Skip to content

PFT’s Week One picks

hi-res-136326334_crop_exact Getty Images

With the start of the NFL regular season comes the start of a new picks competition.  This year, MDS will pit his prognostication skills against the proprietor of this portal.  At least I can proudly say I’m currently tied for the lead at 0-0.

And given that we disagree on only one game, I’m guaranteed to be no more than one game back after one week.

Cowboys at Giants

Florio’s take:  That Dallas playoff win by the Giants in 2007 not only fueled a Super Bowl run but also sparked the first of seven wins by New York in nine games against their NFC East rivals.  Underestimated by many (not me) as they try to become the first team to repeat in nearly a decade, the Giants should be able to continue the string of eight straight defending champs who launch the ensuing season with a win.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 30, Cowboys 24.

MDS’s take: I’m tempted to pick the upset in an attempt to put some distance between myself and Florio right off the bat, but this looks like a tough game for the Cowboys to win. The Giants’ pass rush is going to give Tony Romo fits, and Romo likely won’t have his favorite target, tight end Jason Witten. The Super Bowl champions will begin the 2012 regular season the way they ended the 2011 regular season, by beating the Cowboys.

MDS’s pick: Giants 24, Cowboys 14.

Colts at Bears

Florio’s take:  In 1961, a far less heralded rookie quarterback who would become a Hall of Famer launched his career with the Vikings (and the life of an expansion team) with a win over the Bears.  Though the Colts in many ways feel like a first-year franchise, lightning likely won’t be striking again, 51 years later.  Andrew Luck looks to be the real thing, but he’ll have to wait for a Week Two visit from the Vikings to get his first NFL win.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 27, Colts 13.

MDS’s take: Andrew Luck has looked outstanding in the preseason, but I’m not falling into the trap of thinking a new franchise quarterback means the Colts are going to pick up right where they left off when Peyton Manning was healthy. Even if Luck is outstanding when the games count for real, the Colts have all kinds of problems on defense, and I like Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte to have big games on Sunday.

MDS’s pick: Bears 31, Colts 17.

Eagles at Browns

Florio’s take:  A reunion of the Green Bay mafia will be conducted on Sunday, with various branches of the Mike Holmgren tree coming together in Cleveland.  But the Factory of Sadness will likely continue to churn out chagrin for the denizens of the Dawg Pound.  Though Mike Vick may not be able to stay healthy all season, he’ll be ready go to in Week One.  And so will the rest of his teammates.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 35, Browns 20.

MDS’s take: I’m not sold on the Eagles, but I am sold on the Browns — sold on the idea that they’re the worst team in the league this year. It’s going to be a rough season in Cleveland.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 17, Browns 7.

Rams at Lions

Florio’s take:  Even when the Rams won the Super Bowl, they couldn’t win in Detroit.  Now that the Lions are moving closer to a Super Bowl berth of their own, this one could get ugly.  Quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 27, Rams 10.

MDS’s take: Jeff Fisher is going to turn the Rams around, and they’re going to be a much better team this season than they were last season. An upset over the team coached by Fisher’s old protege Jim Schwartz wouldn’t surprise me, but I’ll pick Detroit in a nail-biter.

MDS’s pick: Lions 21, Rams 20.

Dolphins at Texans

Florio’s take:  The Dolphins won’t truly experience Hard Knocks until they get a look at the Texans’ defense.  I rarely predict a shutout.  It’s not really all that much of a stretch on this one.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 20, Dolphins 0.

MDS’s take: This looks like Week One’s biggest mismatch. Ryan Tannehill will have a steep learning curve adjusting to the NFL, while Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and the Texans’ offense will be in midseason form. This is a beatdown.

MDS’s pick: Texans 34, Dolphins 7.

Falcons at Chiefs

Florio’s take:  Last year, I had a feeling that the much-hyped Falcons wouldn’t fare well on a Week One trip to the Midwest, against the Bears.  This year, the Falcons are on the road to the Heartland again, against the Chiefs.  But they’ve got too much firepower, notwithstanding the firewater-influenced fanatics at Arrowhead.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Chiefs 24.

MDS’s take: Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel has expressed disappointment with his team’s performance in the preseason, and with good reason.  The Chiefs have looked shaky on both sides of the ball. Kansas City
got off to a very rough start last season and never recovered, and the start of this season could be rough as well.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 28, Chiefs 10.

Jaguars at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The battle for Matt Barkley would have been a hell of a lot more compelling in Week 17.  When the talent level is equally suspect, the home team gets the edge.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 20, Jaguars 17.

MDS’s take: Who’s more likely to play and play well in this one, Maurice Jones-Drew or Adrian Peterson? Jones-Drew is healthy and says he’s been staying in shape, but one week isn’t enough to completely learn an offense after a lengthy holdout, and I see Jones-Drew struggling early this season in much the same way Chris Johnson did last season. Peterson didn’t play at all in the preseason, but from all accounts he has recovered from last year’s season-ending torn ACL, and I like him to have a big game in Week One.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 23, Jaguars 16.

Redskins at Saints

Florio’s take:  In a May appearance on PFT Live, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan joked that he hoped Saints quarterback Drew Brees would be suspended for Week One.  That would have been Washington’s only chance to steal a win in a Superdome that will be rocking almost as loud as it was the night they reopened the place in 2006.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 38, Redskins 22.

MDS’s take: The Saints feel like they have a point to prove, and they’ll be motivated, and the Superdome will be a hostile environment for Robert Griffin III. I think the Redskins’ offense is going to be better than most people expect, and they’ll put some points on the board against the Saints, but Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense will score more.

MDS’s pick: Saints 27, Redskins 24.

Bills at Jets

Florio’s take:  Lost in the hand-wringing regarding the Jets’ offense is the fact that the defense is still pretty good.  Good enough to outscore a Bills team that, while improving, isn’t ready to steal one on the road to start the season.

Florio’s pick:  Jets 15, Bills 10.

MDS’s take: This looks to me like one of the most interesting matchups of Week One, because the Jets are desperate to show that their terrible offensive showing in the preseason didn’t mean anything. Unfortunately for the Jets, I think the Bills, bolstered by the addition of Mario Williams, have exactly the kind of defense that can pressure Mark Sanchez and force him into a multiple-turnover game. The
chants for Tim Tebow be deafening by the end of this game.

MDS’s pick: Bills 10, Jets 3.

Patriots at Titans

Florio’s take:  The last time these two teams got together, the Patriots scored 59, and the Titans scored nothing.  While much has changed in Tennessee since 2009, enough players are still there to remind the teammates and the coaches of that day.  And it would matter if the Titans had the horses of defense to keep up with New England’s offense.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Titans 26.

MDS’s take: The consistency of the Patriots in the salary-cap era in the NFL is nothing short of remarkable. The Patriots look, once again, like one of the best teams in the NFL, and Bill Belichick’s defense will give fits to Titans quarterback Jake Locker, making his first NFL start.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 31, Titans 17.

Seahawks at Cardinals

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals didn’t have a shot at quarterback Russell Wilson, given that they sent their second-round pick to Philadelphia for a quarterback who is now second string.  But coach Ken Whisenhunt may be wishing that the team had traded up six spots to get the Seahawks’ new starter; Wilson looks to be better than anything the Cardinals have at the position, which may be enough to pull off a Week One division road win.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 24, Cardinals 21.

MDS’s take: Russell Wilson emerged as the starter in Seattle after one of the most impressive performances in the NFL preseason, while John Skelton became the starter by default in Arizona because Kevin Kolb was one of the least impressive players in the NFL preseason. Advantage: Seattle.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Cardinals 20.

49ers at Packers

Florio’s take:  When one of the best offenses meets one of the best defenses, the game will turn on how the other offense fares against the other defense.  The Packers defense has improved just enough to hold serve at Lambeau Field in the season opener.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 30, 49ers 27.

MDS’s take: The NFL schedule makers gave us a potential NFC Championship Game preview in Week One, and I see the Packers’ offense picking right up where they left off last year — and the Packers’ defense looking better.

MDS’s pick: Packers 27, 49ers 14.

Panthers at Buccaneers

Florio’s take:  The Bucs are laying the foundation for a very good team.  The Panthers are on the brink of being a very good team.  Cam Newton will be out to prove last year was no fluke, and an improved defense will keep it from turning into a shootout.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 31, Buccaneers 21.

MDS’s take: Cam Newton won’t have a sophomore slump — he’ll be every bit the player this year that he as a rookie, and the Panthers will have a better team around him. Greg Schiano will turn the Bucs around, but there are going to be growing pains along the way, and they’ll struggle against the Panthers’ offense. This will be the Panthers’ first statement that they’re a team to be reckoned with in the NFC.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 30, Buccaneers 14.

Steelers at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Some say this could be the highest-rated regular-season game in NFL history.  Though the 1985 Bears-Dolphins game ultimately may keep the crown, the return of Peyton Manning could set the high-water mark for the entire 2012 season.  He wouldn’t have come back if he couldn’t get it done, and the Steelers have too many issues to come out of the gates with a road win.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Steelers 17.

MDS’s take: This is a rematch of last year’s playoff meeting, but it’s a very different game with Peyton Manning at the helm in Denver and Tim Tebow off running the wildcat with the Jets. The result, however, will be similar: In a close, competitive game, the Broncos’ offense will get a late score to win it.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 24, Steelers 17.

Bengals at Ravens

Florio’s take:  Cincinnati gets its first chance in 2012 to win a game that it shouldn’t.  Though in time those wins will come, the Ravens have too much talent on both sides of the ball.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 31, Bengals 24.

MDS’s take: The Bengals took a big step forward last year with the emergence of a young offense led by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. This is an opportunity for them to make a very big statement about re-ordering the AFC North, but I see the Ravens’ defense making a big statement that they’re not going to let their young rivals get the best of them just yet.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Bengals 13.

Chargers at Raiders

Florio’s take:  Oakland is taking a step back in the hopes of eventually taking a giant leap forward.  The Chargers are trying to finally put the pieces together.  For now, advantage Chargers.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 27, Raiders 21.

MDS’s take: In the game that will have those in the Eastern time zone drinking coffee late into Monday night and showing up to work bleary-eyed on Tuesday morning, the Chargers will get a big game from Philip Rivers and get a leg up on the Raiders in the AFC West.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 27, Raiders 21.

Permalink 84 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Features, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
yo

Judge Jones rejected NFL’s testimony, focused on notes from June meeting

Rice Getty Images

The failure of the NFL to create a clear record of the things said when a player meets with the Commissioner for review of the player’d case under the personal conduct policy means that, if a dispute arises regarding what was said, the facts must be recreated.

In the Ray Rice case, the recreation of the facts by former U.S. Judge Barbara S. Jones centered on the NFL’s contention that Rice didn’t say he had struck his then-fiancée, and that Rice actually said he had slapped Janay Palmer, who then fell and “knocked herself out.”  Ultimately, that’s what it boiled down to before Judge Jones; whether Rice said he hit Janay or whether he said he slapped her, she fell, and she “knocked herself out.”

The testimony of the witnesses regarding the things said at the June 16, 2014 meeting at the league office conflicted on that point, with Rice and his witnesses contending that he said he struck Janay — and with the NFL’s witnesses contending that Rice merely said he slapped her and she then fell and “knocked herself out.”  This necessitated a review by Judge Jones of the notes made by persons attending the meeting.

Commissioner Roger Goodell’s notes were “not detailed” and contained no “verbatim quotes” from Rice regarding the assault.  Goodell’s notes do not contain the word “slap” but they do use the word “struck.”  NFL senior V.P. of labor policy and governmental affairs Adolpho Birch’s notes were “even sparser.”

NFL senior labor relations counsel Kevin Manara, who was assigned specifically to take notes, wrote that “he slapped her; fell; knocked herself out.”  However, Judge Jones was “not persuaded that [Manara’s] notes reliably report that Rice used the words ‘knocked herself out.'”  She reasoned that Jones’ notes use “slapped” when the majority of witnesses said Rice used the word “hit,” and she pointed to Manara’s concession that the notes describing the assault were not “verbatim.”  It’s a subtle way of rejecting the credibility of Manara’s notes without attributing a reason or motive for the lack of credibility.

In contrast, NFLPA counsel Heather McPhee generated “more detailed and careful notes, which emphasize the exact words Rice used with quotation marks.”  She wrote that Rice specifically said, “And then I hit her,” that Janay fell, and that she seemed “knocked out.”  McPhee also gave “emphatic” testimony that Rice did not say that Janay had “knocked herself out.”  Goodell and Birch were far less unequivocal about their recollection of Rice’s words.

This prompted Judge Jones to conclude that Rice had said that he hit Janay, and that he did not claim she had “knocked herself out.”  Judge Jones then demonstrated that the mechanism for the knockout was and is irrelevant.

“Whether the blow itself or hitting the railing knocked Mrs. Rice unconscious, the cause was the hit,” Judge Jones wrote.  “Rice reported to Commissioner Goodell that he had hit Mrs. Rice; and his lifting and dropping of her prone body were there for all to see in the outside-the-elevator video.  Commissioner Goodell himself, in response to the question, ‘Did Mr. Rice ever say that he knocked out Ms. Palmer?,’ testified, ‘No, but he took full responsibility for it, he said it is not her fault, it is my fault.”

In other words, Rice hit Janay and as a result she became unconscious.  It doesn’t matter whether he knocked her out with the blow, whether she was knocked out when the blow sent her head into the elevator railing, or whether she became unconscious by falling after being struck and thus somehow “knocked herself out.”  Rice initiated the assault that left her knocked out.

And that gets back to the point that the investigation regarding whether the NFL knew or should have known what was in the video doesn’t matter.  The NFL knew what happened in the elevator.  Ray hit Janay, and Jay ultimately became unconscious.  Regardless of what it specifically looked like, no one should have expected it to be a pleasant thing to watch.  Football players routinely are struck in the head and few ever end up in the condition Janay was in from the initial surveillance video that was published weeks before Rice met with Goodell.

Perhaps the league’s goal has been to make this all so complicated that the simple logic became obscured.  Under the simple logic that emerges unmistakably from Judge Jones’ decision, the end result is every bit as troubling as a finding that the NFL actually had access to the video.  The truth is that, while the NFL may not have been able to see the images before the video was released on September 8, the NFL didn’t need to.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Week 13 skill-position injury report — Friday

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

The following skill-position players were listed on the Week 13 injury report as of Friday. Key fantasy starters are bolded:

OUT

Broncos RB Montee Ball (groin).

Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (foot).

Bills TE Chris Gragg (knee).

Browns WR Marlon Moore (hamstring).

Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway (concussion).

Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle).

Raiders WR Latavius Murray (concussion).

Saints RB Khiry Robinson (forearm).

DOUBTFUL

Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back).

QUESTIONABLE

Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion).

Buccaneers TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back).

Buccaneers TE Brandon Myers (calf).

Buccaneers TE Luke Stocker (concussion).

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee).

Falcons WR Roddy White (ankle).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (ankle).

Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder).

Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh).

Titans RB Dexter McCluster (concussion).

Titans RB Leon Washington (hamstring).

Vikings TE Chase Ford (hamstring, foot).

PROBABLE

Bengals WR Greg Little (illness).

Bills K Dan Carpenter (right groin).

Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).

Broncos RB Juwan Thompson (knee).

Broncos TE Virgil Green (calf).

Buccaneers RB Charles Sims (ankle).

Cardinals QB Drew Stanton (ankle).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (hip, foot).

Cardinals WR John Brown (teeth).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (shoulder).

Chargers WR Eddie Royal (toe).

Chiefs TE Anthony Fasano (knee).

Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin).

Colts WR Reggie Wayne (not injury related).

Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot).

Giants WR Odell Beckham (back).

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (left wrist).

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (illness).

Packers TE Brandon Bostick (hip).

Packers WR Davante Adams (heel).

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (knee).

Panthers WR Corey Brown (illness).

Patriots QB Tom Brady (ankle).

Patriots WR Julian Edelman (thigh).

Raiders TE Brian Leonhardt (concussion).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (thigh).

Rams TE Jared Cook (back).

Rams WR Kenny Britt (back).

Saints RB Pierre Thomas (ribs, shoulder).

Saints WR Robert Meachem (ankle).

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (illness).

Texans RB Arian Foster (groin).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (not injury related).

Vikings RB Matt Asiata (concussion).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen, groin).

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee).

Vikings WR Greg Jennings (rib).

Vikings WR Jarius Wright (hamstring).

Washington RB Silas Redd (rib).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

Dolphins-Jets Friday participation report

DID NOT PRACTICE

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (hamstring, knee).

Jets QB Michael Vick (right wrist, illness).

Jets TE Jace Amaro (concussion).

LIMITED

Dolphins WR Mike Wallace (chest).

Jets RB John Conner (groin).

FULL

Dolphins RB Lamar Miller (knee).

Dolphins WR Rishard Matthews (groin).

Jets RB Bilal Powell (illness).

Jets RB Chris Ivory (shoulder).

Jets RB Chris Johnson (knee).

Jets WR Eric Decker (toe).

Note: All information cited is from the NFL.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Union braces for unilateral changes to personal conduct policy

2011 NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Friday’s ruling in the Ray Rice appeal reveals many things about the NFL.  Perhaps most importantly, it shows the value of true independence when assessing the decisions made by the league office.

In her 17-page ruling, former U.S. Judge Barbara S. Stone flatly rejected the league’s version of events regarding the information provided by Rice regarding the incident in the Atlantic City elevator.  Absent genuine neutrality and impartiality, it’s difficult for a decision like that to be made.

Of course, that’s one of the big reasons why the league stubbornly refuses to concede ultimate authority over the personal conduct policy.  The NFL believes it knows best in such situations; actual due process that prevents the league office from doing whatever it wants to do makes it hard for the NFL to advance its interests.

Thus, while the Rice ruling proves that independent arbitration should be used in every case, the outcome likely will make the league office even more determined to retain final say.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL Players Association currently fears that the league will unilaterally implement a new personal conduct policy over any union objections and without collective bargaining after the next ownership meetings, which will occur on or about December 10.

For now, the NFL is taking a position that reflects the significance of Friday’s events.

“Judge Jones’ ruling underscores the urgency of our work to develop and implement a clear, fair and comprehensive new personal conduct policy,” the league office said in a statement released Friday evening.  “We expect this policy to be completed and announced in the weeks ahead.  Our focus is on consistently enforcing an improved policy going forward.”

The eventual policy may be improved, but it still may be far from perfect.  If, for example, the new procedure requires Commissioner Roger Goodell to obtain input from relevant experts but nevertheless allows him to make the decision on discipline and to retain authority over any appeal, the process technically will be improved but it will still have plenty of room for improvement.

The personal conduct policy won’t be as good as it can be until every decision becomes subject to independent arbitration.  Indeed, the fear of a public rebuke for a flawed decision could be enough to get the league to make better decisions in the first place.  Any other approach means that the NFL will continue to make decisions by determining the preferred outcome and then working backward to justify it.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Raiders rule out RB Latavius Murray

Latavius Murray AP

A concussion will keep one of the Raiders’ promising young offensive players out of the lineup Sunday at St. Louis.

The Raiders have officially ruled out second-year tailback Latavius Murray, who did not practice Friday after putting in limited workouts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Murray played a major role in the Raiders’ 24-20 Week 12 win vs. Kansas City, tallying a pair of touchdowns. However, he left the lineup after racking up 112 yards on just four carries, and he is not yet ready to return for Oakland (1-10).

With Murray out, veteran Darren McFadden could be the Raiders’ primary tailback against the Rams, with Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcel Reece in reserve.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Seahawks awarded Loucheiz Purifoy on waivers

Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts Getty Images

The Seahawks have added some secondary and special teams depth.

Seattle has been awarded rookie cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy on waivers, the club announced Friday. The Colts had parted ways with the 21-year-old Purifoy on Thursday.

A Florida product, Purifoy (5-11, 188) appeared in all 11 regular season games for Indianapolis, notching five tackles (two solo) on special teams. His addition gives the Seahawks six cornerbacks.

With Purifoy arriving, the Seahawks placed rookie linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis (shoulder) on injured reserve. Pierre-Louis notched 13 tackles in seven games. He had missed the last two contests for Seattle (8-4).

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Baalke apologizes to Roman for daughter’s tweet

Baalke Getty Images

After the 49ers lost to the Seahawks on Thursday night, the daughter of 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke posted on Twitter with the following statement directed at 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman: “The 49ers don’t want you no more.”

Now Baalke has apologized.

“My daughter and I both regret that her feelings got the best of her after last night’s game and that she chose social media as an avenue to express her feelings. We have apologized to Greg for this unfortunate matter. While disappointed, as a father I will use this as a teachable moment to help my daughter grow,” Baalke said in a statement.

Baalke can apologize, but he can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. And whether he likes it or not, Baalke’s daughter’s tweet strongly suggests what she has heard negative things about Roman from her father. Which is one more piece of evidence that there’s a rift in San Francisco between Baalke and those loyal to him, and Jim Harbaugh and those loyal to him. Harbaugh and Roman are close, and have been since before Harbaugh was the coach of the 49ers — Roman was also Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator at Stanford, and Harbaugh brought him along when he took the 49ers job.

Harbaugh may very well take Roman along when he takes another job. Perhaps as soon as a month from now, when the 49ers’ season comes to an end, and Harbaugh and Baalke can go their separate ways.

Permalink 54 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dolphins bring back Don Jones

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

The Dolphins are reuniting with one of their picks in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Miami has been awarded safety Don Jones on waivers from New England, the claiming club said Friday.

In a corresponding roster move, the Dolphins waived first-year cornerback Lowell Rose.

The Dolphins waived the 24-year-old Jones after the preseason, and the Patriots claimed him the next day. In nine games with New England, Jones was credited with eight special teams tackles, according to club statistics.

The Dolphins selected Jones in the seventh round in 2013. The Arkansas State product has appeared in 25 regular season games, including 16 with Miami as a rookie.

The Dolphins and Patriots meet on December 14 in Foxborough. The Dolphins won the first matchup between the clubs in Week One.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ginsberg takes aim at Goodell

Goodell AP

In recent years, lawyer Peter Ginsberg has become a major agitator as it relates to the NFL’s ability to impose discipline against players.  From the StarCaps case to the Saints bounty scandal to the Ray Rice case, Ginsberg has become a fairly large thorn in the NFL’s legal underbelly.

In the wake of the ruling overturning Rice’s indefinite suspension, Ginsberg issued a statement that takes aim at Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“On the heels of Bountygate, Commissioner Roger Goodell has shown once again that he does not follow the rules in his treatment of players and that his judgment cannot be trusted” Ginsberg said.  “Under his leadership, the NFL ignored for years the need to create a stronger and more constructive program to address domestic abuse. As we all know, the Rice incident is not an isolated one.  It was only in the face of a public outcry, however, that the NFL finally took a step in the right direction with its new domestic violence policy.

“But rather than admitting he had been ignoring the domestic violence issue for years, and had failed to subject past violators to real scrutiny, Commissioner Goodell turned his own failings on Ray by punishing him a second time for an offense about which Commissioner Goodell had been fully and completely aware when he imposed the original suspension.  That action threatened to end Ray’s career.  And in so doing, Commissioner Goodell ignored the basic principle that every worker must be treated in a manner consistent with past punishments and in accordance with published procedures.

“Second punishments for the same conduct are unprecedented and not permitted as a matter of basic and fundamental principle. Perhaps now, finally, NFL owners will give real thought to whether the ‘NFL shield’ should tolerate a leader who fails to lead in important areas like domestic violence and who time and again ignores the League’s workers’ due process rights and the right to be treated with fundamental fairness. There are many lessons to be learned from this unfortunate event – Ray is well on his way to learning his from this awful event.  Time will tell whether the NFL and NFL owners are learning theirs as well.”

It’s unclear whether the Rice ruling will trigger specific action by NFL ownership.  However, the decision sets the stage for a potentially scathing report from former FBI director Robert Mueller, whose analysis could end up wreaking real havoc at 345 Park Avenue.

Permalink 29 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lance Briggs goes to IR, and his days in Chicago may be over

Chicago Bears v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

Bears linebacker Lance Briggs is done for the season. And perhaps done for Chicago.

Briggs, the veteran who has spent his entire 12-year career with the Bears and been chosen to seven Pro Bowls, was placed on injured reserve today. That means the groin injury that has hampered him this season will now end his season.

It may also end his tenure with the Bears. There was already talk in Chicago that he wasn’t always seeing eye to eye with coach Marc Trestman and his staff, and at age 34 Briggs is not the same player he once was. Briggs, who is in the final year of his contract, acknowledged early this month that he’s probably not long for Chicago.

“I know the reality of it and I’m proud of all the years I’ve had here. It’s been great. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation,” Briggs said.

Now it’s time for Chicago to say goodbye to Briggs.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Week 13 injury report roundup

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

Over the course of the week, there are a lot of posts about the most prominent injured players but we know that you might not see all of them and that some others may fall through the cracks. As a result, we’ll comb through all the injury reports every Friday afternoon so that there’s one stop for all the news from every team playing on Sunday. So, without further delay, the injury report roundup for Week 13 of the 2014 season.

Chargers at Ravens

The Chargers should have running back Ryan Mathews (shoulder, probable), but defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers (elbow) is out and linebacker Andrew Gachkar (knee) is doubtful after missing practice all week. Ravens wide receiver Michael Campanaro (hamstring) is questionable after missing the last three games. Linebackers Pernell McPhee (elbow) and Terrell Suggs (foot) are both probable.

Browns at Bills

Linebacker Karlos Dansby (knee) will miss another game for the Browns, who are hopeful that tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion, questionable) can play for the first time since Week Eight. Wide receiver Marlon Moore (hamstring) and safety Tashaun Gipson (knee) are also out, while defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (back) and linebacker Jabaal Sheard (foot) are questionable. Defensive end Jarius Wynn (knee), safety Bacarri Rambo (hamstring), tight end Chris Gregg (knee) are out for Buffalo, which brings an otherwise healthy group into Sunday.

Titans at Texans

Titans linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (hamstring) is out. Four players — tackles Taylor Lewan (ankle) and Michael Oher (toe), safety Michael Griffin (shoulder) and defensive back Marqueston Huff (hamstring) — are questionable. The Texans expect running back Arian Foster (groin) back in the lineup, but linebacker Jadeveon Clowney will miss another game with lingering knee pain resulting from his torn meniscus earlier in the season. Linebacker Akeem Dent (neck) is questionable.

Redskins at Colts

Washington brings a slew of questionable players with them to Indianapolis. Tackle Trent Williams (knee,ankle), tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring), defensive end Jason Hatcher (knee), safety Ryan Clark (stinger) and cornerback E.J. Biggers (concussion) are the notable members of that group. Colts tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle) is out again this week and he’ll be joined on the sideline by guard Hugh Thornton (knee), linebacker Andy Studebaker (hamstring) and tackle Xavier Nixon (foot). Cornerback Darius Butler (knee) is questionable after popping up on the injury report on Thursday.

Giants at Jaguars

Offensive lineman Adam Snyder (knee), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf) and linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion/shoulder) are all out for the Giants. Right tackle Justin Pugh (quad) and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka (knee) are questionable. Linebackers LaRoy Reynolds (neck) and Jeremiah George (hamstring) are questionable for the Jags and defensive end Andre Branch (groin, probable) is on track to return.

Panthers at Vikings

The Panthers listed Amini Silatolu (knee) as doubtful, but they’ve already announced Mike Remmers will get the start at right tackle. On the defensive line, Star Lotulelei (ankle) is doubtful and defensive end Charles Johnson (illness) is questionable. The Vikings listed running back Jerick McKinnon (back) as doubtful, but McKinnon ruled himself out on Friday. Tight end Chase Ford (hamstring, foot) and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (knee) are questionable.

Saints at Steelers

The Saints ruled out linebacker Kyle Knox (hand) and running back Khiry Robinson (forearm). Cornerback Keenan Lewis (knee) is probable for the reunion with his previous team. Safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and cornerback Ike Taylor (arm) are probable to return to the lineup for Pittsburgh, although linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) is less certain to return after being listed as questionable. Cornerback Cortez Allen (thumb) and defensive tackle Steve McLendon (shoulder) are both out this week.

Raiders at Rams

There were some encouraging signs earlier in the week, but the Raiders have ruled out running back Latavius Murray (concussion). Safety Jonathan Dowling (back), cornerback Carlos Rogers (knee) and cornerback Neiko Thorpe (hand) have also been ruled out and guard Gabe Jackson (knee) is questionable. Rams cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle), while defensive tackle Alex Carrington (thigh) and safety Lamarcus Joyner (groin) are both questionable. The Rams have not activated defensive end Chris Long (ankle) from injured reserve and will make a call on his status this weekend.

Bengals at Buccaneers

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee) will spend another week on the bench for the Bengals. Defensive end Margus Hunt (knee) is also out and linebacker Nico Johnson (illness) is questionable. So are Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring), center Evan Dietrich-Smith (illness), defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (hamstring), tight end Brandon Myers (calf), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back), tight end Luke Stocker (concussion) and safety Major Wright (shoulder).

Cardinals at Falcons

It’s a game-time decision for Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (knee,questionable). Linebacker Kenny Demens (hamstring) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) are out. Defensive tackle Paul Soliai (not injury related) and wide receiver Roddy White (ankle) are both questionable for the Falcons, who won’t have cornerback Robert Alford (wrist) this week.

Patriots at Packers

The Patriots listed long snapper Danny Aiken (concussion), guard Dan Connolly (ankle), defensive end Dominique Easley (knee), tackle Cameron Fleming (ankle, finger), defensive end Chandler Jones (hip), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (shoulder), running back Shane Vereen (ankle) and linebacker Chris White (ankle) as questionable. No reason to worry about Tom Brady (ankle), though: He’s probable. Cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin, questionable) and linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder, questionable) are the only injury concerns for the Packers.

Broncos at Chiefs

Cornerback Aqib Talib (hamstring) and tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) are questionable after doing limited practice work this week. Running backs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) will miss another week and cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) joins them on the sideline. The Chiefs won’t have wide receiver Junior Hemingway (concussion), but Donnie Avery (sports hernia surgery, probable) should be back after a long absence from the lineup. Cornerback Christopher Owens (knee, abdomen) and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson (calf) are both questionable.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lardarius Webb fined $16,537 for horse-collar tackle

Joe Morgan, Lardarius Webb AP

On the second play of Monday night’s Ravens win over the Saints, Baltimore cornerback Lardarius Webb saved a touchdown by dragging Saints wide receiver Joe Morgan down on the 2-yard-line with a horse-collar tackle.

The play was flagged as a personal foul and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that Webb has been fined $16,537 by the NFL for the infraction. It’s a tidy sum of money, but well spent from the Ravens’ perspective.

The Ravens Defense was able to stop the Saints on four straight plays after Webb’s tackle stopped Morgan after a 67-yard run on an end around. The Ravens drove for a touchdown on the ensuing possession, putting them up seven points on the way to a 34-27 victory.

Wilson also reports that neither Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith nor Saints safety Kenny Vacarro were fined for an altercation that saw Vacarro penalized during the game. Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata also avoided a fine for a roughing the passer penalty.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ray Rice thanks judge, apologizes to his wife

Ray Rice, Janay Palmer

The NFLPA has every reason to gloat, for what is clearly a big win for the union with the reinstatement of former Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Rice, on the other hand, needs to show a bit more contrition since this whole deal began with him punching his wife in the face.

In a statement sent out by the union, Rice again expressed remorse for assaulting his wife Janay.

“I would like to thank Judge Barbara Jones, the NFL Players Association, my attorneys, agents, advisors, family, friends and fans — but most importantly, my wife Janay,” Rice said. “I made an inexcusable mistake and accept full responsibility for my actions. I am thankful that there was a proper appeals process in place to address this issue.

“I will continue working hard to improve myself and be the best husband, father and friend, while giving back to my community and helping others to learn from my mistakes.”

Whether he plays another down of football, fixing that relationship will be his biggest priority.

Rice said previously that at some point he hoped to be able to become an advocate in the fight against violence toward women.

Today clearly puts him a step closer to that, but only time will tell if his actions match his words.

Permalink 39 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFLPA hopes Rice decision helps “fix a broken process”

Super Bowl XLVIII NFLPA Press Conference Getty Images

Let the gloating begin.

In the wake of Judge Barbara Jones reinstating former Ravens running back Ray Rice, the players union has responded to what it views as a big win.

“This decision is a victory for a disciplinary process that is fair and transparent,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “This union will always stand up and fight for the due process rights of our players. While we take no pleasure in seeing a decision that confirms what we have been saying about the Commissioner’s office acting arbitrarily, we hope that this will bring the NFL owners to the collective bargaining table to fix a broken process.

“It is clear that this decision should force the NFL to embrace neutral arbitration as part of a necessary due process in all cases. The players thank Judge Barbara Jones for her time and thoroughness in this matter.”

While the players had the opportunity to bargain collectively for changes to this system previously, it’s clear that it will be a big issue next time they negotiate, and they’ll use this as evidence that Goodell has too much power.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Janay Rice: My apology followed the Ravens’ suggested script

Ray Rice, Janay Rice AP

One of the many ugly elements of the Ray Rice domestic violence case was the way the victim, Janay Rice, was treated in some quarters like she deserved blame for the incident. That was exemplified by a press conference hosted by the Ravens in which Janay apologized for her role in the attack, an apology that was promptly trumpeted by the Ravens on Twitter.

The Ravens’ tweet, reading, “Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident,” became a symbol of the tone deaf way the Ravens and the NFL handled the Rice case in particular and domestic violence generally. Now Janay Rice has come forward to say it was the Ravens who scripted the apology in the first place.

Janay Rice and ESPN’s Jemele Hill have collaborated on a first-person account of Janay’s perspective of everything that has transpired since the night Ray assaulted her. In that first-person account, Rice says that the Ravens didn’t make her say anything she didn’t believe, but the Ravens did suggest a script, and that when she was apologizing for her role, she was following the Ravens’ suggestion.

“When it was my turn to speak, I said I regretted my role in the incident,” Janay Rice says. “I know some people disagreed with me publicly apologizing. I’m not saying that what Ray did wasn’t wrong. He and I both know it was wrong. It’s been made clear to him that it was wrong. But at the same time, who am I to put my hands on somebody? I had already apologized to Ray, and I felt that I should take responsibility for what I did. Even though this followed the Ravens’ suggested script, I owned my words.”

Janay Rice also said the press conference was something the Ravens wanted, although she also was glad that people could get an image of her other than the only one they had, which was that of her being dragged out of an elevator by Ray.

“The Ravens just said it was something that they felt we should do,” Janay Rice says of the press conference.

That doesn’t speak well of the Ravens. If Janay Rice wanted to speak about this case, she should have been made to feel free to do so in whatever setting she wished. She should not have been pressured by the Ravens to give a press conference at their headquarters, in which they suggested the script.

Permalink 41 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tom Brady is probable for Green Bay, because he always was

Tom Brady AP

Sometimes it seems like the Patriots only bother monkeying around with the injury report for big games.

So naturally, with the Packers this weekend, something has to be wrong with Tom Brady.

The venerable quarterback is listed as probable for Sunday’s trip to Green Bay with an ankle injury, which means of course he’s playing.

The rest of the Patriots injury reports lists defensive lineman Chandler Jones as questionable, along with running back Shane Vereen, wide receiver Brandon LaFell and guard Dan Connolly.

It’s hard to gauge on Jones, who has missed a month with a hip injury, and was considered borderline for this game. So making him 50-50 on the report is about as much intrigue as we’ll actually have.

Permalink 40 Comments Feed for comments Back to top