A few days after Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested for discharging a firearm in public, the team has reportedly made a decision about his status moving forward.
According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN, the Packers have “no plans to release” Quarless, who is entering his sixth season with the franchise.
Quarless was arrested in the early morning hours of July 4 for allegedly firing two shots in the air outside a parking garage in Miami Beach, Fla., during an argument with two women, resulting in the misdemeanor charge.
After firing the shots, police say Quarless and another man fled the scene, but were soon located a few blocks away from the scene outside of a restaurant. According to the arrest affidavit, Quarless tried to hide the firearm “in a nearby plant,” but an officer was able to locate it.
According to Demovsky’s report, the gun was “legally registered” to Quarless, who has since been released from custody.
In a statement, the team said it was “aware of the matter” and “in the process of gathering more information.”
Even if the Packers don’t part ways with Quarless, who had 29 catches for 323 yards and three touchdowns in 11 starts last season, he could still be disciplined by the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy.
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When it comes to athletes and sex, fans are naturally curious — especially when they date other very public figures.
In Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and pop singer Ciara you have the perfect mashup to get the Internet buzzing about what they're up to. But Wilson dropped a mini-bomb on Sunday in an appearance at The Rock Church in San Diego when he said, about midway through a lengthy interview, that he and his celebrity girlfriend are remaining abstinent.
Here's how Wilson came upon the story to host and pastor Miles McPherson, a former NFL player:
“I remember she was on tour, she was traveling. I was looking at her in the mirror. She was in the dressing room getting ready to go before she went on stage, and she was sitting there, and God spoke to me and said, ‘I need you to lead her.’
"And I was like, ‘Really?’ And he was like, ‘No, I want you to lead her.’ So I told her, ‘What would you do if we took all of that extra stuff off the table and just did it Jesus’ way?’ And she was relieved.'"
Here's the whole interview with the parts in question occurring around the 24-minute mark:
Later, when McPherson asked Wilson what he meant by "extra stuff," he said sex. Later, he had a funny line when Wilson said, “I ain’t going to lie to you all now. I need you all to pray for us. I know you’ve seen her on the screen. If there’s a 10, she’s a 15.”
That made the church crowd in attendance laugh. And it made the Internet giggle. Nothing gets the masses' juices flowing like celebrity relationships, and if you mix in strong religious faith and — let's face it — sex, people lose their minds. Either in stauch defense or shocked disbelief, it seems.
That's the risk Wilson and other athletes who proclaim such things are running: They put themselves out there for mockery, and even with the adulation he'll get from the Christian community for this, there also will be odd backlash.
With any pro-religious stance, the question is why people care in the first place. Why should Wilson — and heck, look at Tim Tebow and Lolo Jones — be chided for his faith? All because he doesn't have premarital sex with his girlfriend?
It has been quite a year for Wilson. Guy throws the Super Bowl-ending interception on the goal line. He goes down to spring training (again) and sparks a debate about his looming contract status. Now this Ciara deal, which has people all hot and bothered. What's next?
Tebow struck a strong nerve with his strong religious faith, and Wilson might be entering that territory the more he opens up about his personal life the way he did Sunday. But cheers to a young man who is comfortable in his own skin to admit such a thing when it's easy to keep that to himself. Wilson is outspoken in his faith and he told a very personal story to back it up. That takes guts, and it's not for everyone.
So please, lay off the guy a bit for putting himself out there, will you?
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Beckham went on to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and is putting in the work this offseason to build off his huge first season as a pro. Miami Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry, Beckham’s teammate at LSU, posted a video on Instagram Monday that shows Beckham is in midseason form even in July.
Check out these awesome catches:
Beckham hauled in 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, breaking a number of NFL and Giants rookie records in the process.
The Giants certainly hope he can match (or even surpass) those numbers in 2015.
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Earlier we brought you the news of New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and his July 4 firework accident that injured his hand and later spun it forward to speculate if the team could pull his franchise-tag designation in light of this non-football injury.
Now there's more news: According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Giants have removed what had been a standing offer for a long-term contract — a $60 million extension — as the two sides had been negotiating a new deal with JPP shackled under the franchise tag.
What does it mean?
Consider this a leverage move by the Giants, but ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Pierre-Paul's status is in some real question.
There’s concern Jason Pierre-Paul could miss training camp, start of regular season, per team source; team still awaiting more medical info.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 6, 2015
Although we don't know if he can make a full recovery, or whether Pierre-Paul will miss regular-season time, but assuming that the long-term prognosis is good the Giants are still likely to want him back. They just might not want to pay him as much money, especially if he misses games.
When you consider recent deals given to the New Orleans Saints' Cameron Jordan (five years, $55 million) and the St. Louis Rams' Robert Quinn (four years, $57 million), Pierre-Paul and his camp likely were going to start the bidding much higher than that.
You'd have to think the agent will start with this argument: The franchise tender is $14.8 million, and getting tagged again in 2016 could cost the Giants a 20 percent kicker for $17.76 million. Right there, that's a total of $32.56 million guaranteed the next two seasons, and an average value per season of $16.28 mil. So even a four-year, $60 million deal would fall short of that average-per-year mark.
If the Giants are pulling the $60 million offer — we don't know the other terms of it — then you can tell they either view this as a leverage position or truly are worried about Pierre-Paul returning to health (or perhaps being more accountable).
Rapoport's report suggest that this shouldn't have too big an affect on the negotiations because Pierre-Paul, 26, had no intention of signing the deal, viewing himself as one of the rising pass rushers in the NFL. But we'd counter that the Giants have a motive in this line of thinking, and whatever it is it involves saving money.
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The Giants placed the franchise tag on Pierre-Paul, their best pass rusher, this offseason, but the two sides have not come to an accord on a long-term deal. There have been a few tense moments over whether it will be done. And now the Giants could opt to rescind the franchise tender.
That's right: The CBA states that teams are allowed to pull a franchise-tag designation when a player fails to “establish or maintain his excellent physical condition,” which might include not allowing pyrotechnics to go off in a player's hand.
We shall see if the Giants opt to do that. It might depend on Pierre-Paul's immediate diagnosis and his version of what happened on Independence Day. Can't imagine Tom Coughlin was too thrilled when he heard this story ... although imagining his side of the initial phone conversation, now that we believe JPP will avoid serious injury, might be slightly amusing.
Although losing out on a one-year tender offer of a fully guaranteed $14.8 million can be viewed as a blow, the glass-half-full person might look at it and say that JPP technically could hit the market and perhaps land a better — and longer-term — deal elsewhere as a free agent.
But the most likely option is for the Giants to place Pierre-Paul on the non-football injury (NFI) list, which would keep the team from having to pay his salary. Here's that section of the CBA:
A player on N-F/I who is in the final year of his contract (including an option year) will have his contract tolled. However, if the player is physically able to perform his football services on or before the sixth regular season game, the club must pay the player his negotiated Paragraph 5 Salary (pro rata) for the balance of the season in order to toll such player’s contract. If such player is taken off N-F/I during the period when such action is allowed by League rules, his contract will not be tolled.
Either way, JPP likely hasn't helped himself with this accident.
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Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was arrested in Miami Beach over the weekend for allegedly firing two gunshots in the air during an argument.
The incident reportedly occurred around 5 a.m. Saturday outside of a parking garage and Quarless has been charged with discharging a firearm in public, a misdemeanor.
Miami Beach Police say a witness reported that Quarless was riding in a black Porsche with three other people around 5 a.m. Saturday when they pulled up to a car full of women. An arrest affidavit says the football player and another man approached the car. It said the conversation eventually escalated and the witness told authorities he heard the women yelling for Quarless and his friend to leave them alone.
That's when authorities say Quarless, who is entering his sixth season with the Packers, pulled out a handgun and fired two shots in the air. Quarless and the driver of the Porsche fled, but were later found and the gun was recovered, the affidavit states.
The arrest affidavit says that Quarless was discovered a few blocks away from the scene outside a restaurant “attempting to conceal himself and the black firearm in a nearby plant.” Quarless was detained “without incident” and an officer found the gun “hidden within a potted plant.”
The Packers are aware of the incident.
“We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information,” the team said in a statement. “We will withhold further comment.”
The 26-year-old Quarless is entering his sixth season with the Packers after the team selected him in the fifth round of the 2010 draft out of Penn State. He started 11 games last season and registered 29 catches for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
Overall in his career, Quarless has 85 catches for 909 yards and six scores.
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New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will become the cautionary tale of not playing with fireworks.
Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ star defensive end who was given the franchise tag this offseason, reportedly suffered a severe hand injury during a fireworks accident on the Fourth of July holiday.
Andy Slater, a radio host in Miami for 930-AM WINZ, broke the news. Pierre-Paul was born in Deerfield Beach in South Florida and went to the University of South Florida. The report was confirmed by a few other outlets. TMZ later reported the injuries were to “some of his fingers and his thumb.” The injury happened while he was trying to light fireworks and he was treated at a hospital, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the injuries might not be career threatening, and Pierre-Paul might not miss any games as he awaited more clarity from the doctors.
Pierre-Paul has not signed his franchise tender, which is worth about $14.8 million. Pierre-Paul did not attend mandatory minicamp in June, hoping for a long-term deal. The New York Daily News said the Giants technically could rescind the franchise offer, making Pierre-Paul a free agent, but added that is "a highly unlikely move."
Pierre-Paul has 42 career sacks, including 12.5 last season. He’s just 26 years old, and a big-time athlete who is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL when he’s on. He has been a little inconsistent in his career, but he should be just entering his prime and is the cornerstone of the Giants defense.
The Giants and Pierre-Paul now wait to see if his fireworks mishap will affect his career.
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This summer, NFL Films' Greg Cosell will be doing a series of posts for Shutdown Corner taking a deeper look into the finer points of football, explaining how fans can look for the subtle nuances that make the game so interesting beneath the surface.
On Sundays, I usually watch games without taking notes or looking at schemes or searching for details about why plays did or didn't work. I just watch casually. And I know most people watch games that way, and that's great.
But I also love when I come to the NFL Films offices on Monday and start to look at the coaches' film to unlock why certain plays worked or didn't, and what makes players successful or not. Those nuances, to me, are what football is all about.
Since NFL.com introduced the all-22 film (that's the term for the high-angle coaches film you'll see on my posts at Shutdown Corner) on Game Rewind, many serious fans have taken advantage of it. But I've told people, breaking down NFL film isn't something you can do after dinner in 20 minutes. It took a lot of time before I knew what to watch for. Thankfully there are people who taught me various aspects of the game, like former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski teaching me how to watch from a quarterback's viewpoint, or former New England Patriots coach and longtime NFL defensive coordinator Rod Rust explaining defensive concepts. There have been many others I've learned from, and I'm always learning new things.
What I'd like to do in a series of posts here this summer is pass along some of the things I've learned to look for when watching a game. Some things can be picked up by watching the television broadcast — though it can be a challenge because of the tight shots of game play — at the stadium or watching film afterward. My hope is that some of these things help your appreciation of your favorite team, or football in general. I love the intellectual side of the NFL. To me, that's what makes the game great.
Here's an obvious starting point for this post: There are things you can note before the snap on each play. I've watched film for so long, checking for these keys before the ball is snapped has become second nature.
Let's use two plays from the Green Bay Packers' win against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5 last season as examples. This was a second-and-7 at Green Bay's 34, in the first quarter. Here's the first picture of the play I see:
This looks like a typical football formation, but there's so much we can learn just from this one frame.
On offense, the first thing I look at is personnel. There was a player in the fullback position, and I can see right away that's not their normal fullback, John Kuhn (it's tight end Andrew Quarless). Then my eye goes to the fact that they have two split receivers. The Packers often run play-action from this look, though I know that from years of studying coach Mike McCarthy's offense. Then I noticed that the ball is on the right hash and the receiver at the right of the formation, Jordy Nelson, had tighter splits (meaning he was a little closer to the formation) than usual. I'm thinking, if this is a pass, Nelson will run some route that is taking him across the field. He has to get across the field, so he'll take a tighter split. It will take too long to get across the field if he's lined up wider. There was a reason Nelson is there. These are things you pick up the longer you study film.
After I've seen the offensive personnel and formation, I move to the defense. I've worked with Jaworski for years at the NFL Films offices, and he says about his pre-snap process watching film as a former quarterback: "I usually go from safeties to cornerbacks to the linebackers to the line."
I start with the safeties too. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton told me years ago, if you reduce it to simple terms you're trying to see if it's a two-deep safety shell or a single-high safety, and then you look for blitz indicators. The Vikings safeties on this play showed a two-deep shell, which indicated a zone coverage. They could be disguising the coverage because neither safety is that deep. One could drop down right before the snap, in theory. Anything can happen with those safeties, but it was a two-deep shell zone look.
Then look at the corners, especially the corner on the bottom of the screen. They were lined up slightly to the outside of the receivers, which indicated they are anticipating inside help from the safeties. That means it's a zone coverage. Also, at the snap, if cornerbacks turn and face the sideline to push the receiver outside it tells you there's man coverage, and if the cornerbacks turn to face the field it's usually zone. And you can look at the linebackers' first steps; if their first steps are backward it's a zone coverage.
There was no blitz indicator from the Vikings on this play. If corners are playing tight man coverage, that could be a blitz indicator, but they weren't here. The linebackers were stacked behind the line, and that was an indication they would not blitz. It would be different if a linebacker was up on the line of scrimmage or creeping up to it. The safeties showed two-deep shell, and that's not a blitz indicator. Anything can change at the snap because teams will try to confuse the offense, but the Vikings' alignment indicated this was a zone coverage with no blitz. It's hard to blitz out of a two-deep shell, because you have two safeties deep and if you take another defender out of the front seven to blitz there are a lot of voids in the defense.
Keep in mind that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers saw all of this and processed the information in about a second or so. And as we'll see, what he noticed mattered. As it turned out the Packers had a play called to beat the exact defense Rodgers saw.
The Packers went hard run-action to the left, the defense reacted (it was playing quarters zone coverage, with each defensive back being responsible for a deep fourth of the field). The safety to the run side was an "alley" defender, because he had run responsibility and he would run in the alley in run support if it's a handoff. Rodgers faked it, and rolled to the right. Nelson released inside and he ran straight at the safety. The other safety stepped up in run support because of the fake, and also the receiver on the left side ran a route to occupy that safety. Nelson was screaming at safety Harrison Smith, who is a very good player, but couldn't cover Nelson in that situation. Nelson caught a 66-yard touchdown.
That play was designed to beat a zone defense, to get Nelson running at the safety. That's why the first look at the Vikings' alignment, with all the clues of what defense they were running, mattered. There was a play earlier in the first quarter, and Rodgers called an audible to a run to beat a much different defensive look.
That was a lot different alignment by the defense. This appeared to be man-to-man coverage with a free safety, called "man free." You know it's man because the three cornerbacks were pressed up on the three receivers. Strong safety Smith was up on the line to the right side of the Packers' formation. The two inside linebackers were lined up hard inside, slightly inside of the guards. It looked like a blitz mostly because of Smith. The way the Vikings aligned should send alerts to your brain: man coverage and potential blitz.
I don't know if the Packers had a run or a pass called — the same touchdown to Nelson we described above probably wouldn't have worked against this man defense, by the way — but Rodgers called an outside zone run to the left. Why? Because the linebackers were hard inside, they couldn't stop Eddie Lacy outside. And it was to the left because Smith was lined up to the Packers' right side. Randall Cobb, from the slot, ran like he might catch a bubble screen and that took the slot cornerback out of run support. The extra defender was the free safety, lined up about 15 yards deep. The Vikings were in trouble before the ball was snapped. Lacy gained 29 yards.
That type of play is why coaches like Arizona's Bruce Arians say they don't want quarterbacks who didn't do anything at the line of scrimmage in college. Rodgers made this run by what he did at the line. If you just casually watched the game you might have thought it was a great play by Lacy, but in reality Rodgers deserved most of the credit for this. Rodgers was able to set up the run by diagnosing the Vikings' defense from the snapshot he got before the snap.
And now you can look for some of the same things before the ball is snapped.
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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.
New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is an extremely rich man, but he's also very generous with his money.
Johnson attended a ceremony on Wednesday in which Army Sgt. Adam Keys, who was wounded by improved explosive devices five years ago in combat in Afghanistan, was given a "smart home" in Annapolis, Md., that allows him to live independently. Johnson gave $1 million to build the houses for Keys and Army Sgt. Bryan Dilberian, who was also wounded by explosive devices in combat. Dilberian's home is being constructed in Staten Island, N.Y. The Newark Star-Ledger wrote about Johnson's amazing gift.
"These veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and deserve a home that supports their specific physical needs, to enable them to live independently," Johnson said in a press release when the donation was announced last year, according to the Star-Ledger.
The homes use special technology so the veterans can manage daily tasks without assistance, the Star-Ledger's story said. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named after a New York firefighter who died in the 9/11 attacks, builds the homes. By the end of the year, 42 of the homes will be finished, under construction or planned, the Star-Ledger said.
On a patriotic holiday weekend, it's great to hear about gestures like Johnson's generous one for wounded veterans.
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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson made an appearance “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Thursday night. Predictably, his contract situation was a point of discussion early on in the interview.
Wilson is in the final year of his rookie contract despite leading Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, and Kimmel asked him if he wants to be the league’s highest-paid player. Wilson made sure to say all the right things.
“I just want to be paid based off my play. It will all work out in the end. We’ll figure it out,” Wilson said.
Wilson is scheduled to be paid $1.5 million in 2015.
Wilson is also an accomplished baseball player and played parts of two seasons of minor league ball in the Colorado Rockies organization after being selected in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB draft.
Wilson obviously decided to pursue football instead, but told Kimmel he would be interested in playing baseball professionally as well. The Texas Rangers currently hold his rights, but if he ends up under the control of the Seattle Mariners, he would “definitely consider” going out for both sports.
Wilson appeared at Rangers’ spring training the past two years and showed he hasn’t lost his power stroke.
Unfortunately for him, Robinson Cano seems to have second base locked down for the time being in Seattle.
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Blake Bortles played great in preseason games in August, then not so great late in the season long after he became the Jacksonville Jaguars' starting quarterback.
There are plenty of reasons, but apparently one that he was dealing with a "dead arm."
General manager Dave Caldwell told USA Today's Tom Pelissero about Bortles' dead arm issue, which makes it seem like Bortles was a starting pitcher in spring training. It's not an injury you hear about too often in football, though it happens. Bortles had shoulder inflammation, but it didn't require surgery. It did require Bortles to change his mechanics just to get velocity on the ball, Caldwell said.
"You've just got to do what you've got to do to survive," Caldwell said. "It wasn't anything that was ingrained in him [mechanically]. He knew he was doing it. But in order to drive the ball 15 yards, there were some things that he needed to do to get the velocity on the ball."
Bortles landed on the injury report in early December for what local media said was a right shoulder sprain.
Bortles' mechanics have been discussed a lot in the offseason. He frequently dropped the ball too low on his release (something pointed out by NFL Films' Greg Cosell here in February). The poor mechanics and/or shoulder issues were reasons Bortles had a 62.8 rating in December and his yards per attempt dipped way down to 4.8 that month. A bad offensive line, little running game and throwing to mostly rookies at receiver were other issues. Bortles finished with 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
Bortles might have had a dead arm by December, but that doesn't explain all the mechanical issues. Bortles often dropped the ball too low when he threw even early in the season; this is from an interception to San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle in Week 4, on Sept. 28:
It's fair to wonder why the Jaguars kept starting Bortles even though they knew he had shoulder issues that were negatively affecting his mechanics, causing bad habits for their potential franchise quarterback that aren't always easy to correct. Jacksonville was 3-13 last season; there wasn't a lot to play for in December. But the good news is that Bortles feels good and reworked his mechanics, USA Today said. He went to visit quarterbacks coach Tom House in California for a week and that stay turned into a two-month visit.
The Jaguars clearly are still excited about Bortles, last year's third overall pick, as they should be. Being able to throw without a cranky shoulder won't hurt Bortles' progress in year two.
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San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, considered a sure-fire Hall of Famer once he retires, was suspended for the first four games of the NFL season for a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
In a statement released via his Twitter feed and the Chargers, Gates blamed the failed test on supplements and holistic medicines:
"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails. I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and never taken any substance that was illegal or banned by the NFL.
“In an effort to recover from a long season and although I was unaware at the time, I regret to confirm that I tested positive for a substance that is currently on the NFL banned substance list. As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions.
“I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."
Gates, who just turned 35 on June 18, will be playing his 13th NFL season. After sitting out the first four games, that is.
The Chargers expressed disappointment but supported Gates in their own statement:
“We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself. Antonio is a member of the Chargers’ family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level.”
The suspension was the fourth the NFL announced on Thursday, right before a three-day holiday weekend. New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (four games), Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain (four games) and Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones (one game) were all suspended for violations of the league's substance-abuse policy. That's three former first-round picks. Gates wasn't drafted but is the biggest star among the group.
Gates revolutionized the tight end position. Gates played basketball at Kent State, but the Chargers signed him. In Gates' second and third NFL seasons he combined for more than 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns. Other teams started looking for college basketball players with little to no college football experience to play tight end, and among the stars who followed Gates' path were Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas.
Gates is one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history, with 10,014 yards and 99 touchdowns. He'll be eligible to return, and try to become the ninth player in league history with 100 receiving touchdowns, on Oct. 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain will miss the first four games of the 2015 season.
The NFL announced that McClain violated the league’s substance abuse policy and in a statement, McClain acknowledged his mistake.
“I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake,” McClain said. “I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error. I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.”
McClain played the first three years of his career with the Oakland Raiders, who picked him No. 8 overall in the 2010 draft. The team released him in April 2013 and McClain signed with the Baltimore Ravens, but he announced his retirement a month later without playing a down for the Ravens.
McClain then came out of retirement and joined the Cowboys last summer after starter Sean Lee was lost for the season with a knee injury. In 13 games, including 12 starts, McClain registered 81 tackles, two interceptions and a sack.
McClain signed a one-year deal in April to stay with Dallas for the 2015 campaign. As a result of his suspension, McClain will miss games against the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, but he is allowed to participate during training camp and the preseason.
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The New York Jets will play the first four games of the 2015 season without one of their best players.
The NFL announced Thursday that defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, the 2013 Defensive Rookie of the Year, was suspended without pay for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for substances of abuse.
According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Richardson was suspended for marijuana use.
The suspension will hold the 6-foot-3, 294-pound Richardson out for the Jets’ games against the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins.
“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans,” Richardson said in a statement. “However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”
Richardson was the team’s first round pick (No. 13 overall) in 2013 and earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season with 67 total tackles and eight sacks.
"This is disappointing for Sheldon and the team,” Jets head coach Todd Bowles said in a statement. “We’re going to support Sheldon and welcome him back upon his return. We will keep moving forward with our preparations for the upcoming season.”
Richardson’s departure creates a big hole on the Jets’ defensive line, a position of strength for the team, but gives first-round pick Leonard Williams a chance to see significant playing time early in the season.
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The Chargers recently posted a job listing for a Tax Manager to deal with “tax reporting and compliance within the organization.” The requirements for the job seem fairly standard for the position. Applicants need a BA in accounting or an MA in taxation, CPA certification and a minimum five years of experience with a CPA firm. Oh and there’s one other thing: “Willing to relocate to the Los Angeles area, if necessary.”
That doesn’t sound too promising for fans who hope the team remains in San Diego.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos, alongside Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, reportedly were in L.A. earlier this week to meet with city officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, about the their “vision for a shared stadium” in Carson, just outside of Los Angeles.
Negotiations between the Chargers and the city of San Diego for a new stadium (replacing Qualcomm Stadium, which opened in 1967) have gone nowhere. The Chargers cited environmental concerns last month when they said a public vote for a new stadium was not feasible. Meanwhile, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the team has not been a “willing partner” in the negotiations.
The proposed stadium for the Chargers and Raiders would cost an estimated $1.7 billion with an approximate completion date of 2019.
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The Washington Redskins are considering a move from their current home of FedEx Field in Maryland. But the Obama administration will not make it an easy process to return to the District of Columbia.
FedEx Field is only 18 years old. Even so, Snyder is looking to get out of the stadium before the team's lease expires in 2026. D.C. owns RFK Stadium, the Redskins' former home and the site of one proposed new stadium. However, the federal government owns the land on which RFK stands, and a report in the Washington Post indicates the name is a significant impediment in allowing the team to return to the District.
According to the Post, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell informed Washington's mayor, Muriel E. Bowser, that the federal government likely would not permit the construction of a new stadium with the team's current name in place. The "Redskins" name has drawn significant heat from protest groups for its racial connotations; team officials and supporters contend that the team's name is indicative of bravery, heritage and tradition.
Jewell has long been a critic of the team's name. “Personally, I think we would never consider naming a team the ‘Blackskins’ or the ‘Brownskins’ or the ‘Whiteskins,’" she said in an ABC interview last fall. "So, personally, I find it surprising that in this day and age, the name is not different."
The District of Columbia leases the RFK Stadium land, as well as surrounding property, from the National Park Service. That lease is scheduled to expire in 22 years. D.C. is competing against Virginia for the possible construction of a new Redskins stadium site.
The debate over the Redskins' name constituted most of the news of the otherwise unremarkable team in 2014. Snyder has denied he would change the name under any circumstance. However, the recent push to remove the Confederate flag from various public locales has demonstrated that even entrenched symbols aren't immune from change or removal, regardless of the heritage and pride those symbols' supporters extol. While the Redskins' name does not carry the same negative connotations, either past or present, as the Confederate flag, the racial nature of the name itself means that it will continue to be a target for change, regardless of Snyder's wishes or demands.
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Former New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes will avoid jail time after pleading guilty to his role in a June hit-and-run crash.
According to the Boston Globe, Spikes entered his guilty plea on Wednesday in Wrentham (Mass.) District Court and was sentenced to a year of probation.
Spikes admitted to leaving the scene after he crashed his Mercedes on Interstate 495 in Foxborough in the early morning hours of June 7. Police found the car crashed and abandoned around 3:20 a.m. and determined that Spikes had rear-ended an SUV, causing minor injuries to the vehicle’s three occupants – a man, a woman and their 12-year-old son.
After the accident, the on-board assistance service in Spikes’ car contacted him when it detected a collision. Police said Spikes told the operator that he hit a deer; police found no evidence of a deer nearby or on the vehicle.
In addition to his year of probation, Spikes was fined for speeding and marked lane violations. His other charges – negligent operation and operating an uninsured vehicle – were “continued without a finding” for one year, meaning he could avoid penalties from those charges if he avoids trouble for a year.
After signing Spikes to a one-year deal on May 18, the Patriots released him a day after the incident. Spikes spent the first four seasons of his career with New England before playing the 2014 campaign with the Buffalo Bills.
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How does a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh sound to you?
The Pittsburgh Steelers officially submitted an application in May to host Super Bowl LVII at Heinz Field in 2023, the team announced. Additionally, Steelers officials met with community leaders Wednesday to discuss the possibility.
“We met this morning with local community leaders to provide an update on formally submitting our application to the NFL to bid for Super Bowl LVII in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania,” said team president Art Rooney in a statement. “The application is an early step in the bidding process, and we will continue to meet with representatives of the Mayor’s Office, County Executive’s Office, VisitPittsburgh, Allegheny Conference as well as other community leaders to review the requirements with the hopes of submitting our bid to host Super Bowl LVII in 2023.”
The application far from guarantees a bid, but the team said it was encouraged by Super Bowl XLVIII, which was held in New Jersey and was the first Super Bowl played outdoors in a northern climate.
Super Bowl XL in 2006 was played indoors in Detroit and Super Bowl LII in 2018 was awarded to U.S. Bank, the new indoor stadium for the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. But would the NFL really go forward with playing its biggest game in potentially frigid conditions? The average high temperature in Pittsburgh in February is 39 degrees – a bit colder than the New York City area, where Super Bowl XLVIII was held without weather becoming an issue.
With the application now submitted, the NFL will meet with Pittsburgh and other interested cities in 2018 to “discuss logistics and venues available.” The Steelers said they are “researching other regions, including sending representatives to Northern cities that have already hosted the game” to prepare for their meeting with the NFL.
If the Steelers get the right to bid on the game, finalists for Super Bowl LVII won’t be decided until October 2018 with the winning city announced in May 2019.
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As evidenced by the two-year, $2.75 million extension James Harrison signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in March, the 37-year-old linebacker is still a valuable contributor to a defense.
A video Harrison posted on his Instagram account Tuesday gives you a glimpse into how he can still play at a high level after 11 seasons as a pro.
That’s two reps of 505 pounds that Harrison is bench pressing. That’s some impressive strength.
Harrison spent the first 10 years of his career in Pittsburgh, earning two Super Bowl rings, a Defensive Player of the Year award, five Pro Bowl nods and two first-team All-Pro selections, before a one-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013.
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It appears that DeSean Jackson still hasn’t gotten over his unceremonious departure from the Philadelphia Eagles.
On the first episode of Jackson’s BET reality show, “DeSean Jackson Home Team,” the Washington Redskins wideout was loud and clear about his former team, which released him last March following his best statistical season as a pro.
"I was at the top of the top. And then I got released. … It was a smear campaign,” Jackson said in the beginning of the show, per ESPN.com. “Things media said about me, I bet you could say that about the majority of people in the NFL. I got a second chance to play in the NFL and I'm proving I'm one of the best receivers in the game."
The “smear campaign” comment presumably is in reference to a report that intimated Jackson had “gang ties” in Los Angeles, which concerned the Eagles. After the report emerged, Jackson acknowledged that he knows people who are involved in gangs, but said he has never been in one.
Kelly and the Eagles said Jackson’s release was a “football decision.”
On his show, Jackson said the Eagles tried to portray him in a negative light.
"When I was released by the Eagles, I feel they tried to paint a picture that definitely wasn't true. It was a slap in the face, coming off one of my best seasons in the NFL," Jackson said on the show.
He then told his friends, "The Eagles tried to blow me up. That's cold how they did it."
To which one unnamed friend said, "Like they tried to persecute you from where you come from, bro."
"That's why I think they fired me. Have I went to jail? ... I ain't done none of that."
Following his release, Jackson stayed in the NFC East and signed with the Redskins. In his first season in Washington, Jackson caught 56 passes for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns, including nine catches, 243 yards and a score in two games combined against the Eagles.
Jackson, who said on his show that he’s the league’s “No. 1 receiver,” has plans to keep putting up big numbers against NFC East teams moving forward.
Also during the show, someone at a racetrack – where Jackson had served as a grand marshal – asked him what he thought about the Cowboys.
"I don't care too much about the Cowboys. I'm called a Cowboy killer," Jackson said. "They call me the Cowboy killer. I'm a Giants killer, I'm a Cowboys killer, now I'm an Eagles killer, too."
In his six seasons in Philadelphia, Jackson registered 356 receptions for 6,117 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also tallied four punt return touchdowns and three scores on the ground.
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The reigning rookie of the year was a highly regarded soccer prospect as a teen before starring as a wide receiver at LSU and now for the New York Giants. And on Friday, he showed that his athleticism also translates to a baseball diamond.
In fact, his performance at a celebrity softball game at Provident Bank Park in Pomona, N.Y., resulted in a rookie contract offer from the Rockland Boulders, a team in the independent Can-Am League.
"It's apparent that Odell is a very gifted athlete regardless of his sport. We think that getting experience pitching to professional hitters will give him the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson,” Shawn Reilly, Boulders General Manager, told The Journal News.
Boulders pitching coach and former Major League pitcher Bobby Jones said the team was “very impressed” with Beckham’s pitching mechanics.
“He’s shown his ability to catch a ball on the gridiron and after seeing his prowess on the mound, I am optimistic that he has the tools to develop into a quality pitcher,” Jones said.
The team said if Beckham is interested, he could join them for spring training next May.
While that sounds like an enticing offer, staying in the NFL sounds like a more fruitful option for the 22-year-old Beckham, who had 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns last season in only 12 games.
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Longtime NFL quarterback Brett Favre is on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated for its “Where Are They Now?” issue.
Favre is now 45 and hasn’t played since 2010, when his two-year stint with the Minnesota Vikings came to an end.
Favre, who donned a Green Bay Packers uniform (one he hadn't worn since 2008) on the cover, says he thinks he could still play. But don’t worry; he’s not planning to come out of retirement this time.
“I think I could,” Favre said. “Of course, we’re not trying to start some he’s-coming-out-of-retirement deal. I say all that because it’s a good thing. Do I think I could play and lead a team? No. But I could play. I could make all the throws I made before. I just couldn’t throw it near as far. That never matters anyway.”
Favre volunteers as a coach for a local high school team, and he says he can still throw the ball 50 yards with no problem, but he can’t launch the ball 80 yards downfield like he used to.
“When I’ll pick up the ball, I’m thinking I’m right back in the Super Bowl,” Favre said. “I can throw it 50 yards as well as anyone but that used to be 80. And in my mind I’m still at 80, but I’m like, ‘Brett, just give it up.”
Favre had a historic 20-year career, 16 of which were spent in Green Bay. He originally announced his retirement in March 2008, but reconsidered and played a year for the New York Jets before finishing out his career in Minnesota. Even at age 40, Favre threw for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2009, leading the Vikings to the NFC title game.
Favre took a ton of brutal hits over the course of his career, and he admitted that’s what keeps him away from the game more than anything.
“I always jokingly tell people, I just don’t want to get hit,” Favre said. “I don’t know if I could get up.”
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Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell is coming off knee and Achilles surgeries, but he’s confident about his ability to produce in a big way in 2015.
How confident is Bell? He guaranteed a career year in an interview with Mlive.com.
“I’m going to rush for over 1,200 yards,” Bell said. “That’s the minimum. If I do less than that, I’ll be surprised. I’ll be disappointed. Anything more than that, I wouldn’t be surprised at all.”
A Lions running back hasn’t reached that total since Barry Sanders put up 1,491 yards in 1998. The 28-year-old Bell is coming off a career-high of 860 yards last season, but that was when he was paired up with Reggie Bush. With Bush now a member of the San Francisco 49ers, Bell has a big opportunity ahead of him to assume every-down duties.
"My first year here I rushed for a few hundred (yards)," Bell said. "Second year, close to (700). Then last year, almost 900. So this next year, I'm just going to jump the gun and say 1,200. That's the minimum."
Bell is expected to be back for the Lions during training camp, where he’ll lead a group with rookie Ameer Abdullah and third-year back Theo Riddick. Riddick did most of his damage as a pass-catcher last season, while Abdullah, a third-round pick out of Nebraska, has a versatile skill set but is a bit undersized at 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds.
Bell should certainly shoulder most of the load for Detroit, but 1,200 is a bit much to expect. Only six backs reached that plateau in 2014.
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As actress Olivia Munn prepares for her role in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” her boyfriend, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, is doing all he can to help her – sort of.
Munn posted a video on Instagram that showcases her ability with a sword. Meanwhile, in the background, Rodgers showed that he’s not quite on her level.
And Rodgers should probably just stick with football. He seems to be pretty good at it.
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Marshawn Lynch loves Skittles. He loves diving into the end zone and grabbing himself while doing so. Leave it to Conan O'Brien, then, to combine these two great loves into 15 seconds of genius.
So much to love about this video:
• Lynch does his, uh, equipment adjustment grab while he's in the air.
• Conan is somehow able to get more out of Marshawn Lynch than the entire NFL media. (Remember when they played Mortal Kombat together?)
• How long did it take interns to open all the Skittles packs, and what did they do with them when the sketch was done?
• If Pete Carroll had written this sketch, he'd have called for Conan to pass.
The offseason, baby!
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Marko Beslach thought he was giving his favorite team, the Detroit Lions, an advantage by shining a laser pointer at Buffalo Bills players during a game at Ford Field last October. Little did Beslach know that the laser pointer would be targeting him months later.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Beslach, an 18-year old from West Blooomfield, Mich., pleaded guilty, but was banned from Ford Field, given 80 hours of community service and a $235 fine.
Beslach paid his fine, but according to a Lions spokesperson the community service couldn’t have possibly been completed. According to the Free Press, the court records initially said Beslach could complete his community service through the Lions’ charities, however the organization apparently doesn’t accept outside volunteers.
Social media was the main source that tracked down Beslach. Beslach used Twitter to brag about the laser-pointing strategy. And if we can learn anything from this incident, among many at this time (Larry Nance Jr. ring a bell?) social media can bring almost anything to light, good or bad.
Beslach deleted his Twitter account after the fact, however once posted on the Internet, it’s always there; social media Lesson 1. Screen shots were grabbed, and even a Facebook group was started to ban the teenager from attending NFL games.
Beslach has been banned from any future events at Ford Field. Lions president Tom Lewand told the Free Press that, “it’s something that we feel like [is] a very serious incident, one that we’ve taken very seriously.”
Beslach was trying to give his team an advantage, which didn’t do much; the Bills beat the Lions 17-14, and Beslach landed a hefty fine.
It's nearly impossible to watch J.J. Watt blast a guy who got up on stage at a Zac Brown Band concert and not assume it's staged.
However, it was still pretty funny.
Watt sacked a supposed stage rusher who danced around for a few seconds like a fool while Watt got into position to tackle him. It almost seems like some WWE stuff, but could really use some Jim Ross commentary and a steel chair:
The only question is, what guy would agree to being the prop in a gag that ends with a 290-pound guy who happens to be the best defensive player in the NFL blasting you on stage? That takes some convincing.
For Watt, who has built an image on caring only about football and the log-cabin training and stuff, he sure manages to find his way into the spotlight doing stuff other than football and training. Not that we're complaining; the guy is pretty entertaining on and off the field.
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One NFL player criticizing another team's quarterbacks is usually something worth noting ... unless the player saying those things is a punter.
New York Giants Steve Weatherford is legit, he's probably in better shape than a lot of NFL players, but he's still a punter. So it certainly seemed odd when comments came to light that were critical of Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks, Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
"I'm gonna give you a Ferrari [Bradford] that maybe won't be running all the time, or I'm giving you a nice Cadillac sedan [Sanchez]," Weatherford said on WFAN's "Boomer and Carton Show," via ESPN. "It's not the fastest but you know what you're going to get out of it. Bradford can go from zero to 60 in three seconds, but you don't know if he's gonna start up some days."
Oh, don't worry, he discussed Tebow too.
"I'm the biggest Tim Tebow fan in the world," Weatherford said. "I mean, who wouldn't want their daughter to date a guy like that? I'll tell you what, I don't want him taking snaps for my team."
Weatherford also said Eagles coach Chip Kelly "will get himself in serious trouble" if he signed Bradford to an extension, given Bradford's injury history. Weatherford took to Twitter to say that his comments were taken out of context and that he was complimentary of all three quarterbacks, and we'll get to that in a moment.
Now, it should be said that all of Weatherford's comments are fundamentally true and none are outrageous. Nobody knows what to expect of Bradford because of the injuries, Sanchez is (at best) a Cadillac sedan of quarterbacks and yeah, you probably don't want Tebow taking snaps at quarterback.
But, again, Weatherford is a punter. Eagles center Jason Kelce took exception to him speaking about his teammates. Kelce tweeted, "Of course a player who is literally not allowed to be touched is talking [expletive]... Is interviewing punters a thing now?"
Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins joined in, retweeted Kelce's words while adding the comment "#puntersgetnolove."
So we have a June feud, I guess. Weatherford tried calming down things by saying that he didn't have anything bad to say about the Eagles players.
Did u even read the my quotes? Or did u generate ur opinion based upon the headline? (Continued)@Jkelce— Steve Weatherford (@Weatherford5) June 29, 2015
@Jkelce to you, your team & fans:My apologies if it was taken offensively. I was not my intention or goal. Nothing but respect.— Steve Weatherford (@Weatherford5) June 29, 2015
Weatherford's comments might have been taken out of context, and might not have been that inflammatory to begin with, but they drew the attention of at least one prominent Eagles player. Usually nobody pays attention to punters, so that's something new.
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Until it happens, I'll continue to believe that every move the NFL makes in Los Angeles, in terms of bringing a team there, is a bluff.
The NFL hasn't had a team in Los Angeles since 1994, and it's not because it doesn't have the money to make it happen. It decided somewhere along the line that not having a team in L.A. was better for business than having a team there. But let's humor the league for a moment, and look at the latest report of the NFL issuing proposal requests for temporary venues while a stadium in the Los Angeles area is built. There have been proposals for stadiums in Carson, perhaps for the Raiders or Chargers, or a stadium in Inglewood for the Rams.
The Los Angeles Times reported first about the temporary requests to various venues and said it was with the intent of securing a home for a team in 2016. NFL.com also reported on the requests, and said that the Los Angeles Coliseum and Rose Bowl got requests, and the league had looked at Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium and the StubHub Center in Carson.
The idea of the NFL playing in Dodger Stadium is the most interesting of the lot. There would be some appeal in seeing football at the historic baseball venue. But Dodger Stadium isn't structured to be good for football, and neither is Angel Stadium (which wasn't a good venue for Los Angeles Rams games back when, and that was before a remodel to make it a baseball-only stadium). StubHub Center is a nice looking place, but it says it fits 27,000 for football. That won't work.
So realistically, we'd be down to the Rose Bowl and the Coliseum, which have been the common options through the years when the NFL is threatening a Los Angeles move to extort some city for tax money for a new stadium. The Rose Bowl is probably the best option. Residents in Pasadena have opposed an NFL team using it, but local politicians have pushed through measures to allow the Rose Bowl to host an NFL team on a temporary basis. CBS reported last year that the Rose Bowl could not be a host to two teams, if more than one end up moving to Los Angeles (again, I'll believe one when I see it). But it's a beautiful venue, and while it's not the most modern stadium around, it would be usable on a temporary basis.
The Coliseum hosts USC, and was the old home of the Raiders, but one has to imagine no NFL team is excited about the idea of making the old stadium home. It is a historic place, opened in 1923, but it doesn't fit the NFL's blueprint of a modern palace.
The Rose Bowl or Coliseum would just be temporary homes, and each would probably be functional while a super-stadium is built. For any NFL team moving to Los Angeles, it wouldn't be an ideal transition, but there's no ideal option until something permanent is finished.
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OK, OK, so it's not like St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott was exactly fooled by J.J. Watt's slap shot or anything. When the Houston Texans defensive end wound up at the Blake Geoffrion Hockey Classic, Elliott jumped out of the way and let Watt score.
But, to be fair, if you saw Watt on skates bearing down on you, winding up for a slap shot, you might jump out of the way too.
Some former Badgers athletes had a lot of fun at the charity event, which benefits the UW Health Burn Center, but the highlight that went viral was Watt's goal. Watt probably isn't going to pull a Russell Wilson and flirt with a second pro career or anything, but the fact that a guy that big can move around on skates as well as he can is absolutely amazing. Or frightening.
Here's Watt's shot from a few angles:
The shot did have some mustard on it. And extra credit to Watt for the old school Milwaukee Braves hat.
Elliott, the goaltender for the 2006 Badgers team that won the national championship (like Watt getting robbed of the NFL MVP last year, Elliott was robbed of the 2006 Hobey Baker Award, but that's a story for another blog), was the good sport about being the prop in Watt's highlight.
This isn't the first time we've seen Watt on skates, but it's impressive each time. Watt grew up in Wisconsin and played hockey as a kid, and was even on some travel teams at a young age according to a story from NHL.com:
"Growing up in Wisconsin, a big hockey state, I started skating when I was 3 years old. I played all over," Watt told NHL.com. "The hockey community [in Wisconsin] is great. It's very tight-knit. It's a lot of fun. You have to be tough to play hockey. You have to work hard, and I think that's why I was drawn to it."
Watt gave up hockey at 13 to concentrate on football. Hard to argue with that choice.
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Most professional sports teams avoid making any commentary on controversial topics outside of sports, but the NFL's San Francisco 49ers had something to say on Friday.
The United States Supreme Court's ruling on Friday legalized gay marriage nationwide. Many people on Twitter celebrated the ruling, including the 49ers' official Twitter feed.
That's a simple yet powerful image and statement. Is it the 49ers' place to comment on such societal topics? Some commented on the post that they didn't think the team should be commenting on political issues. Others likely disagree. San Francisco has the highest rate of LGBT residents among American metropolitan areas.
The 49ers' tweet was in stark contrast to Minnesota Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson, who offered his opposition to the Supreme Court ruling and was criticized on Twitter for his message (this is a screen shot of the tweet that got a lot of attention):
Robinson also tweeted, "In the end EVERYONE has a right to believe what they want to believe. You shared yours, I shared mine," according to the Washington Post. Robinson set his Twitter account to private after his comments on the gay marriage ruling.
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Michael Sam returned to Montreal, is expected to report to the CFL's Alouettes as soon as Saturday, and will then resume his football career.
Les Carpenter of the Guardian reported that Sam should return to his football team soon, which was likely his only hope of playing football at a high level again. Sam left the Alouettes on June 12, right before their exhibition season began. The team played its regular-season opener on Thursday. Sam already had work to do to convince an NFL team he deserves a roster spot, and quitting his CFL team after struggling in training camp wouldn't have looked good on his football résumé. According to The Guardian, Sam returned to Montreal earlier this week; he has been seen around the city the past couple days.
Sam, the pass rusher who was the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL, was said to have needed a break. Alouettes general manager Jim Popp, who said he stayed in communication with Sam after he left, speculated that the instant fame Sam received after coming out before the 2014 NFL draft was overwhelming. But Popp said he believed Sam would return to the Alouettes.
Sam probably didn't do himself any favors by leaving. He'll now need to re-establish himself on the depth chart and then show he belongs. Sam presumably wants to get back to the NFL — the CFL player has never changed his Twitter handle from @MichaelSamNFL and his profile picture is from when he was on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad — but he needs to show something on film in Canada to change the perception of him around the NFL.
That definitely wasn't going to happen if he didn't play again. It looks like Sam is ready to get back on the field. Now we can see where this opportunity leads him.
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Warren Sapp is not having a good year.
Sapp, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders defensive tackle who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was reportedly arrested for the second time this year, and this time he was charged with three counts of battery constituting domestic violence. He is accused of biting his girlfriend's finger and stepping on her head, among other things. TMZ Sports broke that story on Thursday. A search of the Clark County court records showed that Warren Sapp was charged with three counts of domestic battery on Thursday.
Sapp was arrested in February for soliciting a prostitute. He was fired from the NFL Network after that. Sapp reached a plea deal in that case in which he had to complete two classes, at which point court records indicated the misdemeanor charges would be dropped, the AP reported.
According to TMZ, which cites the police report, the domestic violence incident happened in Las Vegas on April 28. Sapp and his longtime girlfriend argued at the M Resort and Sapp threw a margarita in her face, the report said. The couple left to her condo, and Sapp is accused of biting her middle finger after his girlfriend asked that he get out of the car, according to TMZ's report. Sapp got out of the car, but eventually got back in and they ended up at his girlfriend's condo.
According to TMZ, at the condo Sapp threw a belt at his girlfriend, she threw it back at him, and she ended up on the floor. That's when the alleged victim claimed Sapp stepped on her face wearing white Jordan sandals. According to TMZ's story, she had bruises on her lower lip, shoulders, legs, and a bruise on one of her temples with a checkerboard imprint on it. Sapp's girlfriend also told investigators she might have suffered a concussion, TMZ said.
Sapp's initial appearance in court is scheduled for July 23, according to the Clark County courts site.
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Rob Gronkowski is the NFL's big, loveable bro, dancing his face off and famously partying like there's no tomorrow. And now you can join him.
This is a real thing, because it's too great to make up: Gronk's Party Ship, a three-day cruise from Miami to the Bahamas, is available for purchase starting at $700. It will happen February 19-22 next year. There's a site, GronksPartyShip.com. From the site:
"It’s time to PARTY, it’s time to ROCK, but more importantly, it's time to get GRONK’D! Rob Gronkowski and his family want you to grab your sunnies, your swimsuits, your babes and your bros for one hell of a shindig sailing down the coast. It’s time to go big or go home 'cause we’re throwing a 3-day party sailing from Miami to the Bahamas with 2,500 of his most hype’d up fans, favorite bands, DJs, and comedians!"
Let's assume this will be fun for all of the "babes and bros" who want to go mingle with the New England Patriots tight end.
You get a photo with Gronk, an autographed item, "great activities hosted by Rob Gronkowski" (and I'm petrified to ask what those are), a Q&A session with the Gronkowski family and mustic and DJs throughout the ship.
With every Gronk story it becomes more and more inconceivable that he could co-exist with the notoriously dour Bill Belichick. In his book "it's Good to Be Gronk," he explained a bit about that relationship (the excerpt via The MMQB):
“While I was watching a training camp practice in between my own exercises, Coach Belichick was standing right next to me and said, ‘Rob, you are one of the hardest workers I’ve seen, and you’re always working hard when you’re here, but when you’re not here… I don’t know about your craziness off the field, the messing.’ I started laughing and told him, ‘The fun stuff makes me grind harder, coach.’ He shook his head as he walked off and said, ‘Whatever works for you.’”
Party on, Gronk.
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Even though Bill Belichick probably does whatever he wants around New England Patriots headquarters, it's surprising nobody there told him it might be a bad idea to bench cornerback and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler for being late to a voluntary practice.
The NFLPA officially filed a complaint on behalf of Butler (that was first reported by ESPN), and that's no surprise. This is about as slam-dunk as it gets. The Patriots were wrong.
To sum up: Butler was late to the team's first offseason training activity, otherwise known as OTAs. These workouts are voluntary. Even though in the world of the NFL they are not treated that way, players are under no obligation to participate, much less show up on time. That's spelled out in the collective-bargaining agreement. But Butler was late, Belichick hates tardiness (ask Jonas Gray) and Butler was held out of OTA on-field activities from May 28 to June 5 as a punishment, according to many reports. Butler had reportedly missed his flight for the May 26 practice in question because of weather issues.
Belichick can be as angry as he wants over Butler not showing up on time, but it doesn't take a long reading of the CBA's fine print to know that punishing someone for being late to a voluntary event is not acceptable. ESPN said the complaint was filed without Butler's approval, which might protect him from Belichick being even angrier with him.
While Butler will be famous forever in New England for his last-minute interception of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson that sealed last season's Super Bowl, the undrafted second-year player is still far from an established player. This whole ordeal probably won't help him. In Belichick's world, Butler was wrong to be late to an OTA and he had the right to punish him as a result. It's hard to imagine the NFL will agree with that.
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To think, we were this close to having Michael Sam and Tim Tebow on the same Canadian Football League team.
That's what Montreal Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said in an interview with Les Carpenter of The Guardian. Popp said he almost signed Tebow last August. He met Tebow at an undisclosed location in the United States, and Tebow "had packed his bags for Montreal and brought the luggage with him," Popp said. But the story says the deal fell apart because Tebow decided to work for ESPN as an SEC analyst. Tebow signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. It would have been interesting to see Tebow play in Canada, but he has maintained a desire to be a quarterback in the NFL.
Sam's story is different, although like Tebow he draws a ton of attention from even the most casual of football fans. Sam, who became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL when the St. Louis Rams took him in 2014, signed with the Alouettes. But amid reports that he was struggling in camp, he left the team on June 12 to go back home right before the Alouettes' exhibition opener. He hasn't returned, but Popp said he has been in contact with Sam and he would be "surprised" if Sam doesn't come back.
Popp said he believes that Sam was overwhelmed a bit by the fame he got after announcing he was gay, before last year's NFL draft.
“I think he needed a break,” Popp told The Guardian. “That’s my personal belief. I think it was just overwhelming to some degree, and he needs to clear his mind, clear his head. Do I think he wants to play? Do I think he wants to be on the field? Do I think he wants to be Michael Sam the football player? I, 100 percent, believe that. Yes.”
Popp told The Guardian he thought Sam was a great CFL prospect because even though he was undersized to be an NFL defensive end and not quick enough to be a linebacker, the Alouettes liked his pass-rush ability.
When Sam left the Alouettes, Popp said many NFL teams called to ask what happened, which he took as a sign that an NFL team might be interested in signing him down the road.
“They wouldn’t be calling if they weren’t interested,” he said. “They were monitoring him to see how he did here. There’s a lot of people who want to see Michael Sam play, and they are going to tune in to see him play.”
Tebow and Sam arguably could have helped themselves with CFL exposure. Tebow might get that exposure during the NFL preseason with the Eagles, but Sam didn't have that option. If Sam wants to get a foot in the door of the NFL again, he probably needs to show some things in the CFL. His chances of getting another NFL chance won't improve if he never returns to the Alouettes after leaving the team before the exhibition season started.
But, with just a little bit different turn of events here and there, the Montreal Alouettes could have become one of the most-watched football teams around.
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One can only imagine how much mail Peyton Manning gets, asking for this or that. Those who know him say it's common for him to respond personally, whether it be to a random wedding invitation or something more serious.
In March, Logan Brown was killed by a drunk driver. He was 15, and a big Manning fan from Evansville, Ind. According to 14 News in Indiana, Brown's grandmother sent Manning a letter, telling the Denver Broncos quarterback how much he meant to her grandson. Brown's 16th birthday would have been Tuesday.
What the family got back was a surprise: A hand-written letter from Manning and an autographed picture. In the letter, Manning said he was honored that Brown was a fan of his, according to 14 News' report.
"To take the time to send something back to a situation in Evansville, Indiana that he probably doesn't know anything about,” Charles Brown, Logan's father, told 14 News. “It's important to see that they're humans and for these other kids to see you never forget where you come from.”
"And I know Logan is up there looking down. He's smiling. I think he will be happy," Gayle Ricketts, Brown's grandmother who sent Manning the letter, said.
It's obvious Manning's gesture meant a lot for the family during a hard time. In the comments of 14 News' story, another person says that Manning did something similar after she wrote to tell him that one of her family members was killed in a car accident. A few of these gestures by Manning have gone public, but there are likely countless others he has done over the years that we never hear about.
A lot has been made of when the NFL's only five-time MVP will retire, and we don't know the answer yet. But it's clear that when Manning does step away, the league is going to lose a great ambassador.
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Slash, of Guns N' Roses fame, was born in England and moved to Los Angeles at a young age, so of course he's a New England Patriots fan.
How this happened is a mystery, but the Patriots' web site pointed out the strange combination. When the guitarist (real name: Saul Hudson) of the iconic rock band put up his Beverly Hills home — about $11 million for the 10,791-square-foot palace with eight bathrooms and seven bedrooms, if you're in the market — the photos on Estately provided the proof that Slash enjoys the Patriots, in the form of some wall decor. Good catch by the Patriots' web site folks:
Take me down to Paradise City, where the grass is green and the balls are squishy (h/t to our Jay Busbee for the one liner).
I guess when you have eight bathrooms you can have the Flying Elvis logo Fathead decorating one of them. Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been known to hang out with Jon Bon Jovi on occasion, but it's a little tougher to picture him rocking out with Slash.
Either way, if you're in the Beverly Hills area, always wanted to live in a rock star's house, have the means to afford the estimated $41,942 monthly mortgage payment and like the Patriots, we've found just the place for you.
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We don't know yet when one of the biggest names of the 2015 rookie class will play, but St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley sounds optimistic it will be sooner rather than later.
Gurley told NFL Media that he thinks he'll be participating, at least partially, in training camp. Gurley, the 10th pick of the draft and a dynamic talent out of Georgia, is recovering from a torn ACL suffered near the end of last season. Rookies report to Rams camp on July 27.
"That is definitely a goal that I'm shooting for," Gurley told NFL Media about participating in training camp, via NFL.com's Around the League blog. "Just to be able to get out there and do at least some individual stuff. It's looking pretty realistic. This month I'll be in St. Louis rehabbing, so hopefully I can aim for (training camp)."
Gurley's recovery will be a big story in the upcoming weeks and months because of his potential impact. He is viewed as perhaps the best pure talent in the draft and maybe the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. In a perfect world, a healthy Gurley would team with Tre Mason to give the Rams a strong running game to go with what should be a very good defense.
But, the Rams will also be smart with Gurley's comeback, which is why most news on Gurley since the drafthas been much more cautious than his own proclamation. The Rams didn't invest the No. 10 overall pick in a running back to rush him back from ACL surgery. It wouldn't be a surprise if he opens the season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), which would mean he misses at least six regular-season weeks. Mason proved to be good enough to carry the load until Gurley returns.
But Gurley's recovery is seemingly going well, and it would be a pleasant surprise for the Rams if he's able to play early in the season. Hopefully the Rams play it smart, because a healthy Gurley should be really fun to watch.
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Most of us have no idea what it's like to catch a pass from an NFL quarterback, though one would assume it's fairly terrifying and exhilarating.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had someone film a few videos that he posted on Instagram, and while it doesn't completely replicate the experience, it's really fun to see an NFL quarterback's passes from that angle. Note that Carr is so accurate that he's able to hit the camera on one of the three:
The videos are pretty mesmerizing. You get an idea not only how hard NFL quarterbacks throw the ball but also the accuracy that they have. Remember that even the worst quarterback in the NFL is one of about 80 or 90 men in the world who is good enough to hold that job.
Even ESPN's Mark Brunell, who is 44 and hasn't been a regular NFL starter since 2005, can hit a small target after three-plus years of retirement.
If nothing else it was a fun use of social media by Carr. He appears to be throwing the ball pretty well these days.
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The Appeal Hearing of the Century came and went and the one thing that seemed certain never came to pass: There was almost no information leaked out to the media in the aftermath.
Details of Tom Brady's hearing on Tuesday, which had about 10 hours of testimony according to the NFL, were fairly scarce as of late Wednesday morning. We're not sure really what was said by Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback who is fighting a four-game suspension, or the arguments his lawyers put forth to convince NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to reduce the suspension.
But one source talked, and it's apparently positive for Brady. Someone told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Brady was "very genuine, earnest and persuasive," and he addressed "every issue" from investigator Ted Wells' report. Schefter's source called it an "A-plus" performance. Without knowing if that source is on Brady's side or what specifically Brady said, that bit of information means little. It shouldn't be a surprise that Brady, a charismatic star even by NFL quarterback standards, can come off well in any setting. Maybe that satisfied Goodell's strange desire to hear from Brady personally and listen to the same spiel Brady has put forth already, but is that enough to reduce a suspension? And even if it is, will Brady accept anything less than a full reversal of the suspension?
Not surprisingly, a league source wasn't as glowing on Brady's performance, to Pro Football Talk. PFT, citing the source, said Brady reiterated his denial and his answers were regarded by some as "not entirely credible."
Even if Brady came off well, aside from any piece of information that he could provide that proves his had nothing to do with deflating footballs — which is practically impossible; it's hard to imagine there's a smoking gun that would prove his innocence in this case — it's very hard to believe Goodell would completely reverse the suspension. That would spit in the face of Wells and Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations whose name was on the punishment for Brady and the Patriots, and it would lead plenty of owners to wonder why they spent millions paying Wells for his report (they probably should wonder that anyway). If the whole point of this fiasco was to just let Brady off the hook in the end because he smiled and came off well on the stand, then what was the point?
Brady doesn't deserve a four-game suspension either, because it was unprecedented in the NFL for such an offense and the Wells Report never got around to providing any specific evidence of Brady's wrongdoing. People who say they know what Brady did in the matter of the deflated footballs are just guessing. Maybe Goodell realizes that, maybe he doesn't. Maybe Goodell made up his mind long before the marathon appeal on Tuesday. But by over-punishing Brady to start with he has put himself in a difficult position. If the suspension is reduced there should be a better reason put forth than "Tom seemed very genuine, earnest and persuasive." If it's not reduced, Goodell has let stand a clearly excessive punishment of perhaps the league's most prominent player with no history of wrongdoing in the NFL. No matter what he does, outside of vacating the suspension entirely, he could have a situation where the NFL's biggest star sues him and the league in federal court. And since it's a hot-button issue that people can't seem to think clearly about, Goodell will never win in the court of public opinion no matter what he does now. It's a tough spot to be in, even though that's of his own doing.
But even though we don't know what went down in the hearing, it's safe to assume there was compelling evidence from both sides. There better have been, after 10 hours of talking about deflated footballs.
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Whatever NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decides in the matter of Tom Brady's appeal, it's clear that neither side will claim it didn't have the chance to speak its piece.
The appeal apparently began a little bit after 9 a.m. ET on Tuesday and didn't conclude until about 8:30 p.m., a marathon meeting considering it was about deflated footballs. No further hearings were scheduled, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, who said there were 10 hours of testimony. Clearly both sides wanted to wrap it all up in one day, even though it took more than 11 hours.
Presumably a lot of time was spent dissecting investigator Ted Wells' report, and dealing with the scientific findings of his investigation and the subsequent reports that refuted them. According to the NFL Network, there were more than 40 people present at the hearing, and it was held in the downstairs conference room at NFL offices because it was such a large meeting.
Brady is appealing a four-game suspension handed out for whatever role he had in the under-inflation of the Patriots' footballs during January's AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Jeffrey Kessler, Brady's attorney through the NFLPA, said Brady stayed until the end of the appeal and that there's no timetable for a decision from Goodell but "we feel like we made a very compelling case in there," via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post.
Wells told reporters that he testified Tuesday but declined to further elaborate.
As the hearing went on, a large crowd gathered to see Brady leave, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe:
And has the appeal dragged on and on and on, that crowd thinned out.
The NFL suspended Brady based on the report from Wells, which vaguely stated it was "more probable than not" that the quarterback was "at least generally aware" of the activities of employees John Jastremski and Jim McNally to deflate footballs. That was an outrageous punishment considering it didn't follow any precedent set by the NFL and there was almost no evidence of Brady's wrongdoing. But it's also tough to imagine the NFL backtracking on a punishment it handed out. The NFLPA did not want Goodell to preside over the appeal, but to the surprise of nobody he did anyway.
Brady arrived for the appeal at about 9 a.m., according to the reporters there. He came into the NFL's Park Avenue offices through a side door, with many fans and media watching his arrival. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Brady testified "under oath," a ridiculous notion for an NFL appeal, but the league is consistently out of its element when it comes to acting like a justice system.
The NFL reportedly said in a letter (via Schefter) that Brady's side would have four hours to present its case, but Aiello said on Twitter that there was no four-hour limit and the league expected Brady's side to go more than four hours.
The whole ordeal has brought Brady's legacy into question. After his fourth Super Bowl win, which included an incredible fourth-quarter comeback against the Seattle Seahawks, Brady strengthened his already strong case to be considered the greatest quarterback in NFL history. For some, mostly those who are tired of the Patriots winning, deflate-gate has damaged that legacy. It also played into the legacy of Goodell, whose haphazard punishments have been a major issue in the criticism of his time as commissioner. That's why it seemed there was more at stake in this appeal than normal. That's also why there has been plenty of speculation that the case could end up in federal court if Brady's suspension isn't entirely overturned.
The chances of Brady getting the desired result in federal court seem slim, however, because the players are bound by a collective-bargaining agreement, and most judges are wary of overruling CBAs (ESPN.com explained this in detail). Perhaps Brady, via a temporary restraining order or injunction, could buy some time and play in the regular-season opener through the courts.
The thought heading into the appeal, based on Goodell's insistence that he wanted to hear from Brady himself, was that Brady would have to present some new information that proved his innocence. That's tough to do, but it might determine if Brady serves all four games of his suspension or gets a reduced sentence by Goodell.
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As we wait for the Tom Brady appeal to finish, there's air time to be filled, and ESPN's Adam Schefter filled it with an interesting story about other players deflating footballs.
During a live shot on "NFL Insiders" on Tuesday afternoon outside the NFL's Park Avenue offices, where Brady's appeal was being held, Schefter said that since the deflate-gate scandal involving Brady and the New England Patriots broke, he has heard of other instances of deflating footballs around the league.
"There was one punter I know — or, long snapper, last year — that carried a paper clip with him in two games and deflated footballs before he snapped them during the games," Schefter said on air. "There's another backup quarterback that would deflate footballs for his starting quarterback."
As for who that backup quarterback might be, someone might want to check to see what Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo was doing during games (kidding, kidding).
That's quite a story from Schefter that he buried in a longer report, but it goes to show that chicanery of all kinds happens during games, and has for many years. Athletes will always look for an edge and teams will too — that's how the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings were warned last year after their game in which the Panthers were spotted during a cold game using sideline heaters on footballs, which is against the rules (the warning for that infraction is a long-cited example of how ridiculous the NFL's punishment to Brady and the Patriots was).
The Patriots may have done something to the footballs during the AFC championship game. Schefter says that at least two other players around the league did the same.
It doesn't make it right, but if you have argued that the Patriots are the only team in the NFL looking for some kind of an edge around the rules, or the only team that would consider deflating a football, let's assume they're not alone.
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Many NFL players step away from the game involuntarily, and then are suddenly forced to figure out what to do with their lives.
Rashard Mendenhall seems to have had it mapped out pretty well.
Mendenhall, a former first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers who also spent a year at running back with the Arizona Cardinals, retired suddenly last March after six NFL seasons. Like many of the surprising early retirements this year, Mendenhall just had enough of the game and walked away.
Mendenhall seems to have found something else he enjoys in retirement. He has a writing career and already has a nice addition to his resume, writing for HBO's new show on football, "Ballers," which is produced by Stephen Levinson of "Entourage."
"I jumped right into something, and it was really cool and enjoyable, because writing was something that I always enjoyed and coincidentally (the HBO show) had to do with football — something that I loved," Mendenhall told Jones. "It was a really natural and cool and beautiful thing to be a part of."
USA Today said that Mendenhall moved to Los Angeles and became a full member in the Writer's Guild. He said a blog post on why he retired, which was published by the Huffington Post, led to his opportunity to write in the television world.
While the sad tales of post-NFL life are commonly told — and, ironically, seem like they will be a big part of the "Ballers" series — it's good to see that Mendenhall seems to have it all figured out.
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The Carolina Panthers have responded to last week's Charleston shooting with words, funds and now deeds.
Cam Newton visited several families of victims on Monday, bringing a bit of much-needed cheer to their lives:
Newton's appearance showed up on social media rather than official news channels. He visited the family of Tywanza Sanders, who died trying to protect his aunt, and the family of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, who also died in the attack.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson over the weekend donated $100,000 to the families of the victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting. The money was to be divided evenly among the nine victims' families, with the remainder going to a memorial fund for the church.
The Panthers as an organization have also joined in the more political aspect of the tragedy. The alleged shooter's affiliation with the Confederate flag has led many government officials to call on South Carolina to remove the flag from its Capitol grounds, and the Panthers have joined in that effort.
“Our organization prides itself on bringing people together,” Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond told the Charlotte Observer. “Divisive symbols and actions should not stand in conflict to progress, healing and the unification of all our citizens.”
The Confederate flag has flown at the South Carolina Capitol grounds since it was raised in 1962, during the heart of the Civil Rights movement, to commemorate the centennial of the Civil War. (The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in 1861, within sight of Charleston.) A legislative compromise in 2000 removed the flag from the dome of the capitol and placed it at a nearby Confederate monument. Any removal of the flag would require legislative approval, though public pressure to remove the flag has ratcheted up significantly in the days since the shooting.
“We’re not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer,” Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said on Monday. “The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the Capitol grounds.”
Officials at the University of South Carolina's athletics department have joined in the effort to remove the flag from state grounds. Cleveland Browns quarterback Connor Shaw, who played for South Carolina, posted a similar view on Twitter:
Any flag that contradicts everything our Country flag represents, it shouldn't fly. We ALL stand united.— Connor Shaw (@cmshaw9) June 22, 2015
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
Terrelle Pryor had quite an interesting Monday.
Pryor, the former Ohio State mega-recruit and Oakland Raiders quarterback who was trying to win a job with the Cincinnati Bengals, officially announced in a couple of tweets that he was moving to receiver. Pryor was cut by the Bengals last week.
"Going to miss QB but I will make a great WR!" Pryor tweeted.
You won't find those tweets on his timeline anymore because they included a major no-no: high-angle coaches video of full team drills from the Bengals' minicamp practices.
Pryor has deleted the tweets. The videos were of him playing quarterback, which is strange considering he was announcing his move to receiver. But either way, that's a big violation of the NFL's code, and according to ESPN.com the Bengals aren't pleased about it.
"I haven't been around another player who has done that," a Bengals source told ESPN.com's Coley Harvey. "By no means did we think a player would do something like that."
And it's fitting then that Pryor was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns, the Bengals' in-state and AFC North rival, on Monday. Multiple reports said the Browns claimed him to be a receiver.
Pryor hasn't established himself as a legitimate NFL quarterback. The thing he has established, going all the way back to his days as one of the most celebrated high school athletes in recent history, is that he's a world-class athlete. If he can translate that athleticism to receiver then maybe he could have a productive second act to his career, especially considering his 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame.
Having success after an extreme position change mid-career is rare. Pryor's move is not like moving from cornerback to safety or guard to tackle. He'll need to learn an entirely new position on the fly, and all Browns receiver jokes aside, athletic ability alone probably won't be enough to beat out the other skilled athletes on the roster who have played that position all their lives. Pryor would need to give the Browns a good reason to devote a roster spot to his development at a brand new position.
But Cleveland will give Pryor the chance to show what he's got, as long as he doesn't post the practice video on social media.
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The NFL could put cameras inside Tom Brady's appeal on Tuesday, put it on pay-per-view on NFL Network, and probably do pretty good business.
The most highly-anticipated appeal in NFL history (though, fairly, I have no idea what would have been No. 1 before this) will take place on Tuesday, and on Monday a tidbit was reported that raised some interest: Ted Wells will be in attendance, presumably to testify.
Wells put out the 243-page report that was used by the NFL (when it was convenient) to dole out punishment to the New England Patriots and Brady, the quarterback who the report said probably kinda sorta knew something or another about two low-level employees deflating footballs. That information — it's better to use that term than "evidence," since the Wells report was light on real evidence — was used by the NFL to suspend Brady four games.
Brady has appealed, and Wells will be at the appeal hearing on Tuesday, according to multiple reports including Albert Breer of NFL Network. That could get interesting, because one would assume Wells' report will be attacked by Brady's representatives. It has been criticized for a lack of evidence and basically working from the back to front, coming up with a conclusion first and then finding whatever proof he could to prove his point. More realistically, Wells was under a lot of pressure after being paid, in his words, "millions" by the NFL and probably didn't feel he could report back that he hadn't found much real evidence of any wrongdoing, especially when it came to Brady. But he probably figured there was at least enough to prove the hypothesis that he put forth in the report. The NFL then used that report to give Brady an excessive punishment that didn't fit any of the NFL's disciplinary precedents. And Wells got defensive at the notion that his report could be less than airtight. But critics keep coming.
Wells' report came under fire by the American Enterprise Institute last week, when the AEI said that the evidence and methodology of the report was "deeply flawed." Basically the AEI argued that the Patriots' game balls deflated in cold weather in last season's AFC championship game at an expected level and the Colts' game balls deflated less than expected, mostly because the Colts' footballs sat in a warm room longer waiting to be tested. The AEI also tackles the oft-discussed issue of referee Walt Anderson using two different gauges, one that measured the footballs at a lower pressure level, and which one he used when. It's a very long and thorough report and it concludes that when Brady's appeal is heard that the Wells report should be viewed as "unreliable." Wells' testimony, assuming he'll testify, and attacking the holes in the report will likely be the NFLPA's main approach to getting Brady's suspension reduced. Then again, considering that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is overseeing the appeal of punishment handed down by his office, it's hard to see Brady getting a fair shake.
There have been a lot of moving parts and nuance to the entire saga, and questions that we'll never get absolute answers to. That's part of what makes the appeal so interesting. Even though it's behind closed doors, the drama from it will be fascinating.
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We know enough about former NFL coach Buddy Ryan and his two football-coaching sons Rob and Rex to know that there must have been some wild times in that household.
Like the time that Rex broke Rob's nose with a punch and his ankle wrestling around in a beer-fueled fight right before Super Bowl XX.
In an excellent story by Tim Graham of the Buffalo News on new Bills coach Rex, the story is told of the fight. They were both students at Southwestern Oklahoma State. The scuffle happened days before father Buddy Ryan, known for his great defenses, his bravado (if you wondered where the boys got it from) and punching an offensive coordinator on his own team during a game, coached the Chicago Bears' defense in Super Bowl XX.
Rob had a date, who had a friend, and wanted Rex to come with and play wingman. Rex already had a girlfriend, who he'd later marry, so he said no.
Rob Ryan, "after a few hundred beers" he told Graham, got angry and started wrestling with Rex. They wrestled for a while, eventually landing outside. That's where Rex punched his brother, who is now the defensive coordinator with the New Orleans Saints, according to Graham's story.
Rob: “I ran after him, and he had a right hand waiting for me. I never saw it coming. Still haven’t seen it.”
Rex: “I got him good, and it was over. I felt terrible. I couldn’t believe I hit my brother like that.”
According to the story, Rex Ryan left in the car and was wearing a ripped and bloody shirt when he was pulled over by police. The cop brought him into jail. Rex told the police that his brother could explain what happened.
“They take me to jail and then called my brother. He said, ‘Nah, leave him in there,'" Rex Ryan said, according to the Buffalo News story.
One gets the impression that the Ryan boys could tells stories like these for days.
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Every sport has a Hollywood classic. Even hockey has one, with "Slap Shot." Every sport except football, that is.
As HBO trotted out the cliched "Ballers" series premiere, we were all reminded again that even though football has been America's most popular sport for decades now, Hollywood has never gotten big-time football quite right.
"Ballers" touched on the tried-and-true Players Behaving Badly stories that I guess still have some appeal to the masses. Everyone seems to have spent all their money as soon as it comes in, it was easy to recognize the story lines of family and friends bleeding a player dry, there was sex at the club, fights at the club, fast talking agents, extravagant purchases (Steven Jackson has a cameo and brags about buying an elephant for about a quarter of a million bucks) ... you've seen this all before. If you expected stereotypes A through E from "Ballers," you got them all in one episode. It didn't seem funny enough to be a comedy (though there were some humorous moments, none better than Don Shula's single not-for-family-websites line), dramatic enough to be a drama or even outlandish enough to be a follow-up to the infamous "Playmakers" series on ESPN. It was just kind of a cookie-cutter football production.
The only thing about the show that seemed to veer from the formula was the character of Charles Greane, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman who finds himself without much to do after his football career dries up, to the chagrin of his wife. As a former offensive lineman, he has no fame to cash in on. He finds a job at a Chevy dealership. At least it seemed real.
The movies and television shows that depict football rarely do it well (television's "Friday Night Lights" might be the closest exception) mostly because it's the same script of outlandish acts off the field and the same in-your-face camera shots of unrealistic plays on the field. I'm one of the few who liked "Any Given Sunday," but I still have motion sickness from the game action. It just never finds the right tone. The sport doesn't need to be embellished to death to be entertaining, but that's typically what we get: Over-the-top nonsense.
I don't think "Ballers" really will cover much new ground, based on the pilot. I'm sure receiver Ricky Jerret, who was was cut by the Green Bay Packers in Sunday night's episode after having sex in a club bathroom and punching a guy afterward, will find more titillating trouble. And we'll see more about the over-spending of rookie Vernon Littlefield who has already spent his $12 million rookie deal and needs a loan. And there will be more goofy antics by the sleazy financial manager played by Rob Corddry, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's character will tie it all together as the former linebacker looking to be an agent/adviser now that his career is done. It was fine for a mindless half hour of entertainment, but I'm not sure this is the show that will change the genre.
We've only seen one episode and maybe we'll get more than just the predictable surface characters as the series goes on. But it seems like "Ballers" will be empty-calories television on a Sunday night rather than anything we recall fondly as Hollywood figuring out football. So we'll continue to wait.
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Remember the story from earlier this week about how Tom Brady got $170,000 to speak for an hour after deflate-gate? Remember how obscene that sum seemed, how ridiculous that a university would pay so much money to a pro ballplayer?
Yeah, well, we've all got to eat our words a bit, because according to the Boston Globe, Brady donated all that money to charity. Of the total, $50,000 went to "Best Buddies," which aids people with intellectual and developmental issues, and the remainder went to other charities. Not only that, Brady's event apparently turned a $40,000 profit for Salem State University, which hosted the event.
Now, you could go and spin this all negatively if you like: there's surely something a bit off about anyone making $170,000 for an hour's work -- though, yes, we would take such a job in a heartbeat -- and the university surely could have used some of that money in pursuit of its educational aims. But hey, we'll stay positive here this time and give Brady all due respect.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
The Carolina Panthers play in Charlotte, but by their very name claim kinship with South Carolina. Accordingly, owner Jerry Richardson has made a quiet donation of $100,000 to the families of victims in this week's Charleston shooting, in which a gunman killed nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Panthers defensive tackle Colin Cole shared Richardson's letter on his Twitter account:
Richardson will be donating $10,000 to each of the families who lost loved ones in the shooting, plus another $10,000 to help fund a memorial at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Earlier, Charleston's minor-league baseball team agreed to play its Thursday night game, with proceeds from that game going to charity.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.
Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s wallet is reportedly several dollars lighter – about 99,000 of them.
According to the Legal Intelligencer, a Philadelphia judge ordered Kelly to pay $79,374 to a landlord over a lease dispute for an apartment he rented in the Old City section of Philadelphia. Kelly reportedly owed five months of unpaid rent, and was also required to pay court costs to landlord Tempa Berish.
Court papers say Kelly did not sufficiently notify Berish that he would not renew his lease.
From the Legal Intelligencer:
According to court papers, the coach began renting the penthouse property from Berish for $10,700 per month in April 2013, but he failed to properly notify Berish that he did not plan to renew the lease. In April 2014, pursuant to the lease agreement, the lease automatically renewed, and the monthly rent increased to $11,235, court papers said. Kelly stopped paying rent beginning in April 2014, and Berish was unable to find a replacement tenant until September 2014.
Berish then sued Kelly for breach of contract, seeking payment for the unpaid rent, as well as fees for late payments, hiring a broker, early termination and court costs.
According to the Associated Press, Kelly’s lawyer said Berish knew Kelly had plans to buy a home.
Kelly's lawyer argued that the leasing agent knew Kelly hoped to buy a home and needed a flexible lease on the Old City apartment.
He says the 90-day notice required under the 2013 lease did not match the verbal promises made.
Additionally, the AP is reporting that Kelly’s $20,000 security deposit will not be returned because “his lawyer failed to show for a one-day trial.”
Kelly’s five-year contract with the Eagles is worth $32 million. At an annual salary of $6.5 million, Kelly shouldn’t have much trouble getting this case settled.
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Marshawn Lynch usually doesn’t say much to the media, but when it comes to his hometown Golden State Warriors, the Seattle Seahawks running back has no qualms about expressing his Oakland pride.
Lynch was in attendance at the Warriors’ NBA Championship parade Friday and rode through the city on a double-decker bus with forward Draymond Green.
Lynch has apparently struck up quite a friendship with Green and participated in an interview with CSN Bay Area alongside Green’s mother, Mary Babers-Green.
After the two shared a hug live on the air, Lynch compared this Warriors team to his Super Bowl-winning Seahawks team.
“They were talking about the brotherhood they shared, and a common thing that goes on up in Seattle is ‘L.O.B.’ A lot of people think that it means ‘Legion of Boom,’ but it’s ‘love our brother,’ ” Lynch said. “And that’s the same thing I saw in the Warriors coming together through the [NBA] Finals and over a few years and watching them progress together as a team. And that’s a championship-caliber way to build a team.”
Lynch also expressed what it means for the Warriors to bring a title to Oakland, where he grew up.
“This is very big for me because I don’t think while I’ve been alive that I’ve seen a championship in Oakland,” Lynch said. “To be able to witness them winning a championship but then also be a part of the parade. It was cool for me. I don’t know when I’d be able to see this.
“I told Coach [Steve] Kerr, ‘You gotta go get a championship’ so I don’t have the lone championship for Oakland. This is a blessing. I’m very happy for those guys and I’m really happy for my city.”
Lynch's lengthy interview was a departure from his interaction with NFL reporters the past couple of years, which has featured repeated brief responses, including "I'm here so I won't get fined" at this year's Super Bowl. He was even fined $100,000 by the NFL for refusing to talk to reporters after a game last November.
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A New Orleans judge ruled Thursday that 87-year-old New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is mentally competent to run the team.
The ruling came down after an eight-day trial in which Benson’s daughter and two grandchildren asked to rule Benson, who also owns the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, mentally incompetent to run his businesses. Benson had previously announced in January that he planned to remove the three as successors of his estimated $1.7 billion fortune.
Though Benson did not testify in the trial, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Civil District Judge Kern Reese ruled that Benson is “is able to make reasoned decisions as to his person and his property and therefore this court will not order an interdiction of any kind in these proceedings.”
Reese had previously interviewed Benson on April 20 and said he “sat across from the defendant, looked into his eyes, listened carefully to his responses, and concluded the capacity to make reasoned decisions was present.”
The trial stemmed from Benson’s decision to cut ties with the three presumed heirs. He also said he plans to leave ownership of the two teams with his wife of 10 years, Gayle Benson.
"The court has carefully reviewed the evidence and finds that petitioners filed this interdiction proceeding after Tom Benson made the drastic decision to alter his succession plans for ownership of his professional sports teams and allocation of his estate upon his demise," Reese wrote.
In a statement, Benson thanked those who supported him and worked on his case.
From the Times-Picayune:
"Gayle and I wish to thank the entire community for the overwhelming support that we have received during this trying time," Benson's statement said. "Through it all, our fans and our sponsors showed unwavering support for our Saints and Pelicans."
Lawyers for the three heirs said they're disappointed the judge did not appoint Renee and Rita to step in and manage Tom Benson's affairs "to protect their father and grandfather, as well as the teams businesses."
"For his sake, and that of the fans, customers, and employees, they will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to assure his well-being and that of the Saints, Pelicans, and Benson Automobile dealerships," their statement said.
Renee, Rita and Ryan all testified in the trial, which was closed to the public. The heirs have said publicly that they're concerned about Benson and want to protect him.
Three doctors were consulted in the case, two of which ruled in Benson’s favor.
Two of the three doctors, John Thompson and Kenneth Sakauye, testified that Benson has "sustained a mild cognitive impairment" that has affected his short-term memory "but does not rob him of his own volition and ability to make reasoned decisions," the ruling says.
A third psychiatrist, Dr. Ted Bloch, found that Benson's impairment "was moderate to severe, thereby warranting full interdiction," the ruling says.
Benson bought the Saints in 1985 and the team recently honored him with a banner in their indoor practice facility.
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EA Sports' "Madden" franchise is among the most successful in video game history. And with good reason. Everyone loves to live out their football fantasies by living vicariously through virtual recreations of the rulers of the gridiron. So nothing begins the hype for the franchise's newest chapter like the reveal trailer EA Sports shows at E3 in Los Angeles.
And this year's trailer didn't disappoint.
That's right. EA Sports revealed the newest edition of the "Madden" franchise by recreating one of the most phenomenal catches that anyone has ever seen in NFL history, courtesy of Odell Beckham Jr..
Sure, the trailer didn't depict the catch with perfect accuracy (the catch came against the Dallas Cowboys, not the Packers), but it's still an awesome re-creation of the grab that elevated Beckham from a rookie to a household name.
"Madden '16" will be available to the public on Aug. 25.
With still more than a month to go until the beginning of training camp, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to do anything they can to develop quarterback Jameis Winston for his rookie season. With that in mind, according to Fox Sports, the team plans to purchase a “virtual reality system” in order to help Winston prepare for life as an NFL starter.
The Dallas Cowboys were the first NFL team to install a virtual reality system. Stanford and Clemson have done it at the college level, too.
Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who called Winston “a film junkie,” said the technology could definitely be beneficial for the rookie.
The Cowboys have a system that allows quarterbacks to “virtually place themselves" into practice settings "and watch a 360-view of practice complete with sound via headset." The play can be rewound as many times as a quarterback or coach wants, allowing them to scrutinize every aspect of a particular snap.
Currently, Winston puts in extra work on the field with quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian.
“I visualize the concept and go through reads with no one out there,” Winston told Fox Sports. “I haven’t done any virtual things.”
Koetter and the Bucs would like that to change soon, but they are looking for the right fit.
"What I tell vendors that come in to show us stuff is that we need it today," Koetter said. "Some people tell us, 'This will be ready in three months. I say, 'No, Jameis needs this tomorrow.'”
If the virtual reality system can help Winston with his adjustment from college to the pros while keeping the Bucs’ backups sharp, you could see other teams follow suit with the technology.
Cowboys backup Brandon Weeden told the team’s website last week that the technology is “invaluable.”
“You can rewind it as many times as you want and really get a grasp of fine tuning each play,” Weeden said. “Out there [on the field] it happens so fast, you’re kind of running plays and it’s rapid fire. In there it gives you the ability to rewind it, really understand it.
“They’re on to something. It’s a cool deal.”
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The Miami Dolphins were scheduled to hold their final practice of minicamp on Thursday, but opted instead for another team-building activity.
Instead of holding a kickball game like it did during OTAs, receivers coach Phil McGeoghan revealed that the team participated in a day of Navy SEAL training.
As a team we went Navy Seal Training. Players and coaches. Unreal experience. Seals are the real deal! Now I have to get in the cold tub.— Phil McGeoghan (@PhilMcGeoghan) June 18, 2015
Even though kicker Caleb Sturgis was injured during the aforementioned kickball game, team officials evidently weren’t concerned about putting the players through a far more rigorous activity.
The reaction from the players on social media was overwhelmingly positive.
Still have sand in my eyes..ears as well as other parts of my body that I won't mention. LITTLE glimpse of Navy Seal training. Respect.— Jordan Cameron (@jordancameron) June 18, 2015
The Navy Seals team training we just did is the hardest thing Ive ever done. If youre a Navy Seal you are a better man than me, no question.— A.J. Francis (@AJFrancis410) June 18, 2015
Seals training is the real F'n deal. It is not a joke. I bow to the Seals after we just went through a small portion of what they do. 🙌🏾🙌🏾— Rishard Matthews (@_RMatthews) June 18, 2015
Like Jordan Cameron said, Thursday's workout was just a small glimpse of how the SEALs train on a daily basis and these world-class athletes really had to grind their way through it.
A lot of the SEAL challenges lean heavily on teamwork in order to complete a task. Things like that could go a long way when the season rolls around.
(H/T Palm Beach Post)
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You (yes, you) can own a piece of deflate-gate history.
The couple, Laura and Matt Nichols, sat in the first row in the end zone during the Jan. 18 game at Gillette Stadium. After a LeGarrette Blount touchdown run put the Patriots up 37-7 late in the third quarter, LaFell picked up the ball and handed it to Laura, she said.
At first, they weren’t sure if the ball was one of the controversial underinflated balls that resulted in a $1 million fine and forfeiture of draft picks for the team and suspension of quarterback Tom Brady. But the release of the Wells Report confirmed it was.
Originally, the couple thought the ball was a backup ball brought in for the second half after officials found the Patriots' balls in the first half to be underinflated, as had been originally reported by the media. But the NFL-commissioned report by Ted Wells confirmed that the 12 balls used in the first half were simply re-inflated for the second half.
"Once we found that out, we knew we had a Deflategate ball," Matt Nichols said.
The two told ESPN that they have “mixed feelings” about selling the ball, but would “rather have the money than have it sit on some shelf in their house.”
The ball has been consigned to online auction house Lelands.com for an auction that ends July 17. The starting bid is $25,000 and Joshua Evans, founder of Lelands.com, told ESPN.com that he could see the ball selling for “six figures.”
There is no word on the current or former status of the ball’s PSI.
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According to ESPN.com, Bryant did not practice, but he “sat with his teammates” as head coach Jason Garrett addressed the team. He also played catch with fellow receiver Cole Beasley and “spent a quick moment talking” with quarterback Tony Romo.
Bryant has until July 15 to sign a franchise tag offer from the team that would pay him more than $12 million for the 2015 season. Because he hasn’t signed the offer, Bryant is technically not under contract with the team and is not required to participate in minicamps, which are mandatory for all other players.
Nonetheless, Bryant was there on the sideline at AT&T Stadium on Thursday. Garrett said it was “great” for Bryant to visit.
“It’s great to have him here. Dez obviously hasn’t signed his franchise deal yet, so he’s not practicing,” Garrett said per ESPN.com. “He’s dropped in really throughout the offseason program. Dez is a special guy. He’s obviously a heck of a football player, obviously very important to our football team. His approach is really well respected by anybody on our team, the guys he goes against. He’s got a great passion for the game, and it’s great to have him here.”
Bryant and his agent, Tom Condon, have indicated recently that Bryant would be willing to sit out regular season games if he does not get a long-term extension in place. Bryant indicated his want for long-term security in a tweet sent on Wednesday.
Everybody voicing opinions..13 mil is cool but Where is my security? I'll wait ...5 years without complaining..So how am I selfish? #family1— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) June 17, 2015
Cowboys ownership, including Jerry Jones (owner and general manager) and his son Stephen Jones (executive vice president), said this week they are not worried about the threat of Bryant sitting out. However, they have indicated that they understand where Bryant is coming from and would like to lock him up in Dallas for the foreseeable future.
"Our goal ultimately is to sign Dez to a long-term contract and I know Dez would like to have one, but this is an environment – especially with the receiver market – that’s not exactly easy to get your hands around," Stephen Jones said Tuesday on Sirius XM NFL Radio.
Added Jerry Jones on Wednesday: "I am sympathetic to it and understand it completely. And I would like nothing more than to have long-term security with Dez.”
Condon said earlier this week that he’s not sure whether Bryant would be willing to play the 2015 season under the franchise tag.
“We haven’t got that far yet and I would talk with the Cowboys about all of those situations before I talk about it publicly,” Condon said.
Bryant caught 89 passes for 1,350 yards and a league-leading 16 touchdowns last season.
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Most of us would think it was pretty sweet to get an Oscar-winning movie made of our lives, but for Michael Oher, the rewards haven't been quite what he expected.
Oher, the offensive lineman immortalized in the book and movie "The Blind Side," is trying to stick with the Carolina Panthers. And to hear him tell it, the movie has caused him more problems than it solved. Oher has had difficulty in the last two seasons playing for the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans, and bristled at the idea that he still has to prove anything to coaches.
"People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie," he said, according to ESPN. "They don't really see the skills and the kind of player I am. That's why I get downgraded so much, because of something off the field. This stuff, calling me a bust, people saying if I can play or not ... that has nothing to do with football. It's something else off the field. That's why I don't like that movie."
The movie, focusing on Oher and the Memphis, Tenn., family that helped him get his life on track, grossed more than $300 million and netted Sandra Bullock on Oscar. While it's not an unflattering portrait of Oher, he's nonetheless tried on many occasions to distance himself from it.
Oher signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Panthers. His task will be to protect Cam Newton's bli- ... let's just say he's supposed to protect his quarterback.
And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.