Skip to content

Jake Plummer mentoring Collin Klein heading into draft

Getty Images

When Jake Plummer walked away from the NFL in 2007 to devote himself to his handball career, it seemed like a long shot that he’d one day become a coach.

Life takes some strange turns sometimes, though. Plummer has done some high school coaching and he’s now tutoring Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein as Klein prepares for April’s draft.

“The coach-player relationship is unique, and I probably took it for granted when I was playing a little bit,” Plummer said, via Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post. “It’s a strange thing when you get out of playing in the NFL. There’s nothing that would make you feel the way the game does. I struggled for a while with that, but I think I can give back something, and the time just felt right.”

Klein was a sensational college player for Kansas State, making plays with his feet and his arm on his way to finishing third in the voting for the Heisman trophy. He didn’t play in a pro style offense, though, and his performance at the East-West Shrine Game raised serious concerns about his ability to make the plays necessary for success in the NFL.

Plummer might not be able to fix that, but he’s using the drills he learned from coaches like Hue Jackson and Marc Trestman to give it his best shot. If Klein does wind up panning out, he probably won’t be the last prospect to look to Jake the Snake for help on the way to the NFL.

Permalink 7 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, Rumor Mill
yo

Goodell hints at substantive changes to game broadcasts

Getty Images

Apart from an effort to speed up the pace of the game, the NFL apparently plans to explore strategies for altering the manner in which the game is presented to its fans.

“We . . . know that you feel there are too many elements in the broadcast that aren’t relevant to the play on the field,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in his Wednesday letter to fans. “With our partners, we will be looking to instead focus on content that is most complementary and compelling to you — whether that is analysis, highlights or stories about our players. All of these changes are meant to give you more of what you want: a competitive game with fewer interruptions and distractions from the action.”

That’s a broad statement, and it suggests that the league will be mandating changes to the manner in which games are televised. It’s unclear where or how an enhanced focus on “analysis, highlights or stories about our players” will fit into the presentation of a football game, since there currently aren’t many spots for doing anything other than reacting one play at a time to the things happening on the field.

It’s also unclear what Goodell means when he says there are “too many elements in the broadcast that aren’t relevant to the play on the field.”

A cynic could view that statement as part of a broader effort to ensure that the broadcasts will focus only on positive storylines, with negative aspects that may nevertheless be newsworthy or compelling receiving less emphasis in the name of taking even greater advantage of the three-hour infomercial for which the league gets paid billions every year. This particular cynic will withhold judgment on that point until more details emerge regarding the changes that will be made.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Former Patriots center Bryan Stork calls it a career

Getty Images

Once a very promising young offensive lineman, former Patriots center Bryan Stork has decided to call it a career.

“I can’t say I’m retiring because I’m only 26 but I have decided to officially step away from playing the game of football which I will always love dearly,” Stork wrote on Twitter. “While chasing a childhood dream I was very blessed I had family, friends, and coaches on my side to help me get to where I wanted to go.”

Last year Stork became the subject of an odd story in training camp, as the Patriots were reportedly poised to cut him, then traded him to Washington, before reports surfaced that he was contemplating retirement. Stork decided not to retire at that time, but he then failed his physical in Washington, nullifying the trade, and he was released. Stork tried to sign on with a couple of other teams but that never materialized, and he didn’t play last season.

Stork has had several injuries, including concussions and a neck injury. He will be remembered for starting for Florida State’s 2013 national championship team, then starting for the Patriots when they won Super Bowl XLIX a year later. He is one of only a handful of players in the history of football to start for the college national champions and the NFL champions in back-to-back seasons.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jaguars sign former Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera

Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced on Wednesday they have signed former Oakland Raiders tight end Mychal Rivera.

It’s a one-year deal with a team option for a second year according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network.

Rivera has played in 61 games for the Raiders over the past four seasons with 15 starts. Last year was his least productive year in Oakland, recording just 18 catches for 192 yards and one touchdown as Clive Walford assumed the primary pass receiving role from the position. Rivera’s career-highs came in 2014 with 58 catches for 534 yards and four touchdowns.

Rivera had visited the New York Jets earlier this week before agreeing to a deal with Jacksonville.

Rivera gives the Jaguars another veteran option at tight end to pair with Marcedes Lewis following the trade of Julius Thomas to Miami this offseason.

Rivera was high school (Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Calif.) and college teammates (Tennessee) with Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Mora misses the relationships with other his fellow coaches

Getty Images

In an extended interview with PFT Live, former Falcons and Seahawks coach (and current UCLA coach) Jim Mora addressed a wide variety of interesting topics. At one point, I asked him what he misses about coaching in the NFL.

He said he misses the relationships with his peers. While NFL coaches fiercely compete, the competition ends, for the most part, on the field. Sure, there’s often some competition when it comes to free agents. But not nearly the kind of neverending fight for talent that happens among college coaches.

Constantly, they’re trying to get players to choose their school over another one. Constantly, they’re relying upon their ability to essentially swipe a talented player from another coach. As a result, Mora said he doesn’t have the kind of relationship with his fellow coaches that he had when he coached in the NFL.

That’s just one example of the things Mora discussed. The full video is worth a listen.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Roger Goodell explains to fans how new replay system will work

Getty Images

In a move that feels a lot like a President making his case for legistlative change to the people before the House or the Senate cast a vote, Commissioner Roger Goodell has sent a letter to fans outlining various changes that will be considered by the owners next week in Arizona.

The letter from Goodell with the salutation “Dear Fans” presents the proposals in a way that suggests the changes are a done deal, even though the changes won’t be finalized until at least 24 owners vote in favor of them. This means either that Goodell has polled enough owners to conclude that at least 24 votes are coming — or that he has concluded that enough owners are on the fence to justify an effort to work the public in advance of the vote. Why else, frankly, would he feel compelled to tell the fans about the changes only one week before the changes become actual changes?

As it relates to the centralization of replay review, a topic that has been a sore point for multiple coaches and team executives who worry that this will allow the league office to make decisions aimed at reaching outcomes desired by 345 Park Avenue, Goodell outlined the new procedure that would be adopted: “Instead of a fixed sideline monitor, we will bring a tablet to the Referee who can review the play in consultation with our officiating headquarters in New York, which has the final decision. This should improve consistency and accuracy of decisions and help speed up the process.”

It also should allow Microsoft to get even more bang for its product-placement buck, with the peep-show approach replaced by an official using the official tablet of the National Football League, complete with that distinctive electric blue case.

Apart from the obvious change to the appearance of the replay review process, the new approach would result in the referee losing final say over the outcome, with the league office having the power to overrule the ruling on the field.

So why involve the referee at all? Doing so eliminates the sense that the decision is being made remotely (and possibly arbitrarily). In fairness to the league, it also allows for an extra set of eyes, which is never a bad thing. And, as mentioned above, it provides for greater integration of the Microsoft tablet into the presentation of the game. Which makes that partnership even more valuable to the league.

Especially when the time comes to put the official tablet sponsorship out for bidding.

Permalink 29 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Titans sign offensive lineman Tim Lelito

Getty Images

The Titans have made it a point to strengthen both lines, and added some depth on offense Wednesday.

According to a tweet from his agents, Saints free agent blocker Tim Lelito has signed with the Titans.

Lelito also visited with his hometown Lions, but apparently found a better deal in Nashville.

Lelito has started 24 games the last four years with the Saints, and gives them some experience in the middle after losing Brian Schwenke to the Colts.

Permalink 3 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bart Hubbuch withdraws lawsuit against New York Post

Getty Images

In roughly 99.999999999 percent of all civil lawsuits, an effort to dismiss the case is met with a vigorous effort by the plaintiff to keep the case alive. In the wrongful discharge lawsuit filed by Bart Hubbuch against the New York Post, a motion to dismiss filed by Hubbuch’s former employer apparently has prompted Hubbuch to walk away.

The official paperwork reflects a stipulated dismissal of the case with prejudice, which means that the case can’t be re-filed at some later date. While the paperwork contains no mention of the reason for the ending of the lawsuit, a spokesperson for the Post left no doubt, via statement sent by email to PFT: “In response to the . . . motion to dismiss, Mr. Hubbuch has voluntarily withdrawn his lawsuit, acknowledging his claims were frivolous.”

Dismissal notwithstanding, Hubbuch’s attorney, Scott Lucas, disputes a key portion of the statement from the Post.

“The claim was voluntarily withdrawn,” Lucas told PFT by phone on Wednesday afternoon. “There has been no acknowledgement that it was frivolous.”

The Post recently filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing among other things the falsity of Hubbuch’s contention that he wasn’t working when he posted a controversial tweet regarding the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Hubbuch’s lawsuit relied in large part on the contention that he was using Twitter “on his own time, from his own computer, and from his own home.”

The motion to dismiss sough sanctions against Hubbuch and Lucas, based on the contention that Hubbuch “has asserted that (1) his January 20th Tweet was sent on a day that was his ‘day off’ and (2) he was told that the Post had no written social media policy,” and that “[t]he documentary evidence submitted on this motion squarely proves those sworn assertions to be fabrications.” The stipulation dismissal of the case states that each party will be responsible for its own litigation costs; it’s possible that the Post offered to abandon any claim for sanctions in return for an agreement to end the case.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Chiefs bring back defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins

Getty Images

The Chiefs made one big change on their defensive line, but they’ve brought another key part back.

According to a tweet from his agent, Chiefs defensive end Jarvis Jenkins has re-signed for another year.

The Chiefs brought Jenkins in after he was cut by the Jets in November, and he provides a solid rotational option for them. They let nose tackle Dontari Poe walk out the door in free agency, and replaced him with former Eagles lineman Bennie Logan.

Jenkins was originally a second-round pick by Washington, and has also spent a year with the Bears.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Is a looser bright-line rule coming for celebration penalties?

Getty Images

Reports of a plan by the NFL to give officials discretion to determine whether the penalize teams for excessive celebrations suggests that the currently strict bright line (no going to the ground, no use of the ball as a prop) could be replaced with something much fuzzier and subjective. The end result still could be a looser standard that nevertheless carries with it a bright line.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the league may actually be getting closer to a bright-line rule that allows for consistency in the determination as to whether a foul occurred but that is less rigid than the current standard. The specifics of any such possible rule currently aren’t known.

That’s good news, if it occurs. Based on current reporting, the rule would be looser but it also would be flexible, allowing for too much interpretation — and for too many different potential rulings based on the perceptions and attitudes of 17 different officiating crews.

The source also didn’t rule out immediately the possibility of using replay review in some form to allow for oversight of decisions made regarding conduct that doesn’t happen during a play. The challenge would be coming up with the right standard, and obviously ensuring that the process would occur expediently and reliably.

The NFL has absorbed extensive criticism for stripping individuality out of the sport by prohibiting some spontaneous displays of enthusiasm following touchdowns and other significant plays. Last year, the league began the process of giving teams a wider berth, for example by not automatically flagging players making snow angels, even though that necessarily results in players going to the ground.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Felony charges against Adam Jones dropped

AP

Bengals cornerback Adam Jones isn’t out of the woods yet, but the concentration of trees in this particular forest is less dense now.

According to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com, felony charges of harassment with a bodily substance against Jones have been dropped.

That’s a long-winded way of saying spitting on a jailhouse nurse, which Jones was arrested for in January.

He still has pending misdemeanor charges of assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing official business, and will plead not guilty to those charges according to his attorney.

The Bengals have apologized to fans on his behalf, but are taking their time making a decision on what to do about it, leaving any possible punishments in the hands of the league and the local prosecutors.

Permalink 15 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Roger Goodell: Changes coming to reduce downtime in broadcasts

Getty Images

The NFL isn’t necessarily looking for shorter games But they definitely want tighter broadcasts.

Via Tom Pelissero of USA Today, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is concentrating on reducing the number of commercial breaks during games, including the dreaded commercial-kickoff-commercial stretches.

It drives me crazy,” Goodell said. “We call those ‘double-ups.’ They actually occurred 27% of the time [on kickoffs last season]. And that’s still too high for us.”

Goodell also said the league wants to change the way commercials are delivered, creating fewer breaks which last longer. Rather than the current pattern of five, six, five and five breaks per quarter, they want a standard pattern of four commercial breaks per quarter. That would push them from a minute and 50 seconds to 2:20 each, but the league believes fans notice frequency of breaks more than their duration.

The commissioner said he thinks that change and others could shorten broadcasts by five minutes. The average last year was 3:07:08, down from 3:08:18 in 2015.

“What we’re looking to do is take that down time out, which is not entertaining,” Goodell said. “And in our research, we had biofeedback, so we could see what they were watching and you could tell when they’re not as interested in what’s happening in the broadcast.

“In today’s day and age, we have to give our fans every reason to watch what’s happening, find what they see on television and in the stadium as compelling. Don’t give them a reason to turn away.”

While many other sports struggle with maintaining interest in live broadcasts in a DVR/GIF world, the league seems cognizant of how rare a commodity (people watching things live) they have, and are working to hang onto it.

Permalink 57 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Trent Richardson’s ex-girlfriend accused of purposely crashing into him

Getty Images

Last month former draft bust Trent Richardson was accused of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, who is the mother of his four children. Now there’s been another incident between the two, in which she is the accused perpetrator and he is the alleged victim.

Sevina Fatu, Richardson’s ex-girlfriend, was arrested Monday night and charged with two counts of aggravated battery and one count of criminal mischief for for purposely crashing her SUV into a car that Richardson was riding in, according to AL.com.

Richardson told police that Fatu told him, “If I can’t have you, no one can.”

In February Richardson was charged with third-degree domestic violence in connection with an incident involving Fatu. Richardson claims she attacked him and he only touched her to push her away.

Richardson was the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. After one year in Cleveland the Browns traded him to the Colts, where he lasted two years. He has tried to catch on with the Raiders and Ravens but hasn’t played in a game since the 2014 season.

Permalink 38 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tim Hightower visits Washington

AP

Tim Hightower may be preparing for a second stint in Washington.

Hightower, the free agent running back who played in Washington in 2011, is visiting the team today, according to ESPN.

Five games into that 2011 season, Hightower suffered a torn ACL. That knee injury, as well as a post-surgery infection, led him to spend the next three years out of the NFL.

But in 2015 Hightower returned to the league with the Saints, and in 2016 he bounced back in a big way, with 133 carries for 548 yards, plus 22 catches for 200 yards. Now he’s a free agent who has options, including returning to the Saints or signing with the 49ers, whom he’s also visited. Add Washington to his list of options.

Permalink 10 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi restructures deal

Getty Images

The Dolphins have been deliberate in upgrading their linebackers, but the future apparently will continue to include an expensive veteran, now that he’s not as expensive.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi has restructured his deal to stay with the team.

He was scheduled to make $4.1 million and carry a $4.8 million cap hit. Terms of the restructure aren’t known, but it’s safe to assume both those numbers are smaller now. He’s in the final year of his contract, so unless they added years, this is a pay cut.

The 30-year-old Misi has dealt with injuries in the past (he played just three games last year because of a neck injury), but can still be a productive part of a good defense.

The Dolphins signed Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons, and extended Kiko Alonso’s contract. They had free agent Zach Brown in for a visit, which likely added a little leverage to their talks with Misi.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ricky Stanzi leads the group of Spring League quarterbacks

Getty Images

More names are emerging of players who have committed to The Spring League, a six-game (games, not teams) experiment that will unfold next month in West Virginia.

Beyond the former NFL players named earlier today (Greg Hardy, Kellen Winslow, Jr., Brandon Browner, Ben Tate), more than 20 players with experience on NFL active rosters and/or practice squads will participate in the league.

The quarterback position will be represented by Ricky Stanzi, a fifth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2011 who spent several years in the league but never played in a regular-season game. Other names that you may remember include receiver Brandon Gibson, receiver Jalen Saunders, receiver David Nelson, cornerback Ellis Lankster, defensive tackle Sam Montgomery, defensive tackle Quanterus Smith, and running back Josh Robinson.

The other quarterbacks currently known include former Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason, and former Cal/Fresno State quarterback Zach Kline. They’ll need several more, given the apparent plan to field four teams.

The Spring League opens training camp on April 5. All games will be completed by April 26.

Permalink 14 Comments Feed for comments Back to top