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Warren Moon sees racial bias regarding Cam Newton

WarrenMoonGetty Getty Images

Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon has been advising former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton as he prepares to enter the NFL.  And Moon believes that much of the intense scrutiny and criticism that Newton has experienced arises from racism.

Mike Freeman of spoke with Moon about Newton.  Freeman says that Moon was “extremely angry” regarding the manner in which Newton is being treated.

“A lot of the criticism he’s receiving is unfortunate and racially based,” Moon told Freeman.  “I thought we were all past this.  I don’t see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony.  He’s being held to different standards from white quarterbacks.  I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess we’re not.

“Of course there is racism in every walk of society.  We’ve made a lot of progress in this country. But racism is still there.  I just thought in the sports arena we were beyond it.  I think the way Cam is being treated shows we’re not. . . .

“The thing that makes me laugh is the question of can [Newton] come out of the spread offense?  Can he run a pro offense?  Colt McCoy came out of the spread offense and very few people raised that issue about him.  So did Sam Bradford.  Same thing.  Very few questions asking if Bradford could run a pro offense.  Some of these questions about Cam are more about his intellect.  It’s blatant racism, some of it.”

We’re not prepared to go quite that far, in large part because we vividly recall the criticism that was heaped last year upon the ultimate spread-offense, one-read-and-then-run-the-ball quarterback, Tim Tebow.  Even after a year of NFL seasoning, the Denver Broncos hardly seem sold on Tebow’s ability to be a traditional NFL quarterback.

Freeman explains that Moon was especially upset about the perception that Newton is a phony.

“You can’t be fake and win a national championship,” Moon said.  “The players will see through it.  He’s won at every level.  He took that Auburn team to the national title and that team wasn’t as talented as some other teams in the SEC.

“Just turn on the film and watch what he does on game day.  Then if you have concerns just spend time with him.  Go around the kid himself.  Spend as much time as you need around him.  You can only fake so much.”

But the perception of phoniness knows no racial boundaries.  Last year, Tebow became one of the most polarizing figures in all of sports, with plenty of people thinking that Tebow’s decision to wrap himself in religious and goodness is more calculated and forced than natural and genuine.  And who can forget the relentless criticism of Jimmy Clausen, who was perceived as a bad teammate with a sense of entitlement — and who slid to the middle of round two in part because of it?

Newton enters the NFL amid many questions and concerns.  He allegedly stole a laptop while playing at Florida.  He has been caught up in a pay-to-play scandal that, with tonight’s HBO report regarding other far less accomplished players at Auburn getting paid, will likely inch back toward the front burner.  Newton has dubbed himself “an entertainer and an icon.”  Moon himself has admitted that Newton at times puts “the cart before the horse” when talking about himself.

Also, Newton struggled at the Scouting Combine, and his Pro Day workout was a step below the T-shirt-and-shorts grand slam that quarterback Pro Days so often become.  While Newton won the Heisman and a national title, he didn’t have the kind of clearly dominant performance on a huge stage that propelled other quarterbacks to the top of the draft.

All that said, Newton surely will be drafted earlier than Tebow or Clausen were picked, and well before white quarterbacks like Jake Locker and Ryan Mallet, who has absorbed plenty of criticism this year, too, based on unsubstantiated rumors of drug use.  Indeed, Newton still could be the first quarterback — and the first player — taken in the draft.

That said, are some of the people criticizing and/or rooting against Newton motivated by race?  Undoubtedly.  On balance, however, Newton finds himself in the unenviable position of being a high-profile player at a high-profile position that invites a high level of scrutiny in the months preceding the draft.  Sure, Blaine Gabbert has received far less poking and prodding — but that’s because his college career was far more muted and unremarkable.  Newton is living the reality of life under an electron microscope, the same device that has hovered over Tebow and Clausen and that will be used to study every big-name, well-known rookie quarterback, for as long as there are big-name, well-known rookie quarterbacks.

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Broncos tried to get Jimmy Clausen on waivers

Jimmy Clausen AP

Here’s how bad it has gotten for the Broncos: In the effort to fill up their depth chart with healthy quarterbacks, they tried to get Jimmy Clausen.

According to Mike Klis of, the Broncos made a waivers claim for Clausen, who was cut by the Bears on Monday. The Broncos, at 8-2, had lower priority on the waiver hierarchy than the Ravens, who secured Clausen with a 3-7 record.

The Broncos will work out Christian Ponder on Wednesday. The team has announced that Peyton Manning will miss at least two more weeks due to a lingering foot injury, and they only have Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian on the active roster, other than Manning.

There aren’t many options in free agency. Apart from, you know, a certain quarterback who led the Broncos to the final eight in 2011.

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Broncos to work out Christian Ponder on Wednesday

Christian Ponder, Kareem Martin, Matt Shaughnessy, Shaquille Riddick, Alameda Ta'amu AP

Here’s the latest tangible piece of evidence that Peyton Manning won’t be practicing or playing for a while — and the latest bit of proof regarding the current lack of competent NFL quarterbacks.

The Broncos have announced that they will work out Christian Ponder on Wednesday.

Ponder, the 12th overall pick in 2011, signed with the Raiders in the offseason after his rookie contract in Minnesota expired. He was later cut by Oakland, and he has since not landed with another team.

The Broncos currently have two healthy quarterbacks on the roster: Brock Osweiler and Trevor Siemian, an undrafted rookie from Northwestern.

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Peyton Manning, in a walking cast, will miss “at least” the next two weeks

Peyton Manning AP

Brock Osweiler gets a minimum of two more games to prove himself in Denver.

According to the Broncos, Dr. Robert Anderson advised quarterback Peyton Manning to spend the next week or more in a walking cast. After removal of the case, rehab on the injured foot will continue. He reportedly has a partially torn plantar fascia tendon in his foot.

“Peyton and I had a good visit today, and we’ve got a plan in place for his recovery,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “His foot will be in a cast for at least a week, but he’ll be able to be part of meetings and do some workouts with the rest of the team.

“We expect him to be unavailable for at least a couple of games. We’ll proceed from there and will continue to support him as he does everything he can to get healthy.”

It means Manning will miss Sunday’s game against the Patriots (which we already knew) and the following Sunday’s game at San Diego. The “at least” implies he could miss more games, such as Week 13 against Oakland and Week 14 at Pittsburgh.

Kubiak said last week that Manning will return as the starter when he’s healthy. On Monday, Kubiak said the team would take it week by week. Now, it’s settled for at least two weeks.

Depending on what Osweiler does over the next two games, it’s possible Manning’s health won’t matter.

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List of 25 semifinalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame announced

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

An interesting group of first-time eligible candidates are among the 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which was unveiled tonight.

Quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Terrell Owens are two of the new names on the list, which will be reduced to 15 before a maximum class of five modern-era candidates is voted on the day before the Super Bowl.

While Favre makes a clear case for induction, Owens will create a complex argument, as his raw numbers have to be balanced by the impact he has had on teams.

Owens is second on the all-time receiving yards list (15,934), third in touchdowns (153) and sixth on the all-time receptions list (1,078). But he also played for five teams, and those moves weren’t always based on football or financial reasons.

They will join a list of candidates who carried over from last year’s finalists and a few newcomers.

That list is topped by the players who were finalists last year, but just missed in the final vote from 10 spots to five: Linebacker Kevin Greene, quarterback Kurt Warner, tackle Orlando Pace, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and coach Tony Dungy.

Last year’s finalist who were cut in the vote from 15 to 10 were coaches Don Coryell and Jimmy Johnson, kicker Morten Andersen, running back Terrell Davis and safety John Lynch.

The other semifinalists, in alphabetical order, include: Safety Steve Atwater, tackle Tony Boselli, wide receiver Isaac Bruce, running back Roger Craig, guard Alan Faneca, wide receiver Torry Holt, tackle Joe Jacoby, running back Edgerrin James, tackle Mike Kenn, cornerback Ty Law, center Kevin Mawae, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg and linebacker Sam Mills.

That group will be voted upon along with this year’s senior finalists (quarterback Ken Stabler and guard Dick Stanfel and contributor Edward DeBartolo, Jr. Those three are voted upon separately, and need 80 percent of a yes-no vote to be approved.

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Pettine: Manziel “violated trust,” basically failed a test

Johnny Manziel AP

Browns Coach Mike Pettine said Johnny Manzielviolated the [team’s] trust” during the bye weekend and essentially failed a test by showing up on social media partying during his time off.

The result, as the Browns announced earlier Tuesday, is that Manziel is going from being announced as the team’s starting quarterback last week to No. 3 for next Monday’s game with the Ravens.

Pettine discussed the issue Tuesday night on the Mike Pettine Show, a team-sponsored show that airs on the Browns’ two flagship radio affiliates. The Manziel news had been announced via a team statement Tuesday afternoon.

“His decisions led us to much disappointment and frustration,” Pettine said on the show.

Josh McCown will start vs. the Ravens. A rib injury suffered by McCown Nov. 1 had allowed Manziel to start the team’s previous two games.

Pettine said he’d decided to name Manziel the starter as a result of “very positive conversations” with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell about Manziel’s performance and progress as the Browns entered their bye week. Pettine called the move to demote Manziel “a coaching decision” he said general manager Ray Farmer and owner Jimmy Haslam had spoken to Manziel before the bye week about his off-field behavior.

The latest conversations surrounding Tuesday’s move probably weren’t comfortable ones.

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NFL should make all officials available to the media after every game

referees_nfl_g_mp_64011 Getty Images

From time to time, players question the NFL’s policy that requires them to be available for media interrogation immediately after every game. If the players are required to answer face reporters in the aftermath of what has been, for at least some of them, disappointing performances, why shouldn’t the officials be required to do the same thing?

After last night’s blunders from a pair of officials on referee Gene Steratore’s crew, Steratore (and only Steratore) answered questions from one (and only one) designated reporter. Why shouldn’t all of the officials be faced with a swarm of media in their locker room, in the same way that players are?

At a time when the NFL seems to be interested in holding officials more accountable for their mistakes, wouldn’t removing an arbitrary shield from media scrutiny do that? If officials know that they’ll face pointed questions for their errors, maybe that extra incentive to not make mistakes will help minimize mistakes.

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Raiders move on from Ray-Ray Armstrong

Ray-Ray Armstrong AP

The good news? Raiders linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong wasn’t charged for taunting a police dog in Pittsburgh earlier this month.

The bad news? Raiders linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong is no longer a Raider.

The team announced on Tuesday that Armstrong has been waived. The former undrafted free agent joined the Raiders on waivers last October, a day after being released by the Rams.

He appeared in 10 games with two starts this season, but he hadn’t started since Week Two. The Raiders, who announced the move with a one-sentence press release, made no corresponding roster move.

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Seahawks promote Daniels, bring back Bryce Brown

B.J. Daniels AP

The Seahawks announced a host of roster moves Tuesday, including placing Nick Moody on injured reserve and adding two familiar names to the active roster.

Running back Bryce Brown was signed three days after he was cut, and wide receiver B.J. Daniels was promoted from the practice squad. Defensive tackle A.J. Francis was waived.

Brown was cut last weekend so the Seahawks could address another position. Presumably, he’s back because Marshawn Lynch could miss significant time. Lynch was in Philadelphia to see a sports hernia expert Tuesday.

Moody played in three games as a special teamer before being injured last weekend. Daniels is a former quarterback turned receiver; he had 1 catch for 12 yards earlier this season before being released and brought back to the practice squad.

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LaRon Landry suspended indefinitely

LaRon Landry, Jacoby Ford AP

Well, that didn’t take long.

Safety LaRon Landry, the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft, has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL, PFT has confirmed.

The suspension doesn’t specify the specific policy under which it arises. However, Landry had been reinstated just last week after a 10-game suspension under the PED policy.

Landry played for the Colts in 2014, after spending time with Washington (which drafted him) and the Jets. He had not signed with any team before his 10-game suspension, and there had been no indication that anyone was interested in signing him.

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Report: Amendola has knee sprain, not expected to miss extended time

<> of the New England Patriots of the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on November 23, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images

The Patriots saw two wide receivers leave Monday night’s victory with injuries and early indications are that Danny Amendola has a better chance of playing this week than Aaron Dobson.

Tom Curran of CSN New England reports that Amendola suffered a knee sprain against the Bills that is not expected to keep him out for an extended period of time. He is expected to be limited at practice during a short week, though, and that means it will likely be a couple of days before his status for Sunday’s game in Denver becomes clearer.

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports that X-rays of Dobson’s ankle were negative, but that the team was still waiting for MRI results to determine the extent of the injury. Curran reports that he is expected to miss at least this week’s game with the final diagnosis giving more clarity about how long he’ll be out of the lineup.

Keshawn Martin missed Monday night’s game after being listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, which leaves Brandon LaFell, Chris Harper and special teams stalwart Matthew Slater as healthy players on the depth chart at receiver.

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With Hoyer getting healthy, Texans cut QB from practice squad

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

The Texans plan to have Brian Hoyer back as their starting quarterback this week, and the release of Zac Dysert from the practice squad Tuesday indicates all is well with Hoyer.

Hoyer suffered a concussion Nov. 16 and missed last week’s game. That made T.J. Yates the starter against the Jets, but Hoyer cleared the league’s concussion protocol on Monday.

The Texans claimed Brandon Weeden on waivers last week instead of promoting Dysert. With Hoyer set to return to practice Wednesday, that probably makes Weeden the scout team quarterback and made Dysert expendable.

Dysert was cut by the Broncos and Bears in the preseason. He was a seventh-round pick of the Broncos in 2013.

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Patriots, Panthers can clinch playoff spots this week

New England Patriots v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The NFL playoff picture usually doesn’t start to take shape until December, but the 10-0 Patriots and 10-0 Panthers both have the opportunity to clinch playoff berths on Sunday.

The Patriots clinch the AFC East if they beat the Broncos on Sunday night and the Jets lose to the Dolphins. And the Patriots could even clinch the AFC East before Sunday night’s kickoff, if the Jets lose to the Dolphins and the Bills lose to the Chiefs.

If the Jets beat the Dolphins the Patriots can’t clinch the division, but the Patriots can still clinch a playoff berth if they win and the Chiefs lose, or the Patriots win and both the Steelers and Bengals lose.

The Panthers can’t clinch their division this week, but they can clinch a playoff spot if they beat the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and one of the following three things happens:

1. The Seahawks and Buccaneers lose, or
2. The Seahawks and Falcons lose, or
3. The Buccaneers, Vikings and Cardinals all lose.

There are also some clinching scenarios that involve tie games this week, but those are too unlikely to bother with here. Bottom line, the Patriots and Panthers are close to the postseason, and may get there officially this weekend.

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Quinton Coples lands with Dolphins

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 21:  Andrew Luck #12  of the Indianapolis Colts is sacked by Quinton Coples #98 during the game against the New York Jets  at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 21, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Quinton Coples ran out of time with the Jets, but he will still be at MetLife Stadium for this Sunday’s game.

Coples has been claimed off of waivers by the Dolphins according to multiple reports, which means that he will make the trip back to his old stomping grounds for the Week 12 game between the two AFC East teams. It also means that he’ll be reunited with Dolphins executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum. Tannenbaum was the General Manager of the Jets when Coples was drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft.

In addition to providing some info about what the Jets might have planned for this weekend, Coples also gives the Dolphins another body to use at defensive end in their 4-3 base defense. Coples was playing outside linebacker for the Jets, but has been more effective up front over the course of his career.

Because they claimed Coples on waivers, the Dolphins inherit the $7.8 million fifth-year option on his contract. They can rescind that option, but it is guaranteed for injury.

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Lane Johnson apologizes for criticizing Philly fans

Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson issued an apology after criticizing Philadelphia fans for not being more supportive of the team.

Johnson was asked today about the home fans booing the Eagles during Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers, and he responded that the Eagles don’t have a home-field advantage because the fans don’t get behind them.

“If we get down by any significant amount of points or we don’t make any first downs, we’re going to get booed. That’s just kind of how it is. It’s not really home field advantage playing here anymore. Really, that’s the truth. Cats here, they really don’t care,” Johnson said.

As is usually the case when an athlete criticizes the fans, that didn’t go over well. So Johnson wrote on Twitter that he shouldn’t have said it.

“My comment about the fans was out of line and I apologize,” Johnson wrote. “I’m just frustrated like they are about our performance on the field. The bottom line is that we need to give them a reason to cheer by scoring and winning games. We need to EARN that home field advantage and I know that. Our fans deserve better. The Linc can rock and that’s on us to make it happen.”

If the Eagles want more support from the fans, complaining about the fans is the wrong way to make it happen. The right way is to start winning games.

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Ravens claim Jimmy Clausen

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #8 of the Chicago Bears passes the ball as outside linebacker Bruce Irvin #51 of the Seattle Seahawks applies pressure during the fourth quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on September 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens have found their backup quarterback for Matt Schaub.

The team announced Tuesday that they have claimed Jimmy Clausen off of waivers from the Bears. Clausen was dropped in Chicago Monday to make room for David Fales on the 53-man roster.

Clausen will be reunited with Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, who coached Clausen in 2014. Trestman opted to start Clausen over Jay Cutler in one game last season, but Clausen suffered a concussion and Cutler moved back into the starting lineup.

Clausen also started one game in place of an injured Cutler this year. He was 9-of-17 for 63 yards in a 26-0 loss to the Seahawks.

Joe Flacco, who tore his ACL and MCL Sunday, was placed on injured reserve to make room for Clausen on the roster.

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