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Full text of Roger Goodell’s presentation at the Harvard School of Public Health

[Editor’s note:  On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at the Harvard School of Public Health. The full text of his prepared remarks, as distributed by the NFL, appears below.]

Let me begin by thanking Dean Julio Frenk for inviting me to speak here today.  It is truly an honor to discuss two topics that I am passionate about: the game of football and its future.

The history of football is closely connected with the history of Harvard. Football has been played here with distinction since 1873. Professor Paul Weiler of Harvard Law School persuasively argues that the first college football game took place in Cambridge between Harvard and McGill University.

President Faust paid eloquent tribute to Harvard’s football legacy in a speech the night before last year’s Harvard-Yale game. She mentioned the university’s landmark innovations in the game – uniforms, a team doctor, a trainer, a kicking specialist. Harvard’s legacy includes eight national championships and 20 College Football Hall of Famers. Also the current starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick – and Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk – who last year won the Walter Payton Award as the NFL Man of the Year for his service on, and especially, off the field.

Football is embedded in your traditions, and your contributions have defined and changed how we play the game. We are proud of the connection. And we know that Harvard is proud of your team and players for their extraordinary accomplishments on the football field, in the classroom, and in life. From Harvard’s first African-American football captain, William Lewis in 1893, to Coach Murphy’s fine team this year, you have given so much to the sport we love. And good luck to the Crimson this Saturday in “The Game” against Yale, one of football’s grandest traditions.

Harvard and the NFL both stand for something else – leadership. Others in education, sports, and countless places beyond the playing fields look to us to influence their own decisions. We embrace our leadership position. And leadership means certain things, whether in sports, academia, or public health. It means thinking about the long term. It means listening and learning from people, including your critics or those who may be telling you what you don’t want to hear. It means facing up to your challenges and working tirelessly to make sure you make the right choices, for the right reasons, based on science and facts, not speculation.

So today, in this place of leadership, I want to speak about our role in protecting the health and safety of athletes – not just in the NFL and football, but in all sports and all levels of play. Our nation is experiencing a public health crisis fueled by growing levels of obesity, particularly in children. You understand the consequences and what needs to be done to reverse the trend. We know kids need to exercise – put simply, to play. And we know that whatever they play, they need to do it safely – with respect for the rules and other competitors, and in support of teamwork and sportsmanship.

Other than my family, my passion in life is football, and always has been. As a kid, it seemed like I was always either playing or thinking about football. The values I learned from the game are central to who I am. I learned about commitment, communication, sacrifice and determination. It was fun, exciting, and the ultimate team sport.

Thirty years ago, I joined the NFL as an intern in Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s office. I was Pete Rozelle’s driver at Super Bowl XX in New Orleans in 1986. I couldn’t believe my luck and couldn’t imagine a better job. It was the beginning of a dream I am still living. It has been, at times, a humbling journey.

I have been fortunate to preside over the National Football League for seven seasons now. As a league, we continue to achieve great success. A growing number of fans – more than one million a week – attend games at our stadiums. The 16 most-watched TV shows this fall are NFL games – that is, aside from the presidential debates. And they were almost a contact sport, too.

A recent Harris Poll indicated that the NFL’s popularity is rising, at an all-time high, and up 12 percent from just 10 years ago. The second most popular sport is college football. The interest is simply amazing – driven by the character of the game, the talent and hard work of our athletes, the dedication of coaches, and the passion of our fans.

I don’t need to tell you that our nation is sharply divided on many issues. But, as President Obama said just last week, “One of the big unifiers in this country is sports, and football in particular. You don’t go anyplace where folks don’t talk about football.”

Football connects generations. Many of us remember watching games with parents and grandparents. We’ve experienced the joy of introducing the game to our own children. It inspires us to rally around our players, teams, and cities. It brings together families, friends, and communities. And on a few occasions every year, it brings together the entire country.

Football has earned a vital place in the rhythm of American life. Nearly 6 million kids play flag or tackle football; another 1.1 million play in high school; and 75,000 play in college. For many reasons, I have never been more optimistic about football’s future or more confident about its place in our society. Optimistic, but not complacent.

The game of football is thriving. It is more compelling than ever. But it is also seen by some as a game at a crossroads. And not for the first time. We are well aware of social commentators who now question our future. And I am here to tell you: If we are at another crossroads, we have already taken the right path. We took it a long time ago, and our commitment to stay on it will not waver.

The risk of injury in football is well known. Throughout history, football has evolved; it has become safer and safer again. President Faust talked last year about eliminating the dangerous “flying wedge” in the college game more than a century ago. In recent years, there has been a much sharper focus on concussions in football and other sports. There are still unanswered questions, but scientists and doctors know more about concussions and their long-term potential effects than they did even a few years ago. The key issue for us is how we use this new understanding to make the game even safer and more exciting in the future.

I can say in no uncertain terms that this is our biggest challenge: Changing the culture in a way that reduces the injury risk to the maximum possible extent – especially the risk of head injury. We want players to enjoy long and prosperous careers and healthy lives off the field. So we focus relentlessly on player health and safety, while also keeping the game fun and unpredictable.

My most important job is to protect the integrity of the game – but it goes beyond that. It is also to protect the 1,800 professionals who choose to play and who make our game so great.

The responsibility to our players does not end when they hang up their uniform for the last time. The health and safety of former, current, and future players involves many facets, not just head injuries. It includes the quality of playing fields, the equipment players wear, rules to protect them from unnecessary risk, programs to support their lives off the field, and post-career benefits.

At one time spinal cord injuries were considered a greater risk than they are today. But after changes in rules and techniques, those injuries have been dramatically reduced. We also have addressed the impact of heat and hydration, better educating our medical staffs and players and supporting the outstanding work of the Korey Stringer Institute. Now we are devoting more resources to the well-being of players as they transition away from the game, including their mental health.

We more than accept this responsibility on total health and safety. We seek it; we pursue it; we honor it. We do it to make a difference in football, in all sports and, we hope, beyond.

I’m sure some of you have asked yourselves the same tough questions others ask: When there is risk associated with playing tackle football, why do people continue to play? And for parents, should I let my kids play tackle football?

These are valid, important questions. Answers can differ from person to person – and especially from parent to parent.

In trying to respond to these concerns, we have looked to the realities of football. We have established an open dialogue – speaking frankly and engaging our critics directly – so that we can improve the safety of football. Whether to play football or any contact sport is a highly personal choice for kids and parents. It must be a thoughtful, informed decision.

The simple truth is that any physical activity comes with risk and reward. Head injuries occur in sports. Earlier this month, many of the world’s top sports concussion experts convened in Zurich, Switzerland. It is the leading conference on concussion in sport. In attendance were experts from the International Olympic Committee, international soccer (or as they say “football”), rugby, equestrian competition, Australian Rules Football and many other sports, including the NFL. The chief medical officer of the international soccer federation noted that 300 million people around the world play soccer. Concussions are hardly an issue limited to football or the NFL.

The conference reached a thoughtful consensus on how to advance safety – teach proper techniques and fundamentals; educate coaches, parents and players about concussion recognition and management; eliminate unnecessary contact; and continue to research the unanswered questions surrounding concussions.  At the same time, these international experts recommended that sports be played actively, but safely, without regard to age. These few steps will make sports safer for all.

There is no question that there are tremendous benefits to playing team sports like football, whether it’s tackle, flag or touch football in the backyard – benefits such as physical fitness, self-discipline, friendships, leadership opportunities, self-esteem, college scholarships, and, most importantly, just plain fun.

Presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to John Kennedy to Gerald Ford played and loved football. Business leaders like Jeff Immelt and military leaders like General Ray Odierno learned important lessons from playing football. At West Point, the cadets are required to play a team sport because the experience is fundamental to leadership development.

Is playing tackle football worth the risk? For some, the answer may be no. But millions say yes. We emphatically say yes. And I pledge that the NFL will do everything in its power to minimize the risks and maximize the rewards of this great and increasingly global game.

The way I look at it: Football is always at a crossroads, facing challenges that require leaders to act with courage and purpose to secure and advance its future.

Let’s look back at one issue that involved Harvard more than a century ago, in 1905, before the NFL even existed. This was a time when football was extremely dangerous and violent. More than 150 college players suffered serious injuries and 18 players died in 1904 alone – – at a time when far fewer athletes played football.

Just think about that for a moment … 18 student-athletes died … in one season, primarily from skull fractures.

The nature of the game at that time led to widespread criticism. In 1903, The New York Times stated that football was trending toward “mayhem and homicide.” Some called for ending the sport, including Harvard President Charles Eliot.

The future of football was very much in doubt.

But a Harvard graduate, who happened to be the President of the United States, loved football. And Teddy Roosevelt came to football’s rescue.

He had not played football at Harvard, but he loved the game. He saw the merit in the lessons and principles that make football compelling. And in December of 1905, he brought the Big Three – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – to the White House. He convinced them that something had to change. President Roosevelt recognized that the game did not need to end. It needed to evolve.

As a result of President Roosevelt’s initiative, and the leadership of Harvard, key rules and the equipment of the game were changed and what became the NCAA was created. This led to modern football, one that included the forward pass, 10 yards for a first down, and the elimination of the flying wedge. These changes led to a more wide open, safer game.
Teddy Roosevelt helped transform a sport in trouble into something better – a game that has helped shape the lives and careers of generations of young men in so many positive ways.

In 1910, President Woodrow Wilson observed that the changes were working. “The new game of football seems far more enjoyable than the old one,” he said. “The new rules are doing much to bring football to a high level as a sport, for its brutal features are being done away with and better elements retained.”

So it was that a Harvard graduate and the university itself played a pivotal role in transforming football and paving the way to its future success.

The game has continued to evolve. Not long ago, the game allowed the head slap, tackling by the face mask, horse collar tackles, dangerous blocks, and hits to the head of defenseless receivers and quarterbacks. All of that has changed.

“The war against roughness in pro football is a continuing one,” said the NFL commissioner. That was Pete Rozelle in 1963.

“An Unfolding Tragedy.” That was a headline. The story said, “As football injuries mount, lawsuits increase and insurance rates soar, the game is headed toward a crisis, one that is epitomized by the helmet, which is both a barbarous weapon and inadequate protection.” It was a Sports Illustrated cover story in 1978.

Protecting the health and safety of players has included taking drug abuse and steroids out of the game. We have randomly tested year-round for steroids since 1990, the first league to do so, with immediate suspensions for any violations. Next we need to implement testing to make sure human growth hormone is out of the game. Performance enhancing drugs are dangerous. They also present unknown risk that may be seriously impacting an athlete’s health in ways he or she never considered. Some have suggested that there may be a link between performance enhancing drugs and concussions and brain disease.

Football has always evolved, and it always will. Make no mistake: change does not inhibit the game; it improves it.

It’s with Teddy Roosevelt in mind that we embrace today’s challenges. I learned a long time ago that you don’t do things because they are popular in the short term. You do them because they are right for the long term. And this is the right conversation to be having.

My commitment has been and will continue to be to change the culture of football to better protect players without changing the essence of what makes the game so popular.

It has been done. And it will be done.

As stewards of the game, it is our responsibility to promote a culture of safety. To be leaders. So let me share with you some specifics on how we are leading.


Leaders do not sit and wait for others to provide answers. We will continue to make rule changes, invest in innovative protective equipment, and provide our medical staffs the tools and authority to protect players on the field.

The rule in our league is simple and straightforward: Medical decisions override everything else. There has been attention this week on the fact that three NFL quarterbacks sustained concussions last Sunday. The positive development was that all three were taken out of the game as soon as they showed symptoms. The team medical staff then diagnosed a concussion, and each player was out of the game. That is progress. That is the way it should be in all sports at every level.

We know that our actions set an example. The concussion awareness material and training videos we developed with the Centers for Disease Control were used by the U.S. Olympic team this past summer. The United States military, NASCAR and college conferences have adopted our concussion protocols.

The Ivy League this year adopted rules similar to the ones in the new agreement with our NFL players, limiting contact in practices and emphasizing taking the head out of the game – as we have been doing.

High schools and colleges must take leadership roles as well with their coaches and athletes. An aggressive dialogue and educational efforts at all levels will raise awareness and change the culture to more strongly emphasize safety. We challenge everyone in sports to be agents of culture change. And we will learn from each other.

There is more to be done. And we will continue to lead by example.


Second, leaders base decisions on facts. We actively support independent and transparent medical research. Much of this focuses on the brain, sometimes called the last frontier of medicine and a public health issue that affects millions. Most of them do not even play sports.

We hope our focus on brain injury and the discoveries ahead will benefit the broader population. We recently committed $30 million to the National Institutes of Health for research on the brain. The agreement with our players sets aside an additional $100 million for similar medical research over the next decade. We have invested millions more in medical research through our charitable foundations, including at the Boston University Center for the Study of CTE. The center’s co-director, Dr. Robert Stern, is here today.

We may learn through breakthroughs in science that there are genetic or other factors that make certain individuals predisposed to concussions or brain disease. If an athlete has repeated concussions or takes longer to recover, it may signal a problem unique to that individual. Such individuals will benefit from advances in the science of concussion. They will be able to make more informed decisions about whether to accept the risk of playing a contact sport.

We support research into new helmet designs and have sponsored independent helmet testing to provide better information to players on helmet performance. One of the helmets our players wear was designed by a former Harvard quarterback, Vin Ferrara.

We may see a day when there are different helmets for different positions, based on which helmet can best protect players at their position.

As a sport that is on the national stage and under the spotlight, we are working to make a difference. Innovations in research today will improve safety in the sport tomorrow and for future generations in all sports.


Third, we are committed to strengthening our playing rules – and insisting on strict enforcement. Preserving the essence of the game, while reducing unnecessary risk, means we have to constantly reevaluate and refresh our rules reasonably and responsibly.

Strategy, strength and speed are what make the game great. We don’t want to take physical contact out of the game. But we must ensure that players follow rules designed to reduce the risk of injury. Enforcing rules on illegal hits to the head with fines and suspensions has changed tackling for the better. Players and coaches have adjusted. They always do. We now see fewer dangerous hits to the head and noticeable changes in the way the game is being played.

We continue to look for other ways to take the head out of the game. Two years ago we moved the kickoff line five yards forward to the 35. That reform yielded real benefits – a 40 percent reduction in concussions last year on kickoffs. College football then adopted our rule. Some think that the kickoff – the play with the highest injury rate – should be eliminated from the game or modified even further.

Here’s an idea I’ve heard from an NFL head coach: put a weight limit on players for kickoffs. Smaller players against smaller players would mean less severe collisions.

We will monitor the data on kickoffs, and all plays, with an open mind toward change.

Our Player Safety Panel, co-chaired by Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and John Madden, has recommended that our Competition Committee carefully review the rules on all blocks below the waist. Protecting “defenseless” players started decades ago by banning the hitting of kickers. We now have nine separate categories of defenseless players in our rule book. All players can be defenseless in certain situations and we must address it comprehensively.

The right safety equipment is also crucial. Next year NFL players will be required to wear knee and thigh pads, as players are required to do at every other level of football. Many NFL players haven’t been wearing them. Getting them into the right equipment is part of changing the culture.

Technology is also helping us. Recent developments include new protocols, certified athletic trainers in press boxes to serve as spotters for team medical staffs, and the use of iPads and cell phones by medical staffs on the sidelines. We allow this technology for medical reasons, but not for competitive purposes.

We are testing accelerometers in helmets. They are sensors that determine the impact of a hit. We are also testing sensors in shoulder pads which could provide important information.

The most significant innovation may be the use of video by medical staffs on the sidelines to evaluate the mechanism of injury. We started it late last season and now use it for every game. It allows team doctors and trainers to more quickly understand and better treat an injury. Our team medical staffs are raving about it.


Fourth, we use our leadership position to advocate for safety in sports. We took a lead role in supporting the Zackery Lystedt Youth Concussion Law. It applies to all sports. It requires education for coaches, players, and parents, removal from games or practice for any school athlete who suffers a concussion, and clearance by a medical professional before the athlete can return to play. This law has now been passed by 40 states and the District of Columbia. Our goal is to secure approval in all 50 states. And I am confident that we will get there.

We are committed to the safety of young athletes, starting as soon as they step on the field. My twin daughters in middle school play lacrosse and soccer. Girls’ soccer has the second highest rate of concussions in youth sports. I am concerned for their safety. I want them to play, but I want them to play for coaches who know how to teach proper techniques and who are trained in the safety of their sport.

Ten years ago, we helped endow a non-profit organization called USA Football. With the CDC and other medical and football experts, USA Football created the only nationally accredited coaching course in the history of football. Tens of thousands of coaches have completed the course. Better certification and background checks of all coaches must be among the highest priorities for all youth sports.

USA Football has commissioned an injury study – research that the youth game has never seen. It also established a pilot program this year called “Heads Up Football.” This program invites parents to participate and delivers training and education for safer tackling, practice regimens modeled on the NFL, and a safety coach whose sole task is to monitor and ensure player safety in practices and games.

In fact, there is a critical need for more certified athletic trainers for youth and high school sports. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, in 2010 only 42 percent of high schools had access to certified trainers who were trained in concussion care.

There is more we can do to make youth sports safer. And again, we stand ready to lead.


And finally, we know we can’t do it alone. To learn what needs to be learned and do what needs to be done, we need partners with expertise to make things happen.

We will continue to work with leading organizations to support independent research. One day we hope that will include the Harvard School of Public Health.

We have assembled an all-volunteer advisory panel of doctors, scientists, and thought leaders in brain injury from academia, sports medicine, engineering, the NIH, CDC, and Department of Defense. It includes some of our earlier critics. This group has four subcommittees and is directing discussion and research – ranging from long-term outcomes to education to making safer equipment. It includes another Harvard graduate and former Crimson football player, Dr. Mitch Berger. Dr. Robert Cantu, long respected in this area, is here today and he is an advisor to our committee.

We have eight other medical advisory committees within our league, comprised mostly of doctors plus other experts from inside and outside the league. These committees are overseen by a committee of owners chaired by an NFL owner who is also a physician, Dr. John York of the San Francisco 49ers.

Earlier this year, with the help of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, we launched a pilot program to replace helmets in underserved schools.

We need to be driven by facts and data, not perceptions and suppositions. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has done studies on NFL players. This summer NIOSH exploded a myth that has been circulating for years that the life expectancy of NFL players was 55 years of age. That caused many NFL players to make a bad decision to take their pension early at a much lower rate. NIOSH found that the true life expectancy of an NFL player is actually longer than the general population. There are real-life consequences when working off bad facts.

One of our most exciting and innovative new partnerships is with the Army, helping to change the culture in both organizations. Too often, bravery and commitment to the unit or team stand in the way of safety. In this new partnership, NFL players and service members are working together to put in place a culture of safety. It is helping players and soldiers identify the signs and symptoms of brain injuries, and empowering them to make better decisions. We are working cooperatively to make soldiers and athletes safer.

We are proud to be leaders in sports health and safety. Members of Congress, former critics, influential members of the news media, and others have praised our initiatives. But while we have worked hard throughout our history, the right road is never ending. Evolution, by nature, does not stop. Football will always continue to evolve.

The culture of the athlete is still too much of a play-through-it, rather than player safety mentality. Many players have publicly admitted to hiding concussions and other head injuries.

I was recently at dinner with family friends. Their 15-year-old daughter plays field hockey and told me how during a recent game she hit her head on the turf and blacked out for a moment. She didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t want to come out. The next day she was diagnosed with a concussion. It’s the warrior mentality – in a 15-year-old girl. This is unfortunate, but we are working with players, team doctors and coaches to change that culture. It is changing, but will take more time, resolve, patience, and determination.

Let me conclude with a question: What is our goal? I can answer in one simple word: Safety.

A safer game for all who play at every level of football. A safer game made even more exciting through thoughtful adjustments of the rules, next-generation equipment, pioneering research, and transparent partnerships with the best minds.

The road may be long and twisting. But I have no doubt we will reach our destination – a culture of safety for every sport so our world continues to be blessed by the vital and vibrant rewards that come uniquely from sports. For football, I can say with humility, resolve, and confidence: the best is yet to come.

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Mike Shanahan continues to heap praise on Kirk Cousins

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In 2012, former Washington coach Mike Shanahan took a fourth-round flier on quarterback Kirk Cousins, in the same year the team gave up three ones and a two to get Robert Griffin III. And it’s possible that Shanahan is laying the foundation to swoop back into the NFL with Cousins as his quarterback.

Shanahan has continuously praised Cousins, at a time when Shanahan has made it clear he wants what would be a fourth NFL head-coaching opportunity. His latest remarks were the most over-the-top yet.

“I think he’s a guy that can take your team and win a Super Bowl,” Shanahan told ESPN 980, via Clinton Yates of the Washington Post. “And that’s the biggest compliment I can give somebody. Does this person have the ability, the ingredients, that if he has the right supporting cast on offense/defense and special teams, can he win you a Super Bowl? And I believe that Kirk Cousins has that ability.”

More immediately, Kirk Cousins may have the ability to get Shanahan what he really wants. Because when teams that inevitably will be looking for new coaches because they invariably have bad quarterback situations will be hiring in January, Shanahan’s plan for any interviews he gets will include getting Cousins to be the team’s quarterback.

Yes, Cousins will be a free agent after the season. And Washington would have to devote nearly $20 million in cash and cap space to keep Cousins off the market for 2016. Which means, unless Washington gets to the Super Bowl or close to it, Cousins is likely to hit the open market. Which will make it easy for Shanahan to recruit Cousins to Shanahan’s new team, if he can land one.

Ultimately, it’s the money that talks. But Shanahan’s chatter surely will make it easier to lure Cousins when the time comes to pick a new team.

For Shanahan’s purposes, landing Cousins is one thing. Using the possibility of landing Cousins to secure an NFL job two months before Cousins becomes a free agent is another. And the only way for Washington to block that will be to sign Cousins to a new contract before the end of the season.

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A Greg Hardy rap video emerges

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One day after the first Sunday of the 2014 season, TMZ published a Ray Rice video that shook the NFL to its foundation. One day before Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy plays his first game of the 2015 season, TMZ has published another video that won’t have nearly the same impact.

It’s a rap video from Hardy, made during the 2014 season while he was being paid to not play football pending the resolution of his domestic violence charges.

According to TMZ, the song includes these Dr. Seuss-style words of wisdom from Hardy: “What you see is what you get. I’m just me, I’m just real, and that’s what I do.”

The video also reportedly includes the sound of gunfire, because of course it would. It likewise objectifies women, because of course it would.

The video, standing alone, violates no league policies. But it won’t make many in the league office thrilled about the situation, and it will make some primed to pounce with another suspension if/when Hardy gets into real trouble again.

And while the video was created months before Hardy became a Cowboy, it won’t make coach Jason Garrett, who recently told Hardy to watch what he says about guns and women, any happier with Hardy.

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Texans expect Clowney to play next week despite ankle injury

Jadeveon Clowney AP

When Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney was spotted in a walking boot on Friday, it was cause for concern: Clowney missed most of his rookie year with a knee injury, and the Texans would hate to lose the 2014 No. 1 overall pick for significant time again.

But Texans coach Bill O’Brien says the walking boot is not a sign of a serious injury, and the Texans expect Clowney to play next week.

“I just saw him just now before I walked in here, and he seemed to be doing well,” O’Brien said, via ESPN. “I think you guys probably saw he had a boot on, but that’s just precautionary. He likes to go play pick-up hoop and things like that. Going to try to avoid doing that this weekend.”

Clowney has shown flashes of the raw talent that made him one of the most exciting defensive prospects ever to enter the draft, including a great tackle on Frank Gore on Thursday night. But he still hasn’t recorded a single sack in his NFL career, which is a huge disappointment for a pass rusher drafted first overall. Perhaps he can do it next Sunday in Jacksonville.

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Antonio Cromartie dubs Odell Beckham Jr. a “one-year wonder”

Odell Beckham AP

Later this year, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie will get a chance to battle Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on the field. For now, Cromartie will have to settle for throwing darts at Beckham off it.

Right now he’s a one-year wonder,” Cromartie said Friday on ESPN, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “I’m just being honest. It’s just one year. I need to see it on an every-game basis, not him getting penalties or something like that or sucker-punching somebody. I think it’s all about how you carry yourself throughout your whole entire career.”

Beckham can show Cromartie that the second-year player is something more than a one-year wonder when the Jets and Giants get together on December 6. Unless, of course, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis exclusively covers Beckham.

“He’s very young. Has he had production in 16 games? Yes, I give him the utmost [credit] for that,” Cromartie said. “He’s had the most production out of any receiver I’ve seen in [his first] 16 games since Randy Moss. But you have to do it week-in and week-out and depend on that person. No matter if you’re getting double or triple-teamed. Randy Moss didn’t complain when he [was] triple and double-teamed, and people went after him, also.”

Beckham has had to adjust to teammates ribbing him and opponents targeting him. After scoring an average of one touchdown per game in his 12 appearances from 2014, Beckham has two touchdown receptions in four games this season.

Still, that gives him 14 touchdowns in 16 career games. Which is a strong start. By the time December 6 rolls around, it’ll be interesting to see whether Beckham’s production supports Cromartie’s theory.

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Trent Robinson not fined for hits on defenseless players

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During Sunday’s game against the Eagles, Washington lost 30 yards of field position on a pair of unnecessary roughness penalties called against defensive back Trent Robinson.

According to the NFL (and as Washington safety Dashon Goldson suggested during a recent appearance on PFT Live), Robinson was fined for neither hit.

The first foul, arising from a hit on Philadelphia receiver Jordan Matthews in the third quarter, appeared to be a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. The second foul, occurring on the first play of the fourth quarter, happened when Eagles tight end Zach Ertz caught a past and lowered his head into Robinson’s chest.

The lack of fines suggests that the flags were thrown in error, which is more evidence that these fouls should be subject to replay review. With 15 yards given to the offense whenever one of these penalties is called, the defense should have a way to obtain a more deliberate review of what often occurs on a bang-bang basis.

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Jarvis Landry fined for abusive language to official

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Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes wasn’t the only player from the AFC East who was fined for directing abusive language to an official. Per multiple reports, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry was fined, too.

The standard fine for a first offense under the 2015 fine schedule is $23,152. For a second offense committed this season, the amount doubles.

Landry drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct late in Miami’s 27-14 loss to the Jets in London. The defeat sparked the termination of Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

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Seahawks decided to give Marshawn Lynch more time to heal

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Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will miss a second straight game with a hamstring strain. Coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Friday that Lynch possibly could have played.

“It’s just two weeks now,” Carroll said. “He’s just getting over it. We’ve seen some guys around the league try to come back. He could try to come back and play, but we think he’d be vulnerable. He needs another weekend to get through it. Then by next week, by Wednesday or something, we think we can get him going again. He’s just about over the hump. He’s worked very diligently, like I’ve said, to get it done. So we just have to wait a couple more days.”

Carroll makes a good point about the importance of resting a hamstring injury. The Bills rushed running back LeSean McCoy back too quickly, and now he’s out for another month or so.

“You’ve just got to wait it out,” Carroll said of Lynch. “He’s very close, but we can’t guarantee that he can make it through the game. That means we could get set back again, so we’re just going to wait it out and see if we can get him right next week.”

The Seahawks host the Panthers next Sunday. Seattle then has a Thursday night game against the 49ers in Santa Clara.

Without Lynch, it’ll be Thomas Rawls and perhaps Fred Jackson carrying the load; Jackson is questionable for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.

Carroll also said that the Seahawks may add a running back before Sunday’s game at Cincinnati. Rod Smith, and undrafted free agent from Ohio State, is on the practice squad. Also, the Seahawks worked out running back Cyrus Gray on Friday, per a league source.

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Colts trumpet their ability to neutralize “Justin James” Watt

J.J. Watt AP

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was frustrated after last night’s loss to the Colts. He may be feeling a different emotion after seeing what the Colts had to say about his performance.

The Colts trumpeted via “daily notes” distributed to the media their ability to “neutralize” Watt, holding him to no sacks and no solo tackles for only the second time in his NFL career. Also, tight end Dwayne Allen has opted to refer to Watt by only his first and middle names.

“Justin James is arguably the greatest defensive player in this league and for him to have a quiet night, attributed [sic] to a short week and great coaching,” Allen said. “He’s definitely a guy we have to game plan for as a game wrecker. We tried our best to keep him from affecting plays.”

“Justin James” will next get a chance to affect plays on December 20, when the Texans travel to Indianapolis in the hopes of beating the Colts there for the first time in franchise history.

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Week Five injury report roundup

Joe Haden, DeAndre Hopkins AP

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 Five of the 2015 season.

Redskins at Falcons

Four Redskins — cornerback Chris Culliver (knee), cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe), wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring), and tight end Jordan Reed (concussion, knee, ankle) — have been ruled out for this Sunday. Linebacker Perry Riley (calf) is questionable to return to the lineup. Running back Tevin Coleman (ribs) is probable to return for the Falcons, who ruled out linebacker Justin Durant (elbow). Wide receiver Julio Jones (toe, hamstring) is questionable, although there’s been nothing to suggest he’ll be anywhere but on the field come Sunday.

Browns at Ravens

Browns cornerback Joe Haden (ribs, finger) is questionable after unexpectedly missing last week’s game and safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle) has been ruled out. Linebacker Craig Robertson (ankle) is out as well and running back Shaun Draughn (back) is doubtful. It doesn’t look like Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (back, doubtful) will play, which would leave him on the sideline with defensive end Chris Canty (calf), tight end Crockett Gillmore (calf) and wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee). Tackle Eugene Monroe (concussion) is probable to play for the first time since the opener.

Seahawks at Bengals

It will be another week without running back Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) for the Seahawks, who also ruled out cornerbacks Tharold Simon (toe) and Marcus Burley (hand). Running back Fred Jackson (ankle) is questionable and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Friday that he’s hopeful the veteran can play. The Bengals are healthy with three probables to go with the questionable defensive end Wallace Gilberry (calf) and safety George Iloka (ankle).

Rams at Packers

Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree (ankle) is going to be out for multiple weeks and safety Maurice Alexander (groin) is doubtful. The Packers look like they’ll have tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) in the lineup, although they listed him as questionable along with wide receiver Davante Adams (ankle), safety Morgan Burnett (calf) and cornerback Demetri Goodson (hamstring). Safety Sean Richardson (neck) is out and reportedly will miss the rest of the season.

Bears at Chiefs

The Bears will have plenty of decisions to make on Sunday. They listed 13 players as questionable, including quarterback Jay Cutler (hamstring), wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and linebacker Pernell McPhee (shoulder). They were a bit more definitive about safety Antrel Rolle (ankle, doubtful) and were willing to rule out tackle Jermon Bushrod (concussion). Tight end Travis Kelce (groin, thumb) is probable for the Chiefs, who won’t have linebacker Josh Mauga (groin, Achilles).

Saints at Eagles

The Saints ruled out tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and punter Thomas Morstead (quadricep), but hope to have guard Jahri Evans (knee) back in the lineup after listing him as questionable. Eagles tackle Jason Peters (quadricep) is questionable, but said he expects to play. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) is out after getting hurt last week.

Jaguars at Buccaneers

Wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), linebacker John Lotulelei (concussion) and running back Denard Robinson (knee) are all out for Jacksonville and tight end Julius Thomas (hand) is expected to join them after being listed as questionable. Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks (knee) and linebacker Paul Posluszny (ankle) are also questionable. The Bucs don’t expect to have cornerback Johnthan Banks (knee), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), wide receiver Russell Shepard (hamstring) or center Evan Smith (ankle) after listing them as doubtful. Guard Logan Mankins (groin), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (shoulder) and tight end Luke Stocker (hip) are all questionable.

Bills at Titans

Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) is questionable after missing last week’s game. Tight end MarQueis Gray (forearm), running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring), safety Bacarri Rambo (quadricep) and running back Karlos Williams (concussion) are all going to miss the game and safety Aaron Williams (neck) is probable to return to the lineup. Cornerback Jason McCourty (groin) should play for the first time this season, but the Titans will likely be without defensive tackle Sammie Hill (knee). Guard Chance Warmack (knee) is questionable.

Cardinals at Lions

Running back Andre Ellington (knee) is one of seven probable Cardinals, tight end Darren Fells (hip) and wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) are questionable and coach Bruce Arians said Friday he anticipates everyone being healthy enough to play. The Lions ruled out running back Joique Bell (ankle), tight end Eric Ebron (knee) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf) for this Sunday. Safety James Ihedigbo (quadricep) and guard Larry Warford (ankle) are questionable.

Patriots at Cowboys

The Patriots return from their bye in good shape. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher (hamstring) and defensive end Trey Flowers (knee, shoulder) are questionable and the rest of the injury report is made up of probable players. Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (concussion) is probable to return, but wide receiver Dez Bryant (foot), wide receiver Brice Butler (hamstring) and defensive end Randy Gregory (ankle) are all out of the lineup.

Broncos at Raiders

Broncos tackle Ty Sambrailo (shoulder) will miss a second straight game and guard Evan Mathis (hamstring) is questionable to play. Wide receiver Cory Latimer (groin) has also been ruled out. The Raiders will play without defensive tackle Denico Autry (concussion), cornerback T.J. Carrie (chest), defensive tackle Justin Ellis (ankle) and running back Taiwan Jones (foot).

49ers at Giants

Word on Friday was that linebacker Ahmad Brooks will miss Sunday’s game following the death of his sister, but the 49ers listed him as doubtful. Tight end Vernon Davis (knee) definitely won’t play and tackle Joe Staley (knee) is questionable. The Giants ruled out defensive end Robert Ayers (hamstring), wide receiver Victor Cruz (calf), linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring) and defensive end George Selvie (calf). Linebacker Jonathan Casillas (calf), cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion) and cornerback Trumaine McBride (groin) are all questionable.

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Eric Ebron out for Lions on Sunday

Eric Ebron AP

As the Lions try to get their first win of the season, they’ll have to do it without a key piece of their passing game. Tight end Eric Ebron is out for the game with a knee injury.

Ebron reportedly suffered no structural damage to his knee as a result of a Monday night injury in Seattle. Ebron did not practice at all this week.

Regarded as a disappointment during his rookie season, which included only 25 receptions for 248 yards and one touchdown, Ebron already has generated 15 catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns in four games this year.

The good news for the Lions is that tight end Brandon Pettigrew is on track to return to action. He injured a hamstring in Week One, and he hasn’t played since then. Pettigrew is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the 3-1 Cardinals.

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Prop rule comes from desire to “prevent things from escalating”

Josh Norman AP

The Week Four games contained a pair of touchdown celebrations that included the use of the ball as a prop. One of them (Panthers cornerback Josh Norman pretending to ride a horse with the ball apparently serving as the horse) drew a flag. One of them (Rams receiver Stedman Bailey taking a nap with the ball as a pillow) didn’t.

In the league’s weekly officiating video, NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained the purpose for the rule.

‘This is a rule that was put in place to prevent things from escalating,” Blandino said. “We had situations where players were using the ball as a prop. It was getting elaborate, it was getting extensive. And we were creating this animosity with the team that scored and then the team that got scored upon, and we were ending up with altercations, and this got out of control.”

Norman’s use of the ball as a prop definitely triggered animosity from the crowd in Tampa; at 8:16 of the video, a hand showing a middle finger to Norman appears in the foreground of the video.

Blandino acknowledged that Bailey’s conduct, like Norman’s, should have been penalized.

“We have continue to work to be consistent, in not just this area but every area, so we want both of these to be called,” Blandino said. “We certainly don’t want to take the fun out of the game. Players can celebrate, they can high five, they can fist bump, whatever it is. But they cannot use the football as a prop, they can’t do anything that would be considered in poor taste, something that would be mimicking a violent gesture, whether that’s a throat slash, whether that’s . . . a six shooter. Using the ball as a prop is a foul, and officials are being directed to call it when they recognize it.”

It’s unclear why the officials didn’t recognize Bailey using the ball as a prop. Then again, it’s still unclear why the back judge in the Lions-Seahawks game didn’t recognize the illegal bat that occurred right in front of him.

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NFL fines Xavier Rhodes $17,363 for a horse collar tackle

Mike Evans, Xavier Rhodes AP

Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes is lighter in the wallet after committing a horse collar tackle on Sunday.

Rhodes was fined $17,363 for the foul, the NFL has confirmed.

On the NFL fine schedule, horse collar tackles are considered in the second-tier of seriousness, along with roughing the passer and leg whips, all of which result in a $17,363 fine for a first offense. Less serious infractions like facemasking and chop blocks result in fines of $8,681, while more serious offenses like spearing, hitting a defenseless player and blindside blocks result in a fine of $23,152. Fines typically double for a second offense.

Rhodes also cost the Vikings 15 yards for the penalty, which he committed while tackling Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

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Report: Sean Richardson out for season with neck injury

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 18:  Sean Richardson #28 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after the Packers intercept a pass in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the 2015 NFC Championship game at CenturyLink Field on January 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers safety Sean Richardson missed a lot of time after having fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck during the 2012 season and he reportedly suffered the same injury.

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Richardson will not play again this season and that his career may be at risk. Richardson missed the first 10 weeks of the 2013 season while recovering from the first neck surgery, but played down the stretch that year and saw action in all 16 games last season.

Richardson practiced on Wednesday and was listed as a limited participant in Thursday’s session. Per Silverstein, he began experiencing pain on Thursday and went for an MRI.

The Packers have a lot of recent history with neck injuries bringing careers to a premature end. Tight end Jermichael Finley, safety Nick Collins and running back Johnathan Franklin all saw their playing days end after similar injuries.

Green Bay has only ruled Richardson out for this week at this point. They’re also expected to be without safety Morgan Burnett, who is listed as questionable with a calf injury, when they face the Rams.

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Saints left tackle Terron Armstead out, Andrus Peat to start

Terron Armstead, Brett Ingalls AP

If the Saints are going to double their win total for the season, they’re going to have to do it with a rookie at left tackle.

Terron Armstead is listed as out for Sunday’s game against the Eagles with a knee injury picked up last week.

That leaves Drew Brees‘ blind side and recently sore shoulder in the hands of first-rounder Andrus Peat, who failed to win a starting job from either Armstead or Zach Strife in the preseason.

Guard Jahri Evans is listed as questionable, but worked on a limited basis Friday.

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Vernon Davis will miss another game

San Francisco 49ers v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

The 49ers announced Friday that tight end Vernon Davis will miss a second straight game Sunday due to a knee injury.

Davis had been able to participate in practice on a limited basis earlier in the week, but he’s been ruled out for Sunday night’s game at the Giants. Garrett Celek was the primary tight end target with Davis out last week.

The team listed linebacker Ahmad Brooks as doubtful. His absence from practice this week has been listed as family leave following the death of his sister.

Aaron Lynch and Corey Lemonier will start at outside linebacker.

Starting tackle Joe Staley (knee) and backup wide receiver Quinton Patton (concussion) are listed as questionable.

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Marshawn Lynch to miss second straight game

Marshawn Lynch AP

Marshawn Lynch returned to practice for the Seahawks on Thursday, but his hamstring isn’t ready for him to return to game action when they face the Bengals on Sunday.

The Seahawks have ruled Lynch out for the second straight week, the first time that’s ever happened during his time in Seattle. Thomas Rawls ran 17 times for 48 yards against the Lions last Monday and may be in for an even heavier workload this weekend.

Fred Jackson is listed as questionable with an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice for the last two days. The Seahawks had not completed Friday’s practice before releasing their injury report, so there’s no word on whether Jackson was able to do something during the final session of the week. Rawls is the only other running back on the 53-man roster with Rod Smith available from the practice squad if the Seahawks make a roster move.

Cornerbacks Tharold Simon and Marcus Burley are also out for Seattle while cornerback Tye Smith, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs and linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis are all doubtful.

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Julio Jones questionable, but expected to play against Washington

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The Falcons might list Julio Jones as questionable, but there’s no indication the Falcons are going to have to put their 4-0 record on the line without him.

According to Vaughn McClure of, Jones went through drills Friday and gave no indication he wouldn’t be able to go against Washington.

He’s been limited this week with toe and hamstring issues, though they don’t think it’s serious or related to previous issues.

The Falcons are also getting rookie running back Tevin Coleman back after a rib injury in Week Two, though it’s unclear how often he’ll get the ball behind Devonta Freeman, who leads the NFL with seven touchdowns.

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Josh Norman fined $8,681 for TD celebration

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 27:  Josh Norman #24 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after defeating the New Orleans Saints 27-22 at Bank of America Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers cornerback Josh Norman didn’t expect to draw a penalty flag for riding the football like a horse after returning an interception for a touchdown last Sunday, but he should have been expecting a fine from the league once he did.

Norman got that fine, which Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports is for $8,681. Norman said that he spoke to Hall of Fame linebacker and NFL/NFLPA fine appeal officer Derrick Brooks about the celebration before kickoff and that Brooks said Norman “was fine.”

That may help him if he tries to appeal, unless a Three’s Company-style misunderstanding resulted from Brooks telling Norman that he would be fined. It was still a good week for Norman, who followed up his NFC defensive player of the month honors for September by being named the conference’s top defender of the week.

Person reports that defensive end Ryan Delaire was fined $8,681 as well for a late hit on Buccaneers running back Doug Martin during the Panthers victory.

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Expensive week for Jerry Hughes

Jerry Hughes AP

Not much went right for the Bills last Sunday vs. the Giants.

The expensive aftermath for Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes includes fines totaling more than $30,000.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Hughes was fined $8,681 for unnecessary roughness and $23,152 for using abusive language towards an official. Fines stemming from the previous Sunday are generally delivered to players at the end of the week.

Hughes is a second-time offender on the abusive language front. He was fined $22,050 last November for a similar offense.

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Brian Hoyer back in the saddle for Texans

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08:  Brian Hoyer #7 of the Houston Texans reacts after throwing a touchdown pass to end the second quarter of play against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium on October 8, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

It didn’t happen in a room closed to all but Hard Knocks cameras this time, but Texans coach Bill O’Brien has again named Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback in Houston.

Hoyer relieved Ryan Mallett on Thursday night after Mallett came out of the game following a hit to the chest and piloted the Texans the rest of the way in the 27-20 loss to the Colts. Hoyer was 24-of-31 for 312 yards, two touchdowns to rookie Jaelen Strong and an ugly interception on the team’s final offensive play, which was enough for O’Brien to put him back in the starting lineup against Jacksonville.

“We are moving on to Jacksonville. Brian Hoyer will start the game and we will go from there,” O’Brien said.

The Texans have played both of their quarterbacks in three of their first five games this season, which suggests that this may not be the last change we see in 2015. Hoyer’s play on Thursday night was the best work either has turned in during any of those appearances, which probably made for an easy short-term decision for O’Brien.

All of the shuffling means the long-term problem remains for Houston and an answer isn’t likely to come until the offseason.

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