Skip to content

Week 13 Friday 10-pack

Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Colon

Developers of buildings with more than 13 floors develop triskaidekaphobia when it’s time to apply numbers.  The NFL has no such qualms when it comes to the football season.

So welcome, Week 13.  Unleash your bad-luck powers on as many teams as possible.

I’ll be back in a bit.  I’m trying to fit an open umbrella under the stepladder in my office.

1.  Is Big Ben the drama queen back?

Something strange happened on Thursday.  Not long after a report emerged that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a broken bone in his foot, the Steelers issued a statement explaining that he doesn’t.

The disclosure from the team made no sense, especially since it wasn’t required by league rules.  The Steelers must say only whether Roethlisberger practiced on Thursday, and if so whether he fully participated or participated on a limited basis in the session.

So why would the Steelers feel compelled to contradict the published report?

Rewind to January 2005.  After an AFC title-game loss to the Patriots, Roethlisberger claimed that he played with broken toes.  Coach Bill Cowher contradicted him publicly.

And thus was born the legend of Big Ben, drama queen.

Roethlisberger has at times since then embellished an injury or two, and regardless of whether Roethlisberger was the source of the report, the Steelers felt compelled to contradict it.

Of course, there’s also a chance that the Steelers are simply trying to reduce the size of the bull’s-eye on Ben’s foot — regardless of whether he’s exaggerating his condition or not.

2.  It’s finger-pointin’ time again.

When the Chiefs host the Broncos on Sunday, all eyes will be focused on the two head coaches, who punctuated their Week 10 meeting with Kansas City coach Todd Haley sticking a finger in the face of Denver coach Josh McDaniels after a 20-point win by the Broncos.

Haley has tried to downplay the matter, but it’s obvious that he’s not a big McDaniels fan.  (Then again, who is?)  Though some have speculated in the wake of Spygate II that Haley was miffed with conduct that possibly falls within the realm of cheating, it’s generally accepted in league circles that Haley didn’t appreciate the perception that the Broncos were running up the score.

With Denver reeling and the Chiefs peaking, it’ll be interesting to see whether Haley calls off the dogs — and if not whether McDaniels will show an index finger, or possibly a different finger altogether, to Haley.

3.  Beware the Bills.

Vikings fans likely are thinking that their underachieving team will win their second straight game for the first time since November 2009.  Given that the Bills bring a 2-9 record to town makes it tempting to come to that conclusion.

But let’s look at this more closely.  The Bills have pushed three likely playoff teams (the Ravens, Chiefs, and Steelers) to overtime, and Buffalo lost to the Bears by only three points.  The Vikings, after back-to-back bombs against two NFC North rivals, barely beat the Redskins.

With running back Adrian Peterson hobbled and the Minnesota defense not quite as potent as it has been in past seasons, the Bills could give the Vikings fits, just like Buffalo did the last time they came to the Metrodome in 2002, winning 45-39 in overtime.

4.  Could Packers pull off the Trifecta?

After the Packers beat the Cowboys by 38, Dallas fired coach Wade Phillips.  Seven days later, the Packers beat the Vikings by 28, and Minnesota fired coach Brad Childress.

This week, the Packers host the 49ers.  With Green Bay coming off a disappointing loss to the Falcons, the Pack could be ready to smack around the 4-7 49ers.

If the Packers pummel San Fran, could Niners coach Mike Singletary be the next one to go?  It’s unlikely that it’ll happen on Monday, but Singletary likely won’t sleep very well if he’s on the wrong end of a blowout at Lambeau.

5.  Pats have perfect offense for the Jets.

When the Patriots sent Randy Moss packing in October, plenty of people wondered whether coach Bill Belichick had lost his mind.

Six wins in seven games later, we should all be so crazy.

And so instead of seeing Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis match up with and thus shut down singlehandedly the most potent threat in the Pats’ passing game, New England has diluted its receiving corps, scattering a smattering of players on any given snap who are capable of getting open and catching the ball.

What better way to neutralize a defender who is capable of handling on his own a wideout who commands double coverage than to have him cover a guy who doesn’t?

So with the Jets capable of sending pressure from anywhere and everywhere, while Revis shuts down the No. 1 wideout, the Pats have crafted a system that distributes the ball anywhere and everywhere while happily marooning one guy on each play on Revis Island.

6.  What a difference a year makes.

Last year, when the Cardinals hosted the Rams in December, Kurt Warner’s then-current team had nine wins — and his first-former team had one.

This year, the Rams have five and the Cards have three.  More importantly, the Rams finally have found the long-term heir to Warner, while the Cardinals bumble from first-round bust to unwanted veteran to undrafted rookie who has a long way to go to become worthy of washing Warner’s dancing shoes.

And it’s all happened in only one year.

On one hand, it shows that, no matter how dark things get in a given year for a given team, fortunes quickly can change.  On the other hand, it demonstrates how quickly a “good” team can disintegrate.

7.  Prime-time games have big-time implications.

On the surface, the Monday night game between the Jets and the Patriots looks to be the biggest game of the year.  But the Sunday night contest between the Steelers and Ravens has identical implications.

The winner of each game will be on track to earn a bye.  The losers will slide into the wild-card mix, potentially forcing them to go on the road in order to work their way to the Super Bowl.

The gap will be greater if the Jets and Ravens win, since the one-game leads over the Pats and Steelers, respectively, would essentially be two games, due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.  But even if the Patriots and Steelers win, they’ll each hold a one-game lead with four to play.

Though these playoff-atmosphere games won’t have the same win-or-else stakes, the outcomes will have a lot to do with the degree of difficulty that the teams will experience come January.

8.  Bucs can bunch up the NFC field.

Bucs apologists argue that Tampa’s football franchise hasn’t beaten a playoff-caliber team because they’ll played only four of them.  They get another chance this week, when the 9-2 Falcons come to town.

And the Bucs need to win the game not just to show that they can beat a playoff team.  With four losses and five games to play, the Bucs may not get to the playoffs without beating the Falcons now or the Saints in Week 17.

In past years, 9-7 often would be enough enough to earn a wild-card berth in the NFC.  This year, with a glut of good teams at the top of the conferences, six losses could be one too many.

And if the Buccaneers can deliver to the Falcons their first 2010 loss outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the door would swing open for the Saints to pull even with Atlanta at the top of the NFC South, setting the stage for a high-stakes chase in the final four weeks.

9.  Still time for losers?

Since 1990, 14 teams with a losing record after 11 games have made it to the playoffs.  Most recently, the 2009 Jets started 5-6, finished 9-7, and made it to the AFC title game.

Of the teams that pulled it off, all but two were 5-6; the others were 4-7.  This year, nine teams entered Week 13 at 5-6 or 4-7.  (The Texans already have fallen to 5-7.)  At least one of the nine definitely will make the playoffs, because 5-6 currently represents the best record in the NFC West.

But here’s the thing.  The top-heavy nature of each conference, with wild-card spots currently held by teams in the AFC with records of 9-2 and 8-3 and in the NFC with records of 8-3 and 7-4, will make it even harder for the 5-6 and 4-7 teams to climb out of their current holes.  They’ll need someone like the 8-3 Steelers or 7-4 Giants to collapse down the stretch to have a shot.  (Actually, in the NFC, the losing teams need two of the three 7-4 teams to fall apart in order to open up the No. 6 seed.)

Bottom line?  Though the NFL has mastered the art of manufacturing hope from January through December, there currently may not be much hope to go around for teams that have been unable to win at least six of their first 11 games.

10.  AFC West could send a pair to the postseason.

For most of the season, most have assumed that the AFC West will send only one team to the playoffs.

And while it’s still likely that only the champion of the division will get a seat at the playoff table, there’s a growing chance that both the Chiefs and the Chargers will qualify.

The 6-5 Chargers have three straight games at home, including a Week 14 showdown against the Chiefs.  They next hit the road for Cincinnati and Denver.

The 7-4 Chiefs host the Broncos, Titans, and Raiders, wrapped around trips to San Diego and St. Louis.  Though K.C.’s path isn’t as easy as it once appeared, both could end up 10-6 or 11-5.  And if the losers of this weekend’s prime-time games commence a free-fall (like the Jets did two years ago when 8-3 became 9-7), both of the top two teams in the West could win berths in the playoffs.

We recommend wagering nothing of value on the proposition, unless you are getting really, really good odds.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Features, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rumor Mill, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Sprint Football Live - Rumors, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Top Stories, Washington Redskins
yo

Packers president: 17-game season could facilitate more international play

LKK AP

Although it was a much-discussed proposal a couple years ago, NFL executives have recently stayed relatively quiet about the possibility of lengthening the regular season. But Packers President Mark Murphy had something to say about the topic recently.

Asked about playing more games overseas, Murphy said one way to facilitate that could be expanding the regular season to 17 games, with each team playing eight games at home, eight on the road and one outside the United States.

“As you look ahead, if we’re going to have more and more international games, something’s got to give at some point,” Murphy said, via ESPN. “One thought that’s been discussed is to go to 17 [regular-season games] and three [preseason] and then everybody would have an international game. So nobody would have to give up a home game then.”

As we’ve noted when this proposal has come up before, NFL players have largely opposed the possibility of making the regular season longer, and the owners can’t expand the regular season without the approval of the NFL Players Association. With the NFL’s insistence that player safety is its top priority, it might be hard to justify exposing players to more hits and potentially more injuries.

However, if the NFL can convince the players that those international games are going to make a lot of money — an influx of money that will result in a higher salary cap and more money in the players’ pockets — it’s possible that the players could buy into Murphy’s proposal.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Irsay: No “out of whack” cap numbers in Luck deal

Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton AP

The Colts locked up their rights to quarterback Andrew Luck through the 2021 season on Wednesday, which means he’ll be 32 when he’s next scheduled to become a free agent.

Owner Jim Irsay said Wednesday that was something the team considered when putting together the six-year, $140 million pact. Irsay said, via Kevin Bowen of the team’s website, that the team factored in the rising salary cap and that they feel there are no “out of whack” cap numbers over the life of Luck’s deal.

That includes 2021, when Luck will be due an $11 million base salary and a $10 million roster bonus should the current deal remain in place. Irsay said that was designed to make using the franchise tag a possibility should the team need to go that route.

“It works with the cap,” Irsay said. “It works with tagging in the last year. I think both sides accomplished everything we wanted to do.”

The current CBA runs through 2020, so there may be changes to the franchise tag system by the time Luck’s status becomes an issue. Of more urgency will be the question of what the Colts do with the space provided by a deal they consider cap-friendly and whether it is enough to get Luck to the Super Bowl while he’s being paid at the top of the ladder for quarterbacks.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Doug Baldwin gets $12 million fully guaranteed at signing

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Former Stanford players have been cashing in this week.

One day before former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck signed his six-year, $139.125 million contract, former Stanford receiver Doug Baldwin inked a five-year, $47.5 million deal in Seattle. PFT has obtained Baldwin’s contract, and the full details appear below.

He receives a signing bonus of $7 million, but the cash isn’t due until April 1, 2017.

Baldwin also earns a $4 million roster bonus on Monday, July 4, 2016, half of which will be paid by July 11, 2016 and the other half of which will be paid by August 15, 2016.

Baldwin has a fully-guaranteed $1 million salary for 2016, and a $7.75 million base salary in 2017. The 2017 salary is guaranteed for injury at signing, and it becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2017 waiver period.

Baldwin will earn a salary of $8.25 million for 2018, $4.5 million of which is guaranteed for injury at signing. The $4.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2018 waiver period.

Baldwin has a non-guaranteed base salary of $9.25 million in 2018, and a non-guaranteed base salary of $10.25 million in 2019.

He also can earn per-game roster bonuses totaling $500,000 in 2016, $500,000 in 2017, $750,000 in 2018, and $750,000 in 2019. In all, $2.5 million is tied to his ability to suit up and play.

It adds up to a base five-year value of $47.5 million ($9.5 million average). Up to $50 million is available when considering per-game roster bonuses. With Baldwin already due to make $4.8 million in 2016 under his prior deal, he has a new-money average of $10.675 million per year on the base amount.

Also, $12 million is fully guaranteed, as a practical matter, at signing. Another $12.25 million is guaranteed for injury only at signing.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

The full Andrew Luck contract

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 02:   Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts yells to his team during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 2, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck would have made $16.155 million in 2016, the last year of his rookie deal. He traded it in for a six-year, $140 million contract.

But those broad numbers never tell the whole story, unless and until a contract like that is fully guaranteed.  PFT has obtained a copy of the Luck’s entire contract, and here’s the breakdown:

1. Signing bonus of $32 million, with $18 million paid in the next 10 days and the remaining $14 million paid on March 31, 2017;

2. Base salary of $12 million in 2016, fully guaranteed at signing;

3. $3 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2017 league year and paid on March 20, 2017, which is guaranteed for skill and injury, and conditionally guaranteed for salary cap;

4. $3 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2017 league year and paid on September 18, 2017, which is guaranteed for injury only at signing;

5. $7 million base salary for 2017, guaranteed for injury only at signing and fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the 2017 league year;

6. $3 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2018 league year and paid on March 20, 2018, which is guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the 2017 league year;

7. $3 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2018 league year and paid on September 18, 2018, which is guaranteed for injury only at signing;

8. $12 million base salary for 2018, which is guaranteed for injury only at signing but which becomes fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the 2018 league year;

9. $6 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2019 league year and paid on March 18, 2019, which is guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed as of the fifth day of the 2018 league year;

10. $6 million roster bonus earned on the fifth day of the 2019 league year and paid on September 17, 2019, which is guaranteed for injury at signing;

11. $9.125 million base salary for 2019, non-guaranteed;

12. $11 million roster bonus due on the third day of the 2020 league year, with half paid on September 15, 2020 and the other half paid on December 15, 2020;

13. $11 million base salary for 2020, non-guaranteed;

14. $10 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2021 league year, with half paid on September 14, 2021 and the other half paid on December 14, 2020; and

15. $11 million base salary for 2021, non-guaranteed.

That’s a total of six years, $139.125 million, with $44 million fully guaranteed at signing. Another $16 million becomes fully guaranteed, as a practical matter, as of the fifth day of the 2017 league year.

At signing, $87 million is guaranteed for injury.

The cash flow breaks down like this: $44 million in 2017; $57 million through 2018; $75 million through 2018; $96.125 million through 2019; $118.125 million through 2020; $139.125 million through 2021.

It’s an average value of $23.1875 million per year, with $24.594 million per year in so-called “new money.”

The cap numbers are: (1) $18.4 million in 2016; (2) $19.4 million in 2017; (3) $24.4 million in 2018; (4) $27.525 million in 2019; (5) $28.4 million in 2020; and (6) $21 million in 2021.

Permalink 35 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Luck gets $44 million fully guaranteed at signing

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on September 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

It was a matter of when, not if, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck would get a really big contract.

That day was Wednesday.

Per a source, Luck got a $32 million signing bonus on the extension that keeps him with the Colts through 2021. With his 2016 base salary set to be $12 million, Luck gets $44 million fully guaranteed at signing.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay announced the deal at $140 million over six years. That means Luck will be the league’s highest-paid player and will make an average of about $23.3 million per year over the duration of the contract.

Luck said in a team statement he was “thrilled and excited” to get the deal done.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

With Andrew Luck deal, Colts have their offensive core for long haul

Indianapolis Colts v New York Giants Getty Images

The Colts had already pledged their future to Andrew Luck, by virtue of moves they made well before today’s mega-deal for their quarterback.

But now that he’s taken care of, the bulk of their key offensive personnel is under contract for years to come.

As noted by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star, with Luck signed through 2021, the Colts have five key starters on offense locked up through at least the 2019 season.

With wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (five years, $65 million) and left tackle Antony Castonzo (four years, $42 million) taken care of last fall, tight end Dwayne Allen (four years, $29.4 million) getting his in March and drafting center Ryan Kelly in the first round this year (giving them the option for 2020 on his deal), the Colts have what could be the guts of a very good offense for years to come.

They also have the 2019 option for 2015 first-round wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in their pockets, though it’s unclear if they’ll want to use that, since Dorsett hasn’t proven himself quite yet. But he has time, because everything else is in place.

It’s not unlike the plan former Colts General Manager Bill Polian used with Peyton Manning there, going all-in on one side of the ball to protect the rare commodity at quarterback.

Of course, there are still plenty of issues for the Colts, specifically on defense, and finding three other offensive linemen to keep Luck upright and throwing.

But they now have a certainty on offense, and that should keep them competitive in what is becoming an improved division for the foreseeable future.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Browns ink Nassib, finish draft class signings

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 31:  Carl Nassib #95 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates with Garrett Sickels #90 after a sack in the second half during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 31, 2015 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns announced Wednesday that third-round defensive end Carl Nassib has signed his rookie contract.

The Browns have now signed all 14 of their 2016 draft picks.

Nassib started his Penn State career as a walk-on and was just a one-year starter, but he was good enough in that one season last fall to win the Lombardi Award, Hendricks Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Nassib led the NCAA last season with 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.

The Browns selected Nassib with pick No. 65 in April. His brother, Ryan, is a backup quarterback for the Giants.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Irsay: Luck’s deal worth $140 million over six years

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwezztvkmtjjyzq0nja0zta2odvlmdljztuwnjlmzjji AP

The Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck managed to conceal from the media Luck’s new deal until it was announced by owner Jim Irsay. They won’t be able to conceal every dollar and cent paid to Luck.

Inevitably, the contract will be filed with the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and the details will be leaked not by the Colts or Luck’s camp but by someone with routine access to all player contract.

The key factors to assess will be the signing bonus, the full guarantee at signing, and the cash flow over the first three years.

For now, the total value has been announced, also by Irsay: Six years, $140 million. That’s an average in total value of $23.3 million and a “new money” average of $24.7 million.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that $87 million is guaranteed, but it’s highly, highly, highly (did I say highly?) unlikely that $87 million is fully guaranteed at signing. At best, Luck has $87 million guaranteed for injury.

The deal is solid, but hardly the “shocking” transaction Irsay once promised. The only real surprise is that Luck didn’t get to $25 million per year in total value, which given cap growth over the past few years is where the top value for quarterback deals should be.

Luck also wasn’t able to tie his salary in the out years to cap growth (it’s unclear if his agents even tried), meaning that at some point over the next six years, if the cap keeps spiking, the deal won’t look nearly as good as it does now.

Bottom line? Luck didn’t push for every penny he could have gotten, trading six years and $140 million for the $114 million or so he could have made by going year to year under the franchise tag through 2019.

For now, the biggest question is when, as a practical matter, he’ll be a year-to-year deal with the Colts — and how much he’ll pocket before he gets to that point.

Permalink 38 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Andrew Luck “thankful” for trust Colts have shown him

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzlowq1nwiynwi3ntezzgu0ztyxzmjiyjfmnmi1zdy1 AP

The full financial details of the extension that quarterback Andrew Luck signed with the Colts on Wednesday haven’t come to light yet, but it appears to be as big a deal as expected.

According to multiple reports, Luck is now the highest-paid player in the entire league with Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reporting that he stands to make $75 million over the first three years of a deal that will run through the 2021 season. That’s a pretty good payday and one that left Luck feeling grateful to owner Jim Irsay and the rest of the organization for the commitment they made to him.

“I am thrilled and excited to continue with this great organization,” Luck said, via the team. “I am thankful to the Irsay family and Mr. Irsay for providing me with this great opportunity and the trust that they’ve shown in me. I can’t wait for this season to start.”

Luck and the Colts hope that this season will play out in a better way than 2015, when Luck missed nine games because of injury and the Colts missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Colts get Luck signed through 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 08:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The first news of an Andrew Luck contract extension comes from someone who would figure to know.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “Andrew has signed through 2021.”

Irsay spoke earlier this year about ideally getting an extension for the team’s franchise quarterback finished before July 4, and both sides can now celebrate accordingly.

There are no numbers attached to early reports regarding the deal, but the deal was likely to make Luck the league’s highest-paid quarterback.

Luck was limited to seven games last season by injury but in each of his first three seasons led the Colts to records of and the playoffs.

The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Luck has thrown 101 career touchdown passes and has twice posted seasons of more than 4,300 passing yards.

Permalink 50 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Buddy Ryan’s philosophy: Quarterbacks must be punished

25 AUG 1994:  ARIZONA CARDINALS HEAD COACH BUDDY RYAN GIVES ORDERS FROM THE SIDELINES DURING THE CARDINALS 30-21 LOSS TO THE DENVER BRONCOS AT MILE HIGH STADIUM IN DENVER, COLORADO. Mandatory Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT Getty Images

Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL at a different time, a time when coaches who put bounties on opposing players were labeled tough guys, not banished from the NFL. A quote from Ryan’s defensive playbook encapsulates that well.

Ryan, who died on Tuesday at the age of 85, wrote in his playbook that hitting the other team’s quarterback and hitting him hard was a fundamental part of playing defense.

“A quarterback has never completed a pass when he was flat on his back,” Ryan wrote, via Chris B. Brown. “We must hit the QB hard and often. QBs are overpaid, overrated, pompous bastards and must be punished. Great pass coverage is a direct result of a great pass rush, and a great pass rush is simply a relentless desire to get to the QB. Never miss an opportunity to punish the opponent. We must dominate and intimidate the enemy. If the opponent is worried about you, he is not thinking about carrying out his offensive assignment. If you play aggressive, physical, and smart–you cannot be beaten.”

That’s not the kind of football the NFL likes to promote in 2016. But it’s the kind of football that Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL for three decades.

Permalink 32 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cardell Hayes’ lawyer argues Will Smith’s killing shouldn’t be tried during NFL season

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 28:   Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints dances after a big play against the New York Giants at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 28, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Giants 49 to 24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

A trial date of September 20 has been set in New Orleans to determine the fate of Cardell Hayes, who is charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing former Saints defensive end Will Smith earlier this year.

John Fuller, one of Hayes’ lawyers, would like to see the start date for that trial changed. Fuller argued in an Orleans Parish court on Wednesday that “it’s only fair” to avoid trying his client during football season because the timing could bias a jury against Hayes.

District Judge Camille Buras denied the request, although she said she would consider a continuance for other reasons.

“I do not mind continuances when it’s based on reasons, either for complexity reasons or forensic issues that are outstanding,” Buras said, via the New Orleans Advocate. “I cannot in good conscience say I’m going to continue the case because it’s football season.”

Hayes shot Smith and Smith’s wife — he faces an attempted murder charge as well — after an argument resulted from Hayes’ car bumping theirs from behind on April 9. Hayes has argued self-defense and his attorneys have tried unsuccessfully to get video footage from bars and restaurants the Smiths visited before the shooting after toxicology reports found Smith’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Johnny Manziel plans to go “completely sober” — Friday

johnny_manziel.vadapt.664.high.52 Getty Images

Maybe Johnny Manziel is taking seriously all the good advice people keep giving him to clean up his act.

At least he says he plans to, after this one sweet kegger he’s throwing in Mexico.

Manziel told TMZ that he’s “going completely sober starting July 1st.”

Of course, that gives him between now and Friday to get it all out of his system, and it seems like plenty of people with him aren’t taking the same pledge. TMZ has photos of a woman holding what appears to be an illicit substance, but Manziel said the drugs weren’t his and he didn’t know who the woman was.

That’s a perfect recipe for sobriety, of course. Just like giving yourself time for one last big blowout before becoming an adult.

And while he can promise to eat right, give up drinking and start “training like crazy,” Manziel’s actions have gotten us to the point where no one should put much stock in his words. The fact he was willing to taunt his father in one of his latest social media posts should tell us all we need to know.

Permalink 132 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Caldwell is skeptical of going for two more often

Jim Caldwell, Chip Kelly AP

As teams around the NFL discuss the possibility of going for two more often, Lions coach Jim Caldwell sounds unconvinced.

Caldwell said he’s aware that quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees have said they want to go for two as the default after every touchdown, but Caldwell said that’s more a matter of quarterbacks getting their competitive juices flowing than thinking about it rationally.

There’s not a quarterback in the league that doesn’t want to go for two,” Caldwell said.

Some of us think it makes sense to make going for two the default, while others think coaches should base it on the game situation. Caldwell leans closer to the latter option.

“It just depends on the situation, I think. We’re certainly prepared to go for [two points] every time. We’re certainly prepared to kick it as well,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes you’re going to have to adjust to teams that decide to go after it. I think we discussed that when the rule was first changed. You have to match [the strategy], just in terms of point differential.”

Caldwell’s skepticism may stem from his own team’s lack of success: The Lions are 1-for-6 on two-point conversions in Caldwell’s two seasons as head coach.

Permalink 24 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Troy Vincent: NFL is still trying to help “out of control” Johnny Manziel

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 2:  Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League, testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill on December 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee was holding a hearing on addressing domestic violence in professional sports. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images) Getty Images

Many continue to pay attention to the life and times of Johnny Manziel in order to determine whether the story ends with Manziel turning things around — or whether it concludes with a much worse outcome.

Even though Manziel currently isn’t (and likely never again will be) employed by an NFL team, the NFL wants to help him. NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent recently addressed the issue in an appearance on 610 Sports’ The Rob Maaddi Show in Philadelphia.

“It’s what you go to bed every night thinking how do you assist someone that’s really not interested or quite frankly doesn’t want to meet you halfway,” Vincent said. “You can have all the resources and they’re endless, confidential resources in your hometown, the individual club where the players or family members live. They’re there. They’re available. But if an individual is not willing to meet you halfway to get assistance, it’s very difficult because it’s something you can’t make an individual do anything.

“In this particular case, it’s obvious it’s gotten out of control,” Vincent said. “You see his parents. When a father speaks out about losing his son potentially to substance abuse, you know there’s a problem. Johnny’s not returning phone calls. He’s in different states. You kind of see him, you get notice of where he is off social media and that’s a challenge, but we won’t stop. We’ll continue to keep reaching out, letting Johnny know we love him, we care for him and we’re here when he’s willing and wants and is able to accept assistance, we’ll be there for him.”

Vincent said that he has been personally involved in reaching out to Manziel, along with the Browns “from ownership on down, General Manager, head coach, their player engagement director, everyone.”

“Again, we won’t stop,” Vincent said. “We’re just hoping that moment happens where Johnny is willing to accept some assistance and get the help that he really needs to just function as an individual. Forget football. But to really get his life turned around so that he can function as a good citizen and a good young man.”

Setting aside the Manziel angle, the fact that Vincent appeared on Rob Maaddi’s radio show should come as a major surprise to anyone who remembers the nuances of the Ray Rice case. It was Maaddi who reported, on behalf of the Associated Press, that someone in the league office had received the in-elevator video before TMZ published it, sparking a full-blown investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller and, for at least a few days, creating the impression that Commissioner Roger Goodell’s tenure was in danger.

The league, needless to say, wasn’t happy with Maaddi’s report, which ultimately was not corroborated by Mueller’s investigation. The fact that Vincent nevertheless appeared on Maaddi’s show gives hope that the rest of us who have said and done far less antagonistic things will get some of these key employees to appear our own radio shows again, at some point.

The connection also invites reasonable speculation as to how long the two have been acquainted (Vincent provided an endorsement last year to a book Maaddi had written), and whether and to what extent they communicated before Maaddi dropped a bombshell that nearly brought down the league office.

Permalink 48 Comments Feed for comments Back to top