Skip to content

Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend claimed she faked her death to avoid drug dealers

Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebackers Manti Te'O and Dan Fox celebrate after breaking up a touchdown pass against the USC Trojans during their NCAA college football game at the Coliseum in Los Angeles Reuters

As we wait to hear whether and to what extent ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap will vouch for the credibility of an athlete who granted Schaap an exclusive off-camera interview, there is new evidence regarding the lack of credibility demonstrated by Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend.

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Te’o has told family and friends that, when his fake dead girlfriend called in December to say she wasn’t actually dead, she said that she had faked her death to elude drug dealers.

And that’s what finally prompted Te’o to become suspicious.It’s not clear when the fake dead girlfriend claimed she faked her death to avoid drug dealers.  Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told reporters on Wednesday night that Te’o learned that the fake dead girlfriend was merely fake dead on December 6.  Te’o thereafter made multiple references to his dead girlfriend in comments to the media.

Permalink 54 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, Rumor Mill

Bucs claim they didn’t tank for top pick

Smith Getty Images

By blowing a 20-7 fourth-quarter lead over the Saints, the Buccaneers secured the top pick in the draft.  Predictably, the Bucs claim that there wasn’t a whole lot of tankin’ going on.  Even though plenty of key players were removed from the contest in the second half.

I don’t think anybody tanked it,” quarterback Josh McCown said after the game, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.  “We played the guys we played to rotate guys in to give them a look.”

Not every player got the memo.

“The whole second half I didn’t play,” rookie receiver Mike Evans said.  “They just pulled me because I was gassed.  It was [the coach’s] decision.”

“I guess I understand why,” said linebacker Lavonte David, who also didn’t play in the second half.  “We wanted to get everybody else some playing time or whatever.  They told me I wasn’t playing the second half, so I just took it for what it was.”

Coach Lovie Smith didn’t make a very convincing case that he wasn’t trying to clinch the first pick in the draft.

“The guys you saw in the first half, the game plan was for them to be in there,” Smith said, via Stroud.  “The second half, we wanted to look at some more football players.  I think that’s not out of the realm of possibilities, to look at some other guys.  We’re not going to the playoffs and we have a comfortable lead and we’re going to run the football.

“One win wouldn’t have helped an awful lot.  We’re going to feel better when we’re winning our division.  Until then, we don’t feel good about a lot except for knowing our roster a lot better and knowing the direction we need to go.  If we had won today, we would’ve felt better about this game, but the season as a whole, that’s not where we want to be.”

While players will never tank, the coaching staff or front office can easily engineer a tanking via the decisions made about who will and won’t play.  And it makes a ton of sense for the Bucs to hold the No. 1 pick.  They’re now on the clock for the first selection, and they can stockpile draft picks and players if they eventually choose to trade the spot.

That’s why the league should have a draft lottery.  Apart from minimizing the temptation to tank, it would give the NFL another made-for-TV event.

Permalink 40 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys, Panthers open as favorites in wild-card round

Cam Newton AP

The lone postseason entrant with a losing record is favored in the wild-card round.

The Panthers (7-8-1) have been made home favorites of 4.5 or five points over the 11-5 Cardinals at Nevada sports books.

The line speaks volumes about the form of both clubs. The Panthers have won four straight games, while the Cardinals lost four of their final six contests, including both games with third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley in the lineup. If Drew Stanton (knee) cannot play in the wild-card round, Lindley would likely get another start.

In the other NFC wild-card game, the Cowboys (12-4) are favorites of 6.5 or seven points over the visiting Lions (11-5). Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since January 5, 1992, when it defeated Dallas in the divisional round at the Pontiac Silverdome.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dalton picked again, Steelers take advantage

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

It’s not that Andy Dalton has been a total disaster tonight.

But he’s thrown two really bad passes, and they both ended up in the hands of Steelers cornerback Brice McCain.

As a result, the Steelers are up 17-10 on the Bengals in the AFC North title game.

Martavis Bryant just hauled in a 21-yard touchdown catch for the score quickly after McCain’s second pick.

Dalton’s primetime struggles are well-documented, but the second pick hit the hands of wide receiver A.J. Green, and Green appeared to cut off his route on the first one.

If the Bengals want to shake their reputation for folding in big games, those two will have to play better, quickly.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ice Bowl rematch looms, 47 years later

IceBowl AP

Forty-seven years ago Wednesday, the Cowboys visited the Packers at Lambeau Field for the NFL Championship game.  Ultra-frigid temperature and wind chill gave the contest the unofficial label of “The Ice Bowl.”

The Packers won a thriller and would later emerge as the victors in Super Bowl II, over Oakland.  Since then, the Cowboys have never returned to Green Bay for a postseason game.  If Dallas beats Detroit next weekend, that’ll happen the following weekend, with the third-seeded Cowboys facing the second-seeded Packers.

It’ll also be the first time ever, according to our friends at Elias, that a team that went 8-0 at home will host a team that went 8-0 on the road in the playoffs.

Teams undefeated on the road and at home have faced each other twice before in a something’s-gotta-give format.  In 1972, the 7-0-at-home Steelers hosted the 7-0-on-the-road Dolphins.  (Miami won, 21-17.)  In 1948, the 6-0-at-home Eagles hosted the 6-0-away Bears, with the Eagles winning, 7-0.

Before the Cowboys will get a chance to put their 8-0 road record on the line at Lambeau, they’ll need to hold serve against the Lions.

Permalink 26 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Antonio Brown gives the Steelers an early lead

Antonio Brown AP

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looks like he needs a minute.

So Antonio Brown just gave him one.

After Roethlisberger retreated to the locker room, presumably to deal with his upset stomach, Brown gave the Steelers a 7-0 lead with a 71-yard touchdown return.

Brown’s return ability is impressive enough, considering he also happens to lead the league in receptions.

The fact he bought his quarterback some time will be appreciated as well.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

McCarthy calls Suh step on Rodgers “ridiculous”

Suh Getty Images

As Peter King of said on Football Night in America, the league will review on Monday the leg-step committed by Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy needs no time for contemplation or deliberation.

During his post-game press conference, McCarthy called the maneuver “ridiculous.”  McCarthy also said “there’s no place for that.”  Rodgers predicted that Suh will call it an accident.

The move wasn’t nearly as egregious as last Sunday’s blatant stomp by Lions center Dominic Raiola on the lower leg of Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson.  But Suh’s history could prompt the league to take a closer look at whether intent existed.  It also could make the NFL less inclined to give Suh the benefit of the doubt.

History or not, it would take a lot for Suh to be suspended for next weekend’s wild-card game at Dallas.

Permalink 123 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

49ers, Harbaugh mutually agree to part ways

Harbaugh Getty Images

As expected, the Jim Harbaugh era has ended in San Francisco.

The team has announced that Harbaugh and the franchise have mutually agreed to part ways after four years together.

“Jim and I have come to the conclusion that it is in our mutual best interest to move in different directions,” CEO Jed York said.  “We thank Jim for bringing a tremendous competitive nature and a great passion for the game to the 49ers.  He and his staff restored a winning culture that has been the standard for our franchise throughout its history.  Their commitment and hard work resulted in a period of success that should be looked back on proudly by our organization and our fans.  We wish Jim and his family all the best.”

Per a league source, the mutual parting makes Harbaugh free and clear to take any other job, including another NFL job, with no compensation to the 49ers.  So despite multiple, persistent reports that Harbaugh would be traded, the two sides ultimately decided to walk away, with no strings attached and no further obligation.  Basically, they’ve wiped out the final year of his five-year contract.

Permalink 139 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Harbaugh on 49ers tenure: It’s been the time of my life

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

There’s been no official statement yet, but Jim Harbaugh all but admitted that he’s not going to be the 49ers coach in 2015.

After the 49ers beat the Cardinals 20-17 in their season finale, Harbaugh met the media and offered no specifics about where he’s going — “Is the NFL going somewhere?” was his response when asked if he’d miss the NFL, presumably after taking the job at the University of Michigan that he’s reportedly going to take — and said that the team would release a statement about his future soon. He left little doubt that his time with the 49ers is done, though.

“It’s been the time of my life,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh’s time with the 49ers comes to an end with a 44-19-1 record in the regular season and a 5-3 playoff record compiled while going to the Super Bowl once and the NFC Championship game three straight years. That makes for a fitting 49 wins for Harbaugh in four years with the 49ers, leaving the team in much better shape than when he found it and leaving a high bar for the next coach to reach.

UPDATE 8:09 p.m. ET: The statement from the 49ers has been released and, as Mike Florio of PFT reported on Sunday Night Football, it is a mutual parting of the ways that leaves Harbaugh clear to take any job.

Permalink 27 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ben Roethlisberger has upset stomach, hasn’t warmed up

Roethlisberger Getty Images

The Steelers are going to the playoffs regardless.

But there’s a reason for Steelers fans to worry.

According to NBC’s Michele Tafoya, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is struggling with an upset stomach, and hasn’t been on the field to warm up for tonight’s game against the Bengals yet.

Backup Bruce Gradkowski has taken all the snaps in the pregame. But the week after Marshawn Lynch went crazy on Sunday Night Football with a stomachache, it might just be a new motivational ploy.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Broncos defeat Raiders, clinch first-round bye

C.J. Anderson, Cody Latimer AP

The Broncos are getting a well-deserved and much-needed week of rest.

Led by three TD runs by tailback C.J. Anderson, the Broncos powered away to a 47-14 victory vs. the Raiders on Sunday afternoon in Denver. With the win, the Broncos clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC and get a bye into the divisional playoffs.

The Broncos never trailed against the Raiders, who finished their season at 3-13. Denver led by at least 10 points for the final 43 minutes of regulation.

Anderson racked up 87 yards on 13 carries for Denver (12-4), scoring on rushes of 25, 1 and 11 yards. Ronnie Hillman added 56 yards on 15 carries.

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, meanwhile, connected on 21-of-37 passes for 273 yards with no TDs and no picks. Receivers Demaryius Thomas (eight catches, 115 yards) and Emmanuel Sanders (6-73) had productive days.

Manning’s counterpart, Oakland rookie Derek Carr, connected on 18-of-36 passes for 158 yards with one TD (a two-yard third-quarter toss to Jamize Olawale) and two turnovers, including a fumble returned for a score by the Broncos’ Tony Carter late in the fourth quarter. By then, though, the game was just about out of Oakland’s reach.

Now, the Broncos and Raiders will go their separate ways. The Raiders, for their part, have a decision to make at head coach. Tony Sparano finished the season in the role after the firing of Dennis Allen, leading Oakland to its only three wins of the campaign.

The Broncos? They will look ahead to the divisional round. And they will surely appreciate the weekend off. They had a long injury list entering Week 17, and they lost left guard Orlando Franklin and safety David Bruton to concussions against Oakland.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Marrone has a three-day out clause, but is expected to stay with Bills

Marrone AP

With the Bills ending the season on a 9-7 note, the current thinking is that new ownership will keep coach Doug Marrone for 2015.  For a change, however, it’s a two-way street.

Per multiple league sources, Marrone has a clause in his contract that gives him a three-day window upon the conclusion of the season to terminate his contract with the Bills.  However, it’s not believed that Marrone will take advantage of his ability to leave.

One factor will be whether a market exists for his services elsewhere as a head coach.  Though he’s done well enough in two years to stay for a third, he probably hasn’t done well enough to spark a land rush for his services.

But it’s nevertheless an unusual clause that shows Marrone and his agent planned for the possible sale of the franchise upon the demise of founder Ralph Wilson, who passed away in March.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hobbled Aaron Rodgers leads Packers to NFC North title

rodgers AP

Shaking off a calf injury to deliver an MVP performance, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers led his team to a win over the Lions, an NFC North title, and a first-round playoff bye today at Lambeau Field.

Rodgers, who has been nursing the injury for a week, briefly had to leave the game and struggled even to walk. But after returning in the third quarter, Rodgers took control and took the Packers to a 30-20 victory.

The performance made Rodgers the favorite to win the league’s Most Valuable Player award, and made the Packers the division champs once again. Green Bay has earned a first-round playoff bye, which will be some extra time for Rodgers to rest that calf and get ready for a playoff game at Lambeau.

For the Lions, the disappointing showing continues a decades-long losing streak at Lambeau and means they’ll start the playoffs on the road at Dallas next weekend. It’s been a good season for the Lions, but a season in which they’ll now be expected to get bounced out of the playoffs in the first round.

The Packers, however, have a real shot at being a Super Bowl team. With Rodgers at the helm, the Packers have to like their chances.

Permalink 120 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

49ers send Jim Harbaugh out with a win

Bruce Miller, Jim Harbaugh, Alfonso Smith AP

By all accounts, Jim Harbaugh is done as the head coach with the 49ers but he got a Gatorade shower and a game ball before he left.

Harbaugh’s players drenched him at the end of a 20-17 win over the Cardinals and defensive back Craig Dahl gave the coach the ball after he picked off Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley to ice the victory in a moment that looked like the 49ers players were well aware that their coach was moving on to another job. There’s been a lot of talk that the University of Michigan will be hiring Harbaugh, but word on that will have to wait for at least a little while.

For now, the 49ers can savor a return to the victory formation after four straight losses that sank their season. Frank Gore ran for 144 yards in what might have been his final game with the 49ers, moving him past the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth straight year and eighth time overall in his career. Colin Kaepernick threw two touchdowns and ran for 63 yards of his own, but the offensive work probably wouldn’t have been enough without the work of the defense.

The 49ers intercepted Lindley three times and the Cardinals quarterback couldn’t replicate his production from a successful first half. He did finish with 313 yards, but just 53 came after the break and the Cardinals Offense didn’t put any points on the board in the final 30 minutes. That’s obviously a concern for the team as they head toward next weekend’s date with the Panthers, but they may not have a choice other than rolling with Lindley thanks to Drew Stanton’s knee and Logan Thomas’s lack of readiness to step into a starting role as a rookie.

That doesn’t set up well for Arizona, but at least they have a shot. The 49ers just have the memories of Harbaugh’s first three seasons and the hope that the next coach can win at the same rate come 2015.

Permalink 39 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Seahawks force three second half turnovers on way to top seed in the NFC playoffs

Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright AP

The Seahawks went to the Super Bowl last season behind an overwhelming defense that played at home during the postseason.

A repeat performance is hardly out of the question in 2014. The Seahawks scored all 20 of their points in the second half and forced three turnovers after giving the ball away twice in the first half of a 20-6 victory over the Rams. The win clinches the NFC West and the top seed in the NFC playoffs for the defending champs and their defense looks primed to make the most of that defense.

Seattle allowed 39 points over the final six games of the season, all of which were victories, and the defense helped provide 14 of the points in Week 17. A Jordan Hill interception set up a Marshawn Lynch touchdown run and Bruce Irvin returned a pass he yanked away from Rams tight end Lance Kendricks 49 yards for another score that all but sealed the deal on another division title. The Rams made one last effort to get back in the game in the fourth quarter, but safety Earl Thomas knocked the ball from Benny Cunningham’s hands and the ball bounced through the end zone for a touchback.

The Seahawks Offense never caught fire, but they didn’t turn it over in the second half and strung together a pair of drives in the third quarter for field goals that tied the game. Russell Wilson was 17-of-25 for 239 yards and Lynch had 99 total yards of offense, which is the kind of effort (absent each man’s first half giveaway) that they want to have their defense lead to victory.

There will be stiffer offensive tests ahead than the Rams, but the Seahawks haven’t had much trouble with any level of offensive competition of late. That’s trouble for the NFC, which will go through Seattle for the second straight year.

Permalink 60 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Panthers blast Falcons to earn NFC South title at 7-8-1

Panthers Falcons Football AP

Sure, the Panthers went eight weeks without winning a game earlier this season.

But they went the last four without losing one, and now they’re headed to the playoffs.

With no apologies for their 7-8-1 record, the Panthers are headed to the postseason after a dominating 34-3 win over the Falcons.

They outgained the Falcons 306-288, with Cam Newton only throwing 16 passes all day. They outrushed the Falcons 194-63, and played dominant defense all afternoon.

The Panthers closed the season by sweeping through the division (with an ugly win over the Browns mixed in). But like their 41-10 win over the Saints which started this run, the beating they put on the Falcons was thorough.

The Panthers sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan six times, and goaded him into a pair of pick-sixes (by safeties Roman Harper and Tre Boston). They did it with a simple game plan, getting the pressure with their front four and not having to rely on blitzing. It should also be noted they did it without franchise-tagged defensive end Greg Hardy, who made $13.1 million this year for one sack before going on the commissioner’s exempt list because of a domestic violence arrest.

The Falcons had played well down the stretch themselves, but had no answer for the Panthers pressure all day.

While people are going to mock them for the next week and say they have no chance in the postseason (and maybe they don’t), it’s hard to argue with the job Panthers coach Ron Rivera has done with this mishmash of a roster.

His teams are 15-3 in December during his stint as head coach. Even though the first two years of his career those were meaningless December games, he’s now gotten the Panthers to the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time in franchise history.

Permalink 43 Comments Feed for comments Back to top