Skip to content

Mike Smith: Jacquizz Rodgers can play all three downs

Talk of running back Michael Turner’s imminent departure from the Falcons is in the air and coach Mike Smith isn’t doing anything to point in a different direction.

Smith was asked about Jacquizz Rodgers at the combine this week and his answers made it clear that Rodgers isn’t just seen as a complement to the older running back any longer. Rodgers may be at the extreme end of the shorter side of the spectrum at 5-foot-6, but Smith believes that he can do everything that the Falcons need in the backfield.

“We thought he was only going to be a change of pace back,” Smith said, via the team’s website. “We found out very quickly that even though he is short, he is not little. He can handle all three downs and he does a very good job for us returning kicks.”

Rodgers’ best work came on passing downs and that will likely continue to be the best role for him when the 2013 season gets underway. Whether the Falcons opt for a free agent (Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com reports Shonn Greene is expected to be on their list) or the draft, they’ll likely be looking to pick up a player who allows them to avoid shoveling too much more onto Rodgers’ plate in the year to come.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Atlanta Falcons, Home, Rumor Mill
yo

Release of 13-year-old court document dusts off Peyton Manning incident at Tennessee

23 Sep 1995:  Quarterback Peyton Manning of the University of Tennessee stands with his father Archie Manning during the Volunteers 52-14 win over Mississippi State at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Mandatory Credit:  Jamie Squire/Allsport Getty Images

In the early days of PFT, an article emerged regarding a defamation lawsuit filed against Peyton and Archie Manning. The litigation, which arose from an allegation that the Mannings defamed a former University of Tennessee trainer in a book they had written (Peyton said that the trainer had  a “vulgar mouth”), sparked the publication of an accusation that Manning had placed his “naked butt and rectum” on the face of the trainer while she was examining him in 1996.

The longest-standing members of PFT Planet know that, from time to time over the years, we’ve used the phrase “naked butt and rectum” in reference to the story, which never caught fire in the pre-social media days of the Internet — even though the USA Today item was titled “Manning’s image could take hit in suit.” That article, which didn’t characterize the incident as a sexual assault, apparently flowed from a 74-page document filed in the defamation lawsuit. USA Today didn’t publish the full document, and it released no details beyond the reference to Manning allegedly placing “his ‘naked butt and rectum’ on [the trainer’s] face.”

Now that Peyton Manning has won his second Super Bowl and potentially will be walking off into the sunset, the same 74-page document has been sent to the New York Daily News.

The ensuing #longread from Shaun King of the Daily News is at times hard to follow, as it attempts to summarize most of the 74 pages in chronological order. Also, King’s article displays a clear anti-Peyton bias, and more than a little melodrama. This #notaslongread item comes from the 74-page document itself, which has been published in full by the Daily News.

Before going any farther, it’s important to understand what the 74-page document is, and what it isn’t. The 74-page document is a piece of advocacy. The 74-page document is something that was written by the lawyers representing Jamie Ann Naughright in her defamation case against the Mannings. The 74-page document is, necessarily, one-sided.

The 74-page document is not objective. The 74-page document is not supposed to be objective. The 74-page document is not a court order or any other decision made by a neutral party. And, ultimately, the 74-page document is incomplete without comparing it to the corresponding “Facts of the Case” document submitted by the defendants in the case.

There’s another very important, and intriguing, way in which the 74-page document is incomplete. While it contains testimony and allegations about the “naked butt and rectum” escapade, Naughright’s lawyers redacted when filing the 74-page document large chunks of information regarding an earlier alleged incident from 1994. At page 10 of the 74-page document, the lawyers for Naughright explain that, because Peyton Manning’s lawyers had asked that “certain exhibits and deposition testimony relating to this 1994 incident be designated as part of the ‘confidential record’ and not publicly be revealed,” the information absent from the public document was filed “under seal,” meaning that only the presiding judge and the judge’s staff could see it.

This means that the information about the 1994 incident was in some way more sensitive than the 1996 “naked butt and rectum” incident, which was detailed in the 74-page document, without redaction. Common sense suggests that this means the other incident possibly was more graphic and/or inflammatory and/or offensive and/or problematic for Peyton than the “naked butt and rectum” incident from two years later.

At page 14 of the 74-page document, Naughright’s lawyers tell the story of the 1996 incident, with excerpts from Naughright’s deposition regarding what allegedly occurred while she was examining Peyton Manning’s lower leg for a stress fracture.

“It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles, and the area in between the testicles,” Naughright said. “And all that was on my face when I pushed him up and off.”

The 74-page document then alleges that Manning worked with another Tennessee trainer, Mike Rollo, to “hatch a story” that Manning was “mooning” another UT athlete. That was the version, according to Naughright’s lawyers, that Peyton Manning and Rollo provided to investigators and the media, and it was the version that appeared in the Mannings’ book.

“That’s what struck me as so bizarre about the whole situation,” Peyton Manning testified in the lawsuit, “that she was distraught, she was upset, and it seemed unusual. And I think I’ve described it in here as an incredible awkward or unusual occurrence. And I have no explanations for it.”

In the 74-page document, Naughright’s lawyers then attempt to expose that the “mooning” explanation was fabricated, describing the incident instead as a “sexual assault,” with Peyton Manning “committing a disgusting act and showing his contempt for someone he did not like.” The effort to debunk the “mooning” contention includes an affidavit from the alleged recipient of the “mooning,” Malcolm Saxon, along with a December 2002 letter from Saxon to Peyton Manning in which Saxon tells Peyton “you messed up” and urging him to “take some personal responsibility” for the situation.

“Coming clean is the right thing to do!!” Saxon writes to Peyton Manning. “You might as well maintain some dignity and admit to what happened.”

The 74-page document also alleges that Peyton Manning later taunted Naughright by reenacting the incident two other times.

“Mr. Manning looked at me. The athlete was behind me. He pulled down his pants and sat on the athlete’s face,” Naughright testified as to the first incident of reenacting/taunting.

“Mr. Manning saw me,” she testified as to the second incident of reenacting/taunting, “walked over to the gentleman, pulled his pants down, and sat in the gentleman’s face while looking at me, pulled his pants back up, looked at me, and headed off to the locker room.”

The 74-page document contains other allegations aimed at showing that Peyton Manning had disdain and dislike for Naughright. The 1996 incident apparently was used against Peyton Manning in the Heisman Trophy campaign, which allegedly left him bitter. (Peyton admitted under oath that he said to Archie, “I’m not going to win the f–king trophy, read the papers, it’s going to [Charles] Woodson.”)

Also, Archie Manning allegedly made comments to the ghost writer of the Mannings’ book regarding Naughright, including an alleged statement from Archie Manning to the ghost writer that Naughright, who is white, “had been out with a lot of black guys.”

Again, the entirety of the 74-page document published by the New York Daily News was prepared by the lawyers for Naughright in connection with an effort to win her lawsuit against Peyton and Archie Manning. It’s not apparent from Shaun King’s article that he sought comment or a response from Peyton or Archie Manning. (PFT has reached out to Peyton’s agent, Tom Condon, for comment.)

It’s unclear how much traction a 13-year-old court filing regarding a 20-year-old incident will achieve, but I’ve already been alerted to the item published little more than four hours ago by at least four different people, and the article seems to be catching fire on Twitter. So there’s a chance that in this first weekend without NFL football since Labor Day, NFL fans will notice this one, even if few take the time to read all 74 pages of the document.

Permalink 46 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kevin Greene’s Hall of Fame candidacy nearly got lost in the cracks

GettyImages-323185 Getty Images

Much has been said about one key omission from the new Hall of Fame class. Let’s take a moment to talk about one key inclusion.

Linebacker Kevin Greene finally has made it, passed over for more than a decade despite being third on the all-time sack list with 160. He has more sacks that Hall of Famers Chris Doleman, Michael Strahan, Richard Dent, John Randle, Lawrence Taylor, Rickey Jackson, Derrick Thomas, Charles Haley, Andre Tippett, Warren Sapp, and Howie Long.

Greene picked up those 160 sacks in 15 NFL seasons. But he got none as a rookie, which means that he averaged nearly 11.5 sacks every year for 14 seasons.

So how didn’t he make it sooner? Appearing on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio and NBCSN, Greene suggested that, because he spent the bulk of his career with the Los Angeles Rams, he may have gotten lost in the cracks.

Greene, one of the first players to change teams via true free agency, spent three seasons with the Steelers after eight in L.A. Then came a year in Carolina, a year with the 49ers, and two more with the Panthers. (Greene called his time in San Francisco a “fart in the wind,” which also accurately describes Jim Tomsula’s lone year as head coach — in multiple ways.)

Ultimately, it was PFT’s Darin Gantt (who holds the Carolina vote for the Hall of Fame) task to make the case for Greene, and this year Greene got in.

So as many wring hands (rightfully so) for the omission of Terrell Owens, it’s time for a deep exhale on Greene — and not simply because of an effort to avoid inhaling the odors of a fart in the wind.

Permalink 29 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Super Bowl big dog Kony Ealy sued for not producing big dog

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 21: Eileen Weatherbee stands next to Obilio, a South African Boerboel, following the announcement that the Westminster Dog Show would introduce seven new dog breeds into the annual competition at Madison Square Garden on January 21, 2016 in New York City. The seven new dogs breeds are the Bergamasco, Berger Picard, Boerboel, Cirneco dell'Etna, Lagotto Romagnolo, Miniature American Shepherd, and Spanish Water Dog. (Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy is having more problems with dogs in Charlotte than he was Broncos in Santa Clara last week.

According to Michael Gordon of the Charlotte Observer, Ealy was named in a lawsuit which claims he bilked sports bar owner Kris Johnson out of $3,000 when a dog-breeding plan fell through.

The lawsuit says Ealy and his brother Danny “Dogman” Jones lured him into a plan to breed African Boerboel puppies. The dogs can grow to more than 200 pounds, and the lawsuit said Ealy and his brother told Johnson they needed $6,000 for a breeding female, promising they could make $35,000 a litter and $1 million a year.

(It sounds like they might have neglected the sheer amount of chow it takes to feed a bunch of 200-pound dogs when formulating this business plan.)

(Also, Ealy has a brother named “Dogman.”)

(Proceed.)

Johnson wrote a check for $3,000, but then the operation never came together for whatever reason, so he’s suing to get his money back.

Ealy could not be reached for comment, but attorney Kenneth Raynor said Ealy and his brother: “dispute the allegations , . . . and I plan on vigorously defending the lawsuit.”

The second-year defensive end had three sacks and an interception in the Super Bowl, raising his profile a bit, and making him a more visible target.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Super Bowl draws huge numbers in Canada, too

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers in action against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The United States isn’t the only country where the Super Bowl is a huge television draw.

According to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, 18 million Canadians watched at least part of Super Bowl 50. That represents 52 percent of the Canadian population — the same percentage of Americans who watched at least part of Super Bowl 50. Last year, Super Bowl XIL was actually watched by a slightly higher percentage of the Canadian population than of the American population.

Twice as many Canadians watched the Super Bowl as watched the Grey Cup, the championship game for the Canadian Football League.

The experiment with the Bills playing one game a season in Toronto failed, but that’s not a reflection of the level of interest in the NFL in Canada. Football is big north of the border, too.

Permalink 28 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Looming prosecution, possible paid leave will put McCoy, Bills in a tough spot

LeSean McCoy AP

Before the Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson cases of 2014, NFL players who faced criminal charges typically continued to show up for work while prosecution was pending. Except in rare cases (like Mike Vick’s dogfighting and gambling indictment of 2007, which sparked an indefinite suspension without pay), the league took no action until the court proceedings had ended.

The notorious Ray Rice video, followed four days later by the child-abuse allegations against Peterson and amid the then-lingering domestic violence case against Hardy, prompted the NFL to find a way to get Peterson and Hardy off the field without suspending them. They both agreed to be placed on paid leave at a time when they otherwise were free men who were presumed innocent.

In December 2014, the NFL codified the availability of paid leave for any players facing criminal charges. It’s a vague, discretionary process that the league uses in some cases and not in others, with no clear rules or formulas for invoking it.

As to Bills running back LeSean McCoy, who is expected to be charged with aggravated assault in Philadelphia, the league won’t be using paid leave during the portion of the calendar in which all players are on unpaid leave. At some point, however, the players will return — and the wheels of justice often grind slowly. If McCoy chooses to fight the case through trial, he could miss all of the 2016 season, but with pay.

The alternative would be to resolve the charges with a plea deal. The prosecutors will know that McCoy needs to get the case behind him in order to play, which means they’d potentially drive a harder bargain.

If McCoy pleads guilty to anything before the start of the 2016 season, he’ll then face an unpaid suspension for a baseline of six games, which can be increased or decreased based on a variety of factors.

From the team’s perspective, there’s no good solution. Already, $2.5 million of McCoy’s base salary is fully guaranteed for 2016. The remaining $2.3 million becomes fully guaranteed on March 9. A suspension would void the guarantees, and it also would allow the Bills to recover a portion of his signing bonus. Paid leave would have no impact on the guaranteed money; even if they cut McCoy now or while he’s on paid leave, they’ll still owe him the money. (That said, cutting him now would avoid the extra $2.3 million guaranteed.)

For McCoy, the question becomes whether it’s more important to play in 2016 or to maximize his earnings. He could get all of his money for 2016 but then face an unpaid suspension in 2017, if he’s convicted in the next offseason. Or he could plead guilty sooner than later and lose a large chunk of his 2016 pay after being suspended by the league.

Few will shed tears for McCoy, based on videos that seem to show him participating in an assault. Regardless, the league’s post-Rice protocols will put McCoy in a much more delicate spot than he would have been before 2014, when players who were facing charges typically played while the charges were pending, no questions asked.

Permalink 35 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

All-Pro Colts receiver Willie Richardson dies at 76

willierichardson AP

Willie Richardson, a star receiver for the Colts in the 1960s and a member of one of the most athletic families in the history of football, has died at the age of 76.

After an All-American career at Jackson State, Richardson was drafted by both the Baltimore Colts of the NFL and the New York Jets of the AFL in 1963. He signed with the Colts and became a first-team All-Pro in 1967, when he was third in the league with 63 catches and added 860 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Richardson had five brothers who played at Jackson State, and three of them played in the NFL: Gloster Richardson played for the Chiefs, Cowboys and Browns, Tom Richardson played for the Patriots and Ernie Richardson played for the Browns.

In Super Bowl III, Richardson was the Colts’ leading receiver, catching six passes for 58 yards in a loss to the Jets.

Permalink 6 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dolphins add a coach, lose a personnel executive

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 13: A Miami Dolphins helmet sits on the grass before the start of their game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 13, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins added another coach to Adam Gase’s first staff on Friday afternoon.

The team announced that Daronte Jones has been named the team’s assistant defensive backs coach. He will work with Lou Anarumo, who moved back to the defensive backs role he occupied before being named the interim defensive coordinator when Kevin Coyle was dismissed during the regular season.

Jones spent the 2015 season as the defensive backs coach at the University of Wisconsin and served in the same role at the University of Hawaii from 2012 to 2014. He’s also coached in the CFL and at lower collegiate levels since entering coaching in 2001.

The Dolphins also announced that they have parted ways with Eric Stokes, who was the team’s senior personnel executive and assistant general manager for the last two years. Stokes accompanied Dennis Hickey from Tampa Bay to Miami when Hickey was named the General Manager in 2014, but Hickey was relieved of his duties with the team last month.

Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Joe Webb fined $8,681 for Super Bowl unnecessary roughness

during their game at Bank of America Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Getty Images

The Panthers picked up 12 penalties on their way to their 24-10 loss in Super Bowl 50, including a personal foul on the final play of the game.

Wide receiver Joe Webb was flagged for unnecessary roughness at the end of a short pass completion to running back Fozzy Whittaker. PFT confirmed with the league on Friday that Webb has been fined $8,681 for the play, which is a sour cherry to put on top of an altogether unpleasant Sunday.

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive end Malik Jackson were also fined for infractions during the game.

The league also confirmed that guard Trai Turner was not fined after being penalized for unnecessary roughness at the end of a 10-yard run by Whittaker in the third quarter. Safety Tre Boston also avoided a fine after being penalized for an illegal blindside block and unsportsmanlike conduct during the game. Those are both personal fouls, which may result in an ejection if the NFL adopts a rule proposed by commissioner Roger Goodell at his Super Bowl press conference.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Dolphins cut Coples, McCain

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Allen Robinson #15 of the Jacksonville Jaguars makes a catch over Brice McCain #24 of the Miami Dolphins during a game  at EverBank Field on September 20, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Dolphins released cornerback Brice McCain and defensive end Quinton Coples Friday.

McCain lasted one season in Miami after a big year with the Steelers in 2014 helped him land $3 million in guarantees from the Dolphins on the open market.

McCain, 29, was due to make $2.5 million in 2016. He finished 2015 with one interception, 10 pass breakups and 31 tackles in 11 starts.

Coples was claimed off waivers from the Jets last November. He played in six games for the Dolphins without recording any stats.

A first-round pick of the Jets in 2012, Coples has 16.5 career sacks but had none last season.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Broncos’ Malik Jackson fined $8,681 for late hit

during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images

Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson had a big game in the Super Bowl, but he’s not getting his full paycheck from the game.

The NFL has fined Jackson $8,681 for a late hit on Cam Newton in the second quarter.

Although Jackson got a 15-yard penalty for the hit, it turned out not to be costly for the Broncos. On the next play, the Panthers gave the ball to Mike Tolbert, who fumbled the ball back to the Broncos.

Jackson scored the game’s first touchdown when he recovered Newton’s fumble in the end zone. He also tipped a pass and was in on five tackles, all of which were tops for two or fewer yards. So other than the penalty, it was a strong game from Jackson.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

B.J. Raji hasn’t talked to Packers about contract yet

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 09: B.J. Raji #90 of the Green Bay Packers watches from the bench as his teammates take on the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field on August 9, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 17-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers re-signed an impending free agent defensive lineman on Friday when they agreed to terms on a deal with Letroy Guion, but another one hasn’t heard from the team yet.

B.J. Raji told Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette that Guion’s new deal was “well deserved” and that he hasn’t started any contract negotiations with the team at this point. The Packers also extended defensive end Mike Daniels before the end of the regular season.

Guion’s deal is reportedly worth up to $11.25 million and Raji said he was “uncertain” about how that contract might impact Raji’s future with the team. Given that both players see time on the interior of the defensive line and played out last season on similar one-year deals, it’s fair to assume that there’s going to be some impact on what the Packers are willing to do to keep Raji at this point.

Raji started 17 games for Green Bay across the regular season and playoffs, which was his sixth as a member of the Packers. He had 22 tackles and half a sack in the regular season and four more tackles in the postseason.

Permalink 39 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Charles Woodson lands in Keyshawn’s seat at ESPN

Zz0wMDRmYTRlMDkzODlmNDQxZDBkMGIyMjFhMzgwY2E0OQ== AP

When word emerged that ESPN would part ways with Keyshawn Johnson after nine years with Sunday NFL Countdown, it was believed they already knew who would take his place. And Charles Woodson was believed to be on the short list.

He was. And he’s now on the even shorter list. Woodson has the job, according to Jason McIntyre of TheBigLead.com.

The 1997 Heisman winner (beating out the likes of Peyton Manning and Randy Moss), Woodson retired last month after 18 NFL seasons with the Raiders, Packers, and Raiders again.

Per McIntyre, Woodson will join the current cast of Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Mike Ditka, and Cris Carter. However, many in the industry expect the lineup to last only one year, with even more changes coming in 2017 as the network tries to unload bloated salaries and simultaneously skew younger.

Permalink 111 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL fines Aqib Talib $26,044 for Super Bowl personal fouls

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after defeating the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib got two personal fouls in Super Bowl 50, and the NFL has fined him for both of them.

Talib was fined a total of $26,044 for facemasking and taunting against the Panthers.

The NFL suspended Talib during the regular season for an eye poke, and he’s lucky he wasn’t suspended again for his Super Bowl actions. The facemasking foul was especially egregious, and Talib admitted after the game that he did it on purpose, figuring that since the penalty was at the 3-yard line, the half the distance to the goal line penalty wouldn’t be a big deal.

When it comes to on-field misconduct, Talib is a repeat offender. The NFL will be watching him closely in 2016, and further offenses may result in another suspension.

Permalink 85 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Von Miller, Anquan Boldin to appear at Grammys

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Super Bowl MVP   Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  The Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

A pair of NFL stars are heading to the Grammys, and believe it or not, it’s not going to be Adam Jones and Antonio Brown.

The league announced that Super Bowl MVP Von Miller and Walter Payton Man of the Year Anquan Boldin will appear during Monday night’s awards show for the music industry.

Miller and Boldin will introduce a performance by Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt, taking a victory lap for the honors they earned last week.

Of course, it would be a lot more interesting if Brown had actually been nominated for a Grammy, as Jones suggested he should have been for “faking” a concussion after a hard shot to the head from Vontaze Burfict.

Permalink 8 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mike Carey’s problems come more from form than substance

161009162 Getty Images

In many jobs, the ability to perform successfully hinges on the ability to communicate effectively. For anyone who appears on TV (and speaks while doing so), the ability to communicate well becomes critical.

For oft-criticized CBS officiating expert Mike Carey, his actual or perceived struggles in the job have much more to do with his ability to communicate than his ability to accurately predict the outcome of replay reviews.

Two years ago, when I heard that CBS had hired Carey, my reaction was this, “Good move. He communicates very well as a referee.  He’ll be perfect for the job.”

During the 2014 season, Carey’s first on the job with CBS, the differences in communication requirements for the two jobs became obvious.

A referee communicates in narrow, short, tightly-constructed sound bites: “Holding. Offense. Number 65. 10 yard penalty. Still first down.”

It’s a small universe of possible messages that converts most referees (i.e., anyone not named Ed Hochuli) into the human equivalent of Woody from Toy Story. That’s why Hochuli’s verbosity gets noticed. He’s not a doll with a string who quickly declares “there’s a snake in my boots” and shuts up. He strays from the script, often extremely far from the script. (It’s also why Ben Dreith’s “he’s giving him the business” continues to be one of the most memorable officiating moments in history.)

For the job Carey currently has, there’s no menu of phrases that get slapped together to communicate a message without often even constructing an actual sentence. For anyone who has to speak on the air in extemporaneous fashion, it takes time and repetitions to master the task of producing a clear explanation that was formulated on the fly. Through two years, Carey hasn’t mastered that skill. The real question is whether CBS will give him enough time and opportunities to do so, before eliminating the position or hiring someone else for it.

It appears that, at least for now, CBS plans to circle the wagons and stand behind Carey, despite the obvious difference between his performance that the performance of FOX’s Mike Pereira. A new interview of Carey at TheMMQB.com feels almost like part of the effort to prop Carey up, with a headline declaring that Carey has a “tough job,” introductory paragraphs that defend Carey’s 0-for-1 performance in Super Bowl 50, and a Q&A that gives him plenty of opportunities to offer excuses for his struggles.

For example, Carey at one point explains that he has fewer replay angles as a commentator than he had as a referee.

“When I’m on the field, I go to the box and I tell them exactly what I want to see, and then I tell them to freeze it or roll it slowly. When I’m on TV, I’m subject to whatever they show, so I don’t have any control there,” Carey said.

But that’s where the skill of speaking extemporaneously in a frank, self-aware way becomes even more important. Even with limited time, Carey could say something like, “Maybe the referee has access to an angle that we don’t” in order to properly gauge the expectations of the audience — and to make an eventual mistake seem like less of a mistake.

Carey also tried to compare his effort to predict rulings with efforts by others in the media to predict the outcome of games.

“[N]ot unlike all the other experts who chose who was going to win the AFC Championship, I make errors,” Carey said. “Everybody makes errors.”

He’s right that everyone makes errors (and I know that as well as aynone), but it’s not right to compare errors in picking winners to errors in analyzing the outcome of a replay review. The latter isn’t even a prediction; it’s an assessment of what the ruling should be. And the best officiating experts will make it look like their assessments are more accurate than the official NFL assessment, in the event the two differ.

With Carey, his inability to communicate beyond saying “holding, offense, number 65, 10 yard penalty, still first down,” has contributed to the impression that he’s clumsily throwing a dart, not that he’s analyzing in a persuasive, authoritative fashion what he sees — and that even if the referee explains it a different way, Carey is right and the referee is wrong.

Yes, the job is tough. Yes, the communication requirements are fundamentally different. And, yes, the fact that Mike Pereira makes it look so easy makes the job even tougher for someone who, through two full seasons, has not yet shown he’s suited for it.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top