attempts in the NFL last season was six, by the Green Bay Packers.

Five teams did not attempt any two-point tries in the regular season. Of those five, three — the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers — made it all the way to the conference title game. The Denver Broncos, who won the Super Bowl title, attempted one two-point try (and missed, of course).

Being progressive and forgoing extra-point attempts naturally does not beget success in and of itself, of course, and being good at converting two-point attempts or going for it all the time is a guarantee for nothing. But it's a matter of playing the odds. With extra points moved back to the 15-yard line, those tries went from a more-than 99 percent probability to around 94. Meanwhile, two-point tries have hit at higher than a 47 percent rate over the past several seasons, so it makes sense — especially when your kicker is weak — to go for two.

Why not do it every time? Big Ben is down if you are. For an offense as prolific as the Steelers could be this season, it might be the difference of a handful of points over the course of the season.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 14, 2016, 8:19 pm

It wasn't too long ago that at this time of year, only a handful of draft picks around the league were under contract.

It was a dumb tradition. Picks and teams would wait and wait and wait and wait, hoping someone else would set the market first. Agents were worried about setting the market too low, so teams usually waited until July before a flurry of draft pick signings. We'd wonder right up until the first practice if a team's first-round pick would sign in time to be on the field. Sometimes they wouldn't. Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell didn't sign until Sept. 12, a few days following the regular-season opener, after being drafted first overall in 2007. The good old days, I suppose.

The latest collective-bargaining agreement and its slotted system for draft picks ruined all of that, or so we thought. Some like to think San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa is a throwback-type player, and heck, maybe he is based on his contract holdout.

Yes, we have an honest-to-goodness rookie contract holdout. It feels good, like seeing an old episode of that corny sitcom you liked back when. Bosa, the third pick of this year's draft, isn't participating in this week's minicamp because, unlike most draft picks, he hasn't signed yet.

“We’re disappointed he’s not here,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. “This is a big part of the learning process for all players, not just rookies. But there is part of a business to this too, and we understand that. It’s part of being a professional athlete."

Bosa is the only draft pick of the top 19 who hasn't signed. This isn't supposed to happen anymore (and rarely does), so what's the holdup?

Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that it's mostly over offset language. Bosa's side wants no offset language in the deal basically, they want the Chargers to pay all of Bosa's salary, even if he's cut in his first four years and signs with another team and the Chargers have included offset language in every major deal the past few years, including with their first-round draft picks. So there's a standoff.

It seems like the two sides could figure this out and get Bosa into minicamp, considering almost every other pick seems to be able to figure it out (last year, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota didn't sign until just before training camp based on an offset language dispute, so it's not unheard of). But this is part of the business side of the game. Consider it a callback to a simpler time in the NFL, when rookie holdouts were just part of the summer.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 14, 2016, 8:17 pm

Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden hurt his elbow over Memorial Day weekend. He decided to go about his business, including practicing with the team for a few days.

As it turns out, he was practicing with a fracture. McFadden let the team know after the elbow was still an issue a couple weeks after he hurt it.

"It still bothered him," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "He told our training staff at the end of the week. Then in the physical [Monday] it was determined he has a break in his elbow." 

Darren McFadden will miss a couple months after surgery for a broken elbow (AP)McFadden had surgery Tuesday morning and will be out "at least a couple months," Garrett said. Garrett added the team still thinks McFadden will return to participate in some of training camp in August.

Garrett said that McFadden suffered the injury at home, but didn't give details. Running backs coach Gary Brown later told Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News that McFadden hurt his elbow because he was trying to avoid dropping his cell phone. Ouch.

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McFadden is coming off a 1,000-yard season last year, but the Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick to take his starting spot.

McFadden missing the start of training camp probably eliminates any small chance he had to retain the starting role. The Cowboys will still have depth if McFadden is slow to heal because they signed former Washington Redskins back Alfred Morris this offseason.

When McFadden returns, at least the Cowboys will know he's willing to practice and play through a significant injury.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 14, 2016, 5:04 pm

Until it was announced that Bruce Smith would join him on Sept. 15, Jim Kelly had been the only Buffalo Bills player to have his jersey number retired by the franchise. Some historic franchises such as the Chicago Bears have retired as many as 13 players’ numbers; others with rich traditions, such as the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders, have zero retired numbers.

But it’s impossible to write the history of the long moribund Bills franchise without the name Orenthal James Simpson somewhere on the first page. So even with five other Bills players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who spent the majority of their careers in Buffalo it’s a bit stunning that Simpson’s number was never retired at any point after his retirement from football. 

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Before Smith and Kelly arrived, Simpson unquestionably was the greatest Bills player ever. He still might be to some. But those thoughts are somewhat hushed and often conflicted now.

Kelly and Smith can joke about it now. Even if it’s still a bit awkward of a punchline years later.

“Bruce goes, ‘You got your number retired and you’re not even the best Buffalo Bill ever,’” Kelly said, via the Buffalo News. “I said, ‘I know, O.J.’s in jail.’ I had to throw that at Bruce. … I thought Thurman [Thomas] should have gotten his number retired before Bruce.”

Kelly was kidding. The audience roared. But some might have cringed when reading the words.

You have to dig to find Simpson’s name on the Buffalo Bills’ official website. Yet he’s a member of the team’s Hall of Fame and Wall of Fame. But you can’t buy a Simpson No. 32 jersey either on the team’s site or on the shop.

Still, those Simpson No. 32 jerseys show up at Bills games every week — and were considered hot collectibles at one point. But then again, O.J. wasn’t named to the franchise’s fan-voted 50th anniversary team in 2009; Thurman Thomas was the pick at running back.

It’s a complicated relationship for sure.

It’s schizophrenic,” said Gene DiFrancesco, a Buffalo native and lifelong Bills fan. “One camp believes he did it and should be taken off the stadium’s Wall of Fame. Another camp is in denial. And the last camp privately loves him, maintained relations and would invite him to their luxury boxes after the trial.”

It, of course, was the double homicide of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in 1994. And the trial that followed, O.J. Simpson being charged for their murders, has since been called the trial of the century. The fact that we’re talking about it more than 20 years later with such fascination, highlighted by FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” and ESPN’s “O.J.: Made in America” 30 For 30 series, which is showing this week, says a lot.

Simpson’s celebrity had a few clear stages. The first came at USC in winning the Heisman Trophy. The second was his Bills career, launched to its height during his epic 1973 season. Then it was his fame on the big screen — as a Hertz pitch man, an NFL analyst and also as a movie star. And, of course, the trial and everything since. It's the last part that's the trickiest to figure out — especially now in his predominant NFL city.

But back in his Buffalo heyday, there were few bigger, more significant athletes to that region than Simpson.

“He was a star,” said Chuck Frawley, the treasurer and past president of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. “He was a big thing for this community. He took a team that was near the bottom and added a lot of life to this area.”

A Buffalo resident the past 50 years, Frawley watched Simpson rise to stardom on an off the field and he was a no-brainer charter member for the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in its first class back in 1991.

“It was a slam dunk,” Frawley said. “There were a couple of absolutes our first year, and he was one of them. O.J. Simpson, Warren Spahn, Bob Lanier, Gilbert Perreault — those were the Mt. Rushmore guys in Buffalo sports history.”

Three years later, Simpson’s ex-wife and companion were killed, changing the narrative for Bills fans. His spot in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame is safe, but it’s not as if it wasn’t up for debate.

“We talked about removing him, yes,” Frawley admitted. “It wasn’t something we agonized over, but it did come up before it was dismissed. We said, ‘Hey, he’s in based on his athletic achievements and that’s what our organization is about.’ Does it tarnish it a little bit? Sure. But we’re not going to take him out.

“We may perhaps downplay him. We don’t necessarily put him high on the list when we’re talking about who our Hall of Famers are. He’s not at the top of the list on our promotional items, let’s put it that way.”

After all, it’s possible that Simpson killed two people, even after he was found not guilty in a court of law (though later found guilty in a civil trial). That’s what ultimately has made his relationship with the Bills so complex.

As the ESPN feature has shown so far, Simpson was eventually viewed as a savior to long-suffering Bills fans. And as this quote from an NFL executive to Sports Illustrated’s John Underwood at the end of the 1975 season showed, Simpson’s impact on Buffalo and the Bills franchise — even as he neared the twilight of his career there — couldn’t be overstated:

“Simpson is the first athlete since Babe Ruth to have a stadium built for him [the 80,020-seat Rich Stadium in Buffalo], and when they filled it they filled it for Simpson, not the mediocre team the Bills had then. They still fill it for Simpson.”

It can be a bit of a hardscrabble existence in western New York, and the 1990s were a strange time there. As the Kelly-led Bills reached unseen heights for the franchise (but never winning the big one), the area felt like a bit of a national dumping ground. Unemployment rates rose well beyond the national average in 1992, approaching 10 percent. Then came three national stories of ignominy with direct local ties that dragged the area even more into the dirt.

John Wayne Bobbitt, a resident of nearby Niagara Falls, had his penis cut off by his wife in 1993 in an international joke of a story. Simpson took the national and international spotlight the following year. And in 1995, Timothy McVeigh (from nearby Pendleton, N.Y.) became famous after he was arrested and eventually convicted and executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured several hundred more.

Even with Simpson’s acquittal that fall, this local infamy felt like something of a cruel joke. It wasn’t exactly cool to be from Buffalo.

“We’ve had it hard. That city had has it hard,” said Michael Krajacic, chapter president of the Bills Backers of Syracuse. "People suffer for so long, and it changes them. [It] changes how they see things."

Krajacic, 63, grew up watching “every game, every play” of Simpson’s career. For the first 30 years of the franchise history, one name was above all others, he said.

“We didn’t have the Super Bowls yet, either, so he was what we were clinging to,” Krajacic said.

But even with the team’s success and with Simpson’s trial in the early-to-mid 1990s, Krajacic said he and his closest of Bills fans only grew stronger in their support of their hero.

“We were staunchly behind him in the trial,” Krajacic said. “Twenty years ago, we were a lot younger and he was an ultimate hero. To this point, we can still make the case that he was innocent of the murders and that it was a setup. We have investigated all kinds of theories, where drugs were involved and this and that.

“I believe that there’s still the possibility that he’s not guilty.”

The possibility — loaded words indeed. Krajacic almost seems to personify the ambivalence that exists in many other Bills fans’ hearts, especially the ones of his generation. There are scores of Bills fans now who were not even alive when Simpson played; they only know him from the trial or from the recent TV series. But for those of a certain age, Simpson at one point represented a beacon of light in dark times.

When Simpson was arrested in 2007 and eventually convicted for his role in a Las Vegas robbery at the hotel room of a sports memorabilia dealer, Krajacic’s thoughts did change a bit, although not completely.

“At this point in time, it seems like he’s in jail for fighting for his reputation,” Krajacic said. “He just went a little bit overboard. He’s a hero, but he’s a fallen hero.”

Simpson does come up in discussion occasionally, Krajacic said, when he and his group meets weekly during the football season to watch games. Especially now, following the 20th anniversaries of the murder and the trial, and the big-production television series that have followed.

But even with the conflict in his and others’ minds, Krajacic stands behind the man who helped build Buffalo Bills football and he believes that most want to believe Simpson was innocent of the murders.

“I think there’s a desire to think that way for most of them. Some of them are more realistic than others,” he said laughing, “but I am not one of them.”

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: June 14, 2016, 5:00 pm

For a while, it looked like another lost year for Baltimore Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman. Initial reports of torn ACLs rarely turn out to be nothing major at all.

But that's what happened with Perriman, the Ravens' 2015 first-round pick who didn't play last season because of knee issues. There was a report he had a partially torn ACL, but ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Tuesday doctors found there was actually no tear and the ACL was stable. Perriman got a stem-cell injection and is supposed to be ready for the regular season.

That's great news for a Ravens team that probably had started to resign itself to being without Perriman for another season. It also has to be a relief for Perriman because it's hard to stay relevant after one lost season, much less two of them.

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Perriman still has a long way to go before the Ravens can expect much out of him. His time as an NFL player has been filled with injury issues, and the latest knee problem that brought fears of a torn ACL happened in a non-contact drill.

Whenever he is healthy enough to practice, he'll be starting mostly from square one as an NFL receiver because he hasn't been able to stay on the practice field for any extended amount of time. It's also possible that Perriman won't have the same explosion and speed that caused him to be a first-round pick, after all his knee problems.

But at least Perriman should get on the field and show what he can do this season. That's much better news than anyone could have expected after the initial report about his knee.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 14, 2016, 4:32 pm

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez is a star in the world of futbol, but he still freaked out a bit when he met a star from the world of football, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.

Check out Chicharito's reaction when Watt stopped by the Mexican National Team's practice before its Copa America match against Venezuela on Monday. 

That feeling when you realize you're about to meet J.J. Watt.

We see you @CH14_. 😳 #SomosTexans

— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) June 13, 2016

The clip of Hernandez, seemingly awestruck as he spells out his nickname for Watt as he signs a jersey, is hilarious when you realize again that Chicharito is an all-time great in Mexican soccer history, on the verge of breaking Mexico's all-time record for goals

"Mexican nickname sorry" CHICHARITO IS SO CUTE

— lara (@holaniallers) June 13, 2016

Un sueño hecho realidad… Gracias @JJWatt !!!

A dream come true… Thank you @JJWatt !!!

— Chicharito Hernandez (@CH14_) June 13, 2016

And Hernandez returned the favor to Watt after Monday's game.

Gracias mi amigo! @CH14_

— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) June 14, 2016

The whole team seemed to be happy to meet the three-time NFL defensive player of the year, who will be playing a game in Mexico this season as part of the NFL's International Series.

Hey, @miseleccionmx, let us introduce you to @JJWatt.

We think you'll like him. #SomosTexans


— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) June 13, 2016

It just goes to show that even if you're a big star in one sport, you can still act like a wide-eyed fan when you meet a star of another sport.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 14, 2016, 2:39 pm

The news may not not be so bad for Baltimore Ravens receiver Breshad Perriman.

On Saturday, it was reported that Perriman suffered a partially torn ACL in his left knee on Thursday during one of the Ravens' OTA practices, as he was catching a pass; it was a non-contact injury. Perriman didn't immediately know anything was wrong; he complained of swelling on Friday, leading to an MRI and discovery of the injury.

On Monday, Perriman visited renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews and according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Perriman's exam revealed he may not have a "significant" ACL tear and that he will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday. 

Further, Schefter reported, there's "absolutely" a chance Perriman could play in the 2016 season.

If he does take the field this year, it would mark his first-ever NFL snaps: the 26th overall pick in the draft last year, Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a partial PCL tear in his right knee.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 14, 2016, 12:43 am

Von Miller and his agents just perked up.

As Miller and the Denver Broncos argue over guaranteed money, Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox just reset the market. Cox got a six-year, $103 million contract with $63 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. That's historic; it's the most guaranteed money for any non-quarterback in NFL history.

Miller was offered six years and $114.5 million but rejected that over guaranteed money, Yahoo's Charles Robinson reported. Miller's gripe is the Broncos offered just $38.5 million guaranteed, and that's the only number that matters in NFL contracts. Cox just got $24.5 million more guaranteed than that. And he doesn't have a Super Bowl MVP award, like Miller does. Cox has been to the Pro Bowl just one time, compared to four Pro Bowls for Miller, and Miller has two All-Pro selections. Cox has never been a first-team All Pro. You'd have to think Broncos general manager John Elway will be reminded of all that soon.

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Fletcher Cox got $63 million guaranteed from the Eagles (AP)Cox is a very, very good player. He has been fantastic as a 3-4 defensive end, and can be dominant as a tackle in the 4-3 defense the Eagles want to run this season. Cox has 22 sacks in four seasons, including 9.5 last season.

Cox better be dominant for his contract; his guaranteed money surpasses the $60 million the Buffalo Bills gave tackle Marcell Dareus and the $60 million the Miami Dolphins gave Ndamukong Suh. Those were the two highest deals for a defensive player, in terms of guaranteed money, according to Spotrac. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton got $60 million guaranteed, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson got $61 million guaranteed.

Cox's contract is going to be one that all elite defensive players point to going forward. He got paid like a franchise quarterback after one Pro Bowl in four years. It's a landmark deal, another in a long line of 2016 contracts that have reset the market at just about every position.

And it's a good bet Miller is well aware of the terms of Cox's deal.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: June 13, 2016, 10:57 pm

The Carolina Panthers are looking to win a fourth straight NFC South title (AP)This offseason, Greg Cosell and Frank Schwab will explore key questions for each of the 32 NFL teams in "The Shutdown" podcast, going team-by-team for each division over eight episodes. Links to previous division preview podcasts are at the end of this post.

The Carolina Panthers have won the NFC South three years in a row, and they'll be favored to win it again this season. One reason is the Panthers have one of the most creative offenses in the NFL, and we talk about the unique scheme in the latest episode of "The Shutdown" podcast.

We talked about all four NFC South teams in the podcast, and there are interesting story lines for each of them. The New Orleans Saints have to fix their defense. The Atlanta Falcons have to figure out what went wrong after a fast start last year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are building around an intriguing young quarterback, Jameis Winston. And those three teams are all chasing Carolina.

We talked about all of those things and more in the latest episode:

Previous division preview podcasts:

NFC East

AFC East

NFC North

AFC North

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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.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: June 13, 2016, 8:06 pm

Nate Robinson is trying out with the Seahawks (Getty Images)It's been well over a decade since Nate Robinson played in a competitive football game, but he has harbored an NFL dream and seems intent on pursuing it.

The three-time NBA Dunk Contest champion and 11-year NBA veteran is trying out with the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, according to Master Tefatsion and Mark Maske of the Washington Post. He is trying out as a defensive back.

Robinson is a Seattle native, a two-sport star at Rainier Beach High in the city, and stayed in state for high school, attending Washington. He played both football and basketball for the Huskies his freshman year, playing in all 13 football games and starting six. He recorded two interceptions and also six kick returns (17.2 yards per return), but gave up the sport to focus on basketball.

His tryout with the Seahawks is Robinson's first with an NFL team. Earlier this year, the 5-foot-9 32-year old announced that he would attempt to become the first player to play in both the NBA and NFL.

UPDATE: Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times reports that Robinson's workout is over, and the Seahawks are not expected to sign him at this time but will keep him on their radar.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: June 13, 2016, 7:52 pm

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