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Josh Morgan charged with assault, days after signing with the Bears

AP

Days after he signed a contract to leave Washington and play in Chicago, new Bears wide receiver Josh Morgan was at a Washington, D.C. nightclub, where he was involved in an incident with a valet, leading to an assault charge.

Multiple reports say Morgan was arrested and faces a charge of misdemeanor simple assault.

The valet, Kenneth Johnson, told NBC Washington that Morgan hit him for looking at the women Morgan was with.

“I was just standing there and I looked up, and in the blink of an eye he just punched me right in the mouth,” Johnson said. “Instantly my mouth is bleeding profusely, just blood coming out all over my jacket and stuff. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do. . . . It’s not fair for anybody to go around punching people just doing their job. I didn’t say anything disrespectful to the lady. I didn’t look at her or sexualize her in any way. I just looked in the direction and I got hit.”

For his part, Morgan told NBC reporter Dianna Marie Russini that the whole story is bogus.

“I didn’t touch him. I didn’t anything. This is crazy. I’m not worried about nothing,” Morgan said. “I have always been a stand up guy in the community. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”

The Bears released the typical boilerplate statement.

“We are aware of Josh Morgan’s presence at a weekend incident in Washington, D.C.,” the Bears’ statement said. “We are currently gathering information to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the event.”

The 28-year-old Morgan has played the last two years in Washington. He is expected to compete for the No. 3 receiver spot in Chicago.

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Steelers expect “great deal of improvement” from tight ends

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Before the 2016 season, the Steelers signed Ladarius Green as a free agent in hopes of keeping the tight end position as a key one in the wake of Heath Miller’s retirement.

Green missed a lot of time after offseason ankle surgery, however, and ended the year in the concussion protocol, leaving the Steelers without much to show for their rare dip into the veteran free agent pool. They released Green this offseason and are moving on with Jesse James and Xavier Grimble in line for significant playing time.

James, a 2015 fifth-round pick, has 47 catches through two seasons and Grimble, who was undrafted out of USC in 2015, had 11 catches in his first regular season action last year. James said the duo is “ready to step up and make the plays we’re asked to make” and offensive coordinator Todd Haley shares that expectation.

“Jesse will be a year better with lot of playing time last year. Xavier, same thing,” Haley said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s a guy who wasn’t even sure he was going to make the team going into last year, made it and then contributed for us. They are young guys. Until you see them through that full third year, I think it should be expected there will be a great deal of improvement.”

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took issue with a report that he wanted the team to add a tight end this offseason. If James and Grimble fulfill Haley’s expectations, there probably won’t be a need to do the same in 2018.

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Report: Chiefs want to interview Louis Riddick for G.M. opening

The Chiefs made waves last week with the surprising announcement that they had dismissed General Manager John Dorsey after four years with the team.

The team’s co-directors of player personnel Mike Borgonzi and Brett Veach are expected to be candidates for a promotion, but the team will be looking outside the organization as well. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Chiefs want ESPN analyst Louis Riddick to interview for the job.

Riddick was a defensive back for several teams in the 1990s and worked in the personnel departments in Washington and Philadelphia before making the move to TV. Riddick interviewed for the 49ers General Manager vacancy earlier this year before they hired John Lynch.

Riddick said he was close to getting that job and, true or not, it looks like he’s getting another chance to make his case for running an NFL personnel department.

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Sunday morning one-liners

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Five questions for the Bills to ponder heading into training camp.

Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi did well after contact last season.

Patriots C James Ferentz’s father was on Bill Belichick’s coaching staff in Cleveland.

Jets season ticket holders shared their thoughts on the team’s direction.

A look at the highlights of RB Danny Woodhead’s first offseason with the Ravens.

Sizing up the Bengals after the completion of their offseason work.

Should fans be optimistic about the Browns?

Getting to know Steelers WR Cobi Hamilton.

Breaking down the Texans quarterbacks.

Which undrafted free agents can make the Colts?

Who would the Jaguars protect in an expansion draft?

The Titans joined USA Football in issuing grants to 33 youth football programs.

Said Broncos CB Bradley Roby, “My time is coming. I’m not really worried about that. I just want them to know that I’m a baller and when I get on that field I’m going to ball.”

Examining the appeal of the Chiefs’ General Manager job.

Raiders G Kelechi Osemele celebrated a birthday.

Chargers TE Antonio Gates threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game after his wife sang the national anthem.

A couple of things Mark Cuban hopes to bring to the Mavericks as a result of how Cowboys owner Jerry Jones runs his team.

Giants secondary coach Tim Walton has seen growth in CB Janoris Jenkins since the two men were with the Rams.

Who are the biggest bargains on the Eagles?

Projecting how things will go for the Redskins running backs this year.

RB Jordan Howard looks like the most impressive offensive player on the Bears.

Lions S Miles Killebrew feels like he knows more about the team’s defense heading into his second season.

Packers QB Brett Hundley tried his hand at throwing passes into a moving car.

Vikings WR Rodney Adams dedicated himself to football after the death of his mother.

Alex Gray is trying to make the jump from rugby to the Falcons.

Daryl Williams plans on starting at right tackle for the Panthers.

Saints WR Willie Snead’s brother was a counselor at this year’s Manning Passing Academy.

Taking a trip to see where Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard grew up.

Cornerback remains an area of concern for the Cardinals.

The Rams have 84 players on their 90-man roster at the moment.

Former 49ers DL Michael Carter still coaches his daughter Michelle, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, in the shot put.

Is kicker the biggest roster concern for the Seahawks?

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Paxton Lynch may be making his move

AP

As Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch brace for a training camp/preseason battle for the starting job in Denver, Lynch apparently received a boost as the team commenced its final break of the offseason.

Via Mike Klis of 9news.com, “something happened” with Lynch in the final two weeks of the offseason program.

“His switch was flipped,” Klis writes. “He started to get it. He started to play as if he was doing just that — playing. Playing and not thinking about his protections and hot reads and coverages and delivering the ball on time.”

Lynch didn’t disagree with that perception.

“I mean the more reps I’m getting with these guys, the more I get to go against the defense and see the looks live compared to just on paper, it’s helping me a lot,’’ Lynch told Klis. “I think each practice I’ve progressively got better.”

Siemian still has the lead, per Klis, but a contest that seemed to be headed for a blowout may now be going the other way. And that’s bad news for the third-year seventh-round pick, given that as practical matter he’ll need to win big in order to win the job. All ties and anything close to that likely will go to the second-year first-rounder, whom the Broncos undoubtedly hope to give opportunities to reach the ceiling they surely believe he has.

Otherwise, they wouldn’t have traded up to get him 14 months ago.

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Remember Carr’s crack at the Seahawks

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The fine fellow who runs the @OldTakesExposed account on Twitter has received a gift that may keep on giving. (Unrelated to the dumb sh-t I say on a regular basis.)

With Raiders quarterback Derek Carr commemorating his new contract by throwing shade at the Seahawks for the decision to throw and not run from the one in Super Bowl XLIX, the Oakland offense will now be scrutinized whenever it progresses toward the end zone.

“[T]here’s no pressure, there’s no, ‘We’ll be on the one-yard line and I won’t give it to Marshawn, I’ll throw it.’ None of that stuff,” Carr said.

Based on Carr’s comment, there will be no reason for the opposing defense to anticipate a throw from the one. Which means there will be no reason to instruct any of the defenders to cover the pass. Which means 11 players can load up to pursue and to pound Marshawn Lynch.

That would be unwise, of course, because if defenses consistently take Carr’s comments literally, the Raiders eventually will embrace the possibility of making Carr look like a liar by throwing, not running.

The more likely reality is that Carr’s comment will have no impact on the plays called by the Raiders when the ball is on the one and Beast Mode is in the backfield. The run-pass option must always be present, if for no reason than to ensure that the defense is kept guessing for as long as possible regarding what will happen after the snap. The more the defense knows about the play before it begins, the easier it will be to stop it.

Regardless, any time the Raiders throw from the one or close to it with Marshawn in the mix, someone will be dusting off Carr’s comments. Especially if the decision to score by the air doesn’t result in a touchdown.

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Gettleman “frustrate[d]” by media reaction to Kelvin Benjamin’s weight

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One of the headlines from Charlotte in the early days of the offseason program related to the size of the body of Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Now that Benjamin apparently is in shape, Panthers G.M. Dave Gettleman has a few things to say about the reaction to Benjamin’s bloat.

“This is what frustrates me with the media today,” Gettleman said recently, via Bill Voth of the website the Panthers own and operate. “They go to DEFCON 5 on everything. . . . Kelvin Benjamin being overweight was not a big deal. It was April 17. Can we all get a grip?”

For starters, the media doesn’t go to “DEFCON 5 on everything.” The media showcases the stories that the audience is expected to be interested in, at every given phase of the calendar. The media companies that do that the best way thrive; those that fail to write and talk about things of interest to the audience fail.

During the offseason, after players have had a fairly extended chance to eat as much and work out as little as they want, guys who show up out of shape naturally land on the radar screen. In this specific case, the media didn’t come to the conclusion about Benjamin being all about the beignets on its own. The head coach flagged the issue while talking to the media.

“He is a little heavy,” Ron Rivera said in late April. “He knows it. We’ve talked about it. We talked about what he has to do, and he’s done a great job. Am I concerned? Yes, because he is heavy. I’m going to admit that right now. But is he working hard? Absolutely. He’s been there every day and done the things we’ve asked him to do, and it’s all strictly on a voluntary basis.”

Voth curiously (or maybe not curiously, given that the Panthers employ him) failed to mention Rivera’s words. Instead, Voth pointed to media reaction to a May 23 video of Benjamin moving sluggishly and a May 24 picture of a jersey fitting Benjamin snuggishly. (That’s not a word. Yet.) That’s the irony of Gettleman’s comments and the hypocrisy of the article that came directly from the Panthers. The head coach told the media Benjamin had gotten fat; what did Gettleman and the Panthers expect?

Some would say he and they expected exactly what happened: Benjamin had a fire ignited under his enlarged ass, and he got it and the rest of his body into shape. Gettleman essentially conceded that when asked how Benjamin reacted to his mass becoming a meme.

“You tell me,” Gettleman said. “How do you think he responded?”

So, in other words, mission accomplished. Now, apparently, the Panthers are covering their own rear ends by washing their hands of any responsibility for the criticism of Benjamin by blaming it all on the media.

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Ex-Giant Matt Mitrione knocks out MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko

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Matt Mitrione got his start as a professional athlete in the NFL, but he’s had a lot more success in MMA.

Mitrione, who played nine games as a defensive end for the Giants in 2002, earned the biggest win of his pro MMA career on Saturday night when he headlined a Bellator MMA card at Madison Square Garden and knocked out Fedor Emelianenko.

The fight lasted just over a minute and saw Mitrione and Emelianenko knock each other down with simultaneous punches, followed by Mitrione landing several punches on the ground and knocking Emelianenko unconscious. The 40-year-old Emelianenko was once the best fighter in MMA, but he’s now well past his prime.

Mitrione said before the fight that several of his Giants teammates had reached out and said they’d be watching.

“That means a lot to me. It’s a lot of pride. I carry the Big Blue with me all the time,” Mitrione told the New York Post.

The 38-year-old Mitrione has had the most successful career of several former NFL players who have tried MMA. Herschel Walker’s foray into MMA is better known to the general public, but Walker built his 2-0 career MMA record against a couple of hand-picked opponents who were no match for him. Mitrione has built his 12-5 pro record against legitimate opponents.

For big, strong guys who find that they’re not quite good enough to make it in the NFL, MMA gives them a second chance at a career as a professional athlete. Mitrione is making the most of his.

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Koa Misi waiting to be cleared after neck surgery

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Linebacker Koa Misi took a pay cut to stay with the Dolphins this offseason, but he never made it on the field for the team.

The expectation in March was that Misi would be cleared to return from neck surgery before the end of the team’s offseason program. That did not happen, however, and it remains uncertain if Misi will get the green light from doctors before training camp gets underway next month.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that Misi saw a doctor in the last couple of weeks and that he has another appointment set for July.

“I don’t know,” head coach Adam Gase said this month. “We’re not there yet. When you see him start running around or something, then I’d say we’re close.”

The Dolphins drafted Raekwon McMillan in the second round and he could be an option to start alongside Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons in the event Misi doesn’t get cleared. Neville Hewitt and Mike Hull are also on hand at linebacker in Miami.

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Bakhtiari bemoans Green Bay’s constant close calls

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On one hand, the Packers should be happy that they contend every year. On the other hand, they should be upset that they keep knocking on the door but can’t kick it in.

Put left tackle David Bakhtiari in the second category.

It’s starting to piss me off a little bit,” Bakhtiari recently said, via Pete Dougherty of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You’re not guaranteed another year. Keep getting close and not making it is stressful. We’ve got to collectively — we’ve got to do more. . . . The Green Bay Packers — I mean, the trophy is the Lombardi Trophy. We have to get back there and win it.”

The Packers last did in 2010. Since then, armed with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, the Packers chronically have come up short. In some years, in-season sputters keep them from securing home-field advantage in the playoffs. In other years, they earn home games in January, and lose there.

Many will point to the Packers as the team to beat once again in the NFC. And, if recent history holds, someone eventually will beat them before they get a chance to win the trophy named after their legendary coach for a fifth time.

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Vikings support Michael Floyd’s kombucha tea defense

When it comes to his effort to avoid jail for violating the terms of his house arrest, Vikings receiver Michael Floyd has an ally: His employer.

According to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Vikings C.O.O. Kevin Warren sent a letter to the presiding judge supporting Floyd’s claim that he didn’t know kombucha tea contains alcohol.

“I am writing to request Mr. Floyd not have his court mandated requirements negatively impacted since he did not know the kombucha he ingested contained alcohol,” Warren wrote in the letter dated June 21.

In a sworn affidavit, Floyd said the team encourages players to drink the tea for health reasons, and that it is “on tap” at the team’s training facility. (That may not be the best choice of words.) Floyd also hired a forensic pathologist to explain that, because Floyd purchased a case of kombucha tea without refrigerating it, additional fermentation occurred, elevating its alcohol content.

Perhaps most importantly for Floyd’s case, the forensic pathologist concluded that, based on Floyd’s explanation regarding the amount of kombucha tea he ingested before failing multiple home alcohol tests, the time frame during which he drank it, and the blood-alcohol concentration that was measured, the numbers are “achievable and consistent” from consuming kombucha tea “to a reasonable degree of medical and scientific certainty.”

The question now becomes whether prosecutors have hired an expert of their own to dispute the conclusions from Floyd’s expert, or whether prosecutors will simply say, “It doesn’t matter. He was prohibited from consuming alcohol.” Ultimately, the question will be whether the judge is motivated by any of this to give Floyd a pass or to say, “It doesn’t matter. He was prohibited from consuming alcohol.”

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Colts may hit more in camp, despite being “scared to death” of injuries

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After seeing his team miss too many tackles last season, Colts coach Chuck Pagano says he may work more on tackling in camp.

Pagano said he’s still as concerned as ever about keeping players healthy for the regular season, but he also thinks there’s limited time to work on tackling, and training camp is the right time for it.

“You’re always scared to death, but at the same time if you don’t tackle, it’s hard to get good at tackling,” Pagano said, via ESPN. “We do, obviously, a lot of what we call ‘thud.’ It’s first contact, it’s wrap up, and you try to stay off the ground as much as you can and take care of each other. But we’ll continue to have discussions regarding that, and there may be some periods come training camp that we decide we want to go live here.”

New Colts G.M. Chris Ballard says going live is a must.

“This will be a physical camp for us,” Ballard told the team’s website. “We’ve got a young football team and you need to spar. I think we will have a physical camp and I think you need to. It helps get your body ready. I think a lot of the problems we have is that we don’t hit enough. You’re always worried about injuries, but this is football and it’s a physical game. It’s much like boxing. You need to spar.”

The Colts will be sparring more in training camp this year, while trying to avoid anyone getting knocked out.

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Saturday one-liners

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Seven more veteran Jets could be dumped after the 2017 season.

Dolphins K Andrew Franks thinks he could “kill it from 65” without wind.

The Patriots will have several public practices during training camp.

Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander is holding a free youth football camp on Saturday in Oakland, California.

It’s a make or break year for plenty of Ravens.

Could Browns TE Seth DeValve have a big season?

Here’s a look behind the scenes of NBC’s photo shoot with the Bengals.

The Steelers think it’s time for DT Daniel McCullers to move up or move out.

Texans WR Braxton Miller is hoping to make a leap in 2017, in part by recognizing coverages.

Here’s the projected roster and depth chart for the Titans.

Colts RB Robert Turbin thrives as a pass blocker.

Projecting the Jaguars defense for 2016.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce went yard at the Big Slick Celebrity Softball Game on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

Raiders QB Derek Carr’s contract is backloaded, which helps the team manage the cap — and helps Carr avoid giving money to the State of California.

Broncos coach Vance Joseph thinks Glover Quin would make a great head coach.

Chargers OL Matt Slauson learned a lot from older players; now that he’s one of them, he can pass the knowledge along.

Get to know Cowboys DE Benson Mayowa.

A Giants fan has a tattoo of WR Odell Beckham Jr.’s most famous catch.

New Washington safety D.J. Swearinger knew that either he or Tony Jefferson would be joining Swearinger’s new team based on the quality of the safety play in 2016; “Watching it on film we was like, ‘Bro, one of us is going to Washington for sure,'” Swearginger told Jefferson.

Here’s a look at the development of the Eagles’ draft class.

The Bears held their annual 5K on Saturday morning. They signed seven of the runners.

Lions CB Teez Tabor made a play while trying to cover WR Marvin Jones, eventually.

Have the benefit of a full offseason with the Packers will benefit LB Jordan Tripp, who joined the team with three weeks left in the 2016 regular season.

Vikings WR Randy Moss was wired for sound when he returned to the team’s facility to learn he’d been added to the Ring of Honor. (The real question is whether they him served food that he’d feed to his dog.)

Saints LT Terron Armstead has undergone surgery to repair the torn labrum in his shoulder, and he’ll focus his rehab efforts in New Orleans.

Panthers G.M. Dave Gettleman says WR Kelvin Benjamin’s “ability to make people miss is to run through them.”

Here’s how you can witness whether Falcons players will be squabbling with each other about Super Bowl LI during training camp.

How did Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston perform under pressure?

The daughter of former 49ers DL Michael Carter, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the shot put, will compete in the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships on Saturday.

Rams rookies visited Warner Bros. Studios. (It’s June 24. That’s all I got.)

As he enters a contract year, Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham’s big offseason translate to a big regular season?

Cardinals LB Haason Reddick threw out the first pitch on Friday night at the Diamondbacks game, delivering a strike; “Can’t go up there and look like 50 Cent,” Cardinals OT Will Holden said.

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Bill O’Brien: Clemson’s sophisticated offense helped Deshaun Watson

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NFL coaches often say that college football offenses don’t really get quarterbacks ready to play at the next level. But Texans coach Bill O’Brien says that’s not the case with his rookie quarterback, Deshaun Watson.

O’Brien says Watson ran an offense at Clemson that forced him to develop a mind for football at the highest level.

“He had to learn a pretty sophisticated offense at Clemson,” O’Brien said, via the Houston Chronicle. “He had to do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage. I think he was trained really well. That’s a credit to the Clemson staff. He’d already been in some big games when he got here. When he came here, he put his head down and came to work every day.”

O’Brien has already been impressed with Watson’s football intellect, based only on spring practices.

“For being a rookie, he’s wise beyond his years. He asks great questions in the morning meeting, and you can tell he’s studied the night before. Every practice isn’t perfect. He knows he needs to get a lot better. And he did get better every day during the spring. It’s no pads, of course. It’s not real football, but he did improve in his knowledge of the offense,” O’Brien said.

If Watson keeps that up, he should be ready to start in Week One.

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Broncos still haven’t re-sold stadium naming rights

The Denver Broncos continue to play in a stadium that may as well be known as Vandelay Industries Park. And there’s no indication that this odd dynamic will be ending any time soon.

As noted by 9news.com in Denver, the high-priced latex salesmen from WME-IMG have yet to find a suitable buyer for the rights to “Sports Authority Field,” named for a company that went bankrupt in 2016.

“We continue to work closely with WME-IMG and have had several productive discussions with potential partners,” Broncos spokesman Patrick Smyth told 9news.com. “We’re focused more on finding the right, long-term naming rights partner than meeting any deadline for this process, which is extensive.”

The Broncos assumed full responsibility for the naming-rights deal last August, deciding to keep the name in place — presumably to avoid any negative P.R. that would flow from reverting to a non-corporate moniker and then jamming a new one back in to the official title of the facility.

Regardless, nearly a year after the Broncos decided to continue to keep the name of a non-existent company on their stadium, there’s no indication that a real name will be replacing it any time soon.

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Kerley wishes teams would ask him about Kaepernick

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One of the biggest problems with the various leaks to the media of assumptions and narratives and opinions about Colin Kaepernick is that many of those who are whispering to willing reporters have done no real due diligence about the player. The latest example of a lack of homework comes from one of the men who caught plenty of passes from Kaepernick a year ago.

Receiver Jeremy Kerley, a pleasant surprise in 2016 for the 49ers with 64 total receptions, got and kept his hands on 38 thrown by Kaepernick. Yet no one from any other team has asked Kerley what he thinks about Kaepernick.

I wish they would,” Kerley recently told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “I would speak very highly of him. First, if you don’t stand for something then you don’t stand for nothing. He spoke up about a subject at a time where maybe just the right people weren’t stepping up. He did it, he stood behind it. He made the sacrifice that maybe not a lot of guys would have made knowing that the consequences would be what they were.”

That’s one thing that often gets lost in the lingering resentment and hatred of Kaepernick regarding his decision not to stand for the national anthem in 2016. He had (and clearly still has — as do many) concerns about the training and experience requirements for the issuance of a gun and the power to use it. (If you don’t have at least some concern over the ease with which a police officer can produce a handgun and immediately pull the trigger repeatedly to neutralize a perceived threat in a confined space with a small child present, then you’ve paid no attention at all to the Philando Castile case.)

“You have people that practice law and are lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist,” Kaepernick said last August. “That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”

Kerley spent most of the year with Kaepernick, arriving via trade from the Lions after his decision to take action, to speak out, and to risk his career for it.

“He’s been a man of his word,” Kerley said. “He still gives back. He’s promoting change. . . . Do I agree with it? Who’s to say. Everybody goes about their business a different way. But do I have much, much respect for him? Hell yeah.”

It’s still not clear what Kaepernick truly wants or expects from his football career. And it’s quite possible that the phone will never ring, regardless of his abilities, team needs, and the inevitability of quarterback injury. The point continues to be this: Few if any teams did any real homework on Kaepernick prior to or during free agency, which suggests given the countless hours otherwise spent researching hundreds of players that coaches and executives knew they would have been wasting their time on a guy ownership would have never approved signing.

That’s where this issue continues to be. A quarterback who nearly won a Super Bowl, whose numbers compared favorably to Tyrod Taylor’s in 2016, and who is still on the right side of 30 has gotten no sniffs as a potential starter in a league where Tom Savage, Brian Hoyer, Cody Kessler, Mike Glennon, and Josh McCown currently sit atop depth charts. And Kaepernick has drawn interest from only one team about being a backup. (He was deemed to be overqualified for the job.)

If anyone wants to continue to rely on reports from those who gladly pass along negative leaks about Kaepernick in support of a belief that these decisions are based only on actual or perceived football skills and abilities, that’s their right, I suppose. But others have the right to continue to say that we’re being fed a steaming plate of BS, and that too many in the media are gladly slopping it onto the plate.

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