At a time when the Dolphins and every other team want to see as many paying customers as possible regardless of fan affiliation, receiver Brian Hartline has a message for folks inclined to attend games at Miami’s Sun Life Stadium: We don’t want New York fans.
Hartline doesn’t want New York fans at Sun Life Stadium
Bears cornerback Tracy Porter exited today’s game against the Chiefs with what appeared to be a head injury.
Porter, the Bears’ most experienced defensive back, was attempting to tackle Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris when he was accidentally kneed in the back of the head by Bears safety Harold Jones-Quartey. Porter stayed on the ground for a few minutes and was attended to by the medical personnel before eventually getting up and slowly walking to the sideline under his own power. He was then escorted to the locker room. The Bears confirmed that he is being evaluated for a possible concussion.
The head injury will likely put Porter in the NFL’s concussion protocol. His preseason was probably over anyway, as starters rarely play in the fourth preseason game, but the Bears will now have to hope he’s cleared in time for the start of the regular season, two weeks from tomorrow.
The 30-year-old Porter is in his second season in Chicago. He started 13 games for the Bears last year.
Twenty years ago, the NBA suspended a player who refused to stand for the national anthem. The NFL will not be doing the same thing.
“Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem,” the NFL said in a statement issued Saturday, in response to the controversy that emerged when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted not to stand during the playing of the national anthem on Friday night in Santa Clara, prior to a game against the Packers.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick has since said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The NBA based its suspension of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf on a rule that requires players to stand during the playing of the national anthem. The NFL has no such rule, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement is silent on the subject.
And so Kaepernick and any other player has the right to not stand during the national anthem. Whether other players will follow Kaepernick’s lead remains to be seen.
The Browns may have “no intent” to trade receiver Josh Gordon, but they reportedly will do so in exchange for a second-round draft pick. That’s precisely what they rejected for him in 2013.
As Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer explained two years ago, the Browns turned down during the 2013 season the chance to deal Gordon for a second-round pick. The team (believed at the time to be the 49ers) essentially would have been giving back to the Browns the second-round pick that they used in the 2012 supplemental draft.
Via Cabot, former Browns CEO Joe Banner and former Browns G.M. Mike Lombardi wanted to do the deal, but others (including coach Rob Chudzinski) wanted to keep Gordon.
It was also believed at the time, as PFT consistently has heard, that owner Jimmy Haslam didn’t want to trade Gordon so soon in time after trading running back Trent Richardson to the Colts. Although getting an extra 2014 first-round pick (which eventually was squandered on Johnny Manziel after a trade up to No. 22) ended up being a great move, Browns fans weren’t thrilled with the perception that the team was tanking by trading Richardson. Trading Gordon so soon after that would have only exacerbated the impression that the Browns were giving up on 2013.
In hindsight, they should have taken the second-round pick for Gordon, who missed 11 games in 2014 due to suspensions and then all of 2015. Although his performance on Friday night could increase Gordon’s trade value, it won’t be easy to get a second-round pick now. The real question becomes whether Gordon will do enough when he debuts as of Week Five to finagle a second-round offer for the Browns before the Tuesday after Week Eight.
There’s a chance the price will go up, and it’s clear that the Browns (despite what they say) would like nothing more than to turn current assets into future draft picks, since they surely realize that it makes more sense to build for a brighter future than to tilt at windmills in the present.
Now that everyone knows: (1) that Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been standing for the national anthem; and (2) that he’s doing it because he refuses to “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” the next question is how other NFL players will react to the gesture.
Plenty of people are reacting to Kaepernick’s First Amendment right to protest the flag by exercising their First Amendment right to protest him. For now, no teammates or peers have spoken up.
When they do — and, inevitably, they’ll be asked about it, what will they say?
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who spoke out last month against prominent NFL players who “are just sitting back, taking the dollars, whether it’s Cam Newton, all these guys. They’re not really on the forefront of trying to change what’s going on.” Although Bennett later walked back his remarks, Bennett may embrace Kaepernick’s gesture, since he’s the first guy who is both “taking the dollars” and taking a stand.
What will others do or say? The fact that Kaepernick currently is on track to be sitting for a lot of regular-season games than the pregame flag ritual will dilute the message. The possibility that the 49ers will decide to move on from Kaepernick based ostensibly on football reasons (which already were pointing to a divorce) will undermine his message even more.
For now, it’s unlikely that other players will stand with Kaepernick by sitting during the national anthem. But until other players chime in — and until more NFL games happen — it’s impossible to know whether Kaepernick’s peers will view the incident as an inspiration or an aberration.
So why didn’t Colin Kaepernick stand during Friday night’s playing of the national anthem? If there was any ambiguity following his Thursday retweet linking the American and Confederate flags, there should be none now.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
As others have noted (and as PFT was informed when first becoming aware of the issue of Friday), Kaepernick hasn’t stood for the playing of the national anthem at any of his team’s three preseason games. Last night the gesture was noticed because, for the first time this year, he was wearing a uniform bearing his name and number.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” Kaepernick said. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. . . . If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Because Kaepernick currently seems to be in the process of having his football taken away for football-related reasons, his decision will create less drama than if he had made it, say, three years ago, when people like Ron Jaworski were providing the ESPN washing machine days of content by declaring that Kaepernick could be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Currently, he’s a starter who already was in an awkward posture as a member of an organization that seemed to be looking for a way to unload him via trade without hurting its leverage by sharing its true feelings about him.
The broader question becomes whether other players will become inspired by Kaepernick’s gesture and follow suit. It’s one thing for Kaepernick not to stand. It’s quite another if other players who actually will be, you know, playing this year do it.
For many people, the letter N-F-L and U-S-A are synonymous. And for good reason. Pro football and America have become fully intertwined, with the league constantly embracing patriotism, the military, and all of the basis tenets and ideals of being an American. Week One typically entails the display of gigantic, full-field flags held up by hundreds of people. The flag decal appears on the back of every helmet.
Heck, The Shield looks like it was cut straight from the cloth of the handiwork of Betsy Ross, with stars on a blue field and letters fashioned by rearranging the red stripes.
And so the same First Amendment right that allows Kaepernick to sit during the national anthem and to retweet a message claiming that there is no difference between the American and Confederate flags empowers anyone and everyone to criticize Kaepernick for his position. It also allows the NFL to say something, if it chooses to.
For now, only the 49ers have spoken, providing a measured statement respecting Kaepernick’s ability to not participate in the pregame ritual of honoring America and the flag to which every school kid pledges allegiance, every day. The NFL hasn’t spoken yet, but surely will.
So the question becomes what will the NFL say? Twenty years ago, the NBA suspended Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf indefinitely for refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem.
That punishment came from a clause in the NBA rule book requiring players to stand for the anthem. The NFL, per a source with knowledge of the situation, believes there is no similar mandate that applies to its players.
It was his play, however, that covered the bad and the ugly.
After a pretty nightmarish night against the Patriots, the reigning MVP summed it up in the two most appropriate words: “It’s preseason.”
Newton was 13-of-29 passing for 100 yards and two interceptions, missing high when he missed (as he does when he hurries) but it was hardly all on him. The Panthers receivers took their turns dropping catchable balls, tipped balls became interceptions, and there were numerous mistakes that stood out because they had been so polished previously.
“Well, we took our turns making mistakes and any time that happens, you know you’re going to get those kind of results,” Newton said in comments distributed by the team. “There’s no need to panic. It just comes down to having a good week of practice and the truth of the matter is that we played a great team. You know, great players who are coached extremely well and they are very stingy. That’s all it comes down to.
“We will be better from this. I’m glad it happened. I’m not glad we lost but I’m just glad that we had an understanding that we’re not that good yet. We will be better.”
It was bad enough Ron Rivera alluded to the possibility of having starters play in Thursday’s preseason finale, though that might be an extreme reaction to what was simply an off night for the league’s highest-scoring offense. But even when asked about the absence of veteran tight end Greg Olsen Friday night, Newton said the responsibility fell to him.
“We know we’re going to have a great week of practice and it’s just eye-opening,” Newton said. “Like I said, there is no need to panic or press the panic button. But for us, we do need better production from everybody including myself. There were times in the game where I forced certain things where I shouldn’t have and I just have to be more mature and have more understanding of the offensive just to check it down, and let guys do what they do.”
Whether they play in the meaningless fourth preseason game or not, the Panthers have another significant test in two weeks at Denver. And if they want to avoid a repeat of their last meeting with the Broncos, they have a lot of issues to fix.
The Falcons might have avoided the worst-case scenario news with safety Keanu Neal’s knee injury.
But they’re making backup plans as well.
Goldson was released in March by Washington, and has had a few sniffs here and there. The 31-year-old former 49er and Buccaneers safety may be past his prime, but the Falcons might not be able to afford to be picky at the moment.
Neal’s having knee surgery after being injured Thursday night, and is expected to miss three or four weeks. The rookie from Florida was heading up a pretty thin depth chart at the position anyway, so bringing in reinforcements is reasonable.
The 2016 college football season kicked off in Australia with Cal facing Hawaii, and the game drew enough interest that the NFL may consider a game Down Under as well.
Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin told the Sydney Morning Herald that the NFL has been monitoring fan interest.
“Obviously [the NFL] are paying attention to this,” he said. “I think it’s a possibility. I think you have the facilities and the sports enthusiasts, so it’s a real good place for sporting events.”
With 61,247 fans attending the game in Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, the NFL is surely confident that it could sell out a game in Sydney. And the fans in Sydney showed they were willing to spend money at an American football game, with the stadium issuing an apology for not being able to meet the fans’ “unprecedented demand for food and beverage offerings, resulting in unfortunate queues,” a spokesman for ANZ Stadium said.
“We had more than 61,000 people walk into the venue just before lunchtime all wanting to eat and drink,” he said. “This created long queues that took an extended period to service. The specific demand for American-style food products that took longer to prepare – such as the 2-foot hot dogs – added to the challenges.”
The NFL’s primary market for building its fan base overseas is London, which hosts three games a year. This year a game will also be played in Mexico City, future games are planned for China, and Germany and Brazil have both been mentioned as potential hosts for NFL games. So Australia, with its population of only 24 million, is likely a lower priority, especially considering the greater logistical challenges of getting two teams there.
But Australia has shown it can host a football game, and sell a lot of tickets, a lot of beer and a lot of 2-foot hot dogs. The NFL will notice that.
On a night that was supposed to be significant for what 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did on the field, what he didn’t do while off the field will create even bigger headlines.
During the playing of the national anthem, Kaepernick sat.
The 49ers have confirmed that Kaepernick did not stand for the anthem, and they have issued the following statement.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony,” the team said in a statement issued to PFT. “It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
It’s unclear why Kaepernick sat. However, Kaepernick retweeted the following message on Thursday, which accompanied images of the American and Confederate flags: “The fact that you really believe that there is difference in these flags means that your [sic] ignoring history.”
At a time when NFL players are criticized for not speaking out on social issues, Kaepernick has provided a very significant and conspicuous gesture. As the team noted, it’s his right to do so. But given that Kaepernick opted to make a stand by sitting during the traditional pregame honoring of the country and its flag — which is so tightly woven into the DNA of the NFL — there surely will be a reaction.
At a time when the 49ers don’t know who their starting quarterback will be in 17 days against the Rams, there’s a chance they won’t know who their starting tailback will be, at least for a while.
Via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, Carlos Hyde suffered a concussion on Friday night against the Packers. He has been placed in the concussion protocol, which means that an independent neurologist will have to clear him to practice or to play.
Hyde was effective in the game, rushing four times for 30 yards — including a long of 27. He missed nine games due to injury in 2015.
After a lackluster performance on Friday night in his return to the field for the first time since being benched for Blaine Gabbert last year, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick expressed optimism regarding the possibility of reclaiming his job.
“Yeah, I think so,” Kaepernick told reporters regarding whether he thinks he can still be named the Week One starter. “I mean, that’s really up to [coach] Chip [Kelly] and the coaching staff. But in my mind I think I can go out and win it.”
Kaepernick, who completed two of six passes for 14 yards on Friday night, specifically believes he can win it by being “more productive” in the fourth preseason game. Typically, however, the starters don’t play in the fourth preseason game. So if he’s playing on Thursday night, chances are he won’t be the starter — unless Kelly decides to let Gabbert and Kaepernick continue their competition in the final preseason game.
Kaepernick added that he would have liked to have played more on Friday night, even if that meant playing behind the second-string offensive line.
“I just wanna play,” Kaepernick said.
Kelly told reporters that he has not yet set a timetable for picking a starting quarterback. The candidates are Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, and (theoretically) newcomer Christian Ponder or rookie Jeff Driskel.
Kaepernick is due to earn $11.9 million this year, fully guaranteed. He’ll also earn an extra $125,000 for each game in which he’s on the active, 46-man roster. Which gives the 49ers 125,000 to deactivate him in each and every week that he isn’t the starter.
So what will the 49ers do with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, if he doesn’t win the starting job? They can pay him not to play, they can try to trade him, or they can cut him.
As to the last option, coach Chip Kelly told reporters after Friday night’s preseason game against the Packers: “There’s never been a conversation about cutting Colin Kaepernick.”
Technically, the fact that there hasn’t been a conversation doesn’t mean that a conversation isn’t coming. It also doesn’t mean that the move won’t happen without a conversation. Ownership may simply decide to move on, regardless of what Kelly or anyone else thinks.
Regardless, it’s looking unlikely that Kaepernick will start Week One against the Rams or that, if he does, he’ll hold the job for very long.
On multiple occasions in the past, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has bedeviled the Packers. In his first game action of 2016, however, Kaepernick didn’t do much against Green Bay to gain ground on current starter Blaine Gabbert.
Kaepernick completed two of six passes for 14 yards and rushed four times for 18. The only good news for Kaepernick is that Gabbert didn’t look much better. Still, Kaepernick hardly did enough to supplant Gabbert as the starter.
At a time when a strange vibe continues to emanate from the organization and Kaepernick regarding their relationship, some (me) have speculated that Friday night was aimed in part at showcasing Kaepernick in a last-ditch effort to trade him. If, as expected, no one is interested in adding him at this stage of the calendar, the team will have to decide whether to cut him or carry him on the 53-man roster.
If he’s cut, the 49ers could save a portion of his $11.9 million guaranteed salary, since an offset would apply to whatever he makes elsewhere. If they keep him, he’ll get it all.
If he gets it all, at some point they should play him, right? The problem with playing Kaepernick is that, if he emerges from 2016 with an injury, the 49ers may not be able to cut him before next year’s base salary of $14.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on April 1.
There’s a chance, then, that they’ll put him in bubble wrap, RGIII-style, waiting for a starter elsewhere to suffer a season-ending injury but otherwise not letting Kaepernick get on the field for fear of chasing this year’s $11.9 million with another $14.5 million next year.
Regardless of how it all shakes out, the strange vibe lingers, making it hard to imagine Kaepernick ever playing another regular-season game for the team he nearly led to a Super Bowl win four years ago.
First Bryan Stork was supposed to be cut. Then Stork was supposed to be retiring. Then it was announced that Stork had been traded from New England to Washington.
But Stork still hasn’t reported to his new team, and we still haven’t heard from Stork directly whether he plans to play or not. And after tonight’s preseason game, Washington coach Jay Gruden indicated that he isn’t certain whether Stork will play.
Instead, Gruden said Stork will “supposedly” report for work tomorrow but has a “final decision” to make tonight.
From all indications, Washington still thinks Stork will be on its roster. But we don’t know that for sure yet.