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King County Sheriff John Urquhart blames the NFL for failing to work hard enough to obtain information about the Josh Brown case. The NFL blames the Sheriff’s office for failing to cooperate with its efforts.
The truth, as usual, lives somewhere in the middle, with both sides bearing blame for the NFL’s lack of information at the time Brown initially was suspended only one game. Ultimately, however, the league’s lack of appropriate diligence resulted in the discipline being imposed based on incomplete facts.
Allow me to explain. (As if you have a vote in the matter.)
The materials released by the King County Sheriff’s department earlier this week show that, indeed, the NFL tried to gather information about the case. A woman named Deborah Katz called Josh Brown’s ex-wife, Molly, on June 3, 2015. (The document says 2016, but that apparently is a typo, based on the full context of the report.)
“Molly told me that she had a very limited conversation with the woman and told her that she did not want to speak to her about any of this,” wrote Detective Robin Ostrum of the King County Sheriff’s office. “Molly told me that if it truly was someone from the NFL calling her, she would not trust them to really be having her or her children’s best interest in mind. Molly states that the NFL would only be looking to bury this whole incident and protect Josh. I told Molly that she was under no obligation to talk to this woman, or discuss with anyone that might try to contact her, the nature of the investigation. I told Molly if she wanted, I would call this woman and ask that she not call her anymore; Molly stated that she would appreciate if I would do that.”
Ostrum then explained in the report that she contacted Deborah Katz, who “started pressing me for information on this case.” Ostrum said she would not discuss the case, explaining it was an “open and active investigation.”
“Deborah tried to ingratiate herself to me by telling me she was once a Prosecutor for the State of New York,” Ostrum wrote. “I told Deborah that if that was true, then she should know that I would not discuss an open and active investigation with her. Deborah then asked me why I was saying there was an open and active investigation if the Prosecutor’s Office dropped the charges. I explained to Deborah that the Prosecutor’s Office had not ‘dropped’ the charges against Josh, they had simply chosen not to ‘file’ charges at this time, pending further investigation into this matter, which I was doing.
“I clearly informed Deborah that depending on the outcome of my investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office could still file charges against Josh. Deborah stated that she would call me back from time to time to check on the status of my investigation. Over the next several months I did receive several phone calls from Deborah that [resulted] in the same thing, me telling her I would not discuss my open and active investigation with her. When that didn’t seem to be getting the NFL anywhere, they had a Detective from another local law enforcement agency, who apparent also works as a representative for the NFL, call me and try to get information from me on my investigation. I told him the same thing that I had discussed with Deborah, that I would not share information with him, or discuss my open and active investigation with him.”
The NFL, as noted by senior V.P. of communications Natalie Ravitz on Twitter, also submitted a formal request for public records, apparently on May 26, 2015. The response, along with the public records, finally arrived on October 19, 2016. This explains why media reports regarding the details of the records appeared that same day; others had made a request for public records, and the requests we all filled on the same say.
While it’s clear that the NFL did something to find out more about the allegations and evidence against Brown, the NFL didn’t do enough. It’s one thing to call the same person over and over again and say, “Are you ready to talk about the case?” It’s quite another to employ creative, aggressive, and relentless measures to get around, through, above, or under a stone wall and get to the truth.
Whether it’s contacting the sheriff directly to explain the importance of obtaining more information about the case, pushing Brown, his agents, and his lawyers to pressure law enforcement to conclude the case and release the information, or ultimately threatening to place Brown on the Commissioner’s-Exempt list until the case is closed and the information is obtained, the NFL could have and should have, when faced with that stone wall, done something other than repeatedly bang its head against it.
Law enforcement bears blame as well, given that the investigation languished for more than 14 months, with the case finally closed on September 14, 2016. The timeline suggests that the case fell into a black hole and that, after the league suspended Brown for one game, media inquiries resulted in the case being dusted off and concluded.
That’s unacceptable from a law-enforcement perspective, but it’s hardly unprecedented. Still, the fact that media agitation caused the Sheriff’s office to complete its work proves that the NFL could have pushed the investigation to a conclusion much sooner, with the right approach.
And so the NFL imposed discipline on Josh Brown based solely on information provided by him, without the benefit of the final report or the various attachments that demonstrate a pattern of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. Faced with the choice as to whether the outcome arose from incompetence or design, the safer bet is incompetence, because anyone with an ounce of common sense had to know that, eventually, the investigation would be concluded and a report would be generated for public consumption.
Apart from the league’s decision to suspend Josh Brown for one game based on incomplete facts, these details make the team’s decision to re-sign Brown earlier this year even more confusing. All the Giants had to say was, “Josh, if you don’t find a way to get that investigation finally closed so that the information can be reviewed, we just can’t hire you again.”
Again, this outcome suggests more incompetence than design. Unless, of course, the incompetence flowed not from the efforts to obtain the necessary information but from the belief that the team would be able to brush this matter under the rug and that no one would ever know or care about the truth, especially since it involves a kicker.
During a radio interview on Friday morning, Bills running back LeSean McCoy’s agent Drew Rosenhaus said that a report that his client will miss Sunday’s game against the Dolphins with a hamstring injury was premature and that he expected McCoy to be a game-time decision in Week Seven.
Rosenhaus’ prediction wound up being right on the money. The Bills have listed McCoy as questionable after he was able to return for a limited practice with the team on Friday.
McCoy is coming off two straight big weeks on the ground, running for 150 yards in a win over the Rams in Week Five and going for 140 yards and three scores against the 49ers last Sunday. He tweaked his hamstring in Wednesday’s practice to create the uncertainty about whether he’ll keep it going this weekend.
Wide receiver Robert Woods, who has a foot injury, and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who hasn’t played since returning from a four-game suspension and suffering a hamstring injury, are both listed as doubtful.
Both had missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. Haden has a groin injury that kept him out of last week’s game, and Pryor suffered a hamstring injury during last week’s loss at Tennessee.
Browns Coach Hue Jackson told reporters earlier in the week he was “very hopeful” that Pryor and Haden would be able to play Sunday in Cincinnati. Pryor has a team-high 33 catches for 413 yards and three touchdowns.
Haden has previously missed two games due to two different groin injuries. Haden was limited to five games last season by various injuries.
The Browns have also ruled out safety Marcus Burley, tight end Seth DeValve, quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Corey Coleman, who’s not yet been cleared to return to action due to a broken hand.
His weekly Friday radio appearances give Cowboys owner Jerry Jones plenty of chances to talk about his quarterback.
But while he didn’t have an update on Tony Romo’s status today, Jones did offer some good news on several other key injuries.
During his appearance on 105.3 The Fan, Jones said he expects wide receiver Dez Bryant, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and cornerback Orlando Scandrick to play next week against the Eagles after they take their bye this weekend.
Bryant has been out since Sept. 25 with a knee injury, but said earlier this week (when he wasn’t ginsu-ing himself while making soup) that he was ready to return after the bye.
Lawrence suffered a shoulder injury two games into his return from a four-game suspension. Scandrick hasn’t played since Week Two with hamstring injuries
Regarding his starting quarterback, Jones said it was “up in the air,” whether Romo would practice next week, as he recovers from broken bones in his back.
After Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco missed practice on Wednesday, neither he nor head coach John Harbaugh expressed much concern about Flacco missing Sunday’s road game against the Jets due to the right shoulder soreness that kept him off the field.
Flacco missed practice again on Thursday, which may have had some wondering if things were moving in the wrong direction for the quarterback. Friday brought better news, however.
The Ravens announced that Flacco is back on the practice field with the rest of the team for the final day of on-field preparations for the Jets. The team’s final injury report for the week will be released later in the day and Flacco’s return to work would seem to make any listing other than questionable a surprise.
The Ravens have lost three straight games, including last week’s loss to the Giants in the same building they’ll be in to face the Jets.
The Rams have been dealing with injuries to three of their starting defensive linemen in recent weeks and final word on how many of them will be available this Sunday in London won’t come until Sunday morning.
Defensive ends Robert Quinn and William Hayes are both listed as questionable for the game against the Giants. Quinn has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury while Hayes returned to the lineup last week after missing two games with an ankle injury. Both players were full participants in practice the last two days, which would seem to bode well for their chances of playing.
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers won’t play for the second time in three weeks after being ruled out due to a thigh injury. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson is out for the second straight week with an ankle injury.
Johnson’s absence will hurt the Rams as they try to keep Odell Beckham under wraps, but the return of Quinn could help mitigate that absence if he’s in the lineup and able to consistently pressure Eli Manning.
Cornerback Jason McCourty is in his eighth season with the Titans, which means he’s been part of one winning team over the course of his career.
At 3-3 after the first six weeks of this year, the Titans look like they have a chance to increase that number to two. They’re taking a two-game winning streak into this weekend’s game against the Colts and it’s one that they feel like they can win, which McCourty says represents a big change from past seasons.
“I’m very optimistic and excited,” McCourty said, via the Tennessean. “Good things lie ahead. You go into every game right now and you feel like, ‘Hey, we should win this game.’ We’re prepared. … That’s the reason we play this game — to make it to the tournament, and to try to win games once you get in it. It would mean everything. It would mean all those seven years prior that you put into it were worth it.”
McCourty has played a role in changing the outlook for the Titans this year. He’s healthy after missing 12 games last year due to a groin injury that required a couple of surgeries and has 11 passes defensed, which leaves him four off his career high with 10 games left to play in the year. Head coach Mike Mularkey said McCourty looks like a different guy compared to last year and that may help make for a long-awaited different result to the season.
The first episode arrived on Thursday, to a strong to quite strong response.
If you missed it, there’s still time to download the brand-new PA and Florio podcast, before Week Seven arrives.
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Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has a hip injury that kept him from practicing on Wednesday, and that rendered him limited in practice on Thursday and Friday. But it won’t keep him from playing on Sunday against the Rams.
Beckham has no label attached to him in the final report, which means he definitely will play.
The Giants flew across an ocean to get away from Josh Brown this weekend, but coach Ben McAdoo said they weren’t going to abandon the kicker who admitted to years of domestic abuse.
Via Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com, McAdoo offered some tepid support for his kicker, who will be inactive this week.
“We’re not going to turn our back on Josh,” McAdoo said. “He’s our teammate.”
McAdoo told reporters he informed his players by position group yesterday to tell them Brown wouldn’t be joining them in London. They’re signing Robbie Gould to kick Sunday against the Rams, and perhaps longer.
The team is moving carefully through what seems like an inevitable parting of ways with Brown, following reports this week that he admitted to a pattern of abuse of his then-wife.
“We’re looking to get as much information as we can to make an informed decision,” McAdoo said.
Owner John Mara didn’t make things better yesterday, when he said that Brown: “admitted to us he’d abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that.”
The Giants say they knew about the initial charges against Brown when they re-signed him in April as a free agent. But they were not aware of this week’s documents until they were reported Wednesday.
The Jets are having an ugly season on the field. In the locker room, it’s not much better.
Brandon Marshall and Sheldon Richardson, the Jets’ top offensive and defensive players, got into a heated argument after the Week Three loss to the Chiefs. Marshall told ESPN.com that it was just a disagreement between “two Alpha males . . . two bulls,” but Jets coach Todd Bowles acknowledged it was something he had to intervene to stop.
“I took care of it right there,” Bowles said. “I addressed the team and I addressed the two guys. It will not happen again.”
The Jets know that locker room disputes can get out of hand, as last year quarterback Geno Smith suffered a broken jaw in a fight with linebacker IK Enemkpali. But Bowles said the Marshall-Richardson incident was nothing like that one.
“There were no residual effects, no physicality,” Bowles said. “After the game, everybody was pissed off and you throw stuff. They should be pissed off, but not at each other. It was just one of those things.”
It’s one of those things that happens on football teams from time to time. But when the football team is 1-5, it raises questions about whether a divided locker room and bad play on the field are related.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy is out for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. Unless he isn’t.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus, contradicting an ESPN report that McCoy will definitely miss the Week Seven contest with a hamstring injury, said Friday on WQAM radio in Miami that McCoy will be a game-time decision.
More information will be available on Friday, when the Bills apply the questionable/doubtful/out label to McCoy. If he’s not ruled out Friday, the next question becomes whether McCoy will make the trip to Miami.
McCoy has rushed for 587 yards this season, including 470 in the four games since Anthony Lynn became the offensive coordinator.
The NFL is defending its investigation of the Josh Brown domestic violence case amid widespread criticism.
One source of that criticism was King County Sheriff John Urquhart, whose office investigated accusations that Brown abused his ex-wife. Urquhart says that when his office was contacted by an investigator looking for information, that investigator never made clear that he was representing the NFL and wanted information because Brown is the kicker for the Giants and the league wanted to know whether and to what extent Brown should be disciplined.
Responding to reports of the sheriff’s comments, NFL Senior Vice President of Communications Natalie Ravitz wrote on Twitter that the NFL did, in fact, make it clear to police that the league was seeking information on Brown’s domestic violence case.
According to Ravitz, the NFL submitted a public records request on May 26, 2015, and a police report acknowledges that the league had requested information. Ravitz also said four different individuals working for the NFL contacted police.
“It was clear we were looking for info for months,” Ravitz wrote.
The NFL has still not adequately explained what it knew about Brown’s abuse of his ex-wife, although Giants owner John Mara has acknowledged that Brown admitted he abused her, and Mara also acknowledged that he knew NFL Security had to intervene to protect Brown’s wife from him while their family was at an NFL-provided hotel at the Pro Bowl. Despite all that, Brown was only suspended one game and remained an active member of the team until Thursday, when the Giants announced that Brown will not play for them this week after new information about the domestic violence case surfaced.
Near the end of the 2015 season, there was a report that Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula were going to fire coach Rex Ryan and General Manager Doug Whaley if the team didn’t make the playoffs in 2016.
That was refuted, but the feeling took enough hold around the team that guard Richie Incognito said he felt the “unspoken rule” around the team was that “it’s playoffs or bust for us.” Terry Pegula says that’s not the right read on the situation.
Pegula told Tom Pelissero of USA Today “no way” when asked if the stakes were playoffs or bust in Buffalo and said he wasn’t even in Buffalo when he was supposed to have told Ryan and Whaley about his expectations for this season. Pegula said that the team’s players and coaches “need to know there’s stability” and that things won’t work if you’re constantly making changes.
The Bills did make one change to their coaching staff this year when they fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman after two losses to open the year. Reports at the time pointed to the Pegulas as the drivers for that decision, something Ryan disputed and Pegula also discussed with Pelissero.
“Rex had been talking about it,” Pegula said. “Any well-run organization, everyone has to communicate with each other. It was just a situation where he — and we were in agreement — felt that we needed the change. A lot of people said, ‘Oh, Rex is covering his ass. Why not fire himself because his defense was bad?’ Well, guess what? Our offense put the defense on the field the first two games for pretty much the whole first quarter, which set the tempo for the games.”
It’s obviously easier to take the position that stability is the right path when your team has won four straight games than it would have been at 0-2. If all goes well for the Bills, Pegula will be singing the same tune come January and the notion of playoffs or bust will have busted without any need for further explanation.
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall said this week that there’s no ill will toward Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler for signing a big deal in Houston in the offseason, but that the defense still wants “to kill him” when they square off on Monday night in Denver.
Osweiler joked that it “sounds like they miss me” when he was asked about Marshall’s comments and added that he’s “not blind” to the added interest in this week’s game because of the four years he spent with the Broncos. Osweiler served as Peyton Manning’s backup for most of that time and said he learned a lesson about keeping an even keel in emotionally charged situations from watching Manning prepare for a game in Indianapolis.
“I remember being in our Saturday night quarterback meeting, and when I got to that meeting I was kind of anxious to see how he was going to be, what kind of energy he would have,” Osweiler said, via the team’s website. “I’ll never forget it. He stepped into the meeting and the way he conducted himself, he was the same Peyton Manning that he was the week before, the week before that and the week before that.”
Osweiler says this week has felt normal to him, although it wouldn’t be a bad time to break from his normal routine of throwing at least one interception in every game.