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John Harbaugh not far removed from college-job snubs

Super Bowl XLVII Team Winning Coach and MVP Press Conference Getty Images

Today, he’ll ride in a parade celebrating his Super Bowl title.

But it wasn’t that long ago when Ravens head coach John Harbaugh couldn’t get a call back for college jobs.

Harbaugh reflected on that long road Monday, saying he was still in disbelief at his career path.

“I mean, I can’t even believe we’re having this conversation walking down the hallway after winning the Super Bowl,” Harbaugh told Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News. “To me, I can’t believe we’re having this conversation, in all honesty.”

Harbaugh was respected during his time as the Eagles special teams coach, but it didn’t translate into career advancement.

He recalled calling in favors to try to get an interview for the vacant Syracuse job in 2005, but they preferred Greg Robinson, who won 10 games in four years. The same was true at Boston College, which picked Jeff Jagodzinski, who lasted just two seasons. UCLA interviewed him, but he didn’t get that job either.

“I came in second for the UCLA job to Rick Neuheisel [in '08], and got close in a couple of other [college] jobs. But other jobs, I couldn’t even get an interview,” Harbaugh said. “It’s funny. When I was a finalist for the UCLA job, my wife and I talked about it, and it really wasn’t a good fit for us. But if it had been offered, obviously, it would’ve been a great thing. Then a week later, Ozzie [Newsome, the Ravens GM] calls about the Ravens.

“It just goes to show that in life, you can’t look at it like you’ve got to push things professionally, or whatever. God’s got a plan for you beyond your own ability to even dream and imagine what can happen.”

Of course, it takes a leap of faith to hire a special teams coach too, although Harbaugh’s success could open doors for that segment of the industry as well. The fact they have to work with the entire roster (other than quarterbacks), and generally have to make more decisions on the fly with personnel than offensive and defensive coordinators forces them to adapt, which is a key component in head coaching success.

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Josh McCown expected to miss several games with thumb injury

joshmccown Getty Images

A bad start to the season for Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown is getting worse.

The thumb injury McCown suffered in Thursday night’s loss in Atlanta is likely to force McCown to miss “several weeks,” a source told Alex Marvez of FOX Sports.

That would mean Mike Glennon, the 2013 third-round pick who became the starter during his rookie year, will start. Glennon showed some promise during his rookie season, but the new regime in Tampa obviously didn’t think he was ready to start, because the Bucs gave McCown a two-year, $10 million contract this offseason to become the starter.

Unfortunately, McCown hasn’t done much with the starting job: After throwing just one interception in 224 passes last season, McCown has thrown four interceptions in just 68 passes this season. Although Bucs coach Lovie Smith has insisted that McCown is the starter when healthy, Glennon will get an opportunity to show he deserves to keep the starting job.

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Week Three skill position injury report — Friday

Arian Foster AP

Here’s a rundown of skill position players in Sunday games listed on the Week Three injury report. Inactives are declared 90 minutes before game time:


Giants WR Odell Beckham (hamstring).

Washington QB Robert Griffin III (ankle).

Saints RB Mark Ingram (hand).

Bengals WR Marvin Jones (foot).

Jaguars WR Marqise Lee (hamstring).

Saints RB Erik Lorig (ankle).

Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee).

Dolphins RB Knowshon Moreno (elbow).

Washington TE Jordan Reed (hamstring).

Bengals TE Alex Smith (biceps).

Browns RB Ben Tate (knee).

Chiefs RB/WR De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring).


Steelers RB Dri Archer (ankle).

Bengals RB Rex Burkhead (knee).

Eagles WR Josh Huff (shoulder).

Lions RB Montell Owens (hamstring).

Panthers RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh).


Chargers WR Keenan Allen (groin).

Rams WR Tavon Austin (knee).

Panthers WR Jason Avant (thigh).

Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (shoulder).

Browns TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder).

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles (ankle).

Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee).

Panthers WR Jerricho Cotchery (thigh).

49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle, knee).

Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar (knee).

Washington PK Kai Forbath (right groin).

Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring).

Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray (foot).

Jaguars TE Clay Harbor (calf).

Rams TE Cory Harkey (knee).

Rams QB Shaun Hill (thigh).

Cardinals TE Rob Housler (hip).

Washington WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder).

Raiders RB Maurice Jones-Drew (hand).

49ers TE Vance McDonald (knee).

Colts WR Hakeem Nicks (illness).

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (right shoulder).

Ravens RB Bernard Pierce (thigh).

Cowboys RB Joseph Randle (concussion).

Vikings WR Rodney Smith (hamstring).

Raiders WR Rod Streater (hip).

Patriots RB Shane Vereen (shoulder).

Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh).


Lions RB Joique Bell (knee).

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (knee).

Browns WR Travis Benjamin (knee).

Panthers WR Corey Brown (ankle).

Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder).

Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot).

Eagles TE Zach Ertz (knee).

Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz (foot).

Ravens QB Joe Flacco (illness).

Chargers TE Antonio Gates (hamstring).

Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart (foot).

Texans TE Garrett Graham (ankle).

Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe).

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee).

Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet (knee).

Washington RB Roy Helu (quadricep).

Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (groin).

Jaguars WR Allen Hurns (ankle).

49ers RB Carlos Hyde (calf).

Texans WR Andre Johnson (ankle).

Jaguars RB Storm Johnson (ankle).

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick (back).

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (back).

Titans RB Dexter McCluster (foot).

Broncos PK Brandon McManus (right groin).

Seahawks RB Christine Michael (hamstring).

Steelers TE Heath Miller (not injury related).

Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle).

Steelers WR Lance Moore (groin).

Saints WR Joe Morgan (knee).

Panthers TE Greg Olsen (calf).

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (chest).

Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back).

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph (abdomen).

Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (hamstring).

Eagles WR Brad Smith (groin).

Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (chest).

Bills WR Sammy Watkins (ribs).

Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst (right finger).

Bills WR Robert Woods (ankle).

Washington RB Darrel Young (neck).

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Bruschi says it’s time for a new Commissioner

Goodell AP

So how is Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Friday press conference being received?  Based on a couple of former players who currently work for ESPN, not too good.

On ESPN, Mark Schlereth and Tedy Bruschi made some strong comments in response to Goodell’s remarks.  Bruschi’s remarks were particularly pointed, and strong.

We needed someone to go up there and be a leader,” Bruschi said.  “To be a leader and say something substantial.  To give all of the public out there, all of the fans, all of the former players, all of the current players.  To give them hope that things will be done right, and that wasn’t done because I don’t think Roger Goodell is the guy that can do that anymore.”

Bruschi then was reminded that Goodell has said he hasn’t considered resigning.

“Fixing a mistake is one thing, but he can’t escape this,” Bruschi said.  “He can’t escape this.  Because the NFL, a big thing about them also is image.  How the NFL is portrayed.  And as long as Roger Goodell is leading the NFL and he’s the face behind the shield, you will have the same emotions you had today, watching that press conference, listening to him speak in circles, wondering, ‘Man, what is this guy talking about?’  So as you continue and move forward and Roger Goodell is the Commissioner, you will continue to feel that way every time you see him.

“In my opinion, in my personal opinion, being a former player that spent 13 years in this league trying to do the right thing, I want a new Commissioner to lead my league.  I want a new Commissioner to go out there and say the right things and be that leader, because right now, Roger Goodell is not that.  And I don’t think he can ever be that.  Roger Goodell needs to step down and move on, and we need new leadership.  The big reset button needs to be pressed on the NFL right now, and it starts by Roger Goodell stepping down.”

That won’t happen until owners begin to share Bruschi’s feelings.  Currently, there’s no indication that any do.  After Friday’s events, from a heavily criticized press conference to another bombshell report from ESPN suggesting a full-blown coverup, who knows where this thing is heading?

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ESPN stands by its Ravens report

Rice Getty Images

The Ravens contend that ESPN’s very thorough, heavily detailed, and thoroughly troubling report regarding the Ravens’ mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation contains “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings.”  But the Ravens haven’t identified any “errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings.”

Regardless, ESPN isn’t flinching.

“We stand by our reporting,” an ESPN spokesman told PFT on Friday night.

Considering that ESPN once canceled the popular Playmakers series under overt and express pressure from former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, it’s safe to assume ESPN dotted all i’s and crossed all t’s before loading the cannon and aiming it at the Ravens and, as a practical matter, the league office.  The fact that ESPN and the NFL have a multi-billion-dollar broadcast partnership makes the report inherently more credible.

Put simply, ESPN isn’t going to swing and miss on something this important when it potentially undermines such an important relationship.

Meanwhile, the Ravens seem to be flailing.  If they dispute any, some, or all of the facts contained in the report, they should say so.  Surely, they know whether each and every allegation or statement on such an important and persistent issue is true.  Addressing the alleged “errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings” should be simple.

Under the circumstances, it’s definitely necessary.

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ESPN reports makes it clear Cass knew contents of video

Cass Getty Images

The excellent ESPN report regarding the Ravens’ mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation paints a troubling picture regarding the role of the team’s president in the investigation and, perhaps more accurately, the coverup of its details.

According to Don Van Natta, Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN, Ravens president Dick Cass learned in early April that the contents of the video from inside the elevator were deeply troubling.  Specifically, lawyer Michael Diamondstein told Cass that the video is “f–king horrible,” and that Rice “knocked her the f–k out.”

Per the report, Cass began urging Diamondstein to get Rice accepted into a pretrial intervention program.  Among the benefits Cass reportedly articulated to Diamondstein was the fact that the video of the incident would not be made public.

The Ravens repeatedly have criticized the prosecution for allowing Rice to enter into the intervention program based on such heinous conduct.  But the report from Van Natta and Van Valkenburg contends that prosecutors initially rejected the intervention program.  Only after Diamondstein produced nearly 30 letters of support (including one from Cass, G.M. Ozzie Newsom, and coach John Harbaugh) did the prosecution agree.

The Ravens contend that the ESPN report contains “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings,” but the Ravens have identified none of them yet.  Apparently, the list alleged errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions, and perhaps misunderstanding is coming next week, after their game against the Browns.

Sorry, but that’s not nearly good enough.  One of the league’s billion-dollar network partners has pinned on the Ravens and the NFL a report that, if accurate, should result in the termination of the employment of Cass, Newsome, and perhaps even Harbaugh.  Likewise, real questions should be raised about Steve Bisciotti’s fitness to own the team, if the report is accurate and if he had any knowledge of the coverup.  (Or perhaps even if he didn’t.)

And while some would say the report pulls the spotlight away from the NFL and puts it on the Ravens, the ESPN report makes the NFL’s complete failure to seek the video of the incident even more suspicious.  If the report is accurate, the Ravens and the NFL didn’t get the tape perhaps because they didn’t want to see it.

Which could make that bombshell report from the Associated Press even more plausible, and troubling.  Perhaps someone at the league office saw the tape, but that person knew the Commissioner didn’t want to see it — because that person knew the Commissioner wanted to find a way to give Rice the benefit of the doubt, and to be able to say he didn’t see the tape.

Regardless, Friday’s mediocre-at-best press conference performance coupled with the ESPN report means that Goodell remains in jeopardy of losing his job.   The information developed by the supposedly independent investigation and generated by the Ray Rice appeal process could cement that outcome, if the ESPN report is accurate.


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Ravens: ESPN story contains “numerous errors, inaccuracies”

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

The Ravens have responded to ESPN’s Friday report on the club’s decision-making after Ray Rice’s February arrest with a short statement claiming the piece contains “numerous” mistakes.

The team plans to talk in greater detail about the story next week, it said.

“The ‘Outside the Lines’ article contains numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstandings,” the club said Friday night. “The Ravens will address all of these next week in Baltimore after our trip to Cleveland for Sunday’s game against the Browns.”

While the club may not plan to further address the story until next week, it’s a certainty head coach John Harbaugh will be asked about it after Sunday’s game at Cleveland. Also, Kevin Byrne, the club’s senior V.P. of public and community relations, is slated to meet the press at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday in connection with the team’s Rice jersey exchange.

UPDATE 10:33 p.m. ET: “We stand by our reporting,” ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz told PFT on Friday night.

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Report: Goodell soon expressed misgivings about Rice’s two-game ban

Roger Goodell AP

Among the many revelations in ESPN’s investigation of the decisions made by the NFL and Baltimore Ravens after Ray Rice’s arrest in February was that league commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly soon had second thoughts about handing down just a two-game suspension of Rice.

The ESPN report claims that “within days” of Rice’s initial ban on July 24, Goodell told someone close to him that “he wasn’t sure he had done the right thing,” wrote reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg, citing two unnamed sources. The report also said Goodell seemed to indicate he had been persuaded not to give Rice a harsher punishment — and that the commissioner “regretted” this, wrote Van Natta Jr. and Van Valkenburg.

Goodell would later change course on Rice, publicly saying in late August he erred in handing down the two-game suspension when unveiling a new domestic violence policy. And less than two weeks later, Rice was indefinitely suspended by the NFL.

But Rice’s longer suspension came only after video emerged of him hitting his now-wife in Atlantic City in February. The video, released by TMZ, was posted three days before the tailback was to sit out the last of those two games he was banned.

Only then, after the video went viral, did the league change course. By then, though, the outrage with the NFL and the Ravens had come to a boil. And the simmering really started when the league announced it was benching Rice for all of 120 minutes of regulation to begin the season.

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Report: Ravens made a mess of this from beginning to end

bisciottirice AP

There’s no wonder the Ravens were calling an emergency meeting this afternoon.

An investigation by ESPN has uncovered a load of damning facts about the Ray Rice case, which display a level of missteps unimagined.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation in the 7,000-word-plus story by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg is that the Ravens knew nearly immediately that Ray Rice had punched his wife in the face in the elevator.

According to the report, Ravens director of security Darren Sanders talked to an Atlantic City police officer within hours of the incident. That officer “described in detail to Sanders what he was seeing.”

The litany of mistakes that followed is amazing, but perhaps as incredible as any are the texts Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti sent to Rice moments after he was released (the day the video was made public by TMZ).

“Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay,” the first text read.

“When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league,” said the second.

Those two actions, at the beginning and end of the process, give an indication of how deeply flawed this process has been.

Again, this story is more than 7,000 words long. There’s plenty to digest. There will be more.

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TNF ratings plummet for Week Three


Last Friday morning, the NFL thumped its chest over the enormous ratings generated by the Steelers-Ravens Thursday Night Football debut, broadcast jointly by CBS and NFLN.  Roughly 20.8 million viewers tuned in, on average, for the 26-6 win by Baltimore.

This Friday, the release came very late in the afternoon.  And the numbers show a sharp decrease in the total audience.  The Buccaneers-Falcons game averaged only 11.8 million viewers.  It wasn’t a compelling match up, and it turned into a rout.

In the end, the game generated an average audience only seven percent higher than last year’s Chiefs-Eagles game, broadcast by NFL Network only.

It may not be any better next week, when Washington hosts the 0-2 Giants.  Neither team has created much buzz this year, and they may not attract much of an audience in six days.

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Ravens deny Harbaugh wanted to cut Rice in February

John Harbaugh AP

The Ravens are denying a new report that there’s been dissension within their franchise for months over Ray Rice, as ESPN says coach John Harbaugh wanted to cut Rice in February, while the team says that’s not the case.

According to the report from ESPN, Harbaugh was upset enough about the team’s off-field misconduct (including not only Rice’s arrest for assaulting his wife but also the arrests of offensive lineman Jah Reid and receiver Deonte Thompson) that he wanted to cut all three arrested players. The report says, however, that Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome flatly refused. That report further says that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti sided with Newsome on keeping Rice.

However, within the report from ESPN is this denial from the Ravens: “John Harbaugh did not want to release Ray Rice until he saw the second video on September 8 for the first time. The video changed everything for all of us.”

Publicly, Harbaugh was supportive of Rice throughout the offseason, right until the decision to cut Rice after the infamous elevator video was published. But the ESPN report suggests otherwise, and paints Harbaugh in a much better light than Newsome and Bisciotti.

This report raises enough questions that Harbaugh, Newsome and Bisciotti should all explain exactly where they stood on Rice before the elevator video was released. And it should come directly from the mouths of those men, and not in a statement released by the team.

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Josh Gordon glad he doesn’t have to sell cars much longer

joshgordon AP

One of today’s winners — other than obfuscation, which is at an all-time high — is Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.

As a result of the league’s new substance abuse policy, Gordon’s year-long suspension for an amount of marijuana which wouldn’t have triggered a positive test the new guidelines has been shortened to 10 games.

““I’’m happy that the NFLPA and NFL worked hard to agree on a new Substances of Abuse policy,” Gordon said in a statement distributed by the union. “I’’m very thankful to my union for fighting for a significant reduction in my suspension. I’’m glad I can go to the facility during my suspension. I look forward to going to meetings, working out individually, and learning from my coaches and teammates. I can’t wait until game 11 to get back on the field!””

Getting back to the facility might be the biggest part of the news, as it provides Gordon the structure he clearly needs.

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Cordarrelle Patterson probable for Week Three

Cordarrelle Patterson, E.J. Gaines AP

Vikings playmaking wideout Cordarrelle Patterson appears good to go for Sunday’s game at New Orleans.

Patterson, who landed on the injury report Thursday with a chest ailment, is listed as probable after putting in a full practice Friday. He is one of five Vikings who are probable, including right tackle Phil Loadholt (ankle) and right cornerback Xavier Rhodes (groin).

Possessing rare speed and the capability to be used in the backfield, Patterson can create myriad matchup problems for defenses. Patterson’s value to Minnesota has only increased with tailback Adrian Peterson banished from the club after his arrest on a child abuse charge.

Three Vikings starters are listed as questionable: defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder), weak-side linebacker Chad Greenway (hand/rib) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (abdomen). All three players were limited on Friday. However, in the case of Greenway, the work was his first in practice all week, so that’s not a bad sign entering the matchup with the 0-2 Saints, who have an outstanding offense.

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Breaking: Donald Trump seems a bit of a blowhard

Donald Trump AP

During an afternoon of absolute transparency and concrete plans by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, we now have another item of positively stunning breaking news.

Donald Trump is drawing attention to himself for almost doing something.

Via Mike Rodak of, the investor/reality TV star/extreme combover magnate claimed on Twitter today that he was responsible for Terry Pegula’s $1.4 billion bid for the Bills.

“The Wilson family should thank me. Pegula overpaid for the @buffalobills because of me!” he wrote.

Trump bragged that he bid over $1 billion in cash for the Bills, though that’s the financial equivalent of players using the Adderall defense for any failed drug test, since it’s hard to establish whether he’s telling the truth or just trying to get on television again.

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Goodell promises transparency and accountability in future, offers little in present

Roger Goodell AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell broke his long silence on Friday afternoon in a press conference that opened with a lengthy statement promising accountability and transparency from the league in the future.

He offered very little of it in the present, however. Goodell consistently fell back on the talking points from his opening statement over the course of the 43 minute press conference that ended with several members of the media still waiting to ask questions.

In place of concrete answers to questions about why the NFL didn’t get the Ray Rice elevator video, why law enforcement in Atlantic City said they were never contacted by the NFL in an attempt to obtain the video and what ambiguities from Rice’s testimony led Goodell to suspend him indefinitely after finally seeing the video that showed exactly what the police report read, Goodell talked about forming new committees and former FBI head Robert Mueller’s investigation into the league’s handling of the matter.

Perhaps most telling was his unwillingness or inability to answer why it was so much more difficult for him to hand down the proper punishment in the Rice case than it has been in cases that didn’t deal with domestic violence. The man who opened the press conference by saying that he believes in accountability showed little of it in response by saying that the personal conduct policy, which Goodell oversees, was not sufficient to handle that particular case.

When Goodell wanted to be firm, he was. A question about possible conflict of interest for Mueller because his law firm WilmerHale has represented the client was met with Goodell saying that he hired Mueller because of Mueller’s credentials and not the firms. The rest was mushier, going back time and again to promises to fix the system with the help of other experts and the aforementioned committees.

That may lead some to wonder whether Goodell is an essential part of the process or if the man who wielded unilateral power as everything went haywire for the league stands in the way of the kind of changes that he said need to be made.

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Dion Jordan gets another suspension, this one for drugs

Dion Jordan AP

Not only did Dion Jordan not get his suspension shortened, it went the other direction.

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins announced that the second-year outside linebacker has been suspended again.

His previous four-game suspension for violating the PED policy was lifted after two games, but was then superseded by a new four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

He will be eligible to return Oct. 20, the day after they play the Bears.

“I am currently undergoing treatment to address my situation,” Jordan said in a statement provided by the team. “I am working hard to become a better man and to make better choices in the future. I am especially looking forward to returning to the team. I also want to thank my family, Coach [Joe] Philbin and the Miami Dolphins organization for their support.”

The short version is he’ll miss six games this year, instead of four, and is looking more and more like a failed use of the third overall choice in the 2013 NFL Draft.

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