Skip to content

Obama wouldn’t let his son play “pro football”

Getty Images

As we were preparing for the first of two potentially epic NFL conference championship games, the SportsBusiness Daily Weekend Rap arrived in the email box — and rained on the otherwise clear-skied parade of high-intensity football contests.

President Barack Obama tells the New Yorker in a new interview, “I would not let my son play pro football.”

President Obama, who made his comments while the Panthers and Dolphins play on November 24, attributed his position to recent information about the health risks of football.

“At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” Obama said.  “These guys, they know what they’re doing.  They know what they’re buying into.  It is no longer a secret.  It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”

Obama, a recovering smoker who was chewing a piece of nicotine gum while speaking, overlooks a couple of important factors in reaching his conclusion.

First, Obama doesn’t have a son.  It’s impossible to comment with any degree of reliability on what a parent would or wouldn’t do with a son unless and until said parent actually has a son.

Second, there’s a point at which parents can’t stop their kids from doing what they choose to do.  By the time the decision comes to play pro football, Obama’s non-existent son would be an adult.  If Obama Jr. wanted to play football (and if he possessed the requisite skill), Obama Jr. would be playing pro football.

Third, Obama Jr. presumably wouldn’t need to pursue football as a way of paying for college.  For children of families with lesser means, an athletic scholarship may be the only way to finance a university education.

Of course, for those who can’t pay for college, there’s always the military.  And if the Commander-in-Chief wouldn’t allow his son at the age of 21 or older to play in the NFL, what would he say if his nonexistent 18-year-old son (or his two daughters) declare an intention to join the military, which entails far greater long-term and short-term physical hazards than pro football?

Yes, football carries with it risk.  So does plenty of other activities, including driving a car — which I’d prefer that my own 17-year-old son not do.  While parents with male children have every right to harbor reservations about their sons playing football at the youth, middle school, high school, college, and/pro level, it would be nice if people in prominent positions of influence who don’t have sons would think twice before speaking in absolutes about hypothetical situations that they ultimately would have a hard time controlling.

Permalink 67 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, Rumor Mill

NFL offering research to help find safer and position-specific helmets

Getty Images

The NFL isn’t trying to get into the helmet business. But they are willing to share their concussion research with manufacturers in an effort to end up with better helmets.

NFL executive vice president of health and safety policy Jeff Miller brought Dr. Jeff Crandall, the chairman of the league’s head neck and spine engineering subcommittee to meet with reporters Tuesday at the owners meeting. And while Crandall said the science is still a few years away, the eventual benefit could be position-specific helmets in hopes of reducing the chances of concussions.

Crandall said that since different position groups already wear unique cleats or shoulder pads for the specific demands of the jobs, customizing helmets is a logical next step.

“We know that players in different positions receive different types of severity and frequency of impacts,” Crandall said. “So we think a position-specific helmet makes sense.”

For instance, linemen tend to receive lower severity hits to the head at a higher frequency than skill position players, the result of banging into each other on every snap as opposed to taking high-speed hits in the open field. So focusing the protection at the front of the helmet would be a more effective way to protect linemen.

Crandall, the director of the Center for Applied Biomechanics at the University of Virginia, said the first step is coming up with a reliable sensor to detect impacts, and the hope is that one can be found by 2018 or 2019. If that can be found, they’re willing to share the research with manufacturers, in hopes of such helmets being available by 2020.

Miller also reiterated that concussion rates were down 8.7 percent during the 2016 regular season, and down around 10 percent when you include the preseason. They also noted that there has been a 40 percent reduction in concussions suffered from helmet-to-helmet hits, which they see as evidence that rules changes are helping make the game safer. Of course, that means more concussions are coming from helmet-to-body contact, but the league hopes their research efforts can help lead to better equipment.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jason Garrett: Nothing has changed with Tony Romo


The Cowboys are still holding onto Tony Romo, weeks after they were reportedly set to release him, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said today that “nothing has really changed since the end of the season.”

Romo is keeping a low profile, but reports are starting to surface that he’s unhappy with the Cowboys, who have made Dak Prescott the starting quarterback. There have also been reports that Romo might quit playing entirely and take a television job.

With Romo’s $14 million salary this season, it seems unlikely the Cowboys would keep him around as Prescott’s backup. And Romo might just decide not to play at all if he’s not going to be a starter. But it could be months before we get any clarity about Romo’s situation. For now, Garrett says, the situation is the same as it was before: Romo is on the Cowboys, as Prescott’s backup.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Cowboys extend all 3 coordinators’ contracts

Getty Images

You get an extension.

You get an extension.

And you get an extension.

The Cowboys saw to it that all three coordinators’ contracts were extended before players convene in April for voluntary workouts. ESPN’s Todd Archer reported Tuesday that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia signed off on their agreements.

Linehan and Marinelli were entering the final year of their respective deals, per Archer.

It is unclear by how many years each coach’s contract was extended.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Eagles kick tires on CB Patrick Robinson

Getty Images

Cornerback Patrick Robinson must prove he can stay healthy before seeing another large contract.

The Eagles are providing him that chance.

Robinson agreed to a one-year deal Tuesday, the team announced. He joins Philadelphia following an injury-marred year in Indianapolis, hence his contract being of the “prove it” variety worth the veteran minimum, a source confirmed to Pro Football Talk.

The Colts signed Robinson in 2016 to a three-year, $13.5 million contract following a 16-game campaign in San Diego.

But he played only seven games, suffering a concussion in the season opener and later a groin injury that landed him on injured reserve. He has been diagnosed with multiple concussions during the past two years.

Robinson, 29, arguably was the Chargers’ most valuable off-season acquisition in 2015. He similarly arrived there on a one-year deal and showcased the versatility to contribute outside and in the nickel. He finished with 59 tackles and an interception.

In 2010, the Saints drafted Robinson in the first round out of Florida State.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first reported the contract is worth $1 million. Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice first reported a deal was imminent.

Permalink 1 Comment Feed for comments Back to top

Vikings begin push to put Jim Marshall in Canton

Getty Images

The Vikings hope that a player who once ran the wrong way with the football will end up running right into Canton.

Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf told PFT Live on Tuesday that the team has embarked on an effort to get defensive end Jim Marshall, a key member of the Purple People Eaters, into the Hall of Fame. Marshall would be eligible for consideration by the Senior Committee.

A fourth-round pick of the Browns in 1960, Marshall spent 1961 through 1979 with the Vikings, appearing in 282 straight games with 270 consecutive starts. He still holds the career record for the recovery of opponents’ fumbles with 29.

Marshall, 79, also appeared in four Super Bowls with the Vikings. Fellow Vikings defensive linemen Alan Page and Carl Eller previously made it to Canton.

Permalink 12 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Giants coach on Adrian Peterson: “Never say never”

Getty Images

The Giants were one of the first teams Adrian Peterson started flirting with, even before the Vikings let him go.

And it appears there’s at least some interest on their part.

Giants coach Ben McAdoo was asked specifically Tuesday whether they’d have interest in adding the 32-year-old running back, and he replied directly: “Never say never.”

He also said that despite his age and the fact he’s had one healthy season in the last three years, he thinks Peterson has the ability to help a team.

“He’s a guy who’s a very talented player, and he has a chip on his shoulder,” McAdoo said. “And if he can stay healthy he has a lot to offer.”

The Giants could clearly use someone who is an every-down back, as their depth chart consists mostly of complementary backs such as Shane Vereen and Shaun Draughn and 2016 fifth-rounder Paul Perkins.

Whether that guy is Peterson remains to be seen, but McAdoo’s response did nothing to stop the speculation linking them.

Permalink 17 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ex-Bengal Rey Maualuga set to visit Chiefs


Rey Maualuga just hit the market this past weekend.

He didn’t have to wait long to receive some interest.

The former Bengals linebacker is scheduled to visit the Chiefs on Thursday, according to the Kansas City Star’s Terez Paylor. Cincinnati released the 30-year-old on Saturday, one week after it agreed to terms with ex-Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter.

Maualuga made a career-low six starts in 2016.

He played in 14 games but saw 326 defensive snaps, finishing with 27 tackles and an interception. The former USC standout has spent all eight seasons of his NFL career with the Bengals.

It was time to move on.

Kansas City is an option.

Permalink 0 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Hue Jackson rules out trading No. 1 pick for QB

Getty Images

Strategically, it makes little sense for a team with the No. 1 overall draft pick — or any pick, for that matter — to eliminate the possibility of a trade. A club never knows what offer sheets may become available before the draft or even while on the clock, so it is best to stay open to all outcomes.

On Tuesday, Browns coach Hue Jackson didn’t eliminate every trade option with his top pick.

He did, however, rule out one.

Cleveland will not be swapping out its No. 1 choice to address its infamous quarterback situation, Jackson told reporters in Phoenix. He also spoke glowingly about the prospect expected to go first overall, reportedly calling former Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett a “tremendous player” who will “definitely be in the discussion.”

The Browns won’t pass up on Garrett, or theoretically a different prospect at No. 1, in a trade that nets them a quarterback.

“No,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of “I can tell you no on that one.”

Cleveland also owns the No. 12 overall draft pick on April 27.

Moving that selection for a quarterback remains on the table.


Permalink 41 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jack Del Rio doesn’t want to spend time talking about Las Vegas


Raiders coach Jack Del Rio doesn’t want to spend too much time talking to his team about the franchise’s pending move to Las Vegas.

Primarily, that’s because many of the people he’d be telling it to might never get that far.

“The reality is, I’m going to go talk to guys that may never make it, that won’t make it to Las Vegas, about Las Vegas,” Del Rio said, via Paul Gutierrez of

Of course, that’s not going to keep players from wondering what’s next, but since the team’s going to play in Oakland for at least the next two years, it’s probably best to not invest too much time with the current roster. Only three players on the current roster are under contract through 2020, which is the year they’ll move into the new stadium there. They have options for two more years in Oakland, and owner Mark Davis said playing in their current home in 2019 remains a possibility.

“Everyone needs to understand what the landscape is,” Del Rio said. “To me, once you get that part settled, then you can settle back into you job, and what you need to do. There are wives at home right now that are asking their husbands and their husbands don’t have those answers. The first thing I want them all to know is that just remember, the 30 percent rule; 30 percent of the team changes so don’t worry about what we’re going to be doing two or three years from now. Worry about taking care of your jobs now so you can be a part of that in two or three years.

“So it’s about the here and now for the actual coach, for the actual player, for the actual product we’re putting out this year. But you can’t be blind to the fact that there are families involved, there are people involved, and they need some information. And part of that will be, not yet. Not yet.”

It’s natural that players are going to wonder about their future homes, but Del Rio’s point is a valid one — if they don’t play well in Oakland the next year or two, it may not matter.

Permalink 16 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL owners extend trial period for touchbacks to 25

Getty Images

NFL kickoffs never will be the same.

If that wasn’t clear before Tuesday, it certainly appears so now.

Owners approved a one-year extension to a rule that temporarily was enacted in 2016, the league announced. The rule change follows what the NCAA introduced in 2012: Following a touchback, the line of scrimmage is the 25-yard line instead of the 20. Last season saw the touchback frequency spike from the 5-yard incentive, an effect the league sought in the name of player safety.

This temporary rule soon may become permanent.

Another year of similar data could do the trick.

NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino said last week that 39.3 percent of kickoffs were returned last season, the “lowest rate of return in NFL history.”


Permalink 9 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Owners approve 8 new rules, 4 new bylaws, 1 new resolution

Getty Images

The below playing rules, bylaws and resolution proposals were adopted by NFL clubs today at the annual meeting:

Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals

— Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.

— Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.

— Keeps in place the change of the spot of a touchback after a kickoff to the 25-yard line for the 2017 season.

— Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.

— Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.

— Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.

— Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.

— Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals

— Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility for one year only.

— Changes the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.

— The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal

— Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.

Permalink 54 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Centralized replay review proposal approved

Getty Images

The days of going under the hood are over.

According to Kimberly Jones of the NFL Network, owners unanimously approved the centralized replay review proposal.

The rule will put the replay process in the hands of NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino and his crew in New York, taking the referee on the field out of the business of reviews.

If nothing else, it could help with the league’s attempt to streamline portions of the game for broadcast purposes, but it also gives them a shot at a greater degree of consistency, which no one’s going to complain about.

Permalink 24 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL owners vote down five-yard bonus for kickoff through uprights

Getty Images

The NFL wants more touchbacks, but has voted down a rule that would incentivize them.

The league today voted against a proposal that would give the kickoff team a five-yard bonus on touchbacks that go through the uprights, putting those touchbacks at the receiving team’s 20-yard line instead of the 25.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, the proposal got 11 votes. It needed 24 votes, or support from three-fourths of the teams, to pass.

The NFL has made clear that it’s concerned about injuries on kickoff returns and wants to cut down on them. The five-yard bonus rule would do just that, as it would incentivize teams to kick deep into the end zone for a touchback, rather than kick short and try to pin opponents inside the 20. So it’s logically inconsistent for the owners to vote the rule down.

But logical inconsistencies haven’t stopped the NFL before, and it hasn’t this time, either. There will be no benefits to touchbacks through the uprights, much to the disappointment of teams that have kickers with a big leg.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL tables proposed shrinkage of overtime

Getty Images

The Competition Committee recommended to ownership a reduction of preseason and regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. The ownership has not yet embraced the recommendation.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the proposal was tabled during Tuesday’s meetings in Arizona. The source added that nine teams were opposed to the change.

By rule, 24 votes are needed to implement a rule change. Which means that nine “no” votes can block and proposed change.

It’s unclear when the matter will be revisited. Or whether another possibility (cough . . . two-point conversion shootout . . . cough) will emerge in its place.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Leaping on field goals and extra points banned

Getty Images

Field goals and extra points may have gotten a little easier today, or at least less contested.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the rule banning leaping over the line of scrimmage to block kicks has passed.

Viewed as a player-safety measure by the NFLPA, the decision cuts down on the possibility of offensive linemen being landed on, or the leapers themselves being cut for a flip when trying to hurdle the line.

A number of players voiced their displeasure with the rule when it was proposed, notably Seahawks Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor. But that wasn’t enough to compel owners.

Permalink 53 Comments Feed for comments Back to top