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

Koa Misi detained but not arrested after punching man in bar fight

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi was handcuffed and detained by Fort Lauderdale police, but not arrested, after punching a man in the head in a bar fight last weekend.

While that technically doesn’t reset our days without arrest meter, it’s another incident for a player with a bit of a past.

Via to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, this incident never led to an arrest because the other party didn’t want to press charges.

According to the police report, Misi and a group of friends going into an argument with a man named Scott Cabrera outside the Cyn Nightclub. They separated briefly, but according to the report: “Seconds later, Misi and other members of his group charged toward the nightclub entrance where Cabrera was standing in line. I was unable to stop all of them from charging and ran back toward the entrance, to where I witnessed Misi strike Cabrera in the head, causing him to fall to the ground.”

Misi was ordered to get down, but he tried to run and the cop “executed a leg sweep to bring him to the ground.”

(We knew things might be getting slow for Johnny Lawrence, but had no idea he was working as a Florida cop).

Misi was eventually cuffed and put in the back of a patrol car, but when Cabrera wouldn’t provide a statement or wish to press charges, Misi was released.

The Dolphins issued the traditional “aware/gather information” statement, but reports of the incident came after their post-OTA media availability.

In 2012, Misi pleaded no contest to felony battery with serious bodily injury, after breaking down a man’s door and giving him a beating which resulted in a broken eye socket.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Most NFL teams play near a casino

ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY - MARCH 30:  A patron plays the slots at the Trump Taj Mahal casino hotel on March 30, 2016 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Atlantic City municipality is due to run out of funds on April 8 and is facing insolvency and the possibility of bankruptcy. Many city workers, including members of the fire and police departments, have vowed to continue working without pay until funds are restored. The Jersey Shore gambling resort town has seen four casinos close in recent years, cutting its casino tax revenue in half. The financial crisis has pitted Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian against New Jersery Governor Chris Christie, who has refused to bail out Atlantic City with state funds.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images) Getty Images

Amid talk that the Raiders could move to Las Vegas, some around the NFL are concerned about playing in America’s gambling capital. But gambling is so pervasive around America today that most NFL teams play near a casino.

That’s the word from the American Gaming Association, which points out that 80 percent of NFL teams play within a one-hour drive of a casino.

The Rams’ new stadium in Los Angeles is being built right next door to the Hollywood Park Casino, which will make the Rams one of six teams (along with the Steelers, Ravens, Lions, Browns and Saints) that play less than a mile from a casino. Another 13 stadiums are between one and 20 miles from a casino, and seven stadiums are 20 to 40 miles from a casino.

Only six teams — the Cowboys, Texans, Falcons, Panthers, Jaguars and Titans — play more than 40 miles from a casino.

The reality is that if playing near a casino is a problem for the NFL, then the NFL already has a problem. Moving one team to Las Vegas won’t change that.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Aaron Rodgers blames being mic’d up for Randall Cobb’s punctured lung

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 16:  Wide receiver Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch against cornerback Justin Bethel #28 of the Arizona Cardinals but it was called back due to off setting penalties in the first half in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hasn’t exactly been a fan of technology creeping onto the field. He doesn’t enjoy having cameramen on the field and microphones picking up everything said at the line of scrimmage.

But Rodgers believes the equipment was detrimental in another way as well. He believes it’s responsible for Randall Cobb suffering a punctured lung in the Packers’ playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals in January.

Rodgers joined his former Packer teammate and current free agent linebacker A.J. Hawk for a nearly two-hour conversation on Hawk’s “The Hawk Cast” podcast and expressed his disdain for the technology creep into the field of play. During the conversation, Rodgers said he believes Cobb’s injury was due to him being mic’d up for the game.

“Randall Cobb had a serious injury last year in a playoff game and I believe, as I think he would as well and the team, that that was caused from him being mic’d up,” Rodgers said. “Because he fell on his mic pack and he had an injury to his insides that kept him out of the game and probably would have kept him out of the rest of the playoffs. The puncture spot, or the injury spot, was directly adjacent to his mic pack.”

Cobb landed hard on his back while attempting to make a one-handed catch late in the first quarter of Green Bay’s playoff loss to the Cardinals. He began coughing up blood on the sidelines and had trouble breathing. He was released from the hospital after an overnight stay and is doing well now.

Whether the mic pack played a part in Cobb’s injury or not, Rodgers still isn’t fond of the technology encroaching on the game.

“Yeah, I think it’s too much information,” Rodgers said. “In 2008 there used to be no headset on defense, so the defense had to signal in every play and that was part of the whole Spygate issue and filming signals and what not. But now you have mics on both guards most of the time and you pick up everything that the quarterback says when we’re at home, and sometimes on the road as well, and I think that’s a competitive edge for the defense and it makes you have to work that much harder with your dummy words and your live and dead words. I mean, that’s part of the game there, but I think that the access is a little bit much.

“I think being mic’d up, when I’m mic’d up, it takes away from the authenticity of the game for me. I don’t feel comfortable mic’d up.”

Hawk then turned the conversation to idea of having point-of-view cameras in quarterbacks’ helmets at some point in the near future.

“Won’t be my helmet I’ll tell you that much,” Rodgers said.

“How are you going to stop them?” Hawk asked.

“I don’t get mic’d up. I’m not going to wear that,” Rodgers replied.

“What if they put them on every guy?” Hawk asked.

“Might have to call it a career,” Rodgers said with a laugh.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chris Berman’s agent denies report of looming retirement

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  TV personality Chris Berman attends ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for ESPN) Getty Images

Chris Berman is retiring. Unless he isn’t.

In response to a report that the George Ehhh-weeah-ashington of ESPN’s Mt. Rushmore is retiring after the 2016 NFL season, Berman’s agent tells Richard Sandomir of the New York Times that Berman isn’t calling it quits.

Chris is NOT retiring,” Berman’s agent told Sandomir. “Loves what he’s doing too much and is too young to hang ’em up.”

Berman’s agent also suspects foul play.

Perhaps people with an agenda put it out there,” Berman’s agent told Sandomir.

The news of Berman’s looming retirement comes at a time when ESPN is gutting its Sunday morning NFL programming. Even before TheBigLead.com reported that Berman will call it quits, rumors were rampant that Berman and Tom Jackson would eventually be joining Mike Ditka, Cris Carter, and Keyshawn Johnson as former members of the four-letter network.

If the “people with an agenda” occupy management positions at ESPN, it’s inevitable that Berman will continue his career elsewhere, if he indeed doesn’t retire following the upcoming season, when his contract expires. The last time Berman approached free agency, he reportedly was considering an offer from DirecTV.

With more and more non-traditional companies jockeying for NFL broadcasting rights both now and in the not-too-distant future, it makes plenty of sense for the likes of Twitter, Amazon, Facebook, etc. to consider Berman, who would instantly bring gravitas to any NFL-related production. Whether Berman would be interested in working for a non-traditional outlet is a much different proposition, but very large piles of money go a long way toward the defiance of expectations.

Sure, Berman has become a popular pin cushion for many, but it has happened in part because he’s a broadcasting institution — and because his approach skews toward making himself the center of attention. This doesn’t undermine his skills and his persona, both of which are still significant.

Besides, he’s only 61. At a time when Vin Scully has worked deep into his 80s and Al Michaels is as good as ever in his 70s, Berman surely has plenty of solid years left.

It’s fairly safe to say that those years won’t happen on the air at ESPN. And it’s possible that someone is hoping to provoke the kind of eruption from Mt. Berman that will trigger a possible buyout of his current deal, accelerating his exit from Bristol.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jimmy Graham jogging, catching passes at Seahawks OTAs

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 05:  Jimmy Graham #88 of the Seattle Seahawks warms up prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field on October 5, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham saw his 2015 season come to an abrupt end when he suffered a torn patellar tendon in a game last November against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have been fairly optimistic that Graham would be ready in time for the start of the regular season, they were able to see another encouraging sign for themselves on Thursday. Graham was on the practice fields during OTAs on Thursday and managed to catch some passes from quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Trevone Boykin and Jake Heaps while jogging around during early workouts.

While it’s far from being ready from the rigors of the football season, it’s a good sign that Graham will be ready before games start in September.

“We’re thinking that that’s real possibility, yeah,” Carroll said. “That’s kind of what we are thinking. We have to avoid setbacks, obviously. But we are kind of counting on it.”

Carroll said that running back Thomas Rawls is farther along in the recovery process than Graham is at this point, but both players are progressing well from their surgeries late last season. Rawls suffered a broken ankle last December against the Baltimore Ravens.

“Those guys are both making really good progress.” Carroll said. “Thomas is running and Jimmy is back to running on the field the last couple of days, which is great. He’s made terrific progress. Both of their attitudes are really good. They are really positive about making it.”

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: ESPN’s Chris Berman retiring after ’16 season

chris-berman Getty Images

ESPN’s Chris Berman is retiring after the 2016 season, TheBigLead.com reported Thursday.

Berman, 61, is an original ESPN employee and the host of two of the network’s most popular NFL-related shows, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown.

The report said Berman is in the final year of his contract and will retire sometime after the end of the season that starts this September and ends with the Super Bowl next February. ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz declined comment to TheBigLead.com on the report.

The report lists Trey Wingo and Suzy Kolber as potential Berman replacements. Wingo hosts NFL Live daily, and the report said there’s a “strong internal push” for Kolber to replace Berman.

ESPN has made other changes to its extensive NFL coverage in recent weeks. Ray Lewis and Cris Carter are out at ESPN, and Randy Moss and Charles Woodson are among the new analysts set to join the network’s NFL coverage.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jets considered Holmgren as coach before hiring Bowles

Mike Holmgren AP

Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Holmgren was under consideration for the Jets’ head coaching job during the team’s search 16 months ago, Bob Glauber of Newsday in New York reported.

Jets Owner Woody Johnson told Glauber he was “delighted” the search ended up the way it did, with the hiring of Todd Bowles as head coach. But Johnson admitted that he had reached out to Holmgren during the process.

Holmgren was last seen taking a lot of money from former Browns owner Randy Lerner and delivering very little in the way of results in a front-office role from 2010-12. His time with the Browns ended when Jimmy Haslam bought the team.

But Holmgren was a successful coach who got to three Super Bowls and won one, with the Packers. He has a 174-122 career record as a coach with the Packers and Seahawks and has 13 playoff wins.

“This was for coaching, just coaching,” Johnson said of his discussions regarding Holmgren. “It wasn’t for general manager or anything else. That setup doesn’t work normally. You get too many jobs for one person. But I was flattered he took the call. It’s Mike Holmgren we’re talking about. He’s a legendary figure, a great coach. I enjoyed talking to him.”

Holmgren declined to comment to Newsday. He’s a native of the Bay Area and had been linked, at least by the rumor mill, to the 49ers’ coaching openings in the last two offseasons.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Goodell letter reaffirms $30 million commitment to NIH

Roger Goodell AP

The week began with a Congressional report accusing the NFL of rescinding $16 million from a $30 million gift to the National Institutes of Health due to the league’s disagreement with the NIH’s selection of a researcher to oversee testing aimed at detecting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in living patients. The week is ending with Commissioner Roger Goodell emphasizing to his constituents that the full $30 million gift remains in place.

“As discussed during our recent meeting, the NFL has a unique responsibility and opportunity to drive change and advance progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries,” Goodell said in a letter to all owners and team presidents, a copy  of which PFT has obtained. “That is our unwavering commitment to our players, former players, athletes at all levels, and society more broadly.”

Goodell explains in the letter that the commitment arises primarily from “continued and robust support of independent medical research,” including the $30 million NIH donation.

“I want to reaffirm in the strongest possible terms my comments to you during the league meeting and my public statements this week reaffirming the NFL’s commitment to the NIH of the $30 million in grant funding we pledged to accelerate scientific understanding of concussion and head injury,” Goodell wrote. “There was no consideration given to anything other than honoring that commitment in its entirety.”

Goodell then explained how the money is being distributed: (1)$12 million allocated through the NIH for two $6 million agreements dedicated to studies that define the long-term changes that occur in the brain after a head injury or multiple concussions; (2) $6 million to the Boston University School of Medicine and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a study on CTE and post-traumatic neurodegeneration; (3) $6 million for Mount Sinai Hospital for a study on the neuropathology of CTE and Delayed Effects of TBI; and (4) six pilot projects totaling more than $2 million to provide support for the early stages of sports-related concussion projects.

Implicit in this explanation is the concession that the NFL did indeed rescind $16 million that had been earmarked for a study aimed at detecting CTE in living patients. The Congressional report claimed that the NFL removed that specific contribution over objections to the selection of Robert Stern to oversee the research.

While the league definitely deserves credit for the $30 million donation, the issue of the $16 million for a study that would detect CTE in living patients remains. Goodell has characterized any communications with the NIH as part of a normal back and forth. But what the league may regard as normal dialogue apparently was perceived by someone with the NIH and/or Congress as an abnormal attempt to steer away from a researcher whom the league apparently believes has an agenda against the NFL a critical study that could, if it shows widespread CTE in current players, seriously damage the league’s interests.

Regardless of whether the league had just cause to be concerned about Robert Stern presiding over the study, Congress and ESPN (which instigated the investigation with its reporting from last December) caught the league flat-footed on Monday, and the NFL’s efforts to close the gap since then have failed to wipe away the general belief that the league engaged in the kind of behavior chronicled in the film Concussion.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Packers swap out reserve quarterbacks

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 29: Marquise Williams #12 of the North Carolina Tar Heels sets to throw during the first half of the Russell Athletic Bowl game against the Baylor Bears at Orlando Citrus Bowl on December 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers have a great starting quarterback. At the bottom of the depth chart, they have made an adjustment.

Gone is Ryan Williams. Taking his place is former North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams.

Undrafted in May, Marquise Williams set more than 20 records at Chapel Hill, including career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (35), career rushing yards by a quarterback (2,458), and career total offense (10,423 yards).

Ryan Williams, undrafted out of Miami (Fla.) in 2015, signed with the Packers in January. The other quarterbacks on the roster are Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley, and Joe Callahan.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Browns sign second-rounder Ogbah

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 30:  Emmanuel Ogbah #38 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys reacts after sacking Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles in the first half of the Advocare Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium on August 30, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns on Thursday announced the signing of their second-round pick, outside linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah.

Ogbah had 28 sacks over three seasons at Oklahoma State and will try to transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Browns. The Big 12 co-Defensive Player of the Year last fall, Ogbah was twice his team’s defensive MVP in college and twice an All-Big 12 pick. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 275.

Paul Kruger and second-year player Nate Orchard figure as the Browns starting outside linebackers, at least for now. The team declined to pick up the fifth-year option on 2013 first-round pick Barkevious Mingo, who hasn’t produced much over the last two seasons, and Ogbah should have opportunities to prove himself and earn early playing time.

The Browns have now signed seven of the record 14 players they drafted last month.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Lions waive Tim Wright

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 03:  Timothy Wright #83 of the Detroit Lions celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on January 3, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers traded tight end Tim Wright to the Patriots just before the start of the 2014 season, claimed him off of waivers from the Patriots last June and then traded him to the Lions for kicker Kyle Brindza in August.

Now they have another chance to bring him back to the roster. Wright was waived with an injury designation by the Lions on Thursday.

Wright re-signed with the Lions earlier this offseason after deciding not to tender him as a restricted free agent. He had nine catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns in nine appearances, which marked a drop from the 80 catches for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns that he had while playing every game for the Bucs and Patriots in his first two seasons.

That earlier production could lead a team to give Wright a look heading into the season. If not, he’ll revert to Detroit’s injured reserve or reach an injury settlement with the team that makes him a free agent.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ray Rice addresses Ravens rookies

rayrice AP

The Ravens had an interesting speaker in Wednesday to address the team’s rookies as part of an ongoing series of speeches and seminars.

Ray Rice.

The Ravens released Rice in 2014 after video surfaced of Rice punching his then-fiancee. He was suspended indefinitely by the NFL when the video surfaced; he’d previously been facing a two-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Rice has been out of the NFL since.

The team’s statement on Rice speaking to the rookies, released via the team’s Twitter account on Thursday afternoon, said: “Our 27 sessions to our rookies through our player engagement program review and teach life management and life lessons. Rice, who played for the Ravens from 2008-2014, delivered an important message that included his story, both the good and the bad. He clearly had the attention of our rookies.”

The NFL eliminated the Rookie Symposium this year, instead opting for individual team programs and seminars like the one that brought Rice back into the Ravens’ building this week. The goal remains to deliver messages that might keep at-risk players out of bad situations and reinforce that being an NFL player is a privilege, and that’s why the Ravens took the rather bold step of inviting Rice back into their building.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys may bid on hosting Super Bowl LVI or LVII

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library Getty Images

The Cowboys have hosted a single Super Bowl in their gigantic stadium. They could soon be trying to host another.

Via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys could make a play for one of the next two Super Bowls to be awarded: Super Bowl LVI, to be played in 2022, or Super Bowl LVII, to be played in 2023. Voting for those two games will occur in May 2018.

The first Super Bowl played at AT&T Stadium in February 2011 was marred by a winter storm that hit six days before the game. Lingering temperatures below freezing coupled with the absence of equipment to remove the ice made travel by car or foot treacherous. Two days before the game, large chunks of ice cascaded from the roof of the venue; if those pieces of ice had fallen two days later when thousands of people were trying to get inside the building for the game, the outcome would have been not good.

The delay in making a bid, as Williams explains it, has arisen primarily from the litigation sparked by an absence of sufficient seats.

“We obviously and totally understand we had business that we needed to clear up here from the previous Super Bowl, which was unfortunate,” Cowboys executive V.P. Stephen Jones said, via Williams. “Hopefully that is coming to an end here this summer, and then hopefully, we’ll be in the hunt. We think this building is special, AT&T Stadium, and certainly a great place for players to come play. I think if you asked players around the league, they certainly enjoy playing the game here. I think North Texas is a great area. I think we were a little snakebit that [Super Bowl 2011] weekend in terms of our weather. I think it’s the first time a snow storm had hit North Texas for a week in 75 years, where kids are out of school for a week.”

It really wasn’t a snowstorm. It was a two-inch coating of ice, on every exposed surface in the region. And there was no means, method, or effort to get rid of it.

When the time comes to make a bid, it’ll be interesting to see whether funds are set aside to prevent that from happening again — or whether the focus will simply be to give the league’s billionaires even more free stuff.

Permalink 13 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ryan Tannehill: A lot of freedom in Adam Gase’s offense

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 03:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins in action during the second half of the game against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins defensive end Mario Williams said this week that he’s enjoying what he’s seen from the team’s defensive scheme after a dismal year with the Bills in 2015.

Williams isn’t the only member of the team excited about life under a new coaching staff. Unlike Williams, quarterback Ryan Tannehill didn’t have to switch teams to find something more to his liking.

Tannehill said that the offense being installed by coach Adam Gase allows for the quarterback to have more control over adjustments before the play, something that wasn’t the case under the previous regime and something that Tannehill’s teammates said hurt the quarterback at times.

“We do a lot of things differently now,” Tannehill said. “Being on the line of scrimmage adjusting, whether it’s protections, routes, a whole new play — there’s a lot of freedom in what we do. I think it’s going to make us always on the attack. We’re not going to have to sit on our heels and feel like the defense is coming after us and we have to figure out a way to make it work. We can put pressure on the defense by getting in a good play and always keeping the heat on the defense.”

The first year in a new offense can make for some growing pains, but the change in coaches won’t do anything to lower expectations that Tannehill show he can take the next step in his development during the 2016 season.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Texans sign third-round pick Braxton Miller

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 28: Braxton Miller #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes carries the ball against the Michigan Wolverines in the second quarter at Michigan Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Texans drafted a pair of wide receivers last month and they got one of them under contract on Thursday.

According to multiple reports, the Texans have signed third-round pick Braxton Miller. It’s the standard four-year rookie contract for players picked outside of the first round.

Miller started his Ohio State career as a quarterback and did well before missing the 2014 season with a shoulder injury. He moved to wide receiver for his final college season and caught 26 passes for 341 yards and six touchdowns.

The Texans will have to do more work on polishing Miller’s skills at his new position, but his athletic ability offers the upside that could make for a handsome return on that investment of time.

With Miller signed, first-round wideout Will Fuller is the only unsigned member of the Texans draft class.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top