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Ravens CB Jimmy Smith cited, released by police

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 13, 2014   

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith became the fifth player on the team to be arrested during the ojimmy-smith-1.jpgffseason after he received a criminal citation Saturday night for failing to follow an officer's orders.

According to several reports, the incident occurred after Baltimore County police were called to a Towson restaurant because a woman had reportedly passed out in the bathroom.

Police arrived and found the woman vomiting into a sink in the bathroom. Police say Smith was with her and refused to obey an officer's repeated orders to leave the bathroom.

Smith, 25, was cited late Saturday at a police precinct in Towson and then released.

A Ravens spokesman said Sunday that the team is "gathering information" on the incident.

Four other Ravens had encounters with the law this offseason. Running back Ray Rice was arrested for felony assault; offensive lineman Jah Reid was cited for felony aggravated assault; wide receiver Deonte Thompson was arrested for felony possession of marijuana; and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was charged with misdemeanor destruction of property.

Rice and Reid were accepted into a pretrial diversion program. Thompson had the charges dropped. Taliaferro has a court date scheduled for later this month.

Smith started all 16 games for the Ravens last season. He had 58 tackles, two interceptions and forced two fumbles in his third NFL season.

A first-round pick in 2011, Smith was a key contributor to Baltimore's Super Bowl win in February 2013. He had three tackles and knocked away a pass during the Ravens' goal-line stand in the closing minutes of a 34-31 victory over San Francisco. (Photo: Associated Press)

 

Joe Montana, other 49ers Legends play final game at Candlestick Park

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 13, 2014  

The final football game to ever be played at San Francisco's Candlestick Park was played Saturday by BsbqOFoIMAEii7_.jpga team of 49ers greats, led by four-time Super Bowl winner Joe Montana.

Montana and wide receiver Jerry Rice, along with former 49ers Roger Craig, Dwight Clark, Steve Young and many others, faced off against an All-Star team captained by former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino.

Montana had three touchdown passes while Steve Young rushed for a score. Jeff Garcia added two touchdowns, with one going to Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice.

The All-Stars got a strong defensive effort from former Vikings safety Robert Griffith, who intercepted Young twice in the first half, returning both for scores.

But it wasn't enough as Montana brought the team back from a 40-32 deficit in the fourth quarter.

Montana connected with former team owner Eddie DeBartolo for the game-winning touchdown, and the Niners won 45-40.

The game is part of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department's "Last Summer at the 'Stick" series of events. The 49ers will begin playing at their new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara beginning this season.

About 25,000 fans attended the game, with all proceeds going to the San Francisco police and fire departments Cancer Prevention Foundation. (Photo: NFL/Twitter)

 

Pouncey Twins allegedly involved in bar altercation at their birthday party

Submitted by Jackie Quattro | July 12, 2014  

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Mike Pouncey (right) and his twin brother – Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurki9-Maurkice-Pouncey-Mark-Ingram-Mike-Pouncey1.jpgce Pouncey – throw a big party for their birthday every year. But this year their party reportedly go a little out of hand after an altercation broke out and police became involved.

According to the Palm Beach New-Times, the Miami Beach Police Department are looking into an alleged altercation at the Cameo Nightclub in Miami Beach, Florida.

The Pounceys held their birthday party there on Friday night and a man named Ricky Vasquez alleges he was assaulted by the brothers.

"There was an incident that occurred at Cameo last night at 4:20 a.m., where an alleged assault took place," Miami Beach Police Sgt. Bobby Hernandez told the New Times. "We have not confirmed it's the Pouncey brothers that are the subjects, but we are going to have detectives contacting the victims to investigate further."

Vazquez tweeted at 4:53 a.m. he "just got jumped by 4 bouncers and the Pouncey Twins at Cameo" adding that he planned "to press charges."

However, Pro Football Talk reports the "preliminary evidence indicates the Pounceys were not involved in the alleged assault." (Photo: Rodrigo Gaya/World Red Eye)

 

Donte Whitner doesn't think the Browns should cut Josh Gordon, they should help him

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 12, 2014   

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is already facing a possible one-year substance aDonte-Whitner-Josh-Gordon-help.jpgbuse suspension from the NFL. He didn't help himself last week by being charged with DWI in North Carolina.

A few days after Gordon's arrest, Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter stated that the best move for Gordon would be for the Browns to release him. But Gordon's teammate – safety Donte Whitner – doesn't think his team should dump Gordon.

"He's a 23-year-old kid; he made some mistakes. A lot of people's 20-year-old sons make mistakes," Whitner told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday. "We have to help him, and that's the bottom line. We have to help him collectively. It's not going be one person that helps him, it's not going to be two people that help him. It's gonna come from the front office, the coaching staff, the players and his whole family. We have to help him -- not only for football purposes, but for life purposes to get his life in order."

Without mentioning Carter by name, the Browns safety basically called Carter's comments 'dumb.'

"The thing is, we have to rally around him," Whitner said. "I know all the dumb things people say – 'he should be cut, he should be this' – he shouldn't."

Whitner added that he's communicated with Gordon and that the Browns receiver is "very remorseful."

The Browns should know by late July what kind of suspension Gordon will be facing in 2014 and if it's a one-year ban, then Gordon will need all the help the team can give him. People close to Gordon are concerned that a one-year suspension could mean the end of his career. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

 

Colts release WR LaVon Brazill one week after suspension

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 11, 2014  

On July 3, the NFL announced that Indianapolis Colts wide receiver LaVon Brazill would have to sit out the entire 20LaVon-Brazill-Colts-Cut.jpg14 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. That was just the beginning of his slide.

On Friday, the Colts announced that Brazill is no longer a Colt. The team waived Brazill just eight days after the NFL announced his suspension.

The year-long suspension was the second of Brazill's two-year career. The 25-year-old was also suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season.

The 2012 sixth-round pick out of Ohio University played in a total of 25 games over two seasons with Indianapolis. Brazill caught 23 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns in his two-year career with the Colts. However, Brazill won't be adding anything to those career numbers until 2015 at the earliest.

The open roster spot left by Brazill's departure went to wide receiver Aaron Burks, who was signed by the team on Friday. Burks is a former Boise State receiver who went undrafted in 2014 and spent a month with the Buccaneers before being released by Tampa Bay in June. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

 

Bengals WR A.J. Green doesn't want anyone else throwing him the ball but Andy Dalton

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 11, 2014 

Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown has been openly hesitant this offseason about signing quarterback Andy Dalton to a big money, long-term contract. Dalton is heading into the final year andy-dalton-j-green_pg_600.jpgof his rookie deal and the two sides haven't been able to agree on what he's worth.

Dalton might not be looking for any help in negotiations, but he got some anyway from wide receiver A.J. Green on Wednesday. During the NFL Network's Top 100 Reaction Show, Green made a strong endorsement for Dalton, saying he didn't want to catch passes from anyone else.

"We came in together and that is the great thing for me and him," Green said. "I know he's my guy. I don't want any other quarterback throwing me the ball. I think he feels the same way about me."

Both Green and Dalton were taken in the 2011 NFL Draft. Green was taken with the fourth overall pick by the Bengals and Dalton was taken at No. 35. The Bengals don't have to worry about extending Green just yet because the receiver is signed through the 2015 season.

All first-round picks have a team option for a fifth-year and the Bengals picked up Green's option. On the other hand, second-round picks like Dalton only sign four-year deals.

Green likes Dalton because he'll throw him the ball in almost any situation -- and that's also a reason why Dalton makes Bengals fans so nervous.

"He feels confident that whether I'm double covered, triple covered, it don't matter I'm going to come down with the ball," Green said. "And I feel like we've grown over these last three years and I feel like this year is going to be another key year for us."

Dalton also got an endorsement from offensive coordinator Hue Jackson in late June. Jackson said he believes that Dalton and Green are the top receiver-quarterback tandem in the league.

"I think they're the best in the game in my opinion," Jackson said. "I know people will fight that and say differently, but I've watched these guys and these guys have grown. They came in together. They started off hot, they're still hot." (Photo: Ric Tapia/NFL.com)

 

RG3 says Alfred Morris Redskins' biggest offensive weapon

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 11, 2014   

Robert Griffin III and DeSean Jackson might be the biggest names on the Redskins offense, but that doAlfred-Morris.jpgesn't mean they're the team's biggest offensive weapons. That honor belongs to running back Alfred Morris, at least according to RG3.

The Redskins quarterback was asked this week who the team's biggest offensive weapon was and he said it's definitely Morris.

"I think everyone would lean towards DeSean or Pierre [Garcon] or Jordan Reed. I think it's Alfred," Griffin told the team's official website.

Since his rookie year in 2012, Morris is one of only two running backs in the NFL -- along with Adrian Peterson -- who's rushed for over 2,850 yards.

"With him, defenses have to make a decision whether to puts guys in the box to stop him or leave the box light and allow Alfred to go between the tackles and lure in the safeties," RG3 said. "I think it will be interesting to see what defenses do against him."

If things go as planned, stopping Morris wont't be as easy as loading the box in 2014. The Redskins running back is hoping to become more versatile this season: He wants to start catching more passes. Morris just needs to build some confidence first.

"I'm just building that trust with the quarterbacks and the coaches to get that confidence that I can catch it to be a viable option in the passing game," Morris said. "Even within myself, I'm building that confidence that I can handle the pressure of a third-and-five, and I'm running that choice route to win and catch the ball to keep us on the field."

Morris has ranked second and fourth overall in rushing yards during his two seasons in the league, but he's only caught a total of 20 passes and he's never made a touchdown catch.

"It comes down to confidence in myself, confidence of the coaches and quarterbacks in me," Morris said. "Just working hard, making sure I look the ball in before I catch it. I like to run before I secure the ball, but I just have to work on securing the ball before I run."

If Morris can't put it all together, it won't take much for him to top his best career receiving game. Morris' best game through air came in Week 13 last season when he caught three passes for 27 yards. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

 

Four teams interested in Andre Johnson, but trading him will cost Texans

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 10, 2014  

Four teams have expressed interest in trading for disgruntled Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, NFL Netwo4 teams interested in Johnson.jpgrk's Ian Rapoport reports.

Johnson is unhappy with the direction of the Texans – which are rebuilding with a new coach and new quarterbacks – and has told them he wants to play for another team. But according to Rapoport, Houston is resistant to trade the veteran wideout.

Johnson is owed $21.5 million over the next two seasons. So if the Texans were to cut or trade him, they would incur $12 million in dead money on their salary cap.

Johnson stayed away from the team's offseason program, forfeiting $1 million in bonuses. He wanted to earn it back but the team said no, causing another rift, according to Rapoport. (Photo: David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

 

Bucs TE Seferian-Jenkins says surgically repaired foot feels really good

Submitted by Jackie Quattro | July 10, 2014  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round pick who could start, said his left foASJ06_16_14_1_a.jpgot is in good shape following February surgery for a stress fracture, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"I feel really good. My foot feels really good," he said. "I've been running routes, doing all the exercise and workout drills that they've asked me to do. I feel very comfortable and confident that I'll be ready to go when it comes to training camp."

The foot injury limited Seferian-Jenkins during the team's rookie minicamp. He missed OTAs and the mandatory minicamp because of the University of Washington's academic calendar.

"The only thing you can really do is try to learn the formations and concepts, the methodology of the offense, but there's nothing that substitutes for the hands-on experience of being out there running routes, and getting the timing down with the quarterbacks, the communication, all that stuff," he said. "There's definitely going to be a little bit of a learning curve, but that's to be expected when you're not there at all. It's nothing I can't overcome. I'm just going into it one day at a time and will be working really hard." (Photo: buccaneers.com)

 

Andre Johnson still unsure about his future with Texans

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 10, 2014 

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is still unsure about his future with the team, acknowledging he's unsure whether he7824860.jpg'll be in uniform Sept. 7 for a Week 1 matchup against the Washington Redskins at NRG Stadium.

"I don't know," Johnson told reporters, while making an appearance at a Nike event in Oregon on Wednesday. "I can't answer that question."

Johnson was a little more positive about the potential he could end his stalemate with the Texans and appear in training camp, which begins in late July. But the franchise's all-time leading receiver in receptions, yards and touchdowns remained vague about his overall plans, while speaking publicly for the first time since May, when he expressed frustration with the Texans' rebuild.

"Hopefully. We'll see what happens," Johnson said. "Training camp's three weeks away, so we'll see what happens."

The seven-time Pro Bowler missed all of the Texans' recent offseason workouts, including a mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

First year head coach Bill O'Brien has taken the high road during the stalemate, regularly saying he greatly appreciates Johnson's past contributions to the team. General manager Rick Smith and owner Bob McNair haven't commented about Johnson's holdout. (Photo: Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY Sports)

 

Peyton Manning No. 1 on NFL Network's 'Top 100 Players'

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 10, 2014    

Peyton Manning came in at No. 1 on NFL Network's list of 100 players Wednesday night.

The Denver Broncos quarterback got the nod based on last seasons' 5,477 passing yards, 55 toumanning.jpgchdowns and fifth MVP award.

"Well, I feel like I'm in the second chapter of my football career, obviously changing teams, changing offensive systems, coaches, different coordinators, different receivers I'm throwing against -- it's been a major adjustment," Manning said in an interview with NFL Network's Lindsay Rhodes broadcast after the show.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was the runner-up to Manning. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was third and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, last year's top finisher, was fourth, with Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy rounding out the top five.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees came in at number six, followed by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, running back Jamaal Charles of Kansas City, wide receiver A.J. Green of Cincinnati and Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

Other prominent QBs were Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, No. 11; Seattle's Russell Wilson, No. 20; Carolina's Cam Newton, No. 24; Colts QB Andrew Luck, No. 30; and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, No. 31. (Photo: Associated Press)

 

Richard Sherman would love to "choke out" Michael Crabtree

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 9, 2014    

It's been six months since Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gave the "post-game interview heard a9ee42af72eb0d430d8fa8bd5b8007ac7_crop_north.jpground the world" after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game.

Following that game Sherman announced to the world – and a confused Erin Andrews – that he did not like Niners receiver Michael Crabtree and he recently had some WWE-style trash talk for his NFC West nemesis while appearing on the debut episode of the Discovery Channel's American Muscle.

"It's much more of just I don't like the dude," Sherman said on the show. "You know what I'm saying. And I think he's sorry. So it's really what it comes down to."

In the episode Sherman rehashes the moments that led up to his now-famous rant to Erin Andrews.

"It's just about him, it's just about Crabtree," Sherman says.

Sherman again won't let on to what exactly happened between him and Crabtree, but it's clear the Seahawks' cornerback isn't looking to bury the hatchet.

"It's not going to be something that goes away," he says. "I hope to play him every year for the rest of my career and choke him out. There's not much else I can say about the subject. Nobody will understand it but him and me. That's all that needs to understand." (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Redskins DB Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 9, 2014    

Just two months after being reinstated by the NFL, Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson has been suspended again. The league annoTanard-Jackson-indefinite-suspension.jpgunced on Wednesday that Jackson's been suspended indefinitely without pay for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

It's the fourth suspension for Jackson and his second since signing with the Redskins before the 2012 season. The 28-year-old has yet to play in a regular season game with the team.

The Redskins re-signed him, and he said during a spring practice that this time would be different in part because of the "humbling experience" of having to work in a warehouse during his suspension.

The 28-year-old Jackson was suspended twice while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: four games in 2009 and for 12 months starting in September 2010.

After sitting out the past 20 months due to suspension, it's unlikely Jackson will be reinstated anytime soon. He was given what was expected to be his final chance to play again when the NFL reinstated him in May, now his NFL career is most likely over. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

 

Aaron Rodgers likes what he sees in rookie TE Aaron Rodgers

Submitted by Jackie Quattro | July 9, 2014   

The Green Bay Packers are unsettled at tight end, which means rookie Richard Rodgers could emerge as an option. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers certainly liked throwing to the 6-4, 257-pounder in thtemp140610-otas-15--nfl_mezz_1280_1024.jpge spring, and Richard Rodgers could be the starter "sooner rather than later," according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

"When we made the pick, some of the so-called experts on the draft channel said he was a late sixth-round pick which is pretty laughable when you watch the talent he's got and the ability," Aaron Rodgers said. "You have to be excited about his body type and the hands.

"He's made some incredible catches, makes it look easy. I think he's going to push for some playing time if he can transfer what he's done in the spring now to the fall and have the potential to be an impact player."

Richard Rodgers ran a 4.87 forty coming out of California, two-tenths of a second slower than Jermichael Finley ran back in 2008, and often lined up in the slot in college, the paper said. (Photo: Jim Biever/Packers.com)

 

Ravens undrafted rookie WR Butler has impressed

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 9, 2014  

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Butler is an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee-Martin but he's made a strong early imptemp061914_Minicamp_PH_9928--nfl_mezz_1280_1024.jpgression with the coaching staff and his teammates, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The 6-2, 218-pounder "is an imposing downfield target with size, strength and leaping ability working in his favor," the report said, adding coaches view Butler as "an intriguing developmental prospect."

During minicamp, Butler ran with the second-team offense while other rookies worked on a separate field.

"I would say I bring versatility in the schemes and being able to play all over the passing game," Butler told the paper. "I make the plays downfield in the deep game. I go across the middle. I enjoy the dirty work and like the short, quick game.

"I bring that physicality to the table and overpower defenders. I'm just a hard-nosed Ravens style player. I can bring that element to the offense." (Photo: Associated Press)

 

Ex-NFL player Tommie Harris to own FXFL team

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 9, 2014 

Former NFL players Tommie Harris and Eric Bassey are the first owners of a team in the new FXFL developmtommie-harris-arrest-chicago.jpgental league.

The Fall Experimental Football League, which has no affiliation with the NFL, plans to play six games in October and November in six U.S. cities. Harris and Bassey will own the Austin franchise, with other teams to be located in the New York and Boston areas; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon; and a city in Florida yet to be determined.

Harris played eight seasons in the NFL, seven with Chicago, where he was a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle. Bassey spent two seasons with the Rams as a defensive back.

Bassey says Austin is the right spot for a developmental team in Texas. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

 

Pete Carroll to be inducted into USC's Athletic Hall of Fame

Submitted by Victor DeMarco | July 9, 2014 

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is going back to the University of Southern California — ncf_a_carroll_d1_600x400.jpgas a member of the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

The former Trojans football coach is one of 16 people who have been named to the hall's 11th class. They will be introduced at halftime of USC's game against Oregon State on Sept. 27 at Los Angeles Coliseum.

Carroll, who won the Super Bowl this year with the Seahawks, coached the Trojans from 2001-09. They won two national championships, going 13-0 in 2004, and won seven straight Pac-10 titles under him. USC won a record three straight Rose Bowl games during his tenure, when he had a career mark of 97-16.

Carroll left USC in 2010 to coach the Seahawks.

Among the other inductees are former football and baseball coach Jack Del Rio, baseball player Mark Prior and golfer Jennifer Rosales. They were chosen by a 75-member panel of media, previous Hall of Fame members, Trojan head coaches and athletic department senior staff. (Photo: Michael Conroy/Associated Press)

 

Fugitive captured after joking to local newspaper about Redskins name

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 8, 2014  

A fugitive wanted on drug and drunk driving charges has been captured after giving what he thought wJacob-Close-criminal.jpgas a hilarious opinion on the Washington Redskins name to a local newspaper.

When approached by a reporter, Jacob Close, 25, told the Press-Enterprise in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania that he didn't see anything wrong with the name.

"I think they should keep the same name, but change the mascot to a potato," he joked.

Close, a student at Bloomsburg University, agreed to allow the paper to print his name and picture along with his quote. It's a decision he likely regrets.

Campus police had been looking for Close for more than a month after police in Ithaca City, New York called to report that he jumped bail. An officer spotted the fugitive's photo in the paper and was able to take him into custody at the student recreation center Sunday afternoon, according to the paper.

Close is now in Colombia County Prison on $25,000 bail awaiting extradition to New York. (Photo: Bloomsburg Press-Enterprise)

 

Blogger hired to defend Redskins name quits after two weeks

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 8, 2014 

A blogger hired by the Washington Redskins to defend the team's name has quit after two weekredskins-pride_2.jpgs.

Ben Tribbett announced his resignation on Twitter late Monday, saying he didn't want to be a distraction because of personal attacks directed toward him.

Tribbett is well-known in Virginia politics as an advocate for liberal issues. He is perhaps best known for leading the attacks on Sen. George Allen for using the word "macaca" to describe an American of Indian descent during Allen's ill-fated re-election campaign in 2006.

Tribbett tweeted that he supports the Redskins name but doesn't "see eye to eye with some friends" over the issue.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has vowed not to change the name but is facing unprecedented opposition from those who consider it a racial slur. (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

 

Jim Brown says 1964 NFL championship ring stolen

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 8, 2014  

Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown says his 1964 NFL championship ring bejim-brown-1964-nfl-championship-ring-1.jpging auctioned online was stolen from him.

Brown's ring is up for bidding on www.lelands.com until July 25. As of Monday, the highest bid was for $33,275. Brown tells cleveland.com that a claim by the auction company that he authenticated the ring is "a lie." Brown says he was unaware the ring was being auctioned off.

Brown, who works as a Browns special adviser, says the ring was stolen from him more than 40 years ago.

Considered one of the greatest players in NFL history, Brown rushed for 12,312 yards in nine seasons. In '64, he rushed for 1,446 yards and scored seven touchdowns as the Browns won the title — the last for any major Cleveland sports franchise. (Photo: lelands.com)

 

Dan Orlovsky expects big things from Theo Riddick

Submitted by Jackie Quattro | July 7, 2014 

Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky predicted running back Theo Riddick will play a Darren SprTheo+Riddick+Baltimore+Ravens+v+Detroit+Lions+j835Zf8eO_ml.jpgoles-like role in the offense although he's behind Reggie Bush and Joique Bell on the depth chart, the Detroit Free Press reports.

"I'm telling you, if he doesn't 50 catches this year, I'll be surprised because he's going to have opportunities and he's very talented at it," Orlovsky said on the Ross Tucker Podcast. "I think he's going to play that Sproles role, for sure."

Orlovsky was struck by what he saw from Riddick in OTAs and minicamp.

"I mean this kid, he wasn't covered a single time in OTAs and minicamp. He was not covered," Orlovsky said. "And I think it's even going to be easier when he gets pads on because once linebackers just try to start colliding him, and that's what teams started to do with Sproles sometimes, you hit the home run one out of every 10 plays. And then nine out of 10 times, Sproles wins. And I think Theo's going to do that for us."

Riddick got 13 touches in 14 games as a rookie last year. (Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images)

 

Federal judge approves NFL concussion settlement

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 7, 2014 

A federal judge on Monday granted preliminary approval to a landmark deal that would compensate thousands of former NFL players for concussion-related claims.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody cameconcussions-lawsuit1.jpg about two weeks after the NFL agreed to remove a $675 million cap on damages. Brody had previously questioned whether that would be enough money to pay all claims.

"This is an extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families — from those who suffer with neuro-cognitive illnesses today, to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future," plaintiffs' attorneys Sol Weiss and Christopher Seeger said in a statement.

The settlement is designed to last at least 65 years and cover retirees who develop Lou Gehrig's disease and other neurological problems.

More than 4,500 former players have filed suit, some accusing the league of fraud for its handling of concussions. They include former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who suffers from dementia.

"We are grateful to Judge Brody for her guidance and her thoughtful analysis of the issues as reflected in the comprehensive opinion she issued today," NFL senior vice president Anastasia Danias said in a statement.

The original settlement included $675 million for compensatory claims for players with neurological symptoms, $75 million for baseline testing and $10 million for medical research and education. The NFL would also pay an additional $112 million to the players' lawyers, for a total payout of more than $870 million.

The revised settlement eliminates the cap on overall damage claims but retains a payout formula for individual retirees that considers their age and illness. A young retiree with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, would receive $5 million, a 50-year-old with Alzheimer's disease would get $1.6 million, and an 80-year-old with early dementia would get $25,000.

Even with the cap removed, both sides said they believe the NFL will spend no more than about $675 million on damage claims by ex-players.

Critics of the deal have said the league, with annual revenues approaching $10 billion, was getting off lightly. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the settlement avoids the risk of a protracted legal battle. (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Drew Brees confident Jimmy Graham will get long-term deal

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 6, 2014 

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he's confident the team will hammer out a long-terBrees confident Graham will get deal.jpgm deal with tight end Jimmy Graham before the July 15 deadline. But Brees did concede he's getting anxious.

"I know the opportunity to reach a long-term agreement goes until July 15th, so we've got a couple of weeks here, but you know I'm anxious and hopeful that it'll happen," Brees told the CanalStreetChronicles.com.

An arbitrator ruled in the team's favor last week, saying Graham can be franchised as a tight end and not a receiver. Brees said Graham has "revolutionized the position."

"He's a guy who is so talented at so many things you know and obviously he's a big part of our offense and I hope that they're able to reach a long-term agreement here sooner than later," Brees said. "At the end of the day, this is part of the process and I think we all understand that." (Photo: Matthew Hinton/The Advocate)

 

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson has improved route running

Submitted by Jackie Quattro | July 6, 2014 

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner told Fox Sports that second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has imCordarrelle-Patterson_630x420.jpgproved his route-running.

"The most obvious thing, and you see it when he returns kicks, is he's a natural runner," Turner said. "He's got great instincts when he gets the ball in his hand and he makes great run decisions. He's got great vision. I think from Day 1 to now he's improved as a route runner. He's been very serious about working as a route runner."

Turner said receivers coach George Stewart has done a great job tutoring Patterson on the details of running routes. "He's so explosive when he comes off the ball the way he's capable of coming off the ball," Turner said of the 6-2, 220-pound Patterson. "He creates problems for defensive backs. I think he's made great strides."

Quarterback Matt Cassel echoed those sentiments, saying Patterson has made "a tremendous amount of progress."

"I think the offseason was huge for him in terms of his progress and just being able to really learn," Cassel said. "He's still a young player. He only played a year in college and he was a year at JC [junior college] and now only a year here, and he played sparingly last year for us at receiver. But I think this has been a huge offseason for him to learn, to see Greg [Jennings] do it last year and now to kind of start to apply it more in this offseason." (Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

 

Browns WR Josh Gordon arrested for DWI

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 5, 2014  

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon seems to be doing everything possible he can think of to destroBrzTgESCIAM7Rc_.jpgy is NFL career.

Gordon is facing a year-long suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy. He has a suspension hearing later this month.

But things are really not looking good for Gordon after he was arrested for driving while impaired early Saturday in Raleigh N.C., Matt Anderson of WKYC in Cleveland reports

He was booked at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, according to the report. He was processed and released on bond.

Gordon pleaded not guilty to a speeding ticket he received May 25 in Ohio, according to WKYC. Gordon was stopped for going 74 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour. Gordon was fined $187.

Gordon, who failed multiple drug tests while at Baylor, missed the first two games of last season for a violation of the substance abuse policy. When he returned to the field he had one of the great seasons for a NFL receiver, with 87 catches, 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in just 14 games despite the Browns having a ton of injuries at quarterback. He was named first-team All-Pro.

While awaiting the decision on his appeal, some close to Gordon think that a one-year suspension would end his career, with the thought being time away from the team facilities and support would do him in. (Photo: Matt Anderson/Twitter)

 

Remembering Steve McNair five years after his death

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 4, 2014 

Five years ago on July 4, 2009, it was a very slow news day for NFL writers. But then reports surfaced that former Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Steve McNair had been found dead aap_tn_ye_top_stories_28908479-e1382295585368.jpgt the age of 36.

McNair was shot, execution style. It was later announced by the police that he was killed by his 20-year-old mistress, Sahel Kazemi, who had purchased the gun two days earlier from a convicted felon. After killing McNair, she then turned the gun on herself.

So much didn't add up then, and a lot still doesn't add up.

And it doesn't change the fact that McNair was indeed killed, and that his family has been dealing with the aftermath of his passing for five years now.

The outpouring of grief spread to LP Field where McNair helped the Titans cement their status in Tennessee by leading the Titans to the 2000 Super Bowl. The team opened the stadium to fans and approximately 9,000 turned out to mourn and watch a commemorative video.

About 4,500 people attended his memorial service in Nashville with thousands of others coming by to pay their respects. A helicopter provided live TV coverage while McNair's body was moved to the church by hearse, and three of the four local stations showed the service live.

Thousands more said goodbye in his home state of Mississippi. In his home town of Mount Olive, state troopers helped direct traffic when large crowds turned out to view his body.

And nearly 5,000 came to Reed Green Coliseum on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi for one of the biggest funerals in state history. The McNair family even rented buses to bring in people from Mount Olive. Brett Favre, Ray Lewis, Doug Williams and Jay Cutler were among the NFL players present and past on hand.

McNair became legendary for his ability to play through injuries, and to play well in the process.  He led the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV, nearly forcing overtime against the Rams with a heroic late-game drive that fell inches short of the goal line.

His divorce from the Titans was an ugly one. Frozen out of the facility in 2006 due to a huge cap number the team didn't want to carry if McNair suffered a season-ending injury while lifting weights, McNair filed a grievance in order to force the team's hand.  He won, and the Titans traded him to the Ravens.

McNair started 16 games in 2006, leading the Ravens to the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. He played one more season with the Ravens.  In 2008, they drafted Joe Flacco.

After 13 NFL seasons, McNair announced his retirement in April of 2008. His career cut short by injuries because of his fearless playing style.

A little over a year later after retiring from the NFL, McNair was murdered.

McNair would be well known for his charitable work and his Steve McNair foundation. McNair spent his off seasons putting on football camps in Mississippi, with another Mississippi legend, Brett Favre.

Steve donated to the United Way and to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. There seemed to be no end to the heart and love shown by McNair to the causes close to his heart.

He was named to the Alcorn State Hall of Fame in 2005.

Some athletes off the field lives can lead you to see how their lives would be spent after their playing days were over. For McNair, the only negative press he would make would be two DUI arrests in 2002 and 2007.

No one could have possibly seen that an affair with the 20-year-old Kazemi would end in a double tragedy. Kazemi's presumably murdered McNair because he was not going to leave his wife or he was having affairs with other women. Money was thought to be an issue as well, since Kazemi was falling deeper and deeper in debt.

Regardless of whether McNair ever ends up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he deserves to be remembered as one of the great quarterbacks of his time, who provided leadership through toughness and grit and determination. (Photo: Associated Press)

 

NFL suspends Chiefs OL Rokevious Watkins four games

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 3, 2014 

Kansas City Chiefs guard Rokevious Watkins has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Srokevious-watkins-chiefs.jpgtar reports. It's the second time Watkins has been suspended for violating that policy.

Watkins eligible to return to the Chiefs' active roster Sept. 30, the day after Kansas City's Monday night game against the New England Patriots.

Watkins was a fifth-round draft pick for the Rams in 2012, and though he reportedly had a chance to win the starting left guard job his rookie season, he reported to training camp 16 pounds overweight and out of shape. Then, he suffered an ankle injury in the preseason and later was placed on the IR list because of it.

In 2013, Watkins was suspended a game for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and he was cut by St. Louis in training camp after reporting out of shape again.

He later signed with the Chiefs and played four games with one start last season. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

 

Colts WR Lavon Brazill suspended entire 2014 season

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 3, 2014 

Indianapolis Colts backup wide receiver LaVon Brazill has been suspended for the 2014 season for v7931182.jpgiolating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

Colts spokesman Avis Roper said the team had no comment after the league's announcement.

Brazill was suspended for the first four games last season for violating the substance abuse policy. He said at the time it was for marijuana use.

Brazill played in 10 games last season, finishing with 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns. In two seasons, he has 23 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns. He was drafted in the sixth round out of Ohio University in 2012. (Photo: Mark Rebalis/USA TODAY Sports)

 

Dolphins DE Dion Jordan suspended first four games of season

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 3, 2014

Miami Dolphins second-year defensive end Dion Jordan has been suspended for the first four games of the seashi-res-181594306-dion-jordan-of-the-miami-dolphins-reacts-to-winning-a_crop_exact.jpgon after testing positive for a stimulant prohibited under the NFL's policy on use of performance-enhancing substances.

The Dolphins announced the suspension Thursday. In a statement released by the team, Jordan took "full responsibility" for the positive test.

"I recently learned from the NFL that I tested positive for stimulants that are banned under the NFL policy," Jordan's statement read. "I worked carefully with my advisors and the union to investigate the test results, and I take full responsibility for the test results."

Jordan's statement also included an apology for the "impact of this situation" on his teammates, coaches, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, his fans and family.

"We were disappointed to learn about Dion's suspension," Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said through the team. "Dion has accepted responsibility for his actions and is committed to improving, both on and off the field, in preparation for the upcoming year."

Jordan was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Oregon. He says he added more than 15 pounds of bulk this offseason in an effort to improve his game, earning praise from Philbin for being able to play faster as well.

"I would never sacrifice my speed for weight," Jordan said last month.

He played in all 16 games with Miami a year ago, with 26 tackles and two sacks.

Jordan will be able to participate in training camp and preseason games. Once the regular season starts he will not be permitted to be part of the Dolphins' active roster until Sept. 29, according to an NFL spokesman.

Jordan will miss games against AFC East rivals New England and Buffalo, as well as matchups with Kansas City and Oakland. The first game he would be eligible for would be Oct. 12 against Green Bay, a game that follows the Dolphins' bye week.

"I will continue to work extremely hard during training camp and preseason," Jordan said. "During the suspension, I will stay in top shape and will be ready to contribute upon my return." (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

 

Aaron Hernandez featured in Florida Gators and New England Patriots 2014 calendars

Submitted by Keith Clay | July 2, 2014
Ex-Florida and New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez, jailed while awaiting trial in the killings of three men, is Mr. July in the Gators' 2014 sports calendar and is featured in a Patriots calendar producAaron-Hernandez-July-Calendar.jpged by the same company.

Daniel Apple – a University of Florida spokesman – told Kickoff Coverage that officials approved the publication last spring, months before Hernandez was charged with murder. The Patriots said they would not comment on matters involving Hernandez. And the calendars' maker, Turner Licensing, did not respond to our emails or phone calls for a comment.

Apple said the calendar was not produced by the university, but a third party. Since it's already been printed and distributed for sale, there's not much the school can do since they only became aware of the situation on Monday.

Turner Licensing has informed the university that they will not recall the calendars that have already been printed.

Hernandez started 29 games for the Gators between 2007-2009, catching 111 passes for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, according to the team's website. He later went on to star for the Patriots, with 175 catches for nearly 2,000 yards and 18 TDs from 2010-2012.

On June 26, 2013, Hernandez was arrested in the slaying of Odin Lloyd, whose body was found in an industrial park about a half-mile from Hernandez's mansion in North Attleborough, Massachusetts. Hernandez faces a murder trial starting Oct. 6. Others also face charges in the case.

Since then, the 24-year-old Hernandez has also been indicted on two counts of first-degree murder in the drive-by shooting of two other men, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado and faces trial next year. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, and is in jail in Massachusetts. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)


 

Arbitrator rules Jimmy Graham a tight end

 Submitted by Keith Clay | July 2, 2014

An arbitrator has sided with the New Orleans Saints in ruling that Jimmy Graham can only be considered a tight end for the purposhi-res-6722192_crop_exact.jpges of his franchise tag designation.

The ruling Wednesday by Stephen Burbank is setback for Graham, agent Jimmy Sexton and the NFL Players Association, who'd filed a grievance arguing that Graham was used as a wide receiver often enough to qualify for the more lucrative receiver tag. Graham's case is being closely watched around the league because it could set a precedent for negotiations involving players who fill diverse roles in their teams offensive or defensive schemes. For example, some outside linebackers in a 3-4 defensive scheme, who could argue their right to receive the higher defensive end tag.

NFL franchise tags, which allow teams to keep one prized free agent, was set this year $7 million for tight ends and $12.3 million for receivers.

The NFLPA says it is reviewing the ruling and will advise Graham on his options, which could include an appeal.

Graham has skipped Saints offseason practices while holding out for a new, long-term contract. A favorable ruling would have further enhanced negotiating leverage for Graham, who last season led the Saints with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Such disputes are not frequent, but draw lots of attention because they hold the potential to set a precedent.

Baltimore's Terrell Suggs, the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year, argued in 2008 that he should be tagged as an end, not a linebacker. The difference back then was about $800,000. That dispute ended when Suggs signed a new deal long-term contract with the Ravens. He later helped them win the 2012 NFL championship.

July 15 is the final day a team can sign 2014 franchise players to long-term extensions. Otherwise, they must play under their franchise tag designation for one season, after which they would be set to become free agents again. At that time, their respective teams could apply the franchise tag to them again as well. (Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

 

 Bills confirm LB Kiko Alonso suffered torn ACL

 Submitted by Jackie Quattro | July 2, 2014

Kiko Alonso's season is over before it even began after the Buffalo Bills starting linebacker was diagnosed with 10513508_676611099085522_1208929784311964558_n.jpga torn ligament in his left knee.

General manager Doug Whaley provided the update in a statement released by the team on Wednesday, a day after Alonso was hurt while working out in Oregon. Whaley said Alonso will require surgery to repair a torn ACL, and "will likely miss the 2014 season."

The Bills did not provide any details as to how Alonso was hurt.

The injury is a significant blow to the Bills before they even open training camp in suburban Rochester on July 20.

Alonso was an NFL defensive rookie of the year contender last season after being drafted in the second round out of Oregon. He led Buffalo with 159 tackles, two fumble recoveries and tied for the team lead with four interceptions while barely missing a snap in playing all 16 games.

After playing in the middle last season, Alonso was moving to the outside linebacker spot as part of the Bills' shift to a 4-3 defensive scheme under new coordinator Jim Schwartz. The position switch was also sparked in part by the Bills' signing of run-stopping specialist Brandon Spikes, who is better suited to play in the middle.

Alonso had hip surgery this offseason, which limited him in participating in spring practices. But he was expected to be ready for the start of camp.

"We feel badly for Kiko, because he has worked very hard this offseason in preparation for the upcoming season," Whaley said. "But we look forward to his return with his style of play that made him one of the league's outstanding rookies in 2013."

The Bills do have some depth behind Alonso.

Manny Lawson, an eight-year NFL veteran, has experience playing the position. The Bills also selected linebacker Preston Brown in the third round of the draft in April. (Photo: Getty Images)


 

Lawyer wants judge to deny Patriots from paying Aaron Hernandez

 Submitted by Keith Clay | July 2, 2014

A lawyer for the families of two men allegedly gunned down by former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez will ask a judge to bar the football team from paying Hernandez a $3.25 million contract signing Lawyers do not want Hernandez to get paid.jpgbonus.

A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court on a request for a preliminary injunction.

Hernandez is accused of fatally shooting Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in 2012, just weeks before he signed a 5-year, $40 million contract. Prosecutors say Hernandez shot the men as they sat in their car at a stop light after one of the men accidentally spilled his drink on Hernandez at a Boston nightclub.

William Kennedy, an attorney representing the men's families in wrongful death lawsuits, said the Patriots have challenged Hernandez's right to receive the bonus. But Kennedy said he wants a court order in case the team is ordered to pay Hernandez.

According to the lawsuit filed by Kennedy, Hernandez has filed a grievance seeking the money, plus $82,000 owed to him by the team.

In a court papers filed Tuesday, lawyers for the Patriots said the team has paid Hernandez everything he is owed under his contract. The players' union has filed a grievance on behalf of Hernandez claiming the team owes him more money, but the team views those demands as "meritless," according to the filing.

"Thus, the Patriots owe Hernandez nothing," attorneys Daniel Goldberg, Andrew Phelan and Emily Renshaw wrote.

The lawyers said that in the "unlikely event" that the team is ordered to pay Hernandez more money after an arbitration proceeding, the team has offered to inform the plaintiffs and the court and will not pay Hernandez anything without a court order.

Stacey James, a spokesman for the team, did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment Wednesday. A spokesman for the NFL Players Association also did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Kennedy also wants the court to freeze Hernandez's assets. Each of the lawsuits is seeking $6 million in damages.

The team released Hernandez after his arrest in the 2013 death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.

"It's really a motion to prevent any further payments to be made by the New England Patriots to Mr. Hernandez pending any further action of the court," Kennedy said. "What we're looking to do is preserve as much as we possibly can — any assets — for the satisfaction of the families of the two decedents."

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in all three slayings.

Hernandez's attorney in the wrongful death lawsuits, John Fitzpatrick, said in court papers that the attempt to prevent the team from paying Hernandez is "fundamentally unfair" because Hernandez needs the money to pay for his defense in the three killings and the civil cases.

Depriving Hernandez access to his earnings "would impair his state and federal constitutional rights to counsel and to due process," the response said. (Photo: Steven Senne/Associated Press)


 

Report: Bills LB Kiko Alonso suffers torn ACL, out for season

 Submitted by Keith Clay | July 1, 2014​ 

Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso has suffered a torn ACL while working out in Oregon and is expected to miss the entire 2014 NFL season, ESPN's NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports.

The recovery time for that type injury is seven-to-nine months, so this is a huge blow to the Bills defenkiko-stats-cp.jpgse.

Bills general manager Doug Whaley announced Alonso had been hurt, in a statement released by the team Tuesday night, but was unable to provide many details except to say the early prognosis is the injury "may be significant."

Alonso was an NFL defensive rookie of the year contender last year after being drafted by the Bills in the second round out of Oregon.

Alonso was expected to shift to weakside linebacker this offseason. Now the Bills will have to rethink their linebacking scheme.

According to a Buffalo Rumblings report, Nigel Bradham would be the obvious choice to take Alonso's place on the weak side, with Brandon Spikes in the middle and Keith Rivers on the strong side. Rookie third-round pick Preston Brown could push for a starting gig, as well. None of these players are Kiko Alonso.

The Bills have been off since ending a mandatory minicamp two weeks ago. Players are scheduled to report for the start of training camp in suburban Rochester, N.Y. on July 18. (Photo: Associated Press)


 

Rodney Harrison says NFL player once offered sex with girlfriend for jersey number

 Submitted by Keith Clay | July 1, 2014​ ​ 

Former NFL safety Rodney Harrison was a guest on Pro Football Talk on NBCSN and he talked about the crazy things players would do in order to get a jersey that they wanted from another teamdefensive-back-rodney-harrison_pg_600.jpgmate.

"A guy offered another guy $50,000 for his number and the guy said, 'No way, I need my number,'" Harrison said.  "It just shows you how superstitious these guys are and how connected they are to their number.  But at the same time, then the next thing was probably the craziest thing, money, people offer that all the time, but the guy said, 'Hey man, I'll allow you to sleep with my girlfriend.' Once he said that, I lost my mind. I said no way can it be that serious. I said, 'Obviously you don't love your girlfriend that much.'"

Man, I thought Darrelle Revis paying $50,000 to keep his number 24 when he went to the Buccaneers was crazy, but this indecent proposal takes the cake.

Harrison also told Mike Florio that he chose to wear the number 37 in college and as an NFL player in order to establish his own identity as a player after wearing the number 24 in pop-warner and the number 3 in high school. (Photo: Associated Press)


 

Bills' Dareus turns down plea deal on alleged street-racing accident

 Submitted by Jackie Quattro | July 1, 2014​ 

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will still try to resolve charges stemming from an alleged street-racing accident despite turMarcell Dareus turns down plea deal.jpgning down a plea deal Tuesday, ESPN reports.

Dareus' lawyer Michael Caffery turned down the prosecution's offer to plead guilty to reckless driving during a brief appearance in Hamburg Town court. Caffery instead said he intends to obtain more details on the prosecution's evidence in a bid to reach a resolution before a potential trial.

Upon listening to the two sides, Judge Gerald Gorman put the case off until Sept. 9, when Dareus is next scheduled to appear in court.

Dareus was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment after crashing his 2012 Jaguar into a tree on May 30. The accident occurred near a busy suburban Buffalo intersection and after Dareus was alleged to be racing Bills linebacker Jerry Hughes.

The 24-year-old Dareus also was ticketed for numerous traffic violations, including leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving and taking part in an illegal race.

Dareus was dressed in a gray suit after he traveled from Alabama to be in court on Tuesday. The Bills 2011 first-round draft pick arrived and left the courthouse without commenting.

The accident happened about a month after Dareus was arrested in Alabama and charged with possession of synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia. His lawyer has said there are plea discussions in that case.

The off-field troubles could lead to the NFL taking disciplinary action against Dareus, including a suspension.

The Bills are off until July 18, when players are scheduled to report for the start of training camp in suburban Rochester. (Photo: Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)


 

49ers sell out first season at Levi's Stadium

Submitted by Victor DeMarco | July 1, 2014​ ​ 

There won't be many single-game tickets available this season at the new San Francisco 49ers stadium in Sant140421_LeviStadiumGrass0001-e1398156599647-817x563.jpga Clara.

The team sold out the first season in Levi's Stadium, the Mercury News reports, even though prices were much higher than at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Seven weeks before the first preseason game in the stadium, fans have bought $530 million in seat licenses and $400 million has come in from luxury suites, the report says.

The Santa Clara Stadium Authority and the San Francisco 49ers are splitting $220 million in naming rights paid by jeans-maker Levi Strauss & Co.

On Monday, the 49ers said they'll sell 1,500 standing room only tickets for each game.

Candlestick Park sold out every year since 1982. (Photo: Trevor Will/SFBay)


 

49ers LB Aldon Smith won't face charges for LAX incident

Submitted by Victor DeMarco | July 1, 2014​ 

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith will not face charges related to his arrest earlier this year at Los Angeles I1404235335000-USP-NFL-San-Francisco-49ers-Training-Camp.jpgnternational Airport.

The city attorney's office said in a statement Tuesday that it declined to charge the 24-year-old but will require him to come to a meeting to discuss what happened and be admonished about applicable laws.

Smith was taken into custody April 13 after authorities said he became belligerent during a random security screening and threatened that he had a bomb.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office subsequently referred the case to the city attorney's office for misdemeanor consideration.

In May, Smith pleaded no contest in San Francisco to three felony weapons charges and two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence. (Photo: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)


 

Panthers Benjamin adjusting to the speed, playbook of the NFL

 Submitted by Keith Clay | July 1, 2014 

Carolina Panthers rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin spent a little time with the Ross Tucker Football Podcast and mentioned how he's focused on playing the X in the offense and that he's at 245 pounds (up from 240 pountempminicamp0619_446--nfl_mezz_1280_1024.jpgds at the combine). For Benjamin, learning the playbook and adjusting to the speed of the game have been key factors for him this offseason.

"It really does speed up," Benjamin said of playing football in the pros versus in college. "You're not used to it. When I first got there, rookie training camp was pretty much the same. It was easy. I caught on real fast and I was making big plays. When I got to OTAs for the first two days I felt nervous and it was a faster pace because the real quarterbacks came in and were calling the plays much faster. So I really just had to go back in and study, get with Cam (Newton) and listen to the calls and after that it really slowed back down."

As for the playbook, Benjamin is focused on learning it so it doesn't slow him down once the games start. He did add that it was easy for him to catch on because the plays were based on routes, not concepts, which is something he had in high school. Benjamin is also allowed to change his route based on what the coverage is.

Finally, Benjamin said he got work in with Newton after minicamp practices as well as during the final minicamp practice. When comparing Newton's arm to that of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, Benjamin conceded that Newton throws a "powerful" ball. (Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez/Carolina Panthers)


 

Steelers CB Ike Taylor "pissed off" about taking pay cut

 Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | July 1, 2014  

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor told The Jim Rome Show that he was "pissed off" about taking a pay cut to stay with the t239493abd98bbd0a7b9015c0a07eb5b7_crop_north.jpgeam this season. He gave back $4.25 million in salary.

"I'm pissed off about it, still am pissed off about it and I'm going to be pissed off until the end of the season about it," Taylor said. "Did it hurt me? Hell yeah. Does it still hurt? Yeah, it hurts, but hopefully I can go in and bounce back this year, do what I need to do on the field and we will see what happens after."

Taylor added that he considered leaving the Steelers when asked to take a pay cut but noticed that other players who didn't take pay cuts struggled after getting released.

"I didn't want to leave Pittsburgh, point blank, period," Taylor said. "I've got a lot of relationships – I have a lot of friends, I gained a lot of business relationships in Pittsburgh. Just hearing from other guys coming from other teams and being on the team with Pittsburgh, they say it's like no other; it's like day and night, so I'll listen." (Photo: Getty Images)


 

Dolphins hoping Tannehill to Wallace connection improves

 Submitted by Jackie Quattro | June 30, 2014  

There were issues between Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and receiver Mike Wallace connecting on long passes last season. In 2013 Wallace had just five catches good for 40-plus yards, four of them legitimattannehill-wallace13-0727.JPGe deep lobs (and all of those four slightly underthrown). A big issue for Miami this offseason is to fix the deep ball for Tannehill and have him connect more often with the blazing-fast Wallace.

According to ESPN, there's no visual evidence of an improvement. Over seven practices open to the media including the team's recent three-day minicamp, Tannehill has failed to connect with Wallace. He's tried but misfired.

The team, including the receiver involved, insists that it's a non-issue.

"(You) haven't been here. We hit those, about three or four of them so far," Wallace said. "Me and him haven't personally thrown that many. If we've thrown like six, we've hit on like four."

ESPN also notes that Wallace "appears determined" to have a big year. He's put in extra time after practice to work on his hands and received praise from his head coach, Joe Philbin, who said he's "doing the little things that can make the difference when the season comes around." (Photo: Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)


 

Minor league baseball team start selling 'Johnny Footlong' hot dog

 Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | June 30, 2014  

Johnny Football meet Johnny hot dog.

A minor league baseball team in Ohio now has a hot dog on its menu in honor of Johnny FootbAkron_Rubberducks_Johnny_Footlong_Hot_Dog_Minor_League_Baseball.jpgall.

The Akron RubberDucks say the "Johnny Footlong" is a tribute to Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The hot dog is topped with Texas chili, shredded pepper jack cheese and hot sauce. It costs $8.

"Johnny Football mania is in full swing at Canal Park, and we are excited to have a food and beverage offering dedicated to the new Browns quarterback," RubberDucks GM Jim Pfander said. "It's an exciting time for the Akron and Cleveland area."

The Browns play just up the road from Akron and selected the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M in the spring draft.

The only thing that would have made this promo better is if it came with a bottle of Champagne and you got to watch the game from your very own inflatable swan. (Photo: MILB.com)


 


 

Report: Browns trying to sign QB Brian Hoyer to contract extension

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | June 30, 2014  

The Cleveland Browns are looking to lock up quarterback Brian Hoyer – who is scheduled to make $1 million in the last year of his current contract with the team – with a contract extension. This news is rathe1379513670000-USP-NFL-Preseason-Cleveland-Browns-at-Chicago-Bea.jpgr surprising considering the team drafted their quarterback of the future in Johnny Manziel in May's NFL Draft.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Browns view Hoyer as the bridge for Manziel to become the teams franchise quarterback and as a long-term backup for the rookie. Hoyer has made it clear he intends to fight tooth and nail for the starting quarterback spot and expects to be the teams' starter going forward.

But according to Hoyer's agent, the negotiations will be difficult.

Agent Joe Linta told NFL Network that "it will be a very difficult deal to do" because Hoyer is content to "wait and see what happens down the road."

Hoyer was 2-0 in games he started and finished in 2013 before missing a large part of the season with a torn ACL. When Hoyer was active, the Browns looked like a different team and had one of the better offenses in the league due to Hoyer and wide receiver Josh Gordon's play.

Hoyer is expected to be ready for all team activities this offseason and it will be interesting to see if the Browns use Hoyer's success to spark a trade the way the San Francisco 49ers used Alex Smith. (Photo: Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports)


 

Remembering Chiefs RB Joe Delaney 31 years after his death

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 29, 2014   

Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney died 31 years ago.  A second round pick by the Chiefs in 1981, Delaney played only two seasons in Kansas City before his life came to a trag10425122_10152533751528373_8353977633319160016_n.jpgic end.

On June 29, 1983, three boys were swimming in a pond in Monroe, LA at about two in the afternoon. As they waded out farther away from the shore, they would soon find that the bottom dropped off.  Screaming and thrashing in the water, only one man in a crowd of people stepped forward.

"I can't swim good, but I've got to save those kids," Delaney told a little boy near the pond. "If I don't come up, get somebody."

One of the boys would make it to the shallow end, but the two other boys, along with Delaney, would drown.

Delaney was just 24-years-old and about to enter the third season of a promising NFL career. Delaney rushed for 1,121 yards with three touchdowns and earned Pro Bowl honors as a rookie before rushing for 380 yards in eight games during the strike-shortened 1982 season.

More importantly than his football career, Delaney was also married with three young girls of his own at home. Still, Delaney, a true hero, did not hesitate to try to save the lives of those boys.

If you also want to get an idea of the type of man Joe Delaney was, he once paid for a funeral of a former teacher whose family could not afford the proper services. For his heroic act of attempting to rescue three kids from drowning, Delaney was awarded the Presidential Citizen's Medal from the President of the United States at the time, Ronald W. Reagan. President Reagan also had this to add: "He made the ultimate sacrifice by placing the lives of three children above regard for his own safety. By the supreme example of courage and compassion, this brilliantly gifted young man left a spiritual legacy for his fellow Americans."

It will never be known if Joe Delaney would have become a football Hall of Famer, but he will forever be enshrined in the Hall of Fame in American history and for mankind.

Delalney's number 37 was unofficially retired by the Chiefs after his death, and he was elected to the team's Hall of Fame in 2004.

So on this day, we tip our hats to Delaney, whose inspiring act reminds us of the common bond that connects all human beings, which is perhaps his greatest legacy.

RIP, Joe.

 

Dallas police mistakenly report Aqib Talib arrested

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 29, 2014  

After initially reporting that Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with public intoxication, Dallas police now say it was his older brotheAqib-Talib_Dallas-Broncos_final.jpgr Yaqub Talib.

"My apologies to Aqib Talib," says Maj. Max Geron, a Dallas PD spokesman, via Twitter. "Original information reported was incorrect."

The Dallas Police Department had said Sunday that Aqib Talib was arrested after he was allegedly caught throwing bottles and causing a disturbance at a nightclub.

Earlier reports from Geron said that Aqib Talib was escorted around 2 a.m. from the Synn Nightclub before he was arrested.

Agent Todd France immediately refuted the claims about his client.

"Aqib Talib has assured me it's not him."  

The nightclub's website says it was hosting an "Official NFL Camp After Party" Saturday night hosted by seven football stars.

The 28-year-old Dallas native who played collegiate football at the University of Kansas is a seven-year veteran of the NFL. Aqib Talib began his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before playing for the New England Patriots. He signed a six-year, $57 million contract with the Broncos in March. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

 

Former coach Joe Gibbs says while he coached team, no one said anything negative about name 'Redskins'

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | June 29, 2014   

Count former Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs among those who has no problem witjoegibbs_image_1024w.jpgh the team's name.

The NFL team that Gibbs led to three Super Bowl titles in the first of two stints as coach has been heavily criticized for its nickname that's viewed as derogatory toward Native Americans. A group of U.S. senators and President Barack Obama have suggested it should be changed, which team owner Daniel Snyder vehemently refuses.

Asked about the controversy before the NASCAR race Saturday at Kentucky Speedway, the Hall of Fame coach and racing team owner defended the Redskins name.

"Never once did I hear anybody ever say anything negative about the name Redskins," Gibbs said about his time with the team. "It was always prideful, it was courage involved. We have a song, 'Hail to the Redskins," and so everything, everything, about that name has been positive for me and my past."

Growing up in North Carolina, Gibbs said the Redskins were the only NFL team on TV and that he "pulled for them my whole life" and said he never dreamed of coaching them from 1981-92 and again from 2004-07.

Washington won Super Bowls in the 1982, 1987 and 1991 seasons. Gibbs also became a NASCAR team owner during that period and has gone on to win three Sprint Cup titles as well as the 1993 Daytona 500. (Photo: John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

 

Vernon Davis not stressing over contract situation with Niners

Submitted by Victor DeMarco | June 28, 2014   

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said he isn't losing sleep over his contract situation, the Atlanta Jvernon-davis.jpgournal-Constitution reports.

"It hasn't been difficult at all," Davis said. "There are no worries. There is nothing that I can stress about. It's obvious that we want a new contract. I want a new contract. It's just like any athlete, we all want a new contract. But I'm not going to stress over it. It's not the end of the world if I don't get it. If I get it, that's good. It's moving slowly, but surely. At the end of the day, if I don't get the deal, at least I tried and I put my foot down. If I don't get it at the moment, I'm not going to lose any sleep."

Davis is hoping Saints tight end Jimmy Graham wins his case to be designated a receiver, which will help his cause.

"I pray that Jimmy Graham passes as a wide receiver. Because at the end of the day, if he passes as a wide receiver, that's better for the rest of the tight ends," Davis said. "He will have opened up a door, a pathway for the rest of the group." (Photo: Rueters)

 

Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater uses video games to prepare for games

Submitted by Jackie Quattro | June 27, 2014  

Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said he plans to use video games to help him preparhi-res-6e089d9df7b0d7c6cf6403e65455a7ef_crop_north.jpge for this season, ESPN reports.

Bridgewater said last week he's imported the Vikings' playbook into his Madden NFL football game, which allows him to take "virtual reps" by practicing with the Vikings' offense against defenses he'd see in an actual game. He did the same thing in college, adding the Louisville Cardinals' playbook to a NCAA football video game for his Xbox, and he'll continue the practice in the NFL.

"It helps because you get one more rep than you had in practice, actual practice," he said. "Any chance you get to take an extra rep or go the extra step, extra mile, it's going to be very beneficial transferring it to the field."

EA Sports added a feature to its Madden video games several years ago that allows users to create their own playbooks, and the games have become realistic enough that it's not difficult to imagine players using them as a preparation tool. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said as much last fall, and Bridgewater wouldn't even be the first Minnesota athlete to make regular use of the practice; when he was pitching for the Minnesota Twins, Johan Santana used to study hitters' tendencies by playing as himself and facing them in a PlayStation game.

Bridgewater says playing the game works for him.

"I try to take as many reps as I can, whether it's on a video game, playing EA Madden Football or in the playbook, just drawing it or just visualizing it in my head," Bridgewater said. "I try to just maximize every rep I can get and every opportunity that I can take."

Bridgewater was one of three quarterbacks taken in the first round of this years' NFL draft, behind former UCF Knights QB Blake Bortles and former Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, who now play for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, respectively. Earlier this month, EA Sports reported though Bridgewater is "fun to use" while playing Madden 15, Bortles technically has the best rating. (Photo: Donald Traill/Associated Press)

 

Julio Jones and Roddy White feel they are best WR tandem in NFL

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 27, 2014   

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones said when healthy, he and Roddy White are the best receiver tandUSATSI_6953836.jpgem in the NFL, according to an ESPN report.

"When you step on the field, you should feel that you're the best, you and whoever your partner is," Jones said. "I feel like me and Roddy, we're the best when we step on the field. We take it as a challenge every year: We want to go out and show everybody we're the best one-two in the league."

The key for Jones and White is staying on the field. Last season, Jones played in just five games after suffering a season-ending fracture in his right foot while White was hobbled by hamstring and ankle injuries.

Last year, the Chicago Bears' tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery took over the spot as the "best receiver duo" in the NFL. However, White points out that Jones was on the field for just five games in 2013, when they had their title taken.

"Numbers don't lie: They did a good job last year," White said of Marshall and Jeffery. "We weren't there to play in the party. But this year, we're going to be there to play in the party. So at the end of the season, we'll come together, and then we'll see what happens." (Photo: Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports)

 

Although he's tired of the scrutiny, Manziel says he's not changing for anyone

 Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | June 27, 2014  

Evidently Johnny Manziel's going to not just play football, he's also going to party.

Tired of scrutiny about how he spends his weekends away from football and drained by the spotlight that followManziel tired of scrutiny.jpgs him, the Browns rookie said he has no plans to tone down his lifestyle.

"I don't think I'm doing anything wrong," he said via NFL Network.

Speaking at a PLAY 60 event with other AFC rookies, Manziel said he's been bothered by recent criticism about his behavior.

Since being drafted by the Browns in the first round in May, Manziel's weekend adventures — hanging out poolside with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in Las Vegas, photographed on a swan raft while drinking champagne, shown in a video talking into a stack of money as if it were a phone — have added to the legend of Johnny Football.

Manziel understands it may not be a good look, but he's not a party animal.

"I'm going out," he said. "Everybody goes out on the weekends and enjoys their life and lives their life. And just for them, they don't have people that when they walk into a place pull out their phones and all they want to do is follow me around and record everything. My situation is unique and different and now more than ever I've seen that it's an every weekend thing wherever I'm at — whether it's in Cleveland on a weekend, or in Dallas or anywhere on a weekend, people want to record what I'm doing because they think it's a story.

"Everybody goes out and has fun. Everybody goes out and does that and I'm not doing anything that's putting myself in a harmful situation."

In the past few days, Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Joe Montana and Warren Moon have all said Manziel should focus on his playing career, and it might help if he curtailed some of the other stuff.

Manziel respects the opinions of the legends, but says some of the media reports about him have been distorted.

"Just what's getting out on social media doesn't mean that's all I'm doing in my life," he said. "Just my weekends aren't what I'm doing, seven days a week. That's two days out of the week and there's five to six other days when I'm here at this building going through my playbook and working out just like every other rookie, so nothing that I'm doing on the weekends is affecting my job."

Manziel said the endless attention on him has made things tougher for teammates, who have been asked for their take on all things Johnny.

"They're tired of that," he said. "They're tired of the hype. I'm tired of it as well. I want to wake up one week and not have my name going through something and I'm working on getting better at that. But if I want to go home and spend time with my friends or go out on my weekends, I absolutely have the right to do that."

Browns coach Mike Pettine has said the team will not intervene with Manziel — or any of Cleveland's players — as long as they're not involved in criminal activity and it's not affecting their work.

Manziel said the Browns have not told him to "cool it."

"I'm not going to change who I am for anybody," he said. "I'm growing up and continuing to learn from my mistakes and trying not to make the same ones over and over again, but am I going to live in a shell or am I just going to hide from everybody and not do anything?

"I'm very committed to football. I'm committed to my job, but on the weekends, I'm going to enjoy my time off. We deserve it. We work hard here. I am going to enjoy my time off. I'm very about football and very about my job, which doesn't get reported or won't get reported, but I am going to enjoy my time off.

"That's I think what everybody else does and that's what I should do." (Photo: Aaron Josefczyk/Associated Press)

 

NFL hires 13 officials, promotes three veterans to referee

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 26, 2014   

The NFL hired 13 new officials for the 2014 season and promoted three veterans to referee.

First-year official Brad Allen will join the NFL as a referee from the Atlantic Coast Co0927-refs_full_600.jpgnference, where he has been a referee for the past nine seasons.

Allen is the first to go to the referee position in his first NFL season since Tommy Bell in 1962.

Allen has refereed several major bowl games, including the 2012 Rose Bowl and 2014 Sugar Bowl. Allen replaces veteran referee Mike Carey, who will join CBS Sports as a rules analyst.

Veteran NFL officials Ronald Torbert and Craig Wrolstad are new referees in 2014, replacing retired referees Scott Green and Ron Winter. Wrolstad has spent the past 11 seasons as a field judge while Torbert has worked the past four as a side judge.

Among the dozen new officials are side judge Shawn Hochuli, the son of referee Ed Hochuli, and field judge Brad Freeman, the son of back judge Steve Freeman, a former player with Buffalo.

Two women, line judge Sarah Thomas and head linesperson Maia Chaka, will work minicamps and preseason games this year. They are in the officiating development program and officiated in Conference USA in 2013.

The other first-year officials are umpires Mark Pellis and Bryan Neale; head linesman Patrick Turner; field judges Eugene Hall and John Jenkins; side judges Alex Kemp and Scott Novak; line judge Ed Walker; and back judges Rich Martinez and Steve Patrick.

The most experienced officials are referees Walt Coleman, in his 26th season, and the Ed Hochuli, in his 25th.

In all, 119 officials will work in seven-man crews during the regular season. (Photo: Dave Einsel/Associated Press)

 

Redskins sign WR Jerry Rice Jr.

Submitted by Manuel Avila Jr. | June 26, 2014   

The Washington Redskins have signed Jerry Rice Jr., the son of the Hall of Fame receiver posted on his InsJerry+Rice+Jr+San+Diego+State+v+UNLV+WhUzP9UsjAZl.jpgtagram account.

Rice sent out a picture of the top of a standard NFL contract. The team is "Pro Football, Inc.", the corporate name of the Redskins.

The message with the picture reads:

"Just blessed This is an amazing day and I'm excited to get back to work to help the redskins get back to the promised land," Rice Jr. wrote. "They gave me an opportunity and best believe they will get 110% out of me! Thank you for everybody who believed in me when it was dark. This is for y'all #Washington#Redskins #NFL #Signed #Blessed #Cantbelieveit"

Rice is an undrafted free agent out of UNLV. He caught 11 passes for 86 yards and one touchdown last year in his only season with the Rebels.

Rice is 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds. He previously played at UCLA before transferring to UNLV. He made appearances at minicamps with the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers this offseason.

"I'm my own person, my own individual," he told the 49ers' Web site in May. "Obviously, I have his DNA too, so there's some similarities. But in the end I am Rice Jr., not Rice Sr., and it's time to make my own name." (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

Flowers likes that he will face Chiefs twice a year

Submitted by Victor DeMarco | June 26, 2014  

New San Diego Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers said part of his decision to sign with San Diego was the chance to face the Chiefs twice, according to ESPN. Flowers was cut by Kansas City this otempAP111031112068--nfl_mezz_1280_1024.jpgffseason.

"That definitely played in the decision," Flowers said in a radio interview in San Diego. "Just the way I play the game, I always felt like it would be fun. I never got that chance to play against an old team. Once I was on a team for my whole life, I was on that team for good. So just going back to play against some of the fellas and some of the coaches, it will definitely be fun. But I respect everybody in that program. They run a great program in Kansas City, and they have great fans in Kansas City. But just for personal reasons I think it will be fun to line up across those guys."

Flowers said he was caught off guard by Kansas City releasing him in a cost cutting move earlier this month.

"It's a business," he said. "And in this business you have to roll with the punches. Once the release happened, my phone and my agent's phone was a hotline. A lot of teams were calling, and a lot of teams were trying to bring me in because they're not used to getting a six-year starter this late that can maybe fall into their lap." (Photo: Associated Press)

 

Packers have many competing for starting tight end job

Submitted by Jackie Quattro | June 26, 2014 

The Green Bay Packers are trying to find a starting tight end this season, and two interesting candidates ctemp140619-minicamps3-pt1-26--nfl_mezz_1280_1024.jpgould be rookie Richard Rodgers and Brandon Bostick, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

According to the report, Rodgers did a good job "separating himself as an MVP of organized team activities," while Bostick has to lose weight. He is back from a broken foot suffered last December, but he showed up at 270 pounds.

"I have to get my weight under control, come back and my goal is to be the starter," Bostick said. "I won't settle for anything less. I'm going to compete and do everything I can to be the starter."

The competition for the starting job will come down to Rodgers, Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Andrew Quarless and rookies Colt Lyerla and Justin Perillo. The Packers also could bring back Jermichael Finley if healthy.

Quarless likely has the inside track to start, but he's dealing with an injury. That has allowed Rodgers and Bostick the chance to make plays.

"I definitely think I can do it all now," Bostick said. "Coach knows that. So sometimes I go in on blocking situations. It's whatever he wants. Whatever they need me to do, I can hold it down when I'm out there." (Photo: Associated Press)

 

Former NFL TE Ben Utecht testifies at Senate brain injury hearing

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 25, 2014 

Former NFL tight end Ben Utecht (pictured second from left) appeared on Capitol Hill WednesBen+Utecht+Robert+Stern+Senate+Holds+Hearing+LL37oVPF4Zql.jpgday to talk about the dangers of concussions in sports, sharing his own struggles since enduring five known concussions during his time as a college and professional athlete.

"It took losing my mind to care about my mind," Utecht said at a hearing before the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

Utecht won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, but two years later, he suffered a major blow to his career and his health.

"Two years later that dream was shattered when I woke up face down on a training camp field in Georgetown, Kentucky, being strapped to a board and put onto an ambulance because of my fifth documented concussion," he said. "For the first time in my life, my brain became a priority, and the reason why it became a priority is because at 29 years old, I started to have memory problems."

Utecht, now a father of three young girls, shared how he began to lose some memories, including serving as a groomsman at a friend's wedding, and started to experience behavioral changes which frightened his young daughter.

"There is hearing my 5-year-old daughter tell my family practice doctor that at times she's afraid of me," Utecht said as he grew emotional. "As a father it puts the idea of the effects of traumatic brain injury on a completely different level."

Utecht told the committee he is now dedicated to working to raise awareness about traumatic brain injury and asked the lawmakers to be "coaches" in the fight.

"I can't help now but throw myself into a new target, neurology, to tackle a new opponent, brain disease and particularly traumatic brain injuries and concussions," Utecht said. "You as senators can really become our new coaches. You can help decide the game strategy, put in the countless hours of work and research into creating policies that can change this nation, connecting people to their most valuable asset – their mind."

"I will not stop in the pursuit of finding cures for finding brain disease and creating an emotional connection between," he said. "It's time for all of us to realize how special our brains really are." (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 

NFL agrees to remove $675 million cap on concussion damages

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 25, 2014 

The NFL agreed Wednesday to remove a $675 million cap on damages from thousands of concussion-relatenfl-and-brain-injury-concussion-2_t750x550.jpgd claims after a federal judge questioned whether there would be enough money to cover as many as 20,000 retired players.

A revised settlement agreement filed in federal court in Philadelphia also eliminates a provision that barred anyone who gets concussion damages from the NFL from suing the NCAA or other amateur football leagues.

In January, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody had denied preliminary approval of the deal because she worried the money could run out sooner than expected. The settlement, negotiated over several months, is designed to last at least 65 years and cover retired players who develop Lou Gehrig's disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions suffered during their pro careers.

More than 4,500 former players have filed suit, some accusing the league of fraud for its handling of concussions. They include former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who suffers from dementia.

The original settlement included $675 million for compensatory claims for players with neurological symptoms, $75 million for baseline testing and $10 million for medical research and education. The NFL would also pay an additional $112 million to the players' lawyers, for a total payout of more than $870 million.

The revised settlement eliminates the cap on overall damage claims but retains a payout formula for individual retirees that considers their age and illness. A young retiree with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, would receive $5 million, a 50-year-old with Alzheimer's disease would get $1.6 million, and an 80-year-old with early dementia would get $25,000.

Even with the cap removed, both sides said they believe the NFL will spend no more than about $675 million on damage claims by ex-players.

Brody will decide later whether to accept the new settlement terms. She still has to rule on a petition by a group of seven players who say the settlement pays them nothing for symptoms ranging from headaches to personality changes.

Critics of the deal have also said the league, with annual revenues approaching $10 billion, was getting off lightly. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the settlement avoids the risk of a protracted legal battle.

The proposal does not include an admission from the NFL that it hid information from players about head injuries.

"Today's agreement reaffirms the NFL's commitment to provide help to those retired players and their families who are in need, and to do so without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation," NFL Senior Vice President Anastasia Danias said in a statement.

The plaintiffs include Kevin Turner, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots and is now battling ALS.

"The compensation provided in this settlement will lift a heavy burden off of the men who are suffering," he said in a statement. "I am also personally comforted by the knowledge that this settlement is guaranteed to be there for any retired player who needs it."

It's not clear when the judge might rule, but Seeger, the plaintiffs' attorney, said he is hopeful that preliminary approval will come in the next few weeks. (Photo: Associated Press)

 

Panthers DE Greg Hardy's court date moved to July 15

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 25, 2014  

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy's court date on charges of assault on a female and GSIvJ_St_138.jpgcommunicating threats has been moved to July 15, according to his attorney Chris Fialko.

The bench trial for Hardy had been set for Friday.

The Pro Bowl defensive end faces up to 60 days in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charges.

The woman, who alleges Hardy assaulted and threatened to kill her, said he "just snapped" after an argument about her short-lived relationship with rapper and Charlotte Hornets minority owner Nelly, according to previously released court documents.

She also alleges Hardy threw her on a couch full of guns. Hardy was ordered by a judge to turn over 10 guns to police last month.

The Panthers open training camp on July 25. (Photo: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer)

 

Vikings OC Turner impressed with QB Bridgewater's deep throws

Submitted by Jackie Quattro | June 25, 2014  

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner has been impressed by rookie quarterbachi-res-305631b16759da3acc9b488b31d6f2d2_crop_north.jpgk Teddy Bridgewater's accuracy on deep throws this summer, according to a Fox Sports North report.

"One of the things that has been the most impressive to me is, I knew he'd be very accurate, I knew he'd make great decisions, quick decisions, but he's been outstanding throwing the ball deep, which some people thought that was going to be an issue," Turner said.

"I think in the six or eight weeks we've had him on the field, I think he's been put in a position where he's had to make most of the throws he would have to make and I think he can make all the throws he needs to make."

Bridgewater is competing with Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder for the starting job. The rookie appears to have more velocity on his throws than the two veterans, the report said.

"It's just been all footwork, laying it and playing," Bridgewater said. "I've been able to watch Matt, watch Christian, and watch how those guys have had great success throwing the deep ball and try to apply some of the things that they're doing to my game also." (Photo: Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press)

 

Former NFL ref Mike Carey hired as rules expert by CBS

Submitted by Victor DeMarco | June 25, 2014 

Former NFL referee Mike Carey has been added to the telecasts of Thursday night and Sunday footbalmike-carey-nfl-officials.jpgl games as a rules expert.

Carey was hired Tuesday by CBS. He will provide rules analysis, interpretation and explanations.

Carey worked for 24 years as an NFL official, including 19 as a referee. He was the second African-American referee in NFL history, and the first to work a Super Bowl (2008).

Fox already uses former director of NFL officials Mike Pereira on its telecasts.

Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said: "So many times throughout the years of watching Mike officiate, I often thought it would be great to have him someday work for CBS explaining the calls on the field," said McManus. "We're excited that this has now come to fruition." (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Chargers, CB Brandon Flowers agree to one-year deal

Submitted by Victor DeMarco | June 24, 2014 

The San Diego Chargers and former Kansas City cornerback Brandon Flowers have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, CBS SpoFLOWERS-jpg.jpgrts' NFL Insider Jason LaCanfora reports.

Flowers, originally selected by Kansas City in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, made his first Pro Bowl last season. He drew interest from several teams and visited the Chargers last week after he was released by the Chiefs earlier this month due to an expensive price tag and not enough production.  

While Kansas City's defense thrived early in 2013, Flowers struggled throughout. Once Kansas City's pass rush went in the tank, their pass defense followed suit. It culminated in a terrible defeat at the hands of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts during the playoffs. According to Profootballfocus.com, Flower's play earned him the 87th spot among all cornerbacks in the NFL during the 2013 season, which is not a great place to be.

Flowers has 17 interceptions and 91 pass breakups in his six-year professional career. He joins a roster that currently has Richard Marshall and Shareece Wright penciled in as the team's starting cornerbacks.

This year's first-round selection in the draft for the Chargers, Jason Verrett, also will compete for time with the starters once he's fully healthy. The TCU product is rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, but could be ready for full contact at the start of training camp. (Photo: Associated Press)

 

Emmitt Smith says Manziel's lifestyle could lead to short NFL career

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 24, 2014    

The NFL's all-time leading rusher and Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith says he hopes Cleveland Browns rooemmitt-smith-toughness.jpgkie quarterback Johnny Manziel can leave some of the college lifestyle behind now that he's in the NFL.

"Johnny is young," Smith said Tuesday on KRLD-FM 105.3. "I was young and dumb myself at one point in time. But maturity itself, and maturing as a professional athlete, is something that is required of every pro football player. I think right now Johnny Manziel is going to get a glimpse of what negative press can do for you. A lot of people think negative press is good press — or any press is good press. It's not."

Fair or not, images have surfaced on social media of Manziel partying in Vegas, drinking from champagne bottles at bars, and using a stack of money as a phone.

Manziel was picked 22nd overall by the Browns and It's uncertain if the Browns hope to ease the first-round pick into their offense or will decide to give him the starting job for the season opener. But Manziel has a choice to make now that can affect his NFL future, Smith says.

"Johnny's going to have to make a decision in terms of who he wants to be and how he wants to take this platform that he's been blessed to have to the highest level and maximize his true potential in every aspect of his life," Smith said.

Smith knows what a lifestyle of parties and recklessness can do. The Cowboys of the 90's had a wild side — or at least a few wild teammates. While Smith and his teammates weren't subjected to the intense scrutiny associated with social media, Smith, a 15-year veteran, doesn't believe the lifestyle lends itself to a prolonged NFL career, and hopes Manziel can avoid damaging his career and take control of certain influences

"That lifestyle is going to be a short career lifestyle if he continues that," said Smith. "As we used to say, you can't keep burning the candle at both ends of the stick. The candle gets small fairly quick. So, Johnny is going to have to figure it out. Hopefully he's not doing anything to hurt himself outside of drinking, which is going to harm his body and harm his performance anyway. But at the end of the day, he's going to have to learn to manage those things." (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Aaron Hernandez murder trial set for May 2015

Submitted by Keith Clay | June 24, 2014   

A judge has tentatively scheduled former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez to staHernandez trial set for May 2015.jpgnd trial next year in May on murder charges in the 2012 drive-by slayings of two men.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to killing Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after a nightclub encounter.

During a hearing Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court, Hernandez's lawyers asked Judge Jeffrey Locke to issue a gag order prohibiting anyone involved in the case from commenting outside court.

They said they were concerned Hernandez wouldn't get a fair trial because of extensive media coverage on the double slayings and another murder case against Hernandez in the 2013 death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

Prosecutors objected, saying they hadn't made any improper comments about the case.

The judge didn't immediately rule on the gag order. (Photo: Dominick Reuter/Associated Press)