Skip to content

Md. gay marriage vote like “Christmas” for Ayanbadejo

Baltimore Ravens v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

After being an outspoken proponent of gay marriage, and having a Maryland politician try to squelch his opinion, no one was happier to see voters in his state approve a measure that made it legal this week.

“I’m so stoked,” Ayanbadejo said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “It’s like I woke up and it was Christmas.”

“It’s something I’ve been so passionate about for a long time,” Ayanbadejo added. “Even though it doesn’t affect me directly, it affects a lot of my friends. It affects my family. It affects Ravens’ fans. It affects Marylanders. I’ve worked hard on it very diligently.

“I’ve been torn down at times, but lifted up many more than the ones that tore me down. I’m very proud of the Marylanders who went out there and voted and made the difference.”

Ayanbadejo admitted his stance wasn’t necessarily popular in his own locker room (teammate Matt Birk was outspoken for the other side), but hasn’t been swayed by pressure to step aside from a controversial issue.

“For it to be passed in four states, marriage equality, there are some guys that are really upset with marriage equality in the locker room,” Ayanbadejo said. “I think at the end of the day I think the majority of the guys, whether you call it a civil union, or whatever you call it, just to be recognized in the state and have the same rights as heterosexual couples, that’s all you can ask for. I’m happy about it. . . .

“Guys give me flak every day, they make fun of me in meetings, but, at the end of the day, the majority of them know it’s the right thing to treat people equally.”

It’s a novel concept, but whatever your stance, you have to respect Ayanbadejo’s advocacy.

Permalink 32 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Baltimore Ravens, Home, Rumor Mill
yo

Greg Jennings announces his retirement

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills Getty Images

Veteran receiver Greg Jennings has announced his retirement.

“Football is over. I’m done,” Jennings said in a video on YouTube. “At least within the lines of a football field, I’m done. I’m excited to be done. The past 20 years of my life has been football, but today that all changes. This smile is not going to be removed, it’s going to be enhanced. The same dedication, the same work ethic that I put into pursuing that sport, I’m pursuing everything else with the same mindset.”

The 32-year-old Jennings believes he’s still capable of contributing to some NFL team, but he thinks it’s time to try something else with his life.

“Physically I know I can still do it, I can still play, I’ve been training hard,” he said. “But I feel as though I would be going back to football, versus moving forward.”

Jennings played for the Packers from 2006 to 2012, for the Vikings in 2013 and 2014 and for the Dolphins in 2015. Last year he played in all 16 games but had career lows in catches (19), yards (208) and touchdowns (one).

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Seahawks to meet with Michael Bennett’s agent this week

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptm2zmu1mda0y2rinznintkwndhjngm2n2i0mdi2ywyw AP

Defensive end Michael Bennett has not been shy about expressing his desire for a new contract from the Seahawks, including his recent comment that “if you don’t think I’m valuable, then just get rid of me.”

The Seahawks haven’t come up with more money for Bennett to this point, but conversations on the topic are reportedly set for this week. Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that the Seahawks will meet with Bennett’s agent Doug Hendrickson “early this week.”

Bennett signed a four-year, $32 million contract with Seattle in 2014, so there are two years left on his current pact and that is usually not a moment when the Seahawks pony up more money. Coach Pete Carroll did say that “we’d like to reward everybody” when talking about Bennett this year, although Carroll followed up by saying they “can’t always do that.” The willingness to consider it could bear some fruit when the two sides have a conversation.

Bennett said earlier this offseason that “of course” he’ll be at training camp, but there’s certainly time for that to change if Bennett and Hendrickson don’t like what they hear from the team. It would cost Bennett $40,000 a day in fines to go that route, however, and that cost is a high one to pay without any guarantee of a new deal coming his way.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Le’Veon Bell says he won’t be missing games

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 01: Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on October 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is indeed facing a four-game suspension for missing a drug test. But Bell continues to insist that he hasn’t missed a drug test — and that he won’t be missing any games.

In a comment to an altered photo on Instagram of Bell wearing a gas mask with a bong, Bell said from his verified account that “I’m not gonna miss games, trust me.”

Many will scoff at the proclamation, given the lingering perception that Commissioner Roger Goodell retains final say over all player disciplinary issues. In 2014, however, the league agreed to use a panel of neutral arbitrators for all punishments arising under the substance-abuse and PED policies. So Bell will have a chance to have a truly independent party assess whether the league’s conclusions are warranted.

Of course, that will become harder if, as NFL Media reported over the weekend, Bell has missed several drug tests.

Stop me if you’re heard this one before (actually, don’t bother because I’m going to say it again anyway): The substance-abuse policy has a clear confidentiality provision that is supposed to keep people from knowing that a player is facing a suspension until the suspension has been finalized through the appeal process. With NFL Media confirming the initial ESPN report regarding the suspension and with NFL Media advancing the story by reporting that Bell missed multiple tests, the NFL — which owns and operates NFL Media — is violating its own policy. And no one seems to be bothered by that. Ever.

It should bother Bell, his agent, the league, the Steelers, and the NFL Players Association. Bell’s case should have been handled no differently than any other situation in which a guy faced a suspension. If he prevails on appeal, no one ever would have known that anything was amiss.

That has happened in plenty of cases over the years. If Bell ultimately wins the appeal, it’s what should have happened in his case.

Permalink 18 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Sammy Watkins: Certain things are full speed, certain things aren’t

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13:  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills carries the ball for a touchdown as Ed Reynolds #30 of the Philadelphia Eagles attempts to tackle him during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on December 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins said recently that everything is right where it needs to be in regard to his recovery from left foot surgery, although that doesn’t mean that he feels 100 percent comfortable doing everything on the football field.

Watkins said that he feels like his foot is “healed” and that he’s doing plenty of things at full speed during his workouts with the team’s strength and conditioning staff. He’s taking his time with the rest in order to avoid a setback that could put his availability for the start of the season into question.

“As far as sprinting and stuff I’m moving and doing that 100 percent,” Watkins said, via the team’s website. “Gassers, 100s, everything in the workout room. Any explosiveness I’m doing that. I’m doing the cuts, but certain things are full speed and certain things aren’t.”

Cutting off of his left foot falls into the latter category with Watkins explaining that his “foot is tense about it.” As a result, he expects a limited workload as camp unfolds so that he and the team can feel sure that he’s able to do everything all the way before the restrictions come off.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dungy points to Steelers as example of how to hire, retain coaches

CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 3:  Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

On the surface, the NFL’s hiring practices point to a stunning failure to hire a sufficient number of African-American coaches. The more practical failure comes from the inability to hire enough good coaches, regardless of race or any other factor that shouldn’t matter.

Yes, it’s a zero-sum game. There will always be teams that fail, and the owners of the teams that fail will feel compelled to make changes in an effort to quickly reverse failure. But maybe that’s one of the things more teams should resist; regardless of a coach’s race or other factors that shouldn’t matter when it’s time to hire him, sticking with him long enough to give him a chance to flourish — or to flourish again — creates the kind of continuity that not only could pay off in a major way but also could avoid what can become a never ending lather/rinse/repeat cycle of firing a coach in the hopes of finding a quick fix.

In praising the Steelers for their decision to hire Mike Tomlin in 2007 at a time when he wasn’t the trendy pick (PFT was one of the only media outlets singing the praises loudly of the veteran defensive coach who spent only one year as a coordinator, in Minnesota, before becoming a head coach), soon-to-be Hall of Famer Tony Dungy points out that the Steelers also stick with their coaches through the down times.

It’s easy to do that, of course, when the down times are few and far between. Still, not long ago some fans in Pittsburgh were clamoring for Tomlin to go. The Rooneys ignored the noise — which is easier to do when the stadium is always full. But they always ignore the noise, setting aside the whims of the fans for the concepts that have made the Steelers one of the best franchises in football.

Only one team wins the Super Bowl ever year. For the rest, the goal is to be relevant to that conversation for as long as possible. Far more often than not, the Steelers are. Which is why they’ve had only three coaches since 1969. But maybe the Steelers contend so frequently because they make good coaching hires.

Here’s what Dungy told Peter King of TheMMQB.com about the Steelers: “I’d tell owners and people in position to make hires to slow down, and study what the Steelers do. They’ve had three coaches in almost 50 years. They don’t fire coaches. They back their coaches when times are hard, and you’re always going to have some of those times when you coach. This last time, when they hired Mike Tomlin, he wasn’t the ‘hot’ guy. [Owner] Dan Rooney took his time, and he knew exactly what they were looking for in a coach. That’s what Dan does. He hires the best person for his team, and he does it on his schedule. I think the problem lots of times with the hiring process is teams have one or two guys in mind and they rush through the process to get one of those guys without looking at more candidates. I think that can lead to mistakes.”

It definitely leads to mistakes, but good luck telling a billionaire who has his heart set on hiring a “hot” candidate that he shouldn’t do what he wants to do. Evaluating football players is a crapshoot even with the many metrics generated by scouting. For coaching, it’s much harder to quantify things. Owners become influenced by buzz — and the media has a major role in the creation of the buzz.

Of course, the lack of minority employees in key positions like offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach makes it even hard for minority candidates to generate buzz in the media or elsewhere. That’s a problem that needs to be addressed before the pool of head coaching candidates will be as diverse as it needs to be.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Monday morning one-liners

Ansah Getty Images

FB Jerome Felton is among the Bills veterans on the roster bubble.

What can the Dolphins expect from their tight ends?

The Patriots should learn more about their offensive line with pads coming on during camp.

Jets rookie LB Darron Lee still hasn’t signed a contract.

The Ravens share five things you might not know about WR Mike Wallace.

A look at the Bengals’ defensive line depth.

A broken collarbone didn’t keep Browns rookie DB Derrick Kindred off the field last year.

The Steelers are looking for more consistency on special teams.

Devon Still is among the defensive linemen the Texans hope can step up with J.J. Watt injured.

DT Henry Anderson makes this list of Colts to watch at training camp.

The identity of the left tackle is among the questions the Jaguars will answer during camp.

A preview of what to expect from the Titans wide receivers this summer.

Broncos LB Von Miller caught a shark.

There are 37 players heading to camp with the Chiefs for the first time.

Setting the stage at safety for the Raiders.

How will the Chargers deploy their cornerbacks?

Who is the top pass rusher in Cowboys history?

Giants TE Will Tye hopes for bigger returns in his second season.

The Eagles added three players to the roster on Sunday.

Redskins WR DeSean Jackson got to show off his pitching arm.

Former General Manager Phil Emery’s work is still evident on the Bears roster.

Ranking DE Ziggy Ansah as the best player on the Lions.

The Packers have high hopes for their defensive line.

Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell isn’t limiting expectations for his rookie season.

The Falcons are looking for a few good bus drivers.

CB Charles Tillman said playing with a “special” Panthers team lessened the pain of last year’s torn ACL.

The biggest area for improvement on the Saints is clear.

Will it all come together for Buccaneers DE Will Gholston this year?

The Cardinals schedule looks like it could be tougher later in the season.

Breaking down the tight end options for the Rams.

Safety looks like a strength for the 49ers.

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman is coming off another strong season.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Phil Loadholt expected to retire Monday

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 28:  Phil Loadholt #71 of the Minnesota Vikings applies pressure on Jonathan Babineaux #95 of the Atlanta Falcons on September 28, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tackle Phil Loadholt took a pay cut this offseason in order to hold onto his spot on the Vikings roster, but it appears he won’t be collecting that adjusted salary.

Adam Schefter and Adam Caplan of ESPN report that Loadholt is expected to retire. The veteran, who is coming off a torn Achilles, is slated to meet with team officials on Monday.

Loadholt was a 2009 second-round pick of the Vikings and started 89 games over six seasons before missing all of last year because of his injury. In May, word out of Minnesota was that Loadholt was moving well during offseason work although it seems something wasn’t feeling well enough for Loadholt to continue feeling the urge to play in the NFL.

The Vikings signed former Bengals tackle Andre Smith as a free agent this offseason and Loadholt’s departure would leave him without much competition for the starting job.

Permalink 15 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Lions bringing in Jimmy Clausen, wideouts for workout

ay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen AP

The Lions put wide receiver Corey Fuller on the physically unable to perform list Sunday and it’s not clear when he’ll be ready to get back on the field after having foot surgery this offseason.

On Monday, the team will look at a few options to fill in at wideout until Fuller is healthy. Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com reports that Tyler Davis and Larry Pinkard will be among those vying for a spot on the team.

Davis played both ways in the German Football League and did it well enough to be named the MVP, although a stint with the Dolphins this offseason ended without an invitation to camp. Pinkard spent camp and the preseason with the Packers last year, but didn’t make the 53-man roster and went on to spend time on the Raiders’ practice squad.

Davis and Pinkard will be catching passes thrown by Jimmy Clausen, who Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports will also be at the workout. Clausen recently worked out for the Redskins, although his presence was more about having someone to throw to wideouts and the presence of the wideouts suggests it could be the same situation in Detroit. Dan Orlovsky and sixth-round pick Jake Rudock are currently on the depth chart behind Matthew Stafford.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Tyler Eifert still unsure whether he’ll play Week One after ankle surgery

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 5:  Tyler Eifert #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Cleveland 31-10.(Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert underwent ankle surgery two months ago, the expectation was that he could return Week One, but might miss the first couple regular season games. That’s still the case.

Eifert is described as “on schedule” by the Cincinnati Enquirer, which reports that the Bengals hope Eifert will be ready for the September 11 opener but there’s still a chance that rehab could take longer than expected.

Eifert suffered the ankle injury in the Pro Bowl but waited four months to have surgery on it because he hoped it would heal without surgery. If he ends up missing regular season games, that will be yet another blow to the Pro Bowl, which is already viewed by many if not most players as more trouble than it’s worth. It’s hard to see why Eifert would want to play in a Pro Bowl again, given the trouble it’s causing him now.

The more immediate concern, however, is the start of the regular season. Eifert is Andy Dalton’s favorite red zone target, and Dalton isn’t sure if Eifert will be there when the season starts.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Strange video apparently of Aldon Smith emerges

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Aldon Smith #99 of the Oakland Raiders warms up prior to playing the Cincinnati Bengals in their NFL season opener game at O.co Coliseum on September 13, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Not many players who are permanently banished from the league with the ability to apply for reinstatement after one year ever get reinstated. Raiders defensive end Aldon Smith seems to be on track to be among the likes of Justin Blackmon and Darryl Washington.

Via CSNBayArea.com, a video has emerged that appears to include Smith, a hand-rolled cigarette, and a conversation regarding whether it’s wise for him to be making such a video for posting on the Internet.

Easy answer: It’s not wise.

It’s still not entirely clear that Smith is the person in the video, but it sure seems that he is. And if Smith is doing things so clearly ill-advised that for the public eye, it’s fair to wonder whether and to what extent he’s doing other ill-advised things not for the public eye when it comes to the specific things he’s supposed to be doing and not be doing in order to satisfy the terms of the plan devised for him by the medical review officer responsible for Smith’s compliance with the substance-abuse policy.

Smith at one point was one of the most dominant young pass rushers in the NFL, after becoming the seventh overall pick in the 2011 draft. A string of legal issues and suspensions have left him on the outside looking in, and he may never get back on the inside again.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Seahawks extend John Schneider

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 02: (L-R) John Schneider, General Manager of the Seattle Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll celebrates after their 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks fans can stop worrying. And executives with other teams can stop coveting the G.M. job in Seattle.

John Clayton of ESPN.com reports that the Seahawks have reached an agreement on a new contract with G.M. John Schneider. The deal will make him one of the highest-paid General Managers in football.

Per the report, the contract is “expected to approach” the $3.75 million earned by Baltimore’s Ozzie Newsome, which is believed to be the maximum salary for any NFL General Manager. (This overlooks the coaches with de facto personnel power, like Bill Belichick of the Patriots, whose salary is a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a series of non-responsive grunts.)

Schneider previously was believed to be targeting $4 million per year as he entered the final year of his contract. The compromise gives him security for some period of time beyond 2016. Clayton’s report, however, doesn’t mention the length of the extension.

The next step, per Clayton, is expected to be an extension for coach Pete Carroll, who also is under contract through 2016.

UPDATE 11:40 p.m. ET: It’s official, according to the guy who’ll be writing the checks.

Permalink 26 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

J.J. Watt says he’ll be back on the field “very soon”

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  J.J. Watt #99 of Houston Texans enters the field before the game against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

With plenty of conflicting reports (some from the same media company) regarding whether Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will miss six weeks or eight weeks or 10 weeks or more after undergoing back surgery, Watt himself has chimed in, albeit with a vague assessment of his expected return date.

Watt, in a handwritten note to fans photographed and posted on Twitter, concludes with this message: “See you on the field very soon.”

It’s a nice gesture from Watt, who seems to be applying his own unique spin to Peyton Manning’s habit of writing handwritten notes. And at a time when it’s become popular to give Watt grief (I’ve done my share of it), I need to repeat something I said Friday on the radio in Houston: We get numb to the fact that football players have surgery, because so many of them have it. But any surgery — even “minor” surgery — is a big deal. The human body is being opened up, with delicate, precise repairs made to key components of it.

Surgery entails a risk of infection or other complications. It entails a risk the surgery simply won’t fix the problem. It often entails a recovery process featuring pain, discomfort, and the inability to do things that the player would like to do, including practicing and playing football.

We want these guys to entertain us. We often don’t think of them as real people who go through the same real crap the rest of us do. When it comes to invasive medical procedures, they’re far different from the rest of us; surgery happens to them a lot more often than it happens to most of us.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys bus involved in crash that claims four lives

CoKxKpZUkAAYFqc

The multi-million-dollar bus belonging to the Dallas Cowboys has been involved in an accident in Arizona. While no one on the Cowboys bus was seriously injured, law enforcement officials along with multiple reports indicate that more than one fatality occurred in another vehicle.

The van and the bus were the only vehicles involved in the accident.

Via LasVegasNow.com, the bus was traveling from Texas to Las Vegas for a fan event. The bus then was due to go to Oxnard, California for training camp.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times reports that four people in the van died.

According to KTNV.com, officials said the collision occurred as the driver of the van was making an illegal turn onto U.S. 93.

Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple told ABC News that only staff members were on the bus, and that they sustained “bumps and bruises.”

[Photo credit: Arizona State Police.]

Permalink 25 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Patriots sign Vinnie Sunseri, Kyler Kerbyson

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 15:  Vinnie Sunseri #43 of the New Orleans Saints runs the ball during a preseason game between the New Orleans Saints and the Tennessee Titans at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on August 15, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

The New England Patriots announced the signings of safety Vinnie Sunseri and offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson on Sunday.

Sunseri was a fifth-round selection by the New Orleans Saints in 2014. He appeared in nine games for New Orleans before being released by the Saints in April. He recorded five tackles – four on special teams, one on defense – before an arm injury landed him on injured reserve.

A knee injury last year led the Saints to waive Sunseri and he spent all of last season on injured reserve after clearing waivers.

Kerbyson went undrafted after starting two seasons at the University of Tennessee. He’s played both tackle positions and left guard during his tenure with Tennessee.

After the signings, the Patriots still have one open spot on their 90-man roster.

Permalink 42 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

IK Enemkpali could become a starter on the Buffalo defense

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 23:  Head coach Rex Ryan of the Buffalo Bills reacts with IK Enemkpali #75 before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on November 23, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

A year after IK Enemkpali broke Geno Smith’s jaw while they were teammates, Enemkpali may be taking aim at him in a more traditional sense.

With Smith possibly slated to start for the Jets, who stubbornly refuse to sweeten the pot for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Enemkpali eventually could become a regular — if not a starter — for the Buffalo defense.

As explained by Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, the departure of Mario Williams coupled with the shoulder injury to first-round rookie Shaq Lawson has created an opening for Enemkpali, who needs only to outshine Manny Lawson to earn a starting role.

“IK’s done really well,” coach Rex Ryan said during the offseason program. “We’re bumping guys around and stuff but, yeah, he’ll have a chance. IK is a physical player. He’s doing a much better job in his pass-coverage responsibility. So I could definitely see him pushing for playing time, without question.”

Enemkpali may not even need to beat out Manny Lawson, if Ryan decides Manny Lawson is needed elsewhere. Wherever and how much they play, guys like Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes and other pre-2015 defenders have learned Ryan’s defense far better than they knew it a year ago.

“Last year, there’d be silence and a lot of questions asked in the locker room,” Manny Lawson said, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “This year, there’s not silence in the meeting room and no questions being asked in the locker room.”

But that doesn’t mean questions are discouraged.

If you don’t know something, ask,” Lawson said. “Because it’s only going to help us to know. If one person is out there clueless and doesn’t know what to do, that can be a touchdown for us on the defensive side and that can cost us the game.”

A game blown here or there could be the difference between a postseason berth and yet another failure to make the playoffs. With a failure to make the playoffs this year quite possibly the catalyst for a house cleaning, the players have every reason to do everything they can to know the defense and to execute it as it’s designed.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top