Mike Triplett of the Times-Picayune joins Mike Florio to discuss the latest news coming out of New Orleans. What exactly does Paul Tagliabue’s ruling mean for the players? What does it mean for the coaches? How difficult was Tagliabue’s decision? Did he undermine Roger Goodell’s power as commissioner?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Where do Saints players go from here?
Trials arising from “stand your ground” incidents will be resolved in large part based upon the credibility of the key witnesses. On Saturday, the man who shot and killed former Saints defensive end Will Smith in April made some incredible claims.
Via the Associated Press, Cardell Hayes testified that Smith had a gun when Hayes opened fire. Smith’s gun however, was found inside his vehicle. Indeed, most accounts and suggestions had been that Hayes shot Smith as Smith was returning to his car to get the gun.
Hayes himself didn’t mention that Smith had a gun to the authorities on the night of the shooting.
“I never gave a full statement to anyone,” Hayes said. (With the case turning on whether Hayes believed he was about to be shot, whether Smith had a gun would seem to be an important detail.)
More surprisingly, Hayes strongly denied shooting Smith’s wife, a contention that flies in the face of the ballistics evidence indicating that the bullets that struck Raquel Smith, who survived the incident, came from Hayes’ gun.
Hayes also denied ramming his vehicle into Smith’s, another contention that contradicts other evidence.
The trial is expected to conclude on Sunday, with closing arguments and the commencement of jury deliberations.
Whatever the outcome, the glitches in the evidence prove how hard it can be for a jury to reconstruct the events that culminate in one person shooting another in supposed self-defense. In this case, however, it may not be all that difficult for the jury to reject Hayes’ testimony regarding the circumstances that led to him pulling the trigger — and in turn to reject the claim that he was acting in self defense.
Unfortunately for Hayes, he may not be lying. It’s possible that he genuinely remembers that things happened in a way that they didn’t, due simply to the stress of the situation.
Which is another reason for states with “stand your ground” laws to reconsider allowing private citizens lacking the training and experience of police officers to attempt to discern in a fog of actual or perceived threats whether it is appropriate to open fire.
With the Vikings’ playoff hopes in doubt as four games remain in a season of constant adversity, the team will be getting its coach back for Week 14 — and things will be mostly normal for him.
Via Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mike Zimmer will coach from the sideline on Sunday in Jacksonville. He’ll wear special sunglasses in his first game since multiple additional eye surgeries to repair a detached retina caused him to miss the Week 13 prime-time matchup with the Cowboys.
The glasses will black out his right eye, which still has some double vision.
“We’ll be OK,” Zimmer told reporters when asked about his eye.
Whether the Vikings will be OK is a different issue. From 5-0 to 6-6, the Vikings now need to win games and hope for help to get to the playoffs. That’s a far cry from visions of home-field advantage and a path to Houston for the Super Bowl.
If they get to the playoffs, they’ll be climbing the playoff tree the hard way. Which would be fitting, because little about the team’s 2016 season has been easy.
The Giants on Saturday activated running back Shane Vereen from their injured-reserve list.
Vereen had been out since September due to a triceps injury. He returned to practice in late November and was activated, as expected, ahead of the deadline for the Giants to make a decision on his status.
Vereen was a valuable and productive pass-catcher out of the backfield for the Giants last season. In three games this season he’s caught eight passes for 75 yards.
Offensive lineman Adam Gettis was waived to create a roster spot for Vereen.
Thomas has a back injury and has missed the team’s last two games. He finishes 2016 with 30 catches for 281 yards and four touchdowns.
Odrick played in just six games this season due to a shoulder injury.
The Jaguars filled their open roster spots by promoting running back Bronson Hill from the practice squad and activating offensive lineman Luke Bowanko from the physically unable to perform list.
A year after disclosing a cancer diagnosis, Pitt running back James Conner has declared for the draft.
The redshirt junior, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns, announced his intentions on Twitter.
Conner became the ACC player of the year as a redshirt freshman in 2014. His 2015 season was derailed by a knee injury. Then came the news that Conner has Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He’ll finish as No. 2 on the all-time rushing list at Pitt with 3,701 yards, behind only Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett. (Making the accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that Pitt has enjoyed the likes of Curtis Martin, LeSean McCoy, and Craig Hayward over the years.) Also, Conner’s 56 touchdowns are an ACC record.
“When they talk about someone who made a positive impact on the program,” Conner said on Twitter, “I hope they mention my name.”
Conner’s college career will conclude later this month in the Pinstripe Bowl, when Pitt faces Northwestern at Yankee Stadium.
Amendola will miss his first game of the season, due to an ankle injury suffered last Sunday in a win over his former team, the Rams.
Questionable for the Patriots is tight end Martellus Bennett, with ankle and shoulder injuries. He became the team’s top option at the position after a season-ending back injury suffered by Rob Gronkowski.
The best news for the Patriots is that quarterback Tom Brady has been removed completely from the injury report. He practiced all week without being mentioned in any way on the report. Brady had missed practice time in recent weeks with a knee injury.
Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor will be sticking around for the rebuilding project in Cleveland.
The Browns and Taylor have agreed to a three-year, $15 million contract, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports.
Taylor arrived in Cleveland in April in a draft-day trade that was for basically nothing: The Browns sent the 223rd pick in the draft to the Dolphins for the 250th pick. For the Dolphins to give up Taylor for that little compensation suggests that they were planning to cut him and were happy to get anything for him.
But in Cleveland this season, Taylor has started 10 games and started to show the promise that the Dolphins thought he had when they drafted him in the second round in 2013. Now Taylor will get paid like a starter and try to help the Browns turn things around, not just this year, but for the coming years as well.
Cowboys return man Lucky Whitehead won’t play tomorrow against the Giants, as the team has announced that he isn’t making the trip to New Jersey because of a violation of team rules.
It’s unknown what rule Whitehead violated and unclear whether the Cowboys are suspending him — which would mean he loses his weekly paycheck — or simply deactivating him.
Whitehead is the Cowboys’ primary kickoff returner, with 10 returns for 238 yards this season, and he’s the only player on the team who has returned a punt at all this season. It’s not immediately clear who will take his place on returns.
Whitehead also occasionally contributes as a runner and receiver and will be missed by the Cowboys in a big game in the NFC East race.
Bill Belichick became a football savant long before he was head coach of the Patriots. His education in football dates back to the 1950s, when Bill was just a tyke and his father, Steve Belichick, was an assistant coach at Navy.
For this year’s Army-Navy game, CBS brought together Bill Belichick and perhaps the best player his late father coached at Navy, Heisman Trophy-winning halfback Joe Bellino, and asked Belichick to diagram one of Bellino’s plays.
Although Belichick was 7 years old in 1959, he had no trouble diagramming a play from that season, 27 F Trap.
“I remember my dad sitting there going through the film, talking about if the tackle is split a little wider, if the back is in T formation, halfback-fullback-halfback, a lot of teams run it straight, if the back is tilted up run to that side, if the back is tilted back, run away. Teams ran the Power-I formation. He would show it on the film: On this play the back is split it’s going to be here. On this play he’s not split it’s going to be there. The same thing defensively: When the defensive lineman would stunt down he’d go outside, when he’d not stunt he’d play it straight. That’s where I started to learn to identify line splits, backfield alignments, wide receiver splits to run crossing routes from tight splits and things like that.”
Although the game has evolved a lot since the 1950s, Belichick said 27 F Trap isn’t much different from a handoff to LeGarrette Blount the Patriots could run in their 2016 offense.
“Football is football,” Belichick said. “Off tackle power? Every team in the league runs off tackle power.”
But not every team has a coach whose education in the off tackle power dates back quite that far.
As the Texans prepare for a playoff push, they won’t have one of the members of their receiver rotation, for the rest of the year.
The Texans have placed receiver Jaelen Strong on injured reserve, ending his season.
Strong had been ruled out for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis with an ankle injury. To fill his spot on the roster, the Texans elevated cornerback Denzel Rice from the practice squad.
A third-round pick in 2015, Strong faced stiff competition on the depth chart, when the Texans added receivers Will Fuller and Braxton Miller in the 2016 draft. Strong caught 14 passes in his second season, matching his total for 2015.
Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is still not cleared from the league’s concussion protocol and will not play on Sunday against the Chargers.
The Panthers announced today that Kuechly, who returned to practice this week, still hasn’t been given the medical go-ahead to play.
Kuechly suffered the concussion in Week 11 against the Saints and was carted off the field. He hasn’t played since.
The 25-year-old Kuechly also missed three games with a concussion last season. Given that the 4-8 Panthers will almost certainly not make the playoffs this season, it might make sense for Carolina to shut Kuechly down for the season even if he does gain medical clearance next week. This has already been a miserable year in Carolina, and lingering concussions for Kuechly could make this year even worse.
The Buccaneers are getting running back Charles Sims back on the field in time for a push to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay is activating Sims from the injured reserve list to the active roster, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.
Sims played in the first four games of the season and started two before suffering a knee injury that has kept him out the last eight games. He was not off to a very good start, with just 116 yards on 41 carries, but Sims has shown promise in the past and could be an important part of the Bucs’ offense down the stretch.
The Bucs are also promoting receiver Donteea Dye from the practice squad to the 53-man roster and waiving offensive lineman Josh Allen and defensive tackle John Hughes to make room for Sims and Dye on the 53-man roster.
Jets WR Brandon Marshall could return punts this weekend at San Francisco.
Is Bills coach Rex Ryan sliding back toward the hot seat?
The Patriots could be playing a game in London or Mexico next year.
In 35 games played against Cleveland since the team returned to the NFL, the Bengals have had an 100-yard rusher 18 different times.
Browns players want to get a win on Sunday for coach Hue Jackson.
The Raiders are catching heat for their play calling on third and one from the Kansas City 14.
The Cowboys received a motivational speech this week from Ray Lewis.
Giants coach Ben McAdoo is hoping for snow on Sunday night against Dallas.
Young Bears players remain fully engaged, despite the team’s 3-9 record.
LB Travis Freeney, previously on the Pittsburgh practice squad, didn’t expect the phone call that made him a Saint.
WR Josh Huff could be a key figure for the Buccaneers against New Orleans.
As the Browns try to get their first win in nearly a full calendar year and the Bengals try to avoid becoming the first team to lose to the Browns in a full calendar year, one of the skirmishes that will determine the outcome involves the ability of the Cincinnati cornerbacks to slow down the Cleveland passing game.
Initially, Jones declined to speak about Pryor, as explained by Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Then, Jones decided to talk a blue streak, Jack.
“He pushes off, every route. He’s an OK receiver,” Jones said. “They do feature him a little bit so he does get more looks than a guy who would be in his situation. He’s just a guy to me.”
Jones went on to explain that Pryor won’t be able to push off at the top of his route, “so you’ve just got to be in good position.” And it apparently worked the last time the Bengals played the Browns.
“We played him last game and he didn’t do sh-t,” Jones said.
Specifically, Pryor caught two passes for 18 yards.
“Yeah,” Jones said. “I don’t like him. You can put that in there.”
So, basically, there’s now a reason to watch the game beyond the question of whether the Browns can turn perhaps their last, best chance for a victory into something other than another loss.
The Raiders and the Chiefs don’t draw like the Cowboys, but it’s close.
Thursday night’s game between the AFC West arch-rivals delivered 17.4 million TV viewers, according to NBC. It’s the first time this year that an audience of more than 17 million tuned in for back-to-back Thursday night games. (Last week, more than 21 million watched the Cowboys beat the Vikings.)
Because last year’s Week 14 Thursday night game was televised only on NFL Network, there’s no apples-to-apples comparison to be made from one year to the next.
Next week, the Rams face the Seahawks on Thursday night in Seattle. The struggles of the L.A. franchise will make it hard to match the 17-million mark, but the Seahawks have developed a strong national following in recent years.