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There’s never a shortage of eventually-failed football leagues, and with two of them angling to join the list of ventures that will later pull the plug, they’re both trying to stand out for at least a little while, before the inevitable demise.
The new Spring League, which received some advance notoriety when the #fakenews of NFL involvement emerged last month, has found another way to make a headline. Via Rob Maadi of the Associated Press, Spring League CEO Brian Woods explained that the door is open for big-name players who want to get back to the NFL.
“If Johnny Manziel is serious about a future in the NFL, the Spring League is willing to provide him with a platform to prove he’s still relevant,” Woods said. (The kids and/or the adults who want to seem cool would call that throwing shade.)
Woods also mentioned Ray Rice and Vince Young as potential additional to the upstart league. Even though the goal is to employ players in their mid-20s, the Spring League realizes that any publicity is good publicity, when it comes to staving off what surely will happen within the first three or four years of the league’s launch.
Former NFL players who already have signed up for the Spring League, which will be based at the Greenbrier in my home state of West Virginia so maybe I should be a little less unrealistic about its chances of success as a gesture of hospitality, include receiver Jalen Saunders, cornerback Ellis Lankster, and safety Pierre Warren.
So, yes, the interest in Manziel, Rice, and Young is obvious. It’s surprising the Spring League also hasn’t made a pitch for a certain football player turned baseball player who definitely needs a platform to prove he’s still relevant.
Stephen Jones has a big role in the operations of the Cowboys, but when it comes to the biggest decision the team will make this offseason — what to do with Tony Romo — Stephen knows that his father is still the owner and G.M.
Asked on KRLD-FM about Romo’s future, Stephen Jones answered, “You got the wrong guy on the phone right now.”
In other words, it’s going to be Jerry Jones who makes that call.
So how will it be worked out? Stephen Jones said he thinks his dad and Romo can come up with something that suits everyone’s interests.
“I’m sure as we move forward, obviously, there’s two really important people in this mix,” Stephen Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “First and foremost will be Jerry and then, of course, Tony. I read where Jason said his wish is that Tony, whatever happens here, is happy. I’m sure most people feel that way. At the same time, we all know we’re in a business. It’s something here that will be, obviously, handled with, if you will, kid gloves. And something that we’ll work through and when we’re ready to have any comments about it, I know Jerry and Tony will be the ones to do that.”
Romo has lost his starting job to Dak Prescott, and there’s no getting it back. And there’s no way the Cowboys are going to keep a backup with a cap hit of more than $24 million in 2017. So the only question is whether Jones can find a team willing to trade for an old, injured, expensive quarterback, or whether Jones will release Romo. That’s something the two of them may work out between now and the start of the new league year, which is less than two months away.
The Rooneys own the Steelers, but Tom Brady owns Mike Tomlin.
In the 10 years since Tomlin became head coach of the Steelers, Brady and the Patriots have faced Pittsburgh six times. And in those six games, Brady has absolutely embarrassed Tomlin’s defense.
According to NFL Research, Brady has 19 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in six games against Tomlin’s teams. Brady’s passer rating in those games is 127.5, his highest against any head coach he’s faced at least three times. His completion percentage against Tomlin’s defense is 71.2 percent and he has averaged 314.8 yards a game.
Brady has never failed to throw for at least two touchdown passes against Tomlin’s Steelers. Tomlin may need to find a way to reverse that on Sunday if he wants to get to the Super Bowl.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a shot at the Falcons’ history of playing fake crowd noise over the Georgia Dome loudspeakers in his final media appearance before Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
Asked about the noise in Atlanta, Rodgers acknowledged it’s loud, and then noted that the noise might not actually be coming from the fans.
“It’s really loud in there. Whether that’s all natural or not is yet to be seen,” Rodgers said.
The Falcons were stripped of a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft and fined $350,000 after an investigation revealed that they had been using fake crowd noise while the opposing offense was on the field during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Falcons fired their director of event marketing, whom they blamed for overseeing the scheme, and the NFL temporarily pulled Falcons President Rich McKay off the Competition Committee for it.
There have been no allegations that the Falcons resumed their practice since then, but Rodgers found it amusing to take a little shot at the team before Sunday’s game.
Gus Bradley will be the Chargers’ new defensive coordinator, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday night.
Bradley spent the last four seasons as head coach of the Jaguars. He had been linked to multiple teams as a defensive coordinator candidate, and landing him is considered a win for new Chargers’ head coach Anthony Lynn.
The Seahawks’ defense took off in Bradley’s four seasons as their defensive coordinator from 2009-12 and ranked in the top 10 in total defense in his final two seasons before he went to Jacksonville. Prior to that, he had been the linebackers coach for the Buccaneers.
The Jaguars fired Bradley in December, knowing they would be headed in a different direction for 2017 after the team went 14-48 with Bradley as head coach. With the Chargers he’ll take over a defense headlined by 2016 rookie defensive end Joey Bosa and Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward.
Harrison was asked today whether Brady can be rattled and he answered, “I believe anybody can be rattled if you get hit enough.”
In Harrison’s view, beating Brady is all about getting pressure on him.
“You can put pressure on any quarterback, to make him uncomfortable — if a quarterback is sitting back there without pressure he’s going to do a good job of spreading the ball around and getting it to his receivers,” Harrison said.
If Harrison fails at rattling Brady, he knows the Patriots’ offense can put a lot of points on the board.
“He gets the ball where it needs to go, his receivers do a good job of catching the ball and getting yards after the catch, his line does a good job of holding up and blocking well and they run the ball pretty decent too,” Harrison said.
And so Harrison will try to hit Brady enough that the Patriots’ offense can’t do all the things it does very well.
The Redskins will hire Kevin O’Connell as their new quarterbacks coach, Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reported Friday.
The team has not announced the move, nor has it announced a replacement for offensive coordinator Sean McVay after he became head coach of the Rams. The hiring of O’Connell would indicate that head coach Jay Gruden will promote Matt Cavanaugh from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.
O’Connell, 31, was quarterbacks coach with the Browns in 2015 and worked on the 49ers’ staff last season. The report said he had also been in the mix for coordinator and quarterbacks coach jobs at the college level.
O’Connell spent five seasons in the NFL as a player. He worked training high school and college quarterbacks before accepting a job with the Browns prior to the 2015 season.
After the Chiefs lost to the Steelers on Sunday, Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce ripped referee Carl Cheffers, saying Cheffers “shouldn’t be able to wear a zebra jersey,” even at Foot Locker. The NFL was not amused.
A league source tells PFT that Kelce has been fined for criticizing Cheffers.
Although we have not confirmed the exact amount of Kelce’s fine, it’s believed to be about $12,500. That’s half of what Josh Norman was fined for telling an official he sucked during the regular season.
Players generally get a pass if they criticize the officiating in a general sense. When they start to get personal toward an individual official, that’s when the league cracks down. The NFL felt that Kelce, by specifically identifying Cheffers and criticizing not just one specific holding call but Cheffers’ competence in general, had crossed the line.
The NFL has also said that Cheffers was correct on the call in question, a holding call on Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher. And the NFL has appointed Cheffers to referee the Super Bowl, demonstrating that the league is satisfied that Cheffers is fully capable of wearing the zebra jersey to do more than sell footwear.
The Chargers will hire Alfredo Roberts as their new running backs coach, ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported Friday.
Roberts previously worked with new Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn in Cleveland, where Lynn coached running backs and Roberts coached the tight ends in 2007-08, and in Jacksonville.
Roberts also previously was the tight ends coach for the Buccaneers and Colts. He played on two Super Bowl teams with the Cowboys in the early 1990s.
Jimmy Smith’s prayers have been answered.
When word broke that the Jaguars were interviewing Keenan McCardell to be their wide receiver coach, Smith said he was praying for his former Jacksonville teammate to get the job. Their former coach and current executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin helped announce the news on Friday afternoon.
“We all understand what Keenan means to this organization and we are excited to welcome him home to Jacksonville, as he’ll oversee the growth and consistent improvement of our receiving corps,” Coughlin said in a statement. “I had the pleasure of coaching Keenan for six seasons and understand his passion for the game of football and his burning desire to win.”
McCardell joined the Jaguars in 1996 and caught 499 passes for 6,393 yards and 30 touchdowns over six seasons with the team. McCardell played 16 years in the NFL overall, wrapping up his career with the Redskins in 2007 and catching 883 passes in the process.
McCardell coached the wide receivers in Washington in 2010 and 2011 and spent two years in the same job at the University of Maryland, where he worked with current Vikings wideout Stefon Diggs.
On Thursday night, Donald Trump said that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady called to congratulate the since-inaugurated Commander-in-Chief. On Friday, Brady declined to address the situation, in any way.
Asked by reporters to share some of the details about the call, Brady said this: “I don’t have much to say.”
Asked simply whether he called Trump, Brady said this: “Did I call him? Let’s talk about football.”
In contrast, coach Bill Belchick admitted that he had sent Trump a letter of encouragement before the election, after Trump read from the letter at a rally.
It’s Brady’s prerogative to say whether he did or didn’t make the call; after the election, he said he’s done talking politics. However, the fact that he said nothing underscores the notion that he surely wasn’t happy about the public disclosure of his private communication.
After going through interim quarterbacks, interim running backs and interim tackles last year, the Vikings decided to remove that adjective from their offensive coordinator’s title.
The team announced that Pat Shurmur would remain as their offensive coordinator, after he took over for Norv Turner last November.
The team also announced that Kevin Stefanski will move from coaching running backs to quarterbacks, along with the hirings of running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu and tight ends coach Clancy Barone.
Shurmur’s background with Sam Bradford was helpful for the Vikings this year, as they tried to recover from Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury. They worked together previously with the Rams and Eagles, and may well into the future, since no one’s quite sure when or if Bridgewater will return.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce ripped the officials in last Sunday’s playoff loss to the Steelers for a holding call on left tackle Eric Fisher on a two-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter and said that referee Carl Cheffers wasn’t fit to wear a striped shirt for Foot Locker.
The NFL has a different read on Cheffers’ work as they named him to work the Super Bowl in Houston in a couple of weeks. We don’t know if Kelce’s views of the officiating have drawn a fine from the league, but PFT has confirmed that Kelce was fined for an on-field penalty.
Kelce has been fined $9,115 for an unnecessary roughness penalty. Kelce was flagged in the third quarter for shoving Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell at the end of a play. The penalty pushed the Chiefs back 15 yards, but they were able to convert a first down on the next play and ended the drive with three points.
That wasn’t enough to put them in front of the Steelers, who advanced to the AFC Championship Game by an 18-16 score after the Chiefs’ second try at the aforementioned two-point conversion came up short.
Although it didn’t get a lot of attention in the media, a skirmish broke out between players on the Chiefs and Steelers after Sunday night’s playoff game.
The league office didn’t pay it any mind, either: PFT has confirmed that none of the players involved were fined.
Chiefs defensive backs Terrance Mitchell and Marcus Peters were involved in some pushing and shoving with several Steelers players, and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin got between them. Steelers coach Joey Porter also got in the middle of it, trying to break things up just days after he was reinstated from the team after being put on leave briefly for allegedly doing some pushing and shoving of his own in a Pittsburgh restaurant.
No punches were thrown and it was a fairly mild scuffle, so it’s no surprise that the NFL decided not to hand out any discipline, even if it wasn’t exactly the ideal way for a playoff game to end.
Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney hit Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a few times in last Saturday’s Patriots win in the divisional round of the playoffs and one of them led to an animated reaction from Brady when a flag wasn’t thrown.
Clowney dragged Brady down on an incomplete pass in the third quarter and Brady was seen shouting at the officials after the play was over. He got the flag he was looking for early in the next quarter when Clowney was penalized for roughing Brady on a 10-yard completion to running back Dion Lewis.
PFT has confirmed with the league that Clowney was also fined $18,231 for roughing Brady.
Patriots cornerback Eric Rowe has also been fined $12,154 after picking up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. There was a scrum at the end of a short completion on third down to Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins early in the game and Rowe was penalized for pulling people off the pile. The penalty gave the Texans a first down that they used to continue a drive that ended with a field goal.