Skip to content

Jerry Rice agrees with Tim Brown: Bill Callahan sabotaged us

Rice and Brown Getty Images

The bizarre controversy over whether former Raiders coach Bill Callahan sabotaged the team before Super Bowl XXXVII by changing the game plan at the last minute has taken another surprising turn: Jerry Rice has come forward to say he sides with his former teammate Tim Brown in believing that Callahan wanted to lose.

Rice, who was on the Raiders team that lost Super Bowl XXXVII to the Buccaneers, said on ESPN that Callahan disliked his players, disliked his team, and was willing to let his old boss, then-Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, beat him.

“For some reason — and I don’t know why — Bill Callahan did not like me,” Rice said. “In a way, maybe because he didn’t like the Raiders, he decided, ‘Maybe we should sabotage this a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one.’”

For Rice, a universally respected player who was named in a poll of experts conducted by NFL Network as the greatest player in NFL history, to say that he believes one of his former coaches actively wanted to lose a Super Bowl is shocking. ESPN’s Trey Wingo stopped Rice and asked him if he realized the magnitude of the accusation that Callahan once threw the Super Bowl. Rice said he understands the weight of his words.

“Yeah, I know exactly what I’m saying,” Rice said.

Until Brown made his bombshell accusation on Saturday, the biggest controversy to come out of Super Bowl XXXVII was the fact that Raiders center Barret Robbins abandoned the team the day before the game. Rice blames Callahan for that, too: According to Rice, Robbins was so demoralized by Callahan announcing in a team meeting that he was going to call mostly pass plays that Robbins decided to bail on the Super Bowl.

“With Barret, he was frustrated, like, ‘You cannot do this to us at the last second.’ Maybe that’s why he decided to not show up,” Rice said.

I have all the respect in the world for Jerry Rice, but blaming Callahan for Robbins’ actions is ridiculous. Robbins is a man who has struggled with mental illness for most of his life. A man who struggles with mental illness is battling demons much more profound than a coach changing his game plan. Does Rice also blame Callahan for the legal and personal problems that have plagued Robbins in the decade since his NFL career ended?

Rice also doesn’t seem to accurately remember how that Super Bowl went down. In his ESPN appearance, Rice said Callahan called on the Raiders “to throw the ball over 60 times.” But the Raiders didn’t throw the ball 60 times or even 50 times. They threw 44 times — exactly three more times than they had thrown the ball the week before, when they won the AFC Championship Game.

And that brings us to the strangest part of all this criticism of Callahan: Brown and Rice are insisting that Callahan sabotaged the team by implementing a pass-first offensive game plan. But the Raiders had been a passing team all season: They led the NFL in passing yards that season while ranking 18th in the league in rushing yards and 23rd in the league in rushing attempts. In other words, Callahan called a lot of passes in the Super Bowl because it was calling a lot of passes that had led them to the Super Bowl in the first place.

For Brown and Rice to suggest that Callahan was throwing the Super Bowl because he continued to call a lot of passes just as he had all season long is absolutely ridiculous.

Permalink 162 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Oakland Raiders, Rumor Mill, Top Stories

Report: 49ers “shopping” LaMichael James

San Francisco 49ers v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

The 49ers are reportedly willing to deal a recent second-round pick.

According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, the 49ers are “shopping” reserve tailback LaMichael James.

An Oregon product, the 24-year-old James has attempted just 39 regular season rushes since being drafted in 2012. He returned 23 punts and 12 kickoffs for the Niners last season.

According to the Bee, James has “made it clear” he wants more work at running back; it’s unclear whether that has prompted the 49ers to be open to moving in him in trade. Barrows also suggests James could conceivably be used in a package if the Niners were to move up in the draft.

The 49ers have James, Kendall Hunter, Marcus Lattimore and Jewel Hampton in reserve behind starting tailback Frank Gore. Were James to be moved, the 49ers could look to add another back. As Barrows notes, the 49ers have met with UCF tailback Storm Johnson and will meet with Towson running back Terrance West.

Including James, only three of the Niners’ seven 2012 draft picks remain with the club, with first-round pick A.J. Jenkins shipped to Kansas City after just one season.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dollars suggest Chris Johnson won’t be a role player

CJ AP

On the surface, it’s easy to assume that Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson will share the load in the New York backfield.  The numbers suggest strongly that Johnson will be the lead dog.

Johnson will earn $4 million in 2014.  Ivory will earn $1 million.  While that doesn’t mean Johnson will have four times the touches as Ivory, it indicates that Johnson has greater value — and in turn that he’ll have the greater role.

Also in the mix is Bilal Powell, who has a base salary of $1.4 million this year.  Mike Goodson remains on the books for another $1 million, but he’s likely the odd man out given the arrival of Johnson.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dwayne Bowe pays fine, resolves case stemming from pot arrest

Dwayne Bowe AP

Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe, who was arrested in November for marijuana possession, has paid a fine and pleaded guilty to amended charges to resolve the matter.

Bowe pleaded guilty today to defective equipment and littering and paid $610 in fines.

“Like others charged with speeding and possessing marijuana for the first time, Mr. Bowe pleaded guilty to amended charges,” city prosecutor Amy Ashefford told the Kansas City Star, adding that Bowe was treated no better or worse than anyone facing similar charges.

Bowe said in January that he thought he was racially profiled, but last week he released a statement saying the police had treated him fairly.

Now the question is how the league office will treat Bowe. A marijuana offense typically results in a one-game suspension, although littering and “defective equipment” may not be enough to get Bowe in any type of trouble. Still, the fact that this case started with a marijuana arrest could result in Bowe being placed in the league’s substance-abuse program.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

RB-needy teams left to focus on the draft

Carlos Hyde

There has been much said about running backs having a tough go of it in free agency, and in case we had forgotten, we were reminded with Chris Johnson taking more than a week to find a new team.

Johnson, who was PFT’s No. 34-ranked free agent, signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Jets on Wednesday. And this was a good deal, given the market this offseason, as colleague Mike Florio pointed out.

In all, it took Johnson nine days from his official release from Tennessee to land a new gig. Contrast this with DeSean Jackson, who had a deal with Washington in three days. And Darrelle Revis had an agreement with New England in but a few hours after his departure from Tampa Bay.

With Johnson signed, there are no starter-caliber tailbacks left in free agency. There are some decent complementary players available, with Michael Bush (ex-Bears) and Ronnie Brown (Chargers) two of the better options left, per Rotoworld’s rankings. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown earned a positive grade as a pass blocker in 2013, but he played just 157 snaps, and he had a negative grade as a rusher, as did Bush, who’s gained less than four yards per carry in each of the last three seasons.

In short, teams needing a running back are probably left to add one in the draft. The Titans, Browns, Jaguars, Bears and Vikings are among the clubs who could use at least one more tailback. However, of these teams, only the Titans may need a starter. The Browns (Ben Tate) and Jaguars (Toby Gerhart) signed young, starter-caliber veterans in free agency, while the Bears (Matt Forte) and Vikings (Adrian Peterson) just need understudies for their established lead backs.

The Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Falcons, Giants, Patriots, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Steelers and Texans are other teams who seem logical contenders to bring in another back.

The question is, who takes the first tailback in May, and in which round? In his most recent mock draft, Rotoworld’s Josh Norris has no backs going in Round One. Also, NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki has just one back – Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde — listed as a potential first-round selection.

In an offseason that won’t be remembered as an especially glorious one for the running backs of the world, the draft looms as the final act. Not getting any stage time on the draft’s first night would be another low point.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Busy day for Jets, with Sidney Rice visiting

Sidney Rice Pic Getty Images

On the same day the Jets added a home-run threat to their running game, they’re looking for more help for their passing attack.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, former Seahawks wideout Sidney Rice is visiting with the Jets today.

The Jets will want a look at his surgically repaired knee, as he was just cleared by Dr. James Andrews following his October ACL tear.

When well, Rice has been a good downfield threat (averaging better than 15.0 yards per catch each of the last five seasons).

But staying well has been an issue, as he’s played 16 games in a season twice in seven NFL seasons.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Police say Sharper’s DNA was found on clothing of one of his accusers

Darren Sharper, Blair Berk, Leonard Levine AP

A Tempe, Arizona police department testified Wednesday that ex-NFL safety Darren Sharper’s DNA was found on the clothing of one of the two women accusing him of drugging and sexually assaulting them.

The Associated Press reports that the testimony came at a hearing in Tempe on Wednesday that saw Sharper’s lawyers challenge the evidence authorities are using as a basis to keep Sharper in jail without bail. Sharper is accused of drugging three women and sexually assaulting two of them last November.

Detective Kevin Mace testified that Sharper’s DNA was found on the clothing of one of the women he’s accused of assaulting, but none was found on the other woman. Mace also testified that Sharper had a prescription for the sedative zolpidem and that a police search of the apartment of one of the women turned up a shot glass with zolpidem residue. 

Sharper also faces charges along similar lines in California and Louisiana with the possibility of more to follow in other states. He was granted bail in California, but will remain in jail in Arizona pending a decision on his bail. The hearing will continue on Thursday.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Reports: Victor Hampton arrested after altercation with his sister

victorhampton

Former South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton, a prospect in next month’s NFL draft, was in the news this week when it was reported that he was wanted for questioning in connection with an attack on a man in a New York City nightclub. But that’s not the only incident that has Hampton in the news.

Media outlets in South Carolina are reporting that Hampton has also been arrested and is facing a charge of disorderly conduct after an altercation with his sister.

Local TV station WLTX is reporting that the incident happened at a home in Columbia, South Carolina, on April 6. According to the report, Hampton and his sister, Victoria, got into an argument, police were called, and the two continued to fight even as police tried to separate them. Eventually, both Victor and Victoria were arrested.

Local TV station WIS obtained the police report, in which the arresting officer says the brother and sister wouldn’t stop fighting as both police and their mother attempted to break them up.

“I asked both subjects to stop yelling and they would stop for a second then start right back yelling, threatening each other, calling each other obscene names, using fighting words and stances,” reads the report.

Although he had a year of NCAA eligibility remaining, Hampton left school early to enter the NFL draft. He was viewed as a mid-round pick, but off-field issues will likely have a negative impact on his draft stock.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chris Johnson: I want to prove the doubters wrong

New York Jets v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

The Jets landed running back Chris Johnson on Wednesday, ending a brief free agent stint that didn’t feature overwhelming interest around the league in Johnson’s services.

Johnson spoke to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean after signing his contract and he had some of those teams on his mind when discussing his plans for the upcoming season. Johnson said he’s going to draw motivation from those who think he doesn’t have the same spark he had when he was running for more than 2,000 yards for the Titans.

“I have a fresh start. Now I am going to go out there with a chip on my shoulder,” Johnson said. “I know a lot of people are doubting me. I want to prove everybody wrong who has doubts in me. I am very excited about [joining the Jets]. It’s a team on the rise and I want to make them better. … I still have it.”

Johnson joins Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell and Mike Goodson in the Jets backfield at the moment, although there’s a good chance they’ll part ways with Goodson now that Johnson is in the fold. How things will shake out in terms of playing time remains to be seen, but he new Jet said he’s already spoken to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg about the different ways he’ll be used in 2014.

“I think I’m going to fit in pretty well,” Johnson said, via the team’s website. “Just talking to him and to Rex, who’s a guy that likes to run the ball, I think I’m going to fit in very well. We talked about all those things, catching out of the backfield, getting the ball to me in space.”

Johnson had 42 catches last season, one fewer than Jets team leader Jeremy Kerley, and his four receiving touchdowns were as many as Jets leader Jeff Cumberland, which underscores the need for more offensive talent on the roster. The Jets have added that in Johnson and wide receiver Eric Decker. With more likely to come in the draft, the Jets will look a lot different offensively than they did last season and that’s a step in the right direction.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Saints bring former center Jonathan Goodwin in for visit

Divisional Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The Saints lost center Brian de la Puente in free agency, so they need to find a replacement.

They might be turning to the guy de la Puente replaced.

According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, the Saints brought veteran center Jonathan Goodwin in for a visit today, making a reunion possible.

Goodwin was made expendable when the 49ers chose to extend Daniel Kilgore this offseason, and let the 35-year-old hit the market after three years as the starter.

They have some other internal options, but the team might want some experience in the middle given the all-in approach they’ve taken this offseason.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chris Johnson’s two-year deal has base value of $8 million

chris-johnson Getty Images

At a time when the running back market had maxed out at $3.5 million per year, Chris Johnson has nudged the bar a little higher.

Per a league source, the two-year contract signed by the new Jets running back has a base value of $8 million.  Another $1 million is available in incentives based on yardage.

Given Johnson’s late entry to the market and the ongoing devaluation of the tailback position, it’s a very good deal for Johnson.  It’s also a good deal for the Jets.  Criticized for not closing the deal with Donald Brown early in free agency, they got a much better player for not much more money than Brown received in San Diego.

So now the Jets have Chris Johnson and Mike Vick on the roster.  A couple of years ago, that would have made them Super Bowl contenders.  For now, it’s enough to make a team that was 8-8 without those two players a serious threat to bump one of the 2013 wild-card teams to the curb.

Permalink 26 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Santonio Holmes, Anthony Spencer among top unsigned players

Santonio Holmes AP

With Chris Johnson (Jets) and Josh Freeman (Giants) reaching contract agreements Wednesday, only six unrestricted/released free agents ranked in PFT’s Free Agent Hot 100 remain without a team for 2014.

Two other free agents can be signed away for draft-pick compensation: Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (franchise tag) and Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (restricted free agent). Both have been tendered contract offers by their current clubs and seem likely to stay put.

Here are the remaining unsigned players in PFT’s free agent rankings:

UNRESTRICTED/RELEASED FREE AGENTS

67.  Cowboys defensive end/outside linebacker Anthony Spencer.

74.  Packers tight end Jermichael Finley.

81.  Seahawks outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield.

89.  Ex-Buccaneers offensive guard Davin Joseph.

97.  Ex-Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

102.  Panthers offensive guard Travelle Wharton. ***

*** — Has reportedly indicated he could retire.

FRANCHISE TAG RECIPIENT

2.  Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENT

82.  Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin.

Permalink 4 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Raiders make final push to move Terrelle Pryor

Terrelle Pryor AP

Before the Raiders’ offseason program launches next week, they have one fairly important bit of roster maintenance to address:  The future of quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Per a league source, the Raiders hope to move Pryor before the start of the offseason program.  It’s currently unclear whether he’ll be cut if he’s not traded.

The effort to deal the third-round pick in the 2011 supplemental draft (the last player chosen by Al Davis) commenced in January, even though news of it didn’t surface until the league meetings in March.  After playing sparingly in his first two years, he appeared in 11 games with nine starts in 2013.

But Pryor eventually was supplanted by Matt McGloin, an undrafted rookie from Penn State who shared an awkward history with Pryor during his search for a college team.

Pryor is now searching for a new NFL team.  It’s unclear which teams are interested and what they’d be willing to give up for Pryor, who has shown flashes of considerable ability but who has yet to show that he can master the quarterback position at the NFL level.

Permalink 31 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys kick the tires on Davin Joseph

Josh Johnson,  Davin Joseph,  Greg Hardy AP

The Cowboys haven’t been doing much buying in free agency, but they’re doing a little looking before the draft.

According to Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, the Cowboys had veteran guard Davin Joseph in for a visit recently, and will take a look at former Cardinals wide receiver LaRon Byrd in later this week.

Joseph was cut by the Buccaneers prior to free agency. The two-time Pro Bowler missed 2012 with a knee injury and wasn’t as effective last season, making it easy for the Bucs to take the $6 million cap savings.

If he’s well, the 30-year-old Joseph could push for a starting job with the Cowboys, or at least be good depth behind Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary.

Byrd spent last year on IR because of a concussion, and worked out for the Giants recently.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bengals sign T.J. Conley

New York Jets v Denver Broncos Getty Images

The Bengals had to scramble for a punter near the end of last season because of Kevin Huber’s broken jaw, but they won’t have to scramble for one if Huber isn’t able to kick this offseason.

The team announced Wednesday that they have signed free agent punter T.J. Conley. Conley punted for the Jets in 2011, but the team moved in a different direction before the 2012 season and Conley hasn’t played in the last two regular seasons. He was with the Browns last summer.

Conley averaged 42.7 yards a punt for the Jets and had a net of 38.8 yards.

Huber is expected to be fine for next season, so Conley is likely just going to be an extra leg for OTAs, minicamps and training camp. That could change, but Huber has turned in two straight strong seasons so any competition will be slanted in his favor.

Permalink 5 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

So how many quarterbacks will be taken in round one?

NBCUniversal Logos

Today’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN continues to roll through round one.  Today’s focus?  The team that had the first pick last year, and that due to an unexpectedly strong 2013 has fallen to No. 23.

The 30-minute edition (we’re back to an hour on Thursday) also sprints through the latest NFL news, and it concludes with today’s poll question:  How many quarterbacks will be taken in round one?

Cast a ballot below.  And then tune in at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN for the show.  And stick around for NASCAR America and the launch of the 2014 NHL playoffs.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top