Sports Illustrated’s legal analyst Michael McCann gives his take on the Aaron Hernandez charges. Cases move fast in Bristol according to McCann.
ProFootballTalk: McCann on Hernandez case
A few hours after the family of late Hall of Famer Frank Gifford released a statement that said Gifford was found to have suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement of his own that said the league continues to work to try to prevent concussions, to understand more about CTE and to make football safer for all who play it.
“This work will continue as the health and safety of our players remains our highest priority,” Goodell’s statement said. “We have more work to do — work that honors great men like Frank Gifford.”
Gifford, who played long before the NFL acknowledged the potential problems arising from concussions, once missed more than a full season after being knocked out by Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik. Gifford died last summer at 84.
Goodell’s statement said Gifford “exemplified everything good about our game throughout his years of extraordinary accomplishments, both on and off the field.
“We appreciate the Gifford family’s desire to help the medical community understand more about CTE, and we are grateful for their support of the league’s efforts to improve safety in our game. At the NFL, we are supporting grants to NIH and Boston University as well as other independent efforts to research the effects of repetitive head trauma.
“But we are not waiting until science provides all of the answers. We are working now to improve the safety of our game. The NFL has made numerous rules changes to the game, all to enhance player health and safety at all levels of football. These include 39 rule changes and better training and practice protocols that are yielding measurable results.”
Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey is out of surgery and will spend the next 3-5 days in intensive care, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Wednesday afternoon.
Bailey’s “doctors are hopeful,” Rapoport tweeted. Bailey was shot in the head and shoulder Tuesday night in Miami.
Rams Coach Jeff Fisher announced later Wednesday that Bailey is in stable condition after 4-6 hours of surgery.
A Rams statement released early Wednesday morning said Bailey was in critical but stable condition. Rapoport reported Tuesday night that the driver of the car in which Bailey was riding was shot multiple times.
The Packers had to turn to JC Tretter at center after Corey Linsley left last Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and they may be turning to him from the opening snap against the Bears on Thursday night.
Linsley did not practice at all during this abbreviated week of work for the Packers and has been listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game. On Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy sounded comfortable going with Tretter if that’s the way things play out.
“[Tretter] was one of the offensive game ball winners for his performance in Minnesota,” McCarthy said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I think any time you lose a center or a quarterback, those guys handle the football on every single play, and for the player caller, for Tom Clements to be able to just keep calling the ball and for Aaron to be able to get in and out of the plays that he needed to and not even blink, I think it says a lot about JC Tretter and his preparation and our ability just to stay the course.”
The Packers have ruled out wide receivers Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery while defensive backs Micah Hyde and Damarious Randall join Linsley and defensive tackle Mike Pennell with questionable tags.
The Lions didn’t rule anyone out of Thursday’s game against the Eagles, but they did list a couple of key players as questionable for their effort to extend their winning streak to three games.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson drew the listing due to the ankle injury that he’s been dealing with for the last few weeks. There hasn’t been any indication out of Detroit that he could miss the game and he’s been listed as questionable the last two weeks before playing against the Packers and Raiders.
Cornerback Darius Slay is also questionable. He has a neck injury, but was a limited participant on Tuesday and practiced without limitations on Wednesday. Slay is coming off a very strong game against Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper and has been a big part of the improved defensive play in Detroit’s recent victories.
But he doubled down Wednesday, saying the 49ers are in better hands with Blaine Gabbert on the field.
“That’s not to take anything away from Kaepernick, but it seems like Gabbert has a little bit better grip on what’s going on,” Mathieu said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “If he gets in a situation, he knows where the ball needs to go. He’s a hell of a passer. I think he’s underrated when you talk about how well he can throw the football.
“I think he gives them a better option going forward. It seems like the wide receivers are more involved. So it looks like they’re doing all right.”
While it seems strong considering it’s Blaine Gabbert, Real American we’re talking about, Mathieu touched on some valid points.
Gabbert has completed 62.7 percent of his passes in two games, has only thrown two interceptions, and put up a passer rating of 88.9. Kaepernick completed 59.0 percent of his passes, and was carrying a 78.5 rating when he was benched.
Kaepernick was clearly struggling this year, and Mathieu said it doesn’t appear it will be as easy to bait Gabbert into making bad throws.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mathieu said. “[It] seems like he takes care of the football way better. If he gets into a situation where he feels pressure, he’s not just going to give the defense an opportunity to make a play. . . .
“You don’t pick up those same things with Gabbert. He’s better in the pocket. He has a better feel for coverages. It seems like he can get to the line and see a coverage and then go to a different play. Or, see a coverage and not throw the ball. You can see Gabbert’s maturity and the different things he does well that Kaepernick doesn’t do well.”
While Gabbert has done some good things, it’s probably too soon to put too fine a point on what his better-than-Kaepernick play means on the whole.
But the fact that an opponent is so open about the difference speaks to how far Kaepernick has fallen, and how fast.
The Jets have lost four of their last five games, hurting their position in the race for an AFC Wild Card spot with six games left to play in the season.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has played poorly in their last two losses to the Bills and Texans, which led to questions for coach Todd Bowles about a potential quarterback change for this week’s game against the Dolphins. Bowles is sticking with Fitzpatrick, but the quarterback did something this week in hopes of changing his fortunes.
It’s not an on-field tweak, however. Fitzpatrick reported to work on Wednesday without the familiar beard — best described as the look of someone trapped in a well for several weeks — he’s sported all season.
“Just seemed like it was time to switch up the mojo a little bit,” Fitzpatrick said, via the team.
We’ll see whether it has the desired effect on the field, but one upside is that Fitzpatrick is unlikely to wind up finding Thanksgiving leftovers under his facial hair while trying to call a play against the Dolphins on Sunday.
Josh McCown has had a long NFL career and been signed by a number of teams because he’s athletic enough and smart enough to make a few plays, as he showed in his successful stint in Chicago.
But he’s been able to hang around because he’s great in the locker room, and the kind of leader teams want in the organization regardless of his role.
And now that his role has changed again, he showed it again.
McCown sounded practically chagrined to be back in the starting role for the Browns, because he got the job back because of the team’s disappointment with Johnny Manziel’s bye-week partying.
“You never want to regain a job this way,” McCown said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Any teammate, you’d be disappointed for them. You want the best for people.”
At this stage, the question will become whether Manziel himself is willing to take the steps necessary to earn the team’s trust back. But McCown said he was encouraged by what he saw from Manziel this morning in meetings.
“It’s a credit to Johnny,” McCown said. “He came to work this morning and took notes and did everything he was supposed to do.”
If Manziel wants an example of the way he needs to handle himself moving forward, he can also look across that quarterback meeting room at McCown, who has stayed in the league 13 years by being mature and responsible as much as able to make plays.
The Raiders signed linebacker Aldon Smith after he was released by the 49ers and now the 49ers have added a former Raiders linebacker to their roster.
The team announced Wednesday that they have claimed Ray-Ray Armstrong off of waivers a day after the Raiders parted ways with the three-year veteran. Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who tore his ACL last Sunday, was placed on injured reserve in a corresponding move.
Armstrong played in all 10 Raiders games this season and started the first two weeks of the season before moving into a reserve role. He had 21 tackles and a sack.
Armstrong also landed in the news this season in relation to a law enforcement investigation into taunting a police dog in Pittsburgh. Armstrong allegedly lifted his shirt, pounded his chest and barked at the dog before telling the dog’s handler to let it off the leash, but authorities found his actions were not malicious.
The Colts won without Andrew Luck last week and they’ll try to do it again against the Buccaneers this week, but Luck said Wednesday that he doesn’t think they’ll have to play without him for the rest of the 2015 season.
In his first meeting with the media since suffering a lacerated kidney and abdominal tear against the Broncos earlier this month, Luck said he was “very confident” that he will return to action this year. Word at the time of the injury was that Luck would miss between two and six weeks and Sunday will mark three weeks since he was injured, but there was no word from the quarterback about a timetable for return.
Luck also weighed in on coach Chuck Pagano’s belief that he can’t keep playing quarterback as if he’s a linebacker. Luck was injured on a run against the Broncos that ended with linebacker Danny Trevathan and defensive end Vance Walker hitting him and agreed that he needs to work on getting down to the turf to avoid such hits in the future.
“Part of it I brought upon myself by not sliding in certain situations,” Luck said, via the Indianapolis Star. “There’s a time and place for taking a hit. I’m not going to apologize in that sense because sometimes it is appropriate. But sliding is something I need to improve on, we’ve talked about that before. It’s no secret.”
For now, though, he’ll be resting and waiting for his organs to recover so that he can return to the field for what the Colts hope will be a fourth playoff trip in a row.
[Editor’s note: FanDuel is an advertiser of PFT and PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. Also, NBC Sports has an equity stake in FanDuel.]
On Wednesday, Judge Manuel Mendez heard arguments in the effort to secure a finding that daily fantasy violates New York law. According to Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Daily, Judge Mendez said a decision will come “very soon.”
The question is whether Judge Mendez will issue a preliminary injunction banning daily fantasy in New York pending the resolution of the litigation regarding whether daily fantasy violates New York law. Via Fisher, the New York Attorney General’s office argued (while reading exclusively from a script) that daily fantasy is gambling because the players have no control over the outcome of the game, and that it’s essentially an alternative method for betting on sports.
Well-known attorney David Boies, who represents DraftKings, argued that the Attorney General’s office made a fatal error by targeting daily fantasy only and not season-long fantasy, given the similarity of the games. He also argued that daily fantasy requires even more skill than season-long fantasy, that the Attorney General’s office is essentially trying to “destroy” DraftKings’ business, and that it would be extraordinary to shut down daily fantasy without giving DraftKings and FanDuel a full day in court to develop evidence and to make arguments.
Via Fisher, the Attorney General’s office also pointed to the prevalence of DFS ads and the social ills that can arise from wagering money on these activities. FanDuel’s counsel responded by pointing out that state-sponsored lotteries create the same potential problems.
The hearing comes only a few days after Commissioner Roger Goodell explained that the NFL sees a “big distinction” between season-long fantasy and DFS, and that “[s]eason-long fantasy is [what] many people probably play in this room and it’s fun, it’s social, it’s an opportunity to enjoy the game,” via USA Today. “We encourage our kids to do it and they have clubs at school and it’s a way to connect people. And we think that’s a wonderful way. Daily fantasy’s taken a little different approach, and it’s one that we have not been as active in that. We want to make sure that we understand how it’s going to be done.”
The first question is whether it will be done, as in finished. If outlawed in New York, other stats could follow suit — and the entire industry could disappear.
Earlier this year, Hall of Famer Frank Gifford died at the age of 84. His family has now announced that a team of pathologists has determined that Gifford suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.
“While Frank passed away from natural causes this past August at the age of 84, our suspicions that he was suffering from the debilitating effects of head trauma were confirmed,” says the statement from the Gifford family.
“During the last years life Frank dedicated himself to understanding the recent revelations concerning the connection between repetitive head trauma and its associated cognitive and behavioral symptoms — which he experienced firsthand,” the statement adds.
Gifford played decades before the NFL acknowledged the potential problems arising from concussions and subconcussive hit. Gifford once missed more than a full season after being knocked out by Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik.
Under the pending NFL concussion settlement, the posthumous diagnosis makes Gifford’s estate eligible for compensation from a pool that the league has agreed to fund without limitation.
The Chargers have had more bad injury news this season than they’d care to think about, but they got some good news on Wednesday with wide receiver Malcom Floyd’s return to the field.
Floyd suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder while trying to catch a pass in a game against the Bears earlier this month, but has been rehabbing it in hopes of making it back this season. Floyd announced early in the season that this would be his final NFL season and said the plan remains in place after being injured.
It would make for a nice ending for Floyd to be on the field for the final weeks of his career and the Chargers could definitely use all the help they can find for their injury-riddled roster as they try to pull themselves out of a six-game losing skid that has all but guaranteed them an early draft pick next year.
The Bears ruled Bennett out of the game on Wednesday because of injured ribs. Bennett was listed as a non-participant in Monday’s practice and limited in Tuesday’s session. Zach Miller and Khari Lee are the other tight ends on Chicago’s 53-man roster.
Forte was listed as questionable, as was wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery missed last week’s game with a groin injury and said Tuesday that he hopes to make it back to the lineup on Thanksgiving, although he knows he won’t play “if the training staff sees how I feel and I don’t feel too well.”
Linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Antrel Rolle are also questionable due to knee injuries. Rolle did not play last week while McPhee returned to the lineup after missing Week 10. Wide receiver Eddie Royal and running back Ka’Deem Carey have been ruled out.
The Chiefs will try to keep their four-game winning streak going against the Bills this weekend in a game that looms large for the playoff hopes for both teams.
It doesn’t sound like running back Charcandrick West has a high likelihood of helping the Chiefs in their effort. West, who took over the lead role in the run game after Jamaal Charles was lost for the season, injured his hamstring in last Sunday’s rout of the Chargers, didn’t return to the game and didn’t take part in the team’s practice on Wednesday.
Coach Andy Reid said, via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, that West has “a chance” of playing against Buffalo while adding that he has full confidence in Spencer Ware and Knile Davis handling the workload in the backfield. Ware did a lot to create that confidence by running 11 times for 96 yards and two touchdowns last Sunday.
The Patriots haven’t clinched a playoff berth just yet, but they may do it as soon as Sunday. And they may clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs soon after that.
At 10-0, the Patriots have a whopping five-game lead in the AFC East, and a two-game lead over the rest of the conference. New England can clinch the AFC East with a win and a Jets loss on Sunday, and New England can also open up a three-game lead in the conference with only five games to play, if the Patriots beat the Broncos and the Bengals get upset by the Rams.
So barring something unforeseen, the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC will go through New England. Here’s how the whole conference shapes up:
1. Patriots (10-0): They may not go 16-0, but they’ll be heavy favorites in all of their remaining games.
2. Bengals (8-2): Cincinnati owns the conference record tiebreaker with the Broncos for now, but the real tiebreaker between the two will be settled when they meet on December 28.
3. Broncos (8-2): The Broncos’ schedule isn’t easy, with remaining games against the Patriots, Bengals and Steelers.
4. Colts (5-5): Indianapolis has the head-to-head tiebreaker edge over Houston in the AFC South.
5. Steelers (6-4): Pittsburgh probably can’t catch Cincinnati in the AFC North, but the Steelers have the inside track on the wild card race.
6. Chiefs (5-5): Kansas City wins the tiebreaker over Houston and Buffalo based on winning percentage in conference games.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
7. Texans (5-5): Houston has looked like a mess for much of this season, but the Texans still have a real shot at winning the AFC South.
8. Bills (5-5): Buffalo owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Jets.
9. Jets (5-5): After winning four of their first five, the Jets have now lost four of their last five.
10. Raiders (4-6): A three-game losing streak has Oakland looking like a long shot.
11. Jaguars (4-6): Jacksonville is only a game out in the AFC South and has an easy schedule the rest of the way. It wouldn’t be a shock to see a playoff game in Jacksonville.
12. Dolphins (4-6): Their brief turnaround under interim head coach Dan Campbell now feels like a long time ago.
13. Ravens (3-7): The Joe Flacco injury ends any glimmer of hope they had of a late-season playoff push.
14. Browns (2-8): Just playing out the string, and now they won’t even get a long look at Johnny Manziel.
15. Chargers (2-8): At this point San Diego is just trying to get enough healthy players to finish the season.
16. Titans (2-8): Tennessee is only three games out in the AFC South, but there’s no realistic chance of the Titans making the playoffs.