Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press weighs in on the instability of the recently released Titus Young stating the release was “something the Lions had to do.” After a disappointing 8-game losing skid to end their season, the Lions will look to rebound with offseason pick-ups.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Lions had no choice but to cut Young
As the NFL and NFL Players Association continue to harden their diametrically-opposed positions regarding the investigation sparked by PED allegations made in an Al Jazeera documentary, more and more aspects of each side’s beliefs have become clear.
In the NFL’s most recent letter to the NFLPA, which was given to the media before it was given to the union, the league dismisses the notion that Charles Sly’s recanting of the allegations in any way disproves them.
“The fact that statements aired in the report may have been since ‘recanted,’ while potentially relevant to any ultimate conclusions reached, does not extinguish our need to investigate,” NFL senior V.P. of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch writes in his letter to NFLPA counsel Heather McPhee. “And it is hardly remarkable or dispositive that an individual would publicly disavow statements for which he may be subject to criminal or civil sanctions.”
Peyton Manning may disagree strongly with that sentiment, given the P.R. push from Camp Manning that Sly’s about-face proves that his claims are false. Still, the NFL is absolutely right on this point. It’s no surprise that a person who said one thing when he didn’t realize he was being recorded said something else once the syntax hit the fan.
Birch’s comments appear in support of the broader position that the NFL has a right to interview players as part of an investigation aimed at determining whether evidence of PED use exists beyond a positive test.
“[Y]our letters do not dispute that NFL players have an obligation to cooperate with league investigations and may be disciplined for failing to do so — a principle that, as you know, has been repeatedly confirmed in recent litigation between the parties,” Birch writes.
It’s also clear that the league believes it has the power to interview players without sharing any of the evidence that has been compiled against them, regardless of whether that evidence suggests innocence or guilt.
“[W]e are under no obligation to disclose all evidence uncovered thus far as a condition to interviewing the parties,” Birch writes, “which would clearly compromise the investigation.”
Here’s where it’s critical for the two sides to have a clear understanding regarding what the rules are regarding investigations. Neither the Collective Bargaining Agreement nor the PED policy contain language expressly acknowledging the league’s power to interview players as part of the investigation or outlining the rules and procedures that apply when an investigation occurs. In litigation, parties to the dispute aren’t expected to tell their stories without knowing what evidence the other side does or doesn’t possess. In investigations like this one, players shouldn’t be required to do it, either.
The fact that the CBA and the PED policy say nothing about the NFL’s and NFLPA’s rights and responsibilities when the league wants to interview players in connection with a possible PED violation suggests that the players aren’t required to provide any information until the NFL has developed enough evidence to justify discipline — and unless the player appeals the suspension. Even if the NFL has the ability to interview players before imposing discipline, the notion that the league can conceal the evidence and hope to coax the players into saying something that conflicts with other evidence that the league is hiding. absent express authorization to proceed in this way, justifies an effort by the NFLPA to resist making the players available.
With #Deflategate being an exercise in jumping to an uninformed conclusion and then launching an investigation aimed not at getting to the truth but justifying a predetermined outcome, there’s no reason for the NFLPA or anyone to believe the NFL will do anything differently in this case. As a result, there’s no reason for the NFLPA to agree to let the players walk into a potential buzzsaw.
Regardless of how this plays out, the NFL and NFLPA should come up with clear rules regarding the trigger for launching an investigation and the nuts and bolts associated with conducting it.
Among the changes the Browns made to their roster this offseason was the addition of cornerback Jamar Taylor in a trade with the Dolphins.
Taylor was a second-round pick in Miami in 2013, but has struggled both on the field and with injuries since entering the NFL. The Browns haven’t been anything to write home about over the last three years either, which led to their latest coaching and front office reboot and a chance for Taylor to improve on the results of the last three seasons.
“It’s definitely a fresh start for me. For what I went through in Miami, it’s all over. This is a great group of people here, a great organization, a great staff,” Taylor said, via the team’s website. “Nobody knows me, I know nobody. It’s just really new for me. It’s definitely a fresh start, but it’s a fresh start for everybody. None of the coaches really know a lot of these guys so everybody knows they just have to go put it on tape. You are who you put on tape and you are who you are around your teammates.”
Taylor said he’s open to any role the Browns have for him on defense, special teams or anywhere else, which is the right way to approach a fresh start with a new organization. The attitude will only take him so far if his health and performance don’t make a turn in the right direction.
Richardson was suspended as a result of last year’s arrest for evading police while driving 143 m.p.h. with a 12-year-old in the car. Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest in January and wrote on Instagram that he’s thankful the ban wasn’t longer.
“So the league has sent down there [sic] decision,” Richardson wrote. “I have to live with it. I’m grateful, it could have been more but this is overspill from a silly offseason on my part but I’ve grown from it been pass [sic] it. … I’m still smiling like its draft day. … to my family and fans I love ya.”
The Jets likely share Richardson’s relief about the league’s decision. While they hope to have Muhammad Wilkerson back in the fold by the time the season opener rolls around, living without one of their top defensive players for one week is a much more preferable outcome than the longer suspension many thought was possible.
After watching the new All or Nothing series from the Arizona Cardinals, NFL Films, and Amazon.com, one word best describes the most appropriate reaction: More.
In more ways than one. I want more full-season NFL series like this, taking the viewer far beyond the same-old Hard Knocks storylines that primarily revolve around bubble players who may or may not be employed by the time a given episode debuts and delving into the week-in, week-out grind of a full season.
I want to know more about the Cardinals, a bedrock NFL franchise that has been around longer than the NFL itself and that has gone from being one of the league’s various Washington Generals to one of its Harlem Globetrotters, consistently winning more games than it loses and annually contending for playoff positioning. The Cardinals, after decades of blah, have muscled their way onto the short list of national NFL brands. All or Nothing cements the Cardinals as a team that will attract a lot attention far beyond its home market.
I want more Bruce Arians, who combines the profanity of Rex Ryan with the quick wit of Jerry Glanville to create a one-of-a-kind football coach who inexplicably didn’t get a chance to coach an NFL team of his own until he obtained an unexpected opportunity, due to Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s leukemia diagnosis, to prove that Arians deserved it.
Most importantly, I want more of what the cameras and microphones captured that didn’t make it to any of the eight one-hour episodes. Both cornerback Patrick Peterson and running back David Johnson have told PFT Live over the past week or so that the players knew that cameras were present but that they didn’t know when or how the footage would be used. Eventually, with cameras constantly around, the players and coaches become numb to their presence and revert to being who they really are. Not knowing why the cameras are there accelerates the process.
The oft-salty language (there’s a clean version that is suitable for younger viewers, since kids never otherwise hear or use those terms) suggests that the footage is raw and real. But there’s surely plenty of stuff that is even more raw and more real that ended up on the cutting room floor. I want to see that stuff, too.
As Cardinals president Michael Bidwill made clear during his visit to PFT Live, the footage was edited to exclude strategic information or other sensitive moments, like players being cut. Assurances like those were critical to get Arians to go along with the project.
“I don’t watch reality TV,” Arians said in 2014. “It does nothing for me so I don’t really want to be on reality TV. I would have to change totally how I coach. . . . I think it’s a total distraction to what you’re trying to accomplish because everything about Hard Knocks is getting on television and being an individual. And it’s a team game.”
With All or Nothing, the team takes center stage because the show was about much more than the month or so of training-camp practices and preseason games. The individuals nevertheless shine through, too, with the guy who said he doesn’t want to be on reality TV being the person who makes the strongest impact.
All or Nothing, which was released a day earlier that expected, is available at no charge on Amazon.com. It will be available for free until July 31.
It probably does not surprise anyone who has followed the exploits of the Black Unicorn over the years to know that he has a fertile imagination.
But now, Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett is using it for educational purposes.
Via Fitz Tepper of TechCrunch.com, Bennett has created a company called The Imagination Agency, and has created a children’s book and mobile app to bring the story to life.
Bennett and his group have written a book called “Hey A.J.,” about the adventures of a curious young girl making breakfast.
Bennett said he had “hundreds of characters in his head,” which no one who has followed his football career would dispute. Now, he’s hoping to capitalize on that with an app which is available in both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.
We can only imagine what happens when he hangs around with Rob Gronkowski for a year in New England, as having an actual cartoon character for a teammate will provide even more inspiration for future projects.
The Ravens are paying Joe Flacco more than $20 million a year for the next six years, but they don’t view Flacco as the focal point of their offense.
That’s the word from Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, who says Baltimore hopes to be a run-first team.
“We’re always looking at ourselves as a team that should be able to run the ball first,” Trestman said, via the Baltimore Sun. “That’s just the way we want to play it, and everything starts with the physicality of our run game, and the physicality of our runner. That’s how we coach offense here, and everything starts there.”
Last year the Ravens’ offense wasn’t particularly good at either running or passing. This year the most important question facing the Ravens’ offense would seem to be whether Flacco can stay healthy after suffering a torn ACL in 2015, but Trestman thinks the run game may be even more important.
The Cowboys got a double dose of bad news on the suspension front Thursday with the NFL announcing a 10-game ban for linebacker Rolando McClain as well as upholding the four-game penalty handed down to defensive end Demarcus Lawrence earlier this offseason.
Lawrence’s fellow defensive end Randy Gregory will also open the year by serving a four-game suspension, leaving the Cowboys down three players that would be major parts of their defense in a perfect world. Cornerback Brandon Carr said on Sirius XM Radio with Zig Fracassi and Phil Savage that their absences raise the stakes for the rest of the players on that side of the ball.
“Well, anytime you get a guy going down in your unit, you have to come together even stronger to make up for that slack,” Carr said. “But Rolando is a guy that’s made a lot of plays for us in the past two years, another dominant presence on the field. So we’re definitely going to miss that. But football’s a game of the next man up, it’s a game of inches. So it’s going to take for all of us to come to training camp focused and next man up, get him ready, get prepared to go out there to battle.”
There were questions about the quality of the Cowboys defense when the three suspended players were expected to be in the mix to open the season, so the remaining hands on deck will have a big task ahead of them once camp gets underway later this month.
As it turns out, bringing an accused rapist in to a school to talk to high school students may have been a bad idea.
The dubious decision to bring former 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald to talk to a group of at-risk students has led to the official who sanctioned it to be suspended.
According to Darin Moriki of the Bay Area News Group, the Hayward school board placed superintendent Stan Dobbs on paid administrative leave while it investigates how McDonald ended up talking to a group at Tennyson High School.
The 49ers cut McDonald after the December 2014 rape allegation, the last in a series of missteps. He has pleaded not guilty in Santa Clara County Superior Court to the criminal charges.
The reaction to McDonald entering the school was not a pleasant one, leading to apologies from the school district, and a subsequent visit from lawyer Gloria Allred, who is representing McDonald’s accuser.
“I never feel like we should have apologized because, like I told Stan, we didn’t bring him [McDonald] in as a role model,” school board president Lisa Brunner said. “We brought him in as a motivational speaker to convey, ‘Don’t do what I did. I screwed up my life,’ so I was mad about that because none of it was done with the board.”
There are plenty of ways to teach object lessons to school children, but bringing someone with pending charges of the kind McDonald has was ill-advised. And now, someone besides the 49ers has to carry the stain of being attached to McDonald’s name.
The Bears gave McDonald a chance to rebuild his reputation, but cut him quickly after his arrest last May on domestic violence charges.
The Dolphins announced their training camp schedule as well as increased protection from the elements for fans that come to watch.
Reminiscing about the Ravens’ first year in Baltimore.
The Bengals landed seven players in NFL Network’s Top 100 rankings.
Former Browns RB Earnest Byner shares his observations from the team’s offseason work.
The Jaguars website offers up a preview of training camp.
The Broncos have set their schedule for training camp.
Breaking down the Chargers running backs.
Another suspension provides further evidence for those that believe the Cowboys fall short on judging character.
Looking ahead to the battle for playing time at tight end with the Giants.
Former Redskins TE Chris Cooley thinks the team is going to win 11 games this year.
Will the Packers keep three quarterbacks?
Where does the Vikings defensive line rank heading into the season?
Three questions about the Panthers wide receivers.
The Amazon series about the 2015 Cardinals season comes out on Friday.
The 49ers will hold a practice at Kezar Stadium in August.
Pondering whether the Seahawks should alter DL Michael Bennett’s contract.
Former Lions cornerback Stanley Wilson II said Thursday he was “happy to be alive,” but that might have just been because he was wearing clothes.
According to Francesca Fontana of the Oregonian, Wilson was released from the hospital Wednesday and arraigned Thursday, facing felony burglary and misdemeanor trespassing charges. He was shot last week while trying to break into a Portland house, and when police found him, he was naked in a water fountain.
The 33-year-old Wilson was shot in the abdomen by the homeowner.
Unlike his burglary outfit, Wilson was wearing a dark gray suit to court Thursday. He posted $54,500 bond and was released. The judge ordered him to not go within 500 feet of the home he was breaking into, which seems like a moot judge’s order since the last time he went there he was shot and found naked. His next court appearance is July 15.
The former third-round pick out of Stanford is the son of former Bengals running back Stanley Wilson, who famously missed a Super Bowl after a cocaine binge the night before the game.
Former NFL quarterback Jake Plummer recently called Cowboys owner Jerry Jones a “billionaire a–hole” over Jones’s contention that a link between football and CTE has not been proven. With some time to think about it, Plummer softened that stance.
Plummer said on FOX Sports 910 Phoenix that he wishes he hadn’t expressed his thoughts about Jones quite so colorfully.
“I was in a passionate moment at that time . . . sometimes I might not think everything through clearly,” Plummer said. “It came out, I said it, I’ll own it, I’ll stand by it. I don’t know Jerry Jones personally enough to call him that, which is probably why I shouldn’t have used that word. But, for him to say those things about the absurdity of a link between CTE and brain trauma – it points to a guy who’s trying to protect his investment or is completely out of touch with reality.”
Plummer, who has been advocating for allowing players to use medical marijuana to deal with pain caused by football injuries, stands by that stance. He just wishes he had approached the matter differently.
“I probably didn’t do well by calling him what I did, but hey it’s what happened at that moment and people are talking about it which is a great thing,” Plummer said. “Ultimately we want to save the game, we don’t want to fight the NFL over this, we just want to help keep the game that we all love to watch, and I loved to play. Keep it alive.”
The NFL has so far been unwavering in its view that marijuana is a banned substance for players, whether used medicinally or recreationally. Plummer is going to keep fighting on that front, but he’ll probably stop calling owners a–holes.
There was a bunch of interest in wide receiver Duron Carter in early 2015 when Carter decided to leave the Canadian Football League for the NFL, but he never actually played in an NFL game.
Carter is back in the CFL, and he’s back in the headlines. After catching a touchdown pass Thursday night for the Montreal Alouettes, Carter took to the other team’s sideline to celebrate.
Before long, he bumped Ottawa Redblacks coach Rick Campbell near the Ottawa sideline, and Campbell ended up on the ground. It didn’t appear Carter reached out or really went out of his way to strike Campbell when Campbell confronted him, but Carter was on the wrong sideline.
The Twittersphere made sure Carter’s antics were viewed widely, and quickly. Several Redblacks players chased Carter down the sideline, and some made physical contact with him.
Thursday night CFL is apparently must-see TV.
Carter is the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter. After signing a three-year deal with the Colts in the winter of 2015, Duron Carter ended up getting cut at the end of the 2015 preseason and spent the whole season on the practice squad. The Colts didn’t offer him a futures contract after the season, and he went back to Montreal.
Former NFL cornerback C.J. Spillman was convicted of sexual assault on Thursday stemming from a 2014 incident at the Cowboys’ team hotel when Spillman played for Dallas.
According to Claire Z. Cardona of the Dallas Morning News, a jury found Spillman guilty in under two hours in a trial that began on Monday in Fort Worth, Tex.
The second degree felony sexual assault charge carries a sentence of between two and 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Friday.
Spillman was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Tex. on Sept. 20, 2014. Spillman wasn’t officially charged until June 30, 2015 and Spillman played the remainder of the 2014 season with the Cowboys while charges were pending.
Spillman admitted to having sex with the woman but claimed it was a consensual encounter. The jury disagreed.
He has not been on an NFL roster since the conclusion of the 2014 season.
There’s still a little more than four weeks before the Texans open training camp, and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus says he’ll be ready to go when the Texans take the field.
Mercilus has been battling a hamstring injury, but he told the Houston Chronicle that with extra treatment and rehab, he plans to be on the field in late July.
“I’m feeling good, starting to get healthy,” Mercilus said.
Mercilus said he plans to go to Los Angeles in early July to visit a specialist with whom he’s previously worked. The injury kept Mercilus on the sideline during the Texans’ spring on-field work.
The AFC’s Defensive Player of the Month last December, Mercilus has become a key part of what could be a very good Texans defense. He had a career-high 12 sacks last season and also recovered two fumbles.
Both by necessity and later because the Ravens were playing for the future, tight end Maxx Williams had a busy rookie season.
Heading into 2016, though, Williams sees a crowded tight end situation. Veteran Ben Watson was signed in March, and quarterback Joe Flacco is hoping one of his favorite targets, Dennis Pitta, will be able to return from injury. If everyone is healthy, Williams could find himself fighting for snaps, but he’s saying the right things about welcoming the chance to work with Watson and Pitta.
“It really helps having the veterans here; it really gives me a chance to learn from them and see what made them successful,” Williams said, per the Ravens’ official website. “It’s nice seeing those guys practice every day so you can take what they have and build off that.”
Williams said the Ravens tight ends have asked themselves, “What’s wrong with having the best tight end group in the NFL? We’re going to work to make each other better and then figure it out going into the season.”
Williams played in 14 games last season, starting seven. That’s probably more game action than the Ravens anticipated Williams, a second-round pick in 2015, getting as a rookie.
He just turned 22 in April, but he set franchise rookie records last fall with 32 receptions for 268 yards. With Watson in the fold and Pitta and Crockett Gillmore trying to get healthy, Williams knows he may have to wait his turn but said he’s comfortable with his surroundings and confident in his abilities.
“It’s nice knowing what to expect every day,” he said. “Last year, I went into every day not knowing what was going to happen. This year there’s a lot of that stress off now that I’ve been through it. Now it’s really about football and focusing on your game to get better every day.”