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Reporter sends mixed messages about conduct at Jets practice

On Saturday, multiple reporters contacted us regarding the events that transpired at the Jets facility when Ines Sainz of TV Azteca visited practice.  We were told that the players behaved like “frat boys” in her presence.  Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post chronicled some of the on-field behavior on Twitter and in a subsequent column; we shared some of the details of the treatment she received in the locker room.  (ESPNNewYork.com has reported some of the same details.)

Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News, in a Monday appearance with yours truly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, was present for the practice, and Armstrong said that the players’ conduct in his view was not appropriate.

And so the league is investigating, the team is investigating, the team will interview players on Tuesday, owner Woody Johnson has apologized to Sainz, and a complaint has been filed by the Association for Women in Sports Media.

The problem is that Sainz has provided mixed messages regarding the question of whether she was disturbed or offended by the behavior.  As chronicled by ESPNNewYork.com, Sainz posted Twitter messages suggesting that she was embarrassed and/or offended.  

“I die of embarrassment!” she said in one tweet, which was translated from Spanish. “I am in the locker room of the Jets waiting for Mark Sanchez while trying not to look to anywhere!”  She later posted, “Thanks all for your support and
concern.  I already testified before the NFL, and now is up to them to
decide whether or not there will be consequences!”

Per the New York Post, Sainz added, “I can say that at the time I didn’t want to pay attention to what was
happening but the rest of the media heard clearly and in solidarity have
denounced what happened, hoping that there is always a respectful
climate.”

In other statements and messages she said that she was never offended nor threatened.  John Sutcliffe of ESPN Deportes said that Sainz told him that she was surprised by the fact that “the print media had made a big fuss about it,” and she said that she “never felt harassed.”

The disconnect comes from the apparent fact that the behavior, even if objectively not appropriate, apparently was not unwelcome by Sainz.  She admits that she wasn’t offended, and the Post subtly has been playing the “she asked for it” card by pointing out her attire at the practice and other facts suggesting that she intentionally tries to attract the kind of attention she received.

From a legal standpoint, the zone of harassment in cases like this expands to include reporters who witnessed the conduct and who were offended by it.  It’s a common phenomenon in many workplaces.  If the male employees are saying objectively inappropriate things to a female employee who invites the comments and never complains, other employees who witnessed the conduct legitimately can be offended, and they can become victims of actionable sexual harassment.

That’s why the NFL and the Jets have moved so quickly.  The first task for the lawyers in a situation of this nature is to ensure that the person who was the target of the conduct was not offended — and thus is not inclined to file suit.  Then the question becomes whether the behavior triggered collateral issues, such as other reporters (female or male) being offended by the behavior.

And even if Sainz enjoyed the attention and secretly relishes the publicity that she has received in the wake of the incident, the Jets know that they can’t allow this kind of stuff to happen at all because, eventually, someone will sue over it.  Even without a lawsuit, the notion that players are subjecting females to inappropriate conduct — even if it’s welcome — is not the kind of message that the NFL ever wants to send, especially at a time when the NFL is trying to attract more and more female fans.
 

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Bengals-Patriots one-liners

Tom Brady’s offensive line stood out in New England’s 38-24 win, which included two touchdowns from Wes Welker.

Patriots second year safety Patrick Chung made 16 tackles, playing at a different speed than he did as a rookie. 

The Patriots were very creative in the defensive looks they showed Carson Palmer early in the game.

ESPN’s Tedy Bruschi said it’s important for the Patriots to re-establish home field advantage.

The Bengals defense was admittedly dazed after New England jumped out to a 24-0 lead: “I think at end of the first half, we were like deer in the headlights,” said defensive tackle Domata Peko “Our eyes were wide open. We were worried about so many different things we weren’t playing fast.”

Terrell Owens didn’t want to talk about his early appearance in the locker room at halftime.

New Bengals kicker Mike Nugent banged home a 54-yarder.  (Take that, Shayne Graham!)

Cincinnati’s defensive line had a miserable afternoon, only hitting Tom Brady twice.

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Packers-Eagles one-liners

When the Eagles switched to Michael Vick at quarterback, the Packers were a bit rattled but they held on and left Philly with a 27-20 victory.

With seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, it is safe to say that Packers LB Clay Matthews isn’t feeling any ill effects from his preseason hamstring injury.

Nickel back Sam Shields did a good job in a game that saw the Packers stay away from their base defense entirely.

Packers KR Jordy Nelson reeled off three big returns in the second half to help set the team up with good field position.

Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal thinks Packers QB Aaron Rodgers needs to be careful about fixating on TE Jermichael Finley.

Said Vick, who produced 278 total yards for the Eagles, “I
feel like if I had been out there for four quarters maybe we would have
had a chance to win the game. But it’s all hindsight now.”

Eagles S Nate Allen had an interception in his first NFL game, but said he’d gladly trade it for a victory.


DE Trent Cole got a sack on the first play of the second quarter and then everything went wrong for the Eagles.

The Eagles had 10 penalties for 80 yards, including two by 2009’s penalty leader T Jason Peters.

Eagles TE Brent Celek took blame for missing a block on the key fourth quarter fourth-and-one run by Vick that failed.

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Bill Belichick and Randy Moss break it down

We’re about 24 hours removed from Randy Moss’ rambling, entertaining, poorly timed post-game press conference. (We’ve heard a lot of takes on the subject, and we think Tom Curran nails the situation here.)

Nothing with Moss is ever exactly what it seems.  He’s often held up as a problem child, but is generally regarded as a good teammate and one of the smartest players on the Patriots.  Just minutes before Moss got his seemingly divisive press conference going, he was breaking down the team in the locker room.  (Here’s the video.)

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald spoke with Moss and the wide receiver revealed that he and Bill Belichick talked on Monday to go over “expectations.” 

Moss said the meeting went well.  Belichick reportedly wasn’t wild about Moss’ comments — that’s probably an understatement — but Moss said he needed to get them off his chest now rather than later. 

My feeling from talking with Moss is that Belichick explained his own expectations for continuing to play hard, words or not,” Rapoport writes.  He believes the two reached an “understanding.”

In Belichick and Brady, the Patriots have two leaders that Moss respects.  He knows he will have a hard time finding that elsewhere.

Like Curran writes, Moss’ press conference was in many ways just a very poorly timed cry for the team to keep him.  Moss just needs to work on the timing and delivery of his messages.

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Goodell says decertification talk could hurt CBA talks

Over the weekend, word emerged that the NFLPA is laying the foundation for a decertification vote.  The tactic, which the union employed after the failed strike of 1987, would as a practical matter block a lockout, since there would be no union to lock out.

On Monday, Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to the news prior to a Monday Night Football kickoff luncheon in Manhattan.  “If there is no union who you negotiate with, that is an issue,” Goodell said, per SportsBusiness Daily.  “They have to determine whether they are a union or not a union.”

But if they are not a union, then the league can do whatever it wants, limited only by the antitrust laws.  And given some of the language in the American Needle case, the league very well could prevail in an antitrust lawsuit.

So if the union decertifies, there’s nothing to talk about.  Instead, the league would then have to come up with a set of work rules and be prepared to defend them in court.  Meanwhile, the battles on the gridiron would continue while the battles in the courtroom would determine the future of the league’s labor landscape.

In other words, there would be no work stoppage while the millionaires and the billionaires figure out how to behave more like the partners they are and not the enemies they are becoming.

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49ers-Seahawks one-liners

In the wake of a humbling 31-6 defeat, 49ers coach Mike Singletary wondered if his team spent a little too much time reading everyone’s rosy predictions for the season to come.

The turning point of the game might have been when 49ers FB Moran Norris couldn’t catch a pass in the end zone on fourth-and-one early in the second quarter

Problems with the headsets contributed to the 49ers calling all their first half timeouts with nearly 10 minutes to play in the second quarter.

CB Nate Clements intercepted a pass on the first play of the game but things went downhill for the 49ers defensive backs after that.

49ers rookie T Anthony Davis made a false start and was beaten for two sacks in a dismal NFL debut.

Pete Carroll couldn’t have asked for a better way to start off his tenure as Seahawks coach.

Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck was effusive with praise for the performance of the much-maligned offensive line.

WR Mike Williams’s Seahawks debut was highlighted by a long catch and run that set up the team’s first touchdown.

Said Seahawks DT Colin Cole, “It was a great first statement against the team a lot of people see as
the best in our division. For us to come out and shut them out of the
end zone and keep them low on the rushing category is a great tribute to
our defense.”

Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant intercepted a pass and returned it 32 yards for the third touchdown of his career.
 

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Jake Delhomme has ankle injury

Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme’s experience in the first game of the 2010 regular season turned out a lot better than his experience in the first game of the 2009 regular season.

But while Delhomme didn’t cough up six turnovers, his team didn’t win.  And Delhomme emerged from the game with an ankle injury.

Coach Eric Mangini said Monday that Delhomme will undergo tests on his ankle, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Delhomme reportedly twisted his ankle during the first half of the 17-14 loss to the Bucaneers, and he was seen limping thereafter.

Mangini didn’t specify the type or timing of the tests, but it’s our understanding via communications with a source having knowledge of the situation that more information as to the status of the ankle will be available on Tuesday.

The Browns host the Chiefs on Sunday.

UPDATE:  Cabot reports that Delhomme will have an MRI.

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Fox: Moore is feeling "a lot better"

One day after suffering a concussion, Panthers quarterback Matt Moore was “feeling much better” on Monday, according to coach John Fox.

Fox wouldn’t rule Moore out of this week’s game against the Bucs and made it clear Moore would be the starter if he’s healthy.

Whether Moore plays or not, the Panthers have to find some answers in their passing game.  They had a disastrous preseason, and Moore was worse in the season opener with four turnovers before his injury.

The Panthers had a 0-3 start to last season and never truly recovered.  They badly could use a win against the Bucs before heading to New Orleans in Week Three.

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Colts wait for MRI results on Bob Sanders

Last night, a rumor began to circulate throughout the NFL grapevine that the “elbow” injury suffered by Colts safety Bob Sanders is actually a biceps injury that could end his season less than 15 minutes after it began.  Fueling the rumor was the fact that the team and the player were both saying nothing about the situation — which possibly means that it’s something more than a minor scrape or ding or bruise.

Earlier today, we were told that the concern centers on the bicep, not the elbow.  The question remains the extent of the injury, and thus the duration of the absence. 

Coach Jim Caldwell said earlier today that an MRI would be conducted on the elbow.  Caldwell dismissed the rumors of a season-ending injury, without saying that the rumors are incorrect.

“That’s all speculation right now, just in terms of he’s having an
MRI some time today, a little bit later on, he has not had it as of yet,” Caldwell said, per Philip Wilson of the Indianapolis Star“After
that’s been reviewed and taken a look at it and he’s evaluated, then
they will come up with some type of prognosis at that time.”

If Sanders is placed on injured reserve, he’ll receive the full amount of his $2.275 million base salary.  In 2011, the Colts will need to decide whether they are willing to pay $5 million in base pay to a guy who possibly will have played in only three games in two years.

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No surgery for Matthew Stafford

The Lions got some good news on Monday regarding the shoulder of quarterback Matthew Stafford.  But it’s good news that wasn’t entirely unexpected.

Coach Jim Schwartz said that Stafford won’t need surgery to repair an injury to his throwing shoulder, per Larry Lage of the Associated Press.  Peter King of NBC reported during Football Night in America that the injury preliminarily had been assessed as a Grade II sprain of the AC joint, which means that it was believed to be a moderate separation of the shoulder.  Typically, an injury of that magnitude doesn’t require surgery.

If surgery had been required, Stafford possibly could have been out for the year.

Schwartz said there’s no timetable on the second-year quarterback’s return.  We heard on Sunday in the aftermath of the injury that the team feared he’d miss at least two-to-three weeks, and as many as four to six.

The Lions play the Eagles, Vikings, Packers, Rams, and Giants before getting a bye in Week Seven.

And so it appears that, when Philly travels to Detroit in Week Two, injuries will result in backup quarterbacks starting for each team.

But, please, let’s continue to insist on adding two games to the regular season.

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Bettis, Faulk, Martin, Roaf, Sanders among Hall of Fame nominees

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has released its preliminary list of 113 modern-era nominees for enshrinement in 2011, and a trio of running backs are among the most notable names.

Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk and Curtis Martin are all eligible for the first time in 2011. Three different running backs on the ballot could cancel each other out with some voters, but I’d bet on Faulk to make it this year and Bettis to have a very good chance, while Martin is probably a long shot for enshrinement in 2011.

Also eligible for the first time are offensive tackle Willie Roaf and cornerback Deion Sanders, both of whom had brilliant careers and are unquestionably worthy of a bust in Canton.

Dick Vermeil, who retired from coaching after the 2005 season, is also eligible. He’s technically not eligible for the first time because he had previously been eligible in the 1980s and 1990s after retiring from the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was never considered a strong candidate based purely on what he had done in Philadelphia. He now has a much stronger case, having won a Super Bowl with the Rams and a division title with the Chiefs.

In November the Hall of Fame selectors will vote choose 25 semifinalists from the list of 113 nominees, and in January that list of 25 will be whittled down to 15. On the day before the Super Bowl, the selection committee will choose the class of 2011 from that list of 15, along with the two senior nominees, Chris Hanburger and Les Richter.

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Raiders-Titans one-liners

Ten penalties, four fumbles and an interception only scratch the surface of the sloppy play that helped the Raiders to a 38-13 loss to the Titans.

Said QB Jason Campbell, who was sacked four times in his Raiders debut, “Obviously,
we’re not proud of how we played today. We take our
hats off to Tennessee. They came out, and they did what they had to do
to beat us. I thought they were more detailed today than we were and
more physical.

Raiders RB Darren McFadden was a bright spot with 95 yards rushing and added 55 yards receiving.

Raiders rookie LB Rolando McClain had six tackles in his regular season debut.

G Robert Gallery and DE Richard Seymour were among the six Raiders who didn’t finish the game because of injury.

RB Chris Johnson was, as usual, a beast, but he had plenty of company as the Titans fired on all cylinders Sunday. 

Titans LB Will Witherspoon had six tackles and a sack in an effort he dedicated to the memory of his late mother.

Titans RB Javon Ringer scored his first NFL touchdown but forgot to hold onto the ball as a souvenir.

Safeties Michael Griffin and Chris Hope both came up with turnovers that led to Titans touchdowns. 

Titans QB Vince Young finished the game with a 142.8 passer rating, the second-highest rating of his NFL career.

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Andy Reid reiterates: Kevin Kolb is the starter, Mike Vick is the backup

There’s a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia, but Eagles coach Andy Reid says that the controversy exists entirely outside the confines of the Eagles’ locker room.

Reid is the decider, and he’s unwavering in his decision: Kevin Kolb is his starter and Michael Vick is Kolb’s backup.

“That’s now what’s happening,” Reid said today when asked about the budding quarterback controversy, per Jordan Raanan of CSNPhilly.com. “Kevin Kolb is the No. 1 quarterback.”

But Reid acknowledged that Kolb is still feeling the effects of the concussion he suffered Sunday, and he was sent home without watching film today after he failed a neurological test. That would seem to suggest that Vick will be the starter Week Two against the Lions.

And if Vick plays against the Lions like he did against the Packers, the quarterback controversy will just get more, um, controversial. This issue isn’t going away, no matter how emphatic Reid is about labeling Kolb as the starter.

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Albert Haynesworth thinks he "played okay"

After an offseason of turmoil, Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth got on the field for 16 plays Sunday against the Cowboys. So how did he do?

I played okay,” Haynesworth said. “I made a few tackles and did what I was supposed to do.”

Haynesworth’s assessment of his play is more charitable than my assessment of Haynesworth’s play.

I was critical of the anonymous sources within the Redskins’ organization who were telling the Washington Post that Haynesworth looked awful in the preseason finale, and I still think question the motivations of those sources who ripped Haynesworth anonymously. But I’ll also say that from my own observations of Haynesworth Sunday night, he really was awful. When he wasn’t getting blown off the line of scrimmage, he was out of position to make the play. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the only time Haynesworth stayed on the field for a full drive was the drive on which the Cowboys scored their only touchdown.

Even if he thinks he played okay, Haynesworth seems to understand that he’s just a role player on the Redskins’ defense now.

“That’s just the situation that we’re in right now,” Haynesworth said. “But I’m just happy that we beat Dallas.”

They beat Dallas without a lot of help from their highest-paid player.

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The 49ers' awful Sunday lasted late into the evening

You don’t want to overreact to Week One.

That’s why I tried not to go overboard when discussing the 49ers’ meltdown and finger-pointing on Sunday.  It’s just one game, even it helped expose some of the organizational faults that also showed up when former G.M. Scot McCloughan was mysteriously dumped before the draft.

Here’s a sign that the leadership in San Francisco saw Sunday’s collapse as more than just another loss:  Mike Singletary called for a mandatory team meeting after the squad arrived back from Seattle, according to Raj Mathai of NBC Bay Area.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers are in legitimate “0-1 crisis mode.”

San Francisco has a ton of time to fix their on-field problems, although it won’t be easy against the Saints this week.  First, we sense they have to correct some off field issues and playcalling problems.

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