Chris Culliver’s comments raise the question if the NFL is really ready to accept an openly gay athlete. Hines Ward has no problem with it, but says it might help the player’s cause if he has superstar talent.
ProFootballTalk: Is the NFL ready for an openly gay athlete?
But he’s also part of a less-distinguished record for the team.
As noted by Anwar Richardson of MLive.com, Fairley’s part of a 2011 Lions draft class that has woefully underperformed and embarrassed the organization off the field.
Fairley’s play has been good, but his two arrests have him tied for second in his class. Former second-rounder Titus Young leads the way with three, and fellow second-rounder Mikel Leshoure has two also.
In fact, fifth-round linebacker Doug Hogue’s the only member of the five-man class who hasn’t been arrested since joining the league, since seventh-rounder Johnny Culbreath had one. Hogue’s with the Panthers now, and Fairley and Leshoure are the only players left on the Lions roster at this point.
That might not be Matt Millen-esque, but it is an embarrassing collection of choices by General Manager Martin Mayhew, and the fact they signed Reggie Bush this offseason further diminishes any impact Leshoure might have.
The Lions were aggressive making moves this offseason, and they probably should. Anything to keep from thinking about their recent past can’t hurt.
New Eagles coach Chip Kelly is asking his players to do more while they’re at the team facility.
But he’s not asking them to hang around as long, which puts an extra burden on them.
With Kelly trying to streamline practices, Eagles players should have even more free time on their hands, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Under former coach Andy Reid, meetings stretched from early morning to early evening, in part to provide structure to the days of young men who can’t always be trusted to handle free time well. Of course, there were also chunks of empty space in the day that allowed players to nap in their lockers, or send out for fast food.
Now, players run at a faster pace for a shorter time, and nutritional smoothies personalized for each player are provided, among many changes.
“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be real hard,” tight end Brent Celek said. “But I think that’s something guys appreciate. Chip is like, ‘Listen, we know that it’s hard out here, but, . . . we’re going to try and take care of you so you feel good the next day.’”
Kelly knows there’s a chance to be taken with his schedule, and that urging players to always eat well or get 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night isn’t a realistic goal.
“If I can’t trust them when they leave this building then we probably brought the wrong guys in here,” Kelly said.
What it will create is a process of weeding out the players who aren’t on board, and that could require a bit of tearing down before he can build back up.
Safety Husain Abdullah drew a lot of attention for his decision to skip the 2012 season to join millions of other Muslims on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
It’s not every day that you hear about a NFL starter in his prime walking away from the game when he’s still healthy enough to play it and Abdullah told Bill Williamson of ESPN.com that he knew there was a chance he wouldn’t be able to land another job in the league. Abdullah said he was fine with that scenario — his brother and fellow safety Hamza hasn’t landed a job after taking the pilgrimage as well — but that he also worked hard to get back into football shape upon his return from the pilgrimage in hopes of landing a job with an NFL team before the end of the season.
“But teams figured that I missed OTAs and training camp that I might not be ready,” Abdullah said. “I understood. So I had to wait. It crossed my mind that I wouldn’t get a chance. I was at peace with that. I was so grateful do to something I waited my whole life for.”
Abdullah wound up signing with the Chiefs in February, which looks like a pretty good spot for him to resume his career. Eric Berry is set at one safety spot, but Kendrick Lewis struggled with injuries in 2012 and could be vulnerable to a challenge from Abdullah this summer.
With only two cities vying for Super Bowl L and then only two cities squaring off for Super Bowl LI on Tuesday, the voting process becomes much more simple than if three or more cities were being considered for one game.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT via email that the procedure initially will consist of San Francisco and South Florida squaring off, with owners voting via secret ballot for one or the other. If either gets 24 of 32 votes, that bid wins the game.
If neither gets the 75-percent supermajority, the voting immediately transforms in round two to a simple majority, with 17 votes winning.
If the owners deadlock at 16, the voting continues. Indefinitely.
After the host for Super Bowl L is named, the loser then takes on Houston for Super Bowl LI, with the same rules applying.
The two-tiered approach gives Texans owner Bob McNair a clear strategy when voting for the Super Bowl L host. He needs to vote for the city he thinks Houston is less likely to beat for Super Bowl LI.
But the more they talk about it, the more clear it becomes that they don’t mind it being perceived that way.
Via Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano compared his third-round pick to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, and said he thought Glennon “can play quickly,” if they need him to.
But our situation will be only if he’s needed,” Schiano said. “Or if he wins the job. Look, I’m not against that. We have a starting quarterback. It’s not like we’re looking to find a starter. But competition is competition. Mike Glennon is a fierce competitor. I knew that when he was coming out of high school. Now being able to work with him a little, you can see it on the practice field.”
It’s reasonable to think the Bucs want to have Glennon ready in a hurry, with Freeman in the final year of his rookie contract.
But with every passing report, it’s harder and harder to sell the motion that they have nothing but trust in the former first-rounder, or that they want to hitch themselves to Freeman for the long-term future.
Statistics don’t always tell the entire story, but they do a pretty good job of providing everything you need to know about how 2012 went for Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
His 71 catches were his least for a season since 2006 and he never had a lower average than the 11.2 yards per catch he picked up last year. The Cardinals finished 5-11 after winning their first four games and Fitzgerald is quite sure that he doesn’t want to go through another year like that in 2013.
“It was the most frustrating season, time, I’ve ever had professionally or even amateur. I’ve never had a year like that,” Fitzgerald said, via Bruce Cooper of the Arizona Republic. “It was tough mentally. Physically, it was tough. It builds resolve. I know I never want to go through a season like that personally or as a team and I’m going to do everything in my power not to ever repeat that. It left a real bad taste in my mouth.”
There’s reason to believe Fitzgerald will be able to avoid a similar taste this year. Whatever Carson Palmer’s flaws are as a quarterback, he’s well ahead of John Skelton and Ryan Lindley and the same is likely true of backup Drew Stanton should Palmer go down with an injury. The addition of Jonathan Cooper should bolster a leaky offensive line and Bruce Arians showed last season with Reggie Wayne that he knows how to find new ways to maximize the production of veteran receivers.
There still may be frustration ahead in what looks like a very tough NFC West, but Fitzgerald should find 2013 a little more to his liking all the same.
The process for nominating players, coaches, etc. to each team’s Mt. Rushmore has made its way back to Broadway, with the Jets officially on the clock.
For Fireman Ed and company, the challenge is to show us your nominees for the four greatest contributors in franchise history.
The problem is that there likely won’t be many players or others from recent years. Those back-to-back AFC title game appearances are looking more and more like aberrations, and the best player from those teams (Darrelle Revis) only played five years and a slice of a sixth.
But nominate whoever/whomever/whatever you want. From Joe Namath to Tim Tebow, everyone is eligible at this stage of the process. Eventually, we’ll trim the field to a dozen or so finalists for official voting.
At least, as official as online poll voting ever gets.
The Jets lost a quarterback this week when David Garrard said “no mas” because of a knee injury and a report from Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com indicates they were interested in replacing him.
Grossi reports that the Jets “really wanted” to sign Brian Hoyer after Hoyer was released by the Cardinals. They weren’t able to close a deal, though, and Hoyer agreed to terms with the Browns on a two-year deal.
It probably comes as no surprise that the Jets were interested in the quarterback since they’ve shown some level of interest in just about every quarterback with recent NFL experience. It would also come as no surprise to see the team look elsewhere for another body to add to their current four-man mix at the position since it is clear that no one from that group has a stranglehold on the starting job.
Hoyer’s probably about as good as it is going to get on the free agent market until team start making cuts during camp this summer, however, and adding a player who can learn the offense quickly enough to win the job at that point is, to put it mildly, a long shot. It’s probably going to be Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith at quarterback come the start of the season for the Jets.
NFL owners will be gathering in Boston this week for a meeting that has one primary item on the agenda: Awarding two Super Bowls.
First, it’s Miami versus San Francisco for Super Bowl L. Then, the loser takes on Houston for Super Bowl LI. The votes will happen on Tuesday.
Via Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News, supporters of the South Florida Super Bowl raised $36.5 million to support their bid, which is more than twice the amount previously believed and $6.5 million more than Bay Area supporters raised.
For the powers-that-be in San Francisco (yes, we know the stadium is in Santa Clara), the broader goal has becomes cracking the Super Bowl rotation, which would put games periodically in the new venue instead of making a title game a one-shot, quid pro quo for building it.
“Owners remember successful Super Bowls,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Rosenberg.
The bar will be higher for Super Bowl L. “It’s a bigger deal,” NFL senior V.P. for events Frank Supovitz told Rosenberg. “Super Bowl L has to be above and beyond even that curve of improvement.”
That could make it even harder for Miami to win Super Bowl L, given the failure of an effort to secure public funds to upgrade Sun Life Stadium. After hinging future Super Bowls to renovations at the place where the game is played, the not-so-subtle threat will come off as hollow, especially if Miami gets the 50th edition of America’s premier sporting event.
Miami could still finagle Super Bowl LI. At times, the game is as much about the events preceding it as the game itself, and South Florida remains an ideal location for the seven days of events that come before kickoff.
Linebacker Rolando McClain’s decision to retire from the NFL in an attempt to get his personal life in order seems like a wise thing for a player who has not been able to stay out of trouble since entering the professional ranks.
According to McClain’s college coach, it’s also a decision that’s fair to a Ravens team that signed McClain to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal after he was released by the Ravens. Alabama coach Nick Saban said he thinks McClain needs to get himself into a place where he can concentrate on football and that it was the right move to announce his retirement rather than go forward at less than full speed.
“For the Ravens, Ro’s being fair to them,” Saban said, via Don Kausler Jr. of the Birmingham News. “What he’s saying is that he’s not ready to play rather than them having to release him, where someone else can claim him. They can retain his rights. I think he likes the Ravens organization. I think he likes John [Harbaugh]. I think he likes Ozzie [Newsome]. He appreciates the fact that they gave him an opportunity, so I think he’s doing the right thing.”
In a statement, McClain said that “God willing” he’ll play for the Ravens one day and the Ravens will hold onto his rights as long as McClain remains on the Reserve/Retired list. It’s not the great favor that Saban makes it out to be, but Baltimore would certainly stand to benefit down the road if the former eighth overall pick is able to get back to a place where he’s focused on the football field instead of the courtroom.
New Jets General Manager John Idzik hasn’t even gotten his team to training camp yet, but folks around the league are already poking at his 0-for-2 start to free agency.
“Do these guys do background checks?” an opposing scout said of the Jets’ acquisition of Goodson specifically, via Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com.
Signing Garrard was great in theory, but few thought he’d hold up physically for long enough to win the starting job (since the same thing happened in Miami last year).
And while Goodson hasn’t pocketed all of the $1 million bonus which was part of his three-year, $6.9 million deal, that’s looking more like a sunk cost as well.
It’s not quite the start the Jets were looking out of their new G.M., who better hope some of his other decisions (namely the future of quarterback Geno Smith and how he handles Mark Sanchez) work out better.
After two women sued Browns running back Trent Richardson for allegations that he instigated their assault outside his home in December 2012, some pointed to the absence of criminal charges as proof that Richardson is blameless.
At the time, a representative of the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office explained that the alleged victims had not cooperated with the investigation. (Their lawyer disagreed.) Now, a prosecutor has confirmed that there will be no charges, absent additional information.
According to the Morning Journal, Elyria City Prosecutor Matt Mishak said that, due to conflicting statements, there was no probable cause to arrest Richardson. Mishak added that, absent new evidence, charges are unlikely.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit against Richardson was transferred from Cuyahoga County to Lorain County, a move that presumably occurred at the request of Richardson’s lawyers. It’s part of the games lawyers play as they try to position cases so they’ll be heard by judges and/or juries deemed to be more favorable.
The absence of criminal charges has no impact on a civil lawsuit, which is subject to a far lower standard of proof and can be filed without meeting any initial burdens like probable cause.
The Dolphins are getting closer to signing all of their draft picks.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that running back Mike Gillislee, a fifth-round pick in April, has signed his contract with the team. According to the report, Gillislee’s four-year deal is worth $2.322 million and he received a signing bonus of $162,800.
Gillislee will fight Daniel Thomas for snaps behind projected starter Lamar Miller in 2013. After the draft, Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland said (via the Miami Herald) that he thought Gillislee could handle himself in pass protection. If that proves to be true, that skill could help push him into a third-down role on the offense this season. He ran for 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns at Florida in 2012.
With Gillislee in the fold, the Dolphins have now signed five of their nine draft picks from last month.
As we learned last week, some teams are more willing than others to work with players with certain medical conditions.
But the Giants had no such qualms about drafting safety Cooper Taylor in the fifth round, even though he had a lengthy medical report including a heart condition which was diagnosed in 2009.
During a game his sophomore season at Georgia Tech, his heart began racing, he felt dizzy and blacked out. He was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a rare issue with the electrical pathways in the heart. He had a procedure the next day, and was assured it wouldn’t prevent him from playing again.
“When it comes to heart conditions,” he told Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, “it’s a good one to have because they can fix it 100 percent.”
Of course, he had plenty of other health issues as well, during a college caerer that included a transfer to Richmond. He had the usual assortment of knee sprains and broken bones, and also missed most of 2010 with a “heat-related illness,” which he said was unrelated to the WPW.
But the heart problem was the one teams were careful to check out, causing him to travel with a full file of documents.
“A lot of teams wanted to make sure that I had all the doctors’ records,” Taylor said. “So I was travelling with a stack of notes and papers that I had from the best doctors in Atlanta and whoever I was seeing up in Richmond when I transferred that said the heart pathways have been fixed and there should be no other problems. So any team that needed it, I had that information right there for them.”
The Giants said they didn’t consider him a medical risk after checking his file, giving Taylor a chance to fulfill a dream he thought was taken away from him years ago.
The Dolphins went fishing for charity this weekend.
Members of the Patriots recently played in a charity basketball game with the Tewksbury Police Association.
Five things to watch when the Texans gather for OTAs.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano caught a ride around the Indianapolis 500 track with Mario Andretti.
Playing time at receiver is there for the taking with the Jaguars.
There will be a lot of competition at wide receiver and linebacker for the Broncos.
Members of the Chiefs staff spent Friday touring the site of this year’s training camp.
Eight members of the Raiders visited Facebook headquarters to learn about the company.
The Eagles are planning shorter, more efficient practices this season.
A look at who’s in the mix for the right tackle job with the Redskins.
The Falcons are set to have their largest offensive line in years.
Cardinals tight ends coach Rich Christophel hasn’t found it too difficult making the jump from college to the pros.
The Rams will host a 5K run the day before the start of the regular season.
A call for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll to address the team’s performance-enhancing drug suspensions.