Mike Florio talks with Broncos CB Chris Harris about his 98-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Ravens, how the Broncos honored those lives taken in Newtown, Conn., and his thoughts about coming into the league as an undrafted player.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Chris Harris on his 98-yard pick six
Much has been said about one key omission from the new Hall of Fame class. Let’s take a moment to talk about one key inclusion.
Linebacker Kevin Greene finally has made it, passed over for more than a decade despite being third on the all-time sack list with 160. He has more sacks that Hall of Famers Chris Doleman, Michael Strahan, Richard Dent, John Randle, Lawrence Taylor, Rickey Jackson, Derrick Thomas, Charles Haley, Andre Tippett, Warren Sapp, and Howie Long.
Greene picked up those 160 sacks in 15 NFL seasons. But he got none as a rookie, which means that he averaged nearly 11.5 sacks every year for 14 seasons.
So how didn’t he make it sooner? Appearing on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, Greene suggested that, because he spent the bulk of his career with the Los Angeles Rams, he may have gotten lost in the cracks.
Greene, one of the first players to change teams via true free agency, spent three seasons with the Steelers after eight in L.A. Then came a year in Carolina, a year with the 49ers, and two more with the Panthers. (Greene called his time in San Francisco a “fart in the wind,” which also accurately describes Jim Tomsula’s lone year as head coach — in multiple ways.)
Ultimately, it was PFT’s Darin Gantt (who holds the Carolina vote for the Hall of Fame) task to make the case for Greene, and this year Greene got in.
So as many wring hands (rightfully so) for the omission of Terrell Owens, it’s time for a deep exhale on Greene — and not simply because of an effort to avoid inhaling the odors of a fart in the wind.
Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy is having more problems with dogs in Charlotte than he was Broncos in Santa Clara last week.
According to Michael Gordon of the Charlotte Observer, Ealy was named in a lawsuit which claims he bilked sports bar owner Kris Johnson out of $3,000 when a dog-breeding plan fell through.
The lawsuit says Ealy and his brother Danny “Dogman” Jones lured him into a plan to breed African Boerboel puppies. The dogs can grow to more than 200 pounds, and the lawsuit said Ealy and his brother told Johnson they needed $6,000 for a breeding female, promising they could make $35,000 a litter and $1 million a year.
(It sounds like they might have neglected the sheer amount of chow it takes to feed a bunch of 200-pound dogs when formulating this business plan.)
(Also, Ealy has a brother named “Dogman.”)
Johnson wrote a check for $3,000, but then the operation never came together for whatever reason, so he’s suing to get his money back.
Ealy could not be reached for comment, but attorney Kenneth Raynor said Ealy and his brother: “dispute the allegations , . . . and I plan on vigorously defending the lawsuit.”
The second-year defensive end had three sacks and an interception in the Super Bowl, raising his profile a bit, and making him a more visible target.
The United States isn’t the only country where the Super Bowl is a huge television draw.
According to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, 18 million Canadians watched at least part of Super Bowl 50. That represents 52 percent of the Canadian population — the same percentage of Americans who watched at least part of Super Bowl 50. Last year, Super Bowl XIL was actually watched by a slightly higher percentage of the Canadian population than of the American population.
Twice as many Canadians watched the Super Bowl as watched the Grey Cup, the championship game for the Canadian Football League.
The experiment with the Bills playing one game a season in Toronto failed, but that’s not a reflection of the level of interest in the NFL in Canada. Football is big north of the border, too.
Before the Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson cases of 2014, NFL players who faced criminal charges typically continued to show up for work while prosecution was pending. Except in rare cases (like Mike Vick’s dogfighting and gambling indictment of 2007, which sparked an indefinite suspension without pay), the league took no action until the court proceedings had ended.
The notorious Ray Rice video, followed four days later by the child-abuse allegations against Peterson and amid the then-lingering domestic violence case against Hardy, prompted the NFL to find a way to get Peterson and Hardy off the field without suspending them. They both agreed to be placed on paid leave at a time when they otherwise were free men who were presumed innocent.
In December 2014, the NFL codified the availability of paid leave for any players facing criminal charges. It’s a vague, discretionary process that the league uses in some cases and not in others, with no clear rules or formulas for invoking it.
As to Bills running back LeSean McCoy, who is expected to be charged with aggravated assault in Philadelphia, the league won’t be using paid leave during the portion of the calendar in which all players are on unpaid leave. At some point, however, the players will return — and the wheels of justice often grind slowly. If McCoy chooses to fight the case through trial, he could miss all of the 2016 season, but with pay.
The alternative would be to resolve the charges with a plea deal. The prosecutors will know that McCoy needs to get the case behind him in order to play, which means they’d potentially drive a harder bargain.
If McCoy pleads guilty to anything before the start of the 2016 season, he’ll then face an unpaid suspension for a baseline of six games, which can be increased or decreased based on a variety of factors.
From the team’s perspective, there’s no good solution. Already, $2.5 million of McCoy’s base salary is fully guaranteed for 2016. The remaining $2.3 million becomes fully guaranteed on March 9. A suspension would void the guarantees, and it also would allow the Bills to recover a portion of his signing bonus. Paid leave would have no impact on the guaranteed money; even if they cut McCoy now or while he’s on paid leave, they’ll still owe him the money. (That said, cutting him now would avoid the extra $2.3 million guaranteed.)
For McCoy, the question becomes whether it’s more important to play in 2016 or to maximize his earnings. He could get all of his money for 2016 but then face an unpaid suspension in 2017, if he’s convicted in the next offseason. Or he could plead guilty sooner than later and lose a large chunk of his 2016 pay after being suspended by the league.
Few will shed tears for McCoy, based on videos that seem to show him participating in an assault. Regardless, the league’s post-Rice protocols will put McCoy in a much more delicate spot than he would have been before 2014, when players who were facing charges typically played while the charges were pending, no questions asked.
Willie Richardson, a star receiver for the Colts in the 1960s and a member of one of the most athletic families in the history of football, has died at the age of 76.
After an All-American career at Jackson State, Richardson was drafted by both the Baltimore Colts of the NFL and the New York Jets of the AFL in 1963. He signed with the Colts and became a first-team All-Pro in 1967, when he was third in the league with 63 catches and added 860 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Richardson had five brothers who played at Jackson State, and three of them played in the NFL: Gloster Richardson played for the Chiefs, Cowboys and Browns, Tom Richardson played for the Patriots and Ernie Richardson played for the Browns.
In Super Bowl III, Richardson was the Colts’ leading receiver, catching six passes for 58 yards in a loss to the Jets.
The Dolphins added another coach to Adam Gase’s first staff on Friday afternoon.
The team announced that Daronte Jones has been named the team’s assistant defensive backs coach. He will work with Lou Anarumo, who moved back to the defensive backs role he occupied before being named the interim defensive coordinator when Kevin Coyle was dismissed during the regular season.
Jones spent the 2015 season as the defensive backs coach at the University of Wisconsin and served in the same role at the University of Hawaii from 2012 to 2014. He’s also coached in the CFL and at lower collegiate levels since entering coaching in 2001.
The Dolphins also announced that they have parted ways with Eric Stokes, who was the team’s senior personnel executive and assistant general manager for the last two years. Stokes accompanied Dennis Hickey from Tampa Bay to Miami when Hickey was named the General Manager in 2014, but Hickey was relieved of his duties with the team last month.
The Panthers picked up 12 penalties on their way to their 24-10 loss in Super Bowl 50, including a personal foul on the final play of the game.
Wide receiver Joe Webb was flagged for unnecessary roughness at the end of a short pass completion to running back Fozzy Whittaker. PFT confirmed with the league on Friday that Webb has been fined $8,681 for the play, which is a sour cherry to put on top of an altogether unpleasant Sunday.
The league also confirmed that guard Trai Turner was not fined after being penalized for unnecessary roughness at the end of a 10-yard run by Whittaker in the third quarter. Safety Tre Boston also avoided a fine after being penalized for an illegal blindside block and unsportsmanlike conduct during the game. Those are both personal fouls, which may result in an ejection if the NFL adopts a rule proposed by commissioner Roger Goodell at his Super Bowl press conference.
McCain lasted one season in Miami after a big year with the Steelers in 2014 helped him land $3 million in guarantees from the Dolphins on the open market.
McCain, 29, was due to make $2.5 million in 2016. He finished 2015 with one interception, 10 pass breakups and 31 tackles in 11 starts.
Coples was claimed off waivers from the Jets last November. He played in six games for the Dolphins without recording any stats.
A first-round pick of the Jets in 2012, Coples has 16.5 career sacks but had none last season.
Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson had a big game in the Super Bowl, but he’s not getting his full paycheck from the game.
The NFL has fined Jackson $8,681 for a late hit on Cam Newton in the second quarter.
Although Jackson got a 15-yard penalty for the hit, it turned out not to be costly for the Broncos. On the next play, the Panthers gave the ball to Mike Tolbert, who fumbled the ball back to the Broncos.
Jackson scored the game’s first touchdown when he recovered Newton’s fumble in the end zone. He also tipped a pass and was in on five tackles, all of which were tops for two or fewer yards. So other than the penalty, it was a strong game from Jackson.
The Packers re-signed an impending free agent defensive lineman on Friday when they agreed to terms on a deal with Letroy Guion, but another one hasn’t heard from the team yet.
B.J. Raji told Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette that Guion’s new deal was “well deserved” and that he hasn’t started any contract negotiations with the team at this point. The Packers also extended defensive end Mike Daniels before the end of the regular season.
Guion’s deal is reportedly worth up to $11.25 million and Raji said he was “uncertain” about how that contract might impact Raji’s future with the team. Given that both players see time on the interior of the defensive line and played out last season on similar one-year deals, it’s fair to assume that there’s going to be some impact on what the Packers are willing to do to keep Raji at this point.
Raji started 17 games for Green Bay across the regular season and playoffs, which was his sixth as a member of the Packers. He had 22 tackles and half a sack in the regular season and four more tackles in the postseason.
When word emerged that ESPN would part ways with Keyshawn Johnson after nine years with Sunday NFL Countdown, it was believed they already knew who would take his place. And Charles Woodson was believed to be on the short list.
He was. And he’s now on the even shorter list. Woodson has the job, according to Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com.
The 1997 Heisman winner (beating out the likes of Peyton Manning and Randy Moss), Woodson retired last month after 18 NFL seasons with the Raiders, Packers, and Raiders again.
Per McIntyre, Woodson will join the current cast of Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Mike Ditka, and Cris Carter. However, many in the industry expect the lineup to last only one year, with even more changes coming in 2017 as the network tries to unload bloated salaries and simultaneously skew younger.
Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib got two personal fouls in Super Bowl 50, and the NFL has fined him for both of them.
Talib was fined a total of $26,044 for facemasking and taunting against the Panthers.
The NFL suspended Talib during the regular season for an eye poke, and he’s lucky he wasn’t suspended again for his Super Bowl actions. The facemasking foul was especially egregious, and Talib admitted after the game that he did it on purpose, figuring that since the penalty was at the 3-yard line, the half the distance to the goal line penalty wouldn’t be a big deal.
When it comes to on-field misconduct, Talib is a repeat offender. The NFL will be watching him closely in 2016, and further offenses may result in another suspension.
A pair of NFL stars are heading to the Grammys, and believe it or not, it’s not going to be Adam Jones and Antonio Brown.
Miller and Boldin will introduce a performance by Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt, taking a victory lap for the honors they earned last week.
Of course, it would be a lot more interesting if Brown had actually been nominated for a Grammy, as Jones suggested he should have been for “faking” a concussion after a hard shot to the head from Vontaze Burfict.
In many jobs, the ability to perform successfully hinges on the ability to communicate effectively. For anyone who appears on TV (and speaks while doing so), the ability to communicate well becomes critical.
For oft-criticized CBS officiating expert Mike Carey, his actual or perceived struggles in the job have much more to do with his ability to communicate than his ability to accurately predict the outcome of replay reviews.
Two years ago, when I heard that CBS had hired Carey, my reaction was this, “Good move. He communicates very well as a referee. He’ll be perfect for the job.”
During the 2014 season, Carey’s first on the job with CBS, the differences in communication requirements for the two jobs became obvious.
A referee communicates in narrow, short, tightly-constructed sound bites: “Holding. Offense. Number 65. 10 yard penalty. Still first down.”
It’s a small universe of possible messages that converts most referees (i.e., anyone not named Ed Hochuli) into the human equivalent of Woody from Toy Story. That’s why Hochuli’s verbosity gets noticed. He’s not a doll with a string who quickly declares “there’s a snake in my boots” and shuts up. He strays from the script, often extremely far from the script. (It’s also why Ben Dreith’s “he’s giving him the business” continues to be one of the most memorable officiating moments in history.)
For the job Carey currently has, there’s no menu of phrases that get slapped together to communicate a message without often even constructing an actual sentence. For anyone who has to speak on the air in extemporaneous fashion, it takes time and repetitions to master the task of producing a clear explanation that was formulated on the fly. Through two years, Carey hasn’t mastered that skill. The real question is whether CBS will give him enough time and opportunities to do so, before eliminating the position or hiring someone else for it.
It appears that, at least for now, CBS plans to circle the wagons and stand behind Carey, despite the obvious difference between his performance that the performance of FOX’s Mike Pereira. A new interview of Carey at TheMMQB.com feels almost like part of the effort to prop Carey up, with a headline declaring that Carey has a “tough job,” introductory paragraphs that defend Carey’s 0-for-1 performance in Super Bowl 50, and a Q&A that gives him plenty of opportunities to offer excuses for his struggles.
For example, Carey at one point explains that he has fewer replay angles as a commentator than he had as a referee.
“When I’m on the field, I go to the box and I tell them exactly what I want to see, and then I tell them to freeze it or roll it slowly. When I’m on TV, I’m subject to whatever they show, so I don’t have any control there,” Carey said.
But that’s where the skill of speaking extemporaneously in a frank, self-aware way becomes even more important. Even with limited time, Carey could say something like, “Maybe the referee has access to an angle that we don’t” in order to properly gauge the expectations of the audience — and to make an eventual mistake seem like less of a mistake.
Carey also tried to compare his effort to predict rulings with efforts by others in the media to predict the outcome of games.
“[N]ot unlike all the other experts who chose who was going to win the AFC Championship, I make errors,” Carey said. “Everybody makes errors.”
He’s right that everyone makes errors (and I know that as well as aynone), but it’s not right to compare errors in picking winners to errors in analyzing the outcome of a replay review. The latter isn’t even a prediction; it’s an assessment of what the ruling should be. And the best officiating experts will make it look like their assessments are more accurate than the official NFL assessment, in the event the two differ.
With Carey, his inability to communicate beyond saying “holding, offense, number 65, 10 yard penalty, still first down,” has contributed to the impression that he’s clumsily throwing a dart, not that he’s analyzing in a persuasive, authoritative fashion what he sees — and that even if the referee explains it a different way, Carey is right and the referee is wrong.
Yes, the job is tough. Yes, the communication requirements are fundamentally different. And, yes, the fact that Mike Pereira makes it look so easy makes the job even tougher for someone who, through two full seasons, has not yet shown he’s suited for it.
We’ve known for a few days that guard Jahri Evans won’t be back with the Saints in 2016, but the team didn’t officially announce his departure until Friday.
The statement about the release is headed with a message of thanks on the Saints website along with a list of Evans’ accomplishments while he was a member of the team. It also includes praise from General Manager Mickey Loomis, who said Evans was “one of the best guards” in the league over his time with the team, and coach Sean Payton.
“Jahri has been a fantastic player for our team and an integral part of our success over the last 10 years,” Payton said in the statement. “He’s one of the toughest and smartest players I have ever been around in coaching and that coupled with his unselfishness and dependability made him one of the most respected players in our locker room. When we arrived in 2006, he was a part of our first draft class, which became the foundation for our 2009 championship team.”
Evans’ agent says his client wouldn’t take a pay cut to remain with the team and is “healthy and hungry” to move on to another team for the 2016 season.
In addition to formalizing the Evans move, the Saints announced the previously reported departures of linebacker David Hawthorne, linebacker Ramon Humber and wide receiver Seantavius Jones. They also announced that they have re-signed cornerback Tony Carter and fullback Austin Johnson. Both ended the season with the team, although Carter didn’t play after signing in December.