Skip to content

Aldon Smith still awaits a decision

Smith Getty Images

With nine days to go until the 49ers open the 2014 regular season, the franchise still hasn’t heard whether linebacker Aldon Smith will be available for Week One.

Smith met with Commissioner Roger Goodell more than three weeks ago, with no decision yet on the number of games he’ll miss for multiple violations of the personal-conduct and substance-abuse policies.

The NFL has developed a habit over the years of resolving suspensions based on offseason developments before the start of the next regular season.  For Smith, who’ll have appeal rights, it becomes more and more difficult to get everything resolved in the next nine days.

Either way, the clock is ticking.  Loudly.  If an initial decision doesn’t come today, Smith may end up being available to play on September 7 against the Cowboys.

Permalink 55 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jerry Jones points out that Peterson initiated the call

Jones Getty Images

While the initial comments of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones regarding his June conversation with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson didn’t address many/any relevant specifics of the call, Jones later revisited the subject — and his defense to any potential tampering investigation became crystal clear.

“I understand the tampering thing, and you have to be an initiator,” Jones said, via Drew Davison of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.

While Jones definitely would be facing a serious problem under the tampering policy if he’d been the one to call Peterson, the policy specifically addresses the situation in which a player contacts another team and expresses interest in eventually playing for that team.

Here’s the precise language: “If a club is contacted by a player (or his representative) who is under contract to or whose negotiating rights are held by another club, and such player had not been given permission to deal with other clubs, or such player is not in a permissible negotiating period under the terms of an operative collective bargaining agreement, then the contacted club is prohibited from talking or otherwise dealing with the player or his representative, and the contacted club must immediately report such contact to the owner or operating head of the club which holds the player’s rights.”

Here’s what it means in English: Jerry Jones should have called Zygi Wilf as soon as the call with Peterson ended. If, as it appears, Jones didn’t do that, he has violated the tampering policy.

So what will the NFL do about it? Based on past precedent in this and other contexts, the simple answer is whatever it wants.

Permalink 66 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Kellen Moore stakes a claim for the Lions’ backup QB job

kellenmoore AP

Kellen Moore has always seemed like the classic case of a great college player who couldn’t cut it in the NFL: Although he was a two-time All-American at Boise State, he’s small and he doesn’t have a great arm and he isn’t a great athlete, and he went undrafted in 2012. He signed with the Lions as an undrafted free agent but has been buried at No. 3 on the depth chart for two years and has never played in a regular-season game.

But Moore has managed to stick around in Detroit, and this preseason he’s making a strong case that he at least deserves to move up to No. 2 on the depth chart. In Thursday night’s preseason finale, Moore completed 17 of 28 passes for 172 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Overall, Moore completed 68.6 percent of his passes in the preseason, never threw an interception and finished with a passer rating of 108.4. Coach Jim Caldwell liked what he saw.

He’s been pretty consistent the entire time,” Caldwell said of Moore. “He has composure, he has moxie, he’s got a good touch on the ball, he’s got a good feel for things and I thought he performed well.”

Moore and another young Lion, receiver Corey Fuller, connected on a 25-yard touchdown pass — and disagreed afterward about who deserved credit for it, with both saying it was the other’s big play.

That’s all on Corey,” Moore said. “Awesome route, a really good job. I threw a crappy ball, and he made a good catch.”

Fuller disagreed: “Kellen needled the ball right through the defense, and all I had to do was get right underneath. I give it all to Kellen.”

All that humility is nice, but what are Moore’s chances of showing that he deserves the Lions’ No. 2 quarterback job? Probably not great. Throughout the offseason, training camp and the preseason, Dan Orlovsky has been ahead of Moore on the depth chart. Moore has been better than Orlovsky in the preseason, but Caldwell has always liked Orlovsky, going back to their time together in Indianapolis, when Orlovsky saved Caldwell from the ignominy of having an 0-16 season on his record by playing well in two-late season victories after the Colts’ other two quarterbacks, Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins, had lost all the games they started.

The question for Moore is probably less whether he can earn the No. 2 job in Detroit than whether he played well enough to force the Lions to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. And it would seem that he did: It would be tough to justify cutting Moore at this point.

And it’s worth revisiting whether Moore may have better pro potential than it appeared when he was at Boise State. Moore went an amazing 50-3 as a college starter, with two of the losses coming by one point and the third coming on a field goal in overtime. At the time, however, Moore was viewed more as the perfect fit for Boise’s offense than a great quarterback in his own right. Boise has steadily declined since Moore’s departure and has lost six of its last 14 games, including a 35-13 beatdown at the hands of Ole Miss last night. Moore’s qualities as a quarterback are demonstrated by Boise’s struggles in his absence. And by his play on the field over the last four weeks, even if it’s only the preseason.

Permalink 26 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Conflicting reports regarding Bills offers

BonJovi Reuters

Eventually, a winning bidder will emerge for the Bills, with a check that precisely identifies the exact dollars, down to the 00/100.  For now, it’s unclear how much that amount will be.  Especially since the reports are conflicting regarding the amounts that have been offered.

Last week, the Buffalo News reported that Sabres owner Terry Pegula bid $890 million for the team, with a bid of $820 million from Jon Bon Jovi’s Toronto-based group and $809 million (not $1 billion, all cash) from Donald Trump.  Those same numbers have since been reported by Forbes.

Now, John Kryk of the Toronto Sun reports with “certainty” that Bon Jovi’s Toronto-based group bid between $1 billion and $1.1 billion for the team.  And Kryk then makes the point that the other bids (specifically, Pegula’s) are much higher, given that Kryk agrees with reports that the Bon Jovi bid hasn’t been strong enough.

Which leads back to the initial report from the New York Post that Pegula bid more than $1 billion for the team.

So why would someone be leaking numbers south of $900 million?  Kryk theorizes that Pegula perhaps wants potential competitors not named Bon Jovi or Trump to believe the target is lower than it is, so that when the time comes (and it’s coming soon) to make binding bids, they’ll come in far too low.

Regardless, the final price seems destined to be well below the $2 billion that Steve Ballmer has paid for the L.A. Clippers.  That’s probably a result of apparent provisions in Ralph Wilson’s will and trust that require the team to stay in Buffalo.  Which means that Wilson likely sacrificed hundreds of millions for his family in order to enhance the likelihood that the team will never leave the only place it ever has called home.

Permalink 45 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Michael Sam expects to make the Rams, or some other roster

michaelsam AP

After his final preseason game, Rams defensive end Michael Sam said he expects to survive tomorrow’s cutdown and be on the regular-season roster — or to get picked up by some other team if the Rams cut him.

“I’m very confident,” Sam said, via the Associated Press. “I’m going to sleep really well tonight and I’m very confident I’m going to be on a team, the Rams or any other team in the NFL.”

Sam has played well throughout the preseason and played well again on Thursday night against the Dolphins, leading the team with five solo tackles. Unfortunately for Sam, the Rams are deep on the defensive line and won’t be an easy roster for any seventh-round draft pick to make. Sam is widely viewed as competing with fellow rookie defensive end Ethan Westbrooks for the final roster spot, and Westbrooks had a very good preseason finale, with a sack, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits.

If Sam gets cut by the Rams when they get down to the 53-player limit on Saturday, he’ll go on waivers and be available to all 31 other teams. Sam has played well enough in the preseason to make a good case that if he doesn’t last with the Rams, some other team should pick him up, and he’ll become the first openly gay player to make a regular-season roster.

Permalink 81 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Derek Carr leads Raiders to four touchdown drives against Seahawks

Derek Carr AP

Derek Carr is making the most of his final preseason opportunity against the Seattle Seahawks.

The rookie quarterback has led the Oakland Raiders to four consecutive touchdown drives to open the game against the Seahawks.

Carr led a 12-play, 68-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 7-7 after Seattle took an early lead. Carr converted a pair of 3rd-and-10 opportunities on the drive before Latavius Murray capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.

Oakland’s special teams then helped set up two more scores.

Keith McGill stripped Seattle kick returner Bryan Walters on the ensuing kickoff  which Oakland managed to recover. It took just one play for Carr to connect with Denarius Moore for a 36-yard touchdown behind former Oakland cornerback Phillip Adams for a touchdown.

After a Seattle three-and-out, T.J. Carrie returned the punt 45 yards into Seattle territory. Again, it took one play for Carr to strike as tight end Mychal Rivera reeled a tipped pass by Malcolm Smith for a 20-yard touchdown.

Another three-and-out by Seattle led to another touchdown by Oakland. Carr marched the Raiders 61 yards on eight plays with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Moore to cap the drive and give the Raiders a 28-7 lead.

Carr’s night was done after the fourth touchdown drive of the game and was replaced by Matt McGloin. Carr finished 11-for-13 for 143 yards and three touchdowns. With Matt Schaub battling a sore elbow, Carr put together a terrific final impression before the start of the regular season that may cause second thoughts as to who should start the season opener against the New York Jets.

Permalink 149 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Santonio Holmes impresses in Bears’ exhibition finale

Santonio Holmes, Justin Gilbert AP

In the span of a little less than 10 minutes in Thursday night’s exhibition at Cleveland, new Bears wide receiver Santonio Holmes made a pair of plays that suggest he’s got some good football left to play.

First, the 30-year-old Holmes turned a short reception into a 32-yard touchdown when Browns rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert took a bad angle. Then, minutes later, Holmes broke a 30-yard punt return, running through two tackle attempts, keeping his balance and finding plenty of open space toward the Browns’ sideline. The return set up a Chicago field goal.

Off the field, Holmes did something notable, too. According to Bears sideline reporter Lou Canellis, Holmes gave the ball from his first Bears TD to rookie quarterback David Fales, who threw the pass. It was Fales’ first scoring throw as a pro, and Holmes wanted him to have the ball as a keepsake, Canellis said on the Bears’ telecast of the game.

In all, it was a good stretch for Holmes, who’s trying to find a role with the Bears after being released by the Jets earlier in the offseason.

Permalink 45 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jerry Jones admits to talking to Adrian Peterson, doesn’t address the key issue

Jones AP

In a pre-game radio interview that aired on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Cowboys owner/General Manager/unofficial team doctor Jerry Jones addressed the now-notorious June conversation with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, which reportedly included Peterson expressing a desire to play for the Cowboys.

Jones admitted talking to Peterson, explaining that an associate of Peterson’s gave Jones the phone, possibly passing it through the ESPN writer who was working on a profile of Jerry Jones.

“We basically talked,” Jones said.  “Adrian’s from Texas and certainly it was easy to talk to such a great player.”

Jones at no point denied that Adrian said he wants to play for the Cowboys after his time with the Vikings ends, and Jones said nothing about the words attributed to him in the ESPN profile regarding the topic of Peterson potentially becoming a Cowboy.

If Peterson indeed said that he wants to play for the Cowboys, Jones should have (under the tampering policy) immediately ended the call and alerted the Vikings.  Those facts alone could be enough to trigger a violation of the league’s tampering policy.

Moving forward, look for the league to quietly investigate this one, posing far more pointed questions to Peterson, Jones, and anyone else who knows anything about a highly unusual communication between a player who is the face of one franchise, and an owner who is the face of another.

Permalink 51 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Blake Bortles continues his strong preseason

bortles AP

The Jacksonville Jaguars insist that rookie quarterback Blake Bortles will spend 2014 on the bench, behind starter Chad Henne. But Bortles sure looks like he’s ready to start in the NFL right now.

Bortles continued his strong preseason performance today in the preseason finale against the Falcons, completing four of his six passes for 86 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Marqise Lee. That touchdown pass was a thing of beauty: Bortles stood in the pocket with pressure in his face and threw the ball about 50 yards in the air, right into Lee’s hands.

Overall, Bortles is now 32-for-51 for 521 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, in the preseason.

So why isn’t that enough for Bortles to earn the starting job? Because Jaguars coach Gus Bradley has said all along that there’s nothing Bortles can do to earn the starting job, at least as long as Henne is healthy. The Jaguars have stuck to their plan of giving Bortles a year to learn, while Henne plays.

But if Henne struggles, that’s going to be a difficult plan to stick to. Bortles looks too good to ride the pine. Unless Henne makes the Jaguars a surprise playoff contender, expect Bortles to start as a rookie. Even if it won’t come in Week One.

Permalink 39 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

No comment from Cowboys, yet, on Peterson conversation

Jones Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have issued no comment in response to the comments from owner Jerry Jones to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, reportedly in response to Peterson’s stated desire to play for the Cowboys after his time with the Vikings ends.

But while the Cowboys currently are saying nothing, don’t be surprised if Jones addresses the topic at tonight’s preseason game against the Broncos.

Also, don’t be surprised if Jones points out that he didn’t initiate the call, and that he was merely being courteous to Peterson, out of respect for the man and the player.

And don’t be surprised if the NFL, which has issued a “no comment” in response to the revelation, quietly investigates the situation.

Finally, don’t be surprised if the Cowboys face some scrutiny for failing to immediately notify the league office of Peterson’s stated interest in joining the Cowboys, since the tampering policy clearly and expressly contemplates a report to the player’s team if/when a player under contract with that team contacts another team.

Permalink 46 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

More scrutiny on RG3’s throwing mechanics

rg3 AP

When Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III burst onto the scene with a spectacular rookie year in 2012, he was like nothing the NFL had seen before: A good enough athlete that he could have been an Olympic hurdler, playing the quarterback position.

But when Griffin’s rookie year ended with a major knee injury, and he looked like something less than an Olympian when he tried to run in 2013, many questions were raised about whether Griffin really had the fundamentals to be an NFL quarterback. There were questions about Griffin’s footwork as a passer and questions about his ability to read through his progressions, although many of those questions came from people who lack the credentials to question an NFL quarterback’s passing fundamentals.

Say what you will for Ron Jaworski of ESPN, but he does have the credentials. And Jaworski says that Griffin looks fundamentally flawed as a passer.

“He’s still developing,” Jaworski said on ESPN Radio, via the Washington Post. “We’ll see what Jay Gruden and this new offensive staff can do for him. But clearly he’s got to learn to play from the pocket. His mechanics have regressed, by the way. They have regressed in the fundamental way of throwing the football: his throwing slot, his footwork, his inability to remain consistent in that. When you and I talk all the time, the word that comes up a lot in my mind is consistency. And we see a lot of players in this league, they make great throws. They can make a great play. But you have to do it on a consistent basis. That’s what separates the great players from the guys that have short careers.”

Griffin declined across the board as a passer last year: His passer rating, completion percentage, passing touchdowns and yards per pass were all down, while his interceptions were up. And his performance in the preseason hasn’t done anything to assuage the concerns of those who think the 2013 version of Griffin is the version we’re going to see going forward. If what Griffin really needs is work on his mechanics, then there’s no more important priority for Gruden in his first year in Washington.

Permalink 80 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Roger Goodell’s letter to NFL owners on domestic violence

Roger Goodell AP

[Editor's note:  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent the following letter to all 32 NFL owners today.]

Since becoming Commissioner, my focus has been on ensuring that the NFL is held in the highest regard by our fans, players, business partners, and public authorities.  My commitment has always been to do what is right and to protect the integrity of the game, both now and long into the future.

Recently, we have addressed issues of respect — respect for co-workers, opponents, fans, game officials, and others.  Whether in the context of workplace conduct, advancing policies of diversity and inclusion, or promoting professionalism in all we do, our mission has been to create and sustain model workplaces filled with people of character.  Although the NFL is celebrated for what happens on the field, we must be equally vigilant in what we do off the field.

At times, however, and despite our best efforts, we fall short of our goals.  We clearly did so in response to a recent incident of domestic violence.  We allowed our standards to fall below where they should be and lost an important opportunity to emphasize our strong stance on a critical issue and the effective programs we have in place.  My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values.  I didn’t get it right.   Simply put, we have to do better.  And we will.

The public response reinforced my belief that the NFL is held to a higher standard, and properly so.  Much of the criticism stemmed from a fundamental recognition that the NFL is a leader, that we do stand for important values, and that we can project those values in ways that have a positive impact beyond professional football.  We embrace this role and the responsibility that comes with it.  We will listen openly, engage our critics constructively, and seek continuous improvement in everything we do. We will use this opportunity to create a positive outcome by promoting policies of respect for women both within and outside of the workplace.  We will work with nationally recognized experts to ensure that the NFL has a model policy on domestic violence and sexual assault.  We will invest time and resources in training, programs and services that will become part of our culture.  And we will increase the sanctions imposed on NFL personnel who violate our policies.

In the past few weeks, I have reviewed all aspects of our Personal Conduct Policy and met with a wide range of experts (several of whom we have been working with for some time), as well as with the NFLPA and many of you. Those discussions will continue. They have helped us to identify a number of steps that will better communicate our position and strengthen our policies on domestic violence and sexual assault.  

These steps are based on a clear, simple principle:  domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong.  They are illegal.  They have no place in the NFL and are unacceptable in any way, under any circumstances.  That has been and remains our policy.

Many of you have done excellent work in this field, both personally and through the efforts of concerned players and your community relations and player engagement departments.  Our goals are to prevent violence, impose appropriate discipline, provide professional support resources when appropriate, and publicly embrace a leadership role on this issue.  

Consistent with that view, I have directed the following actions to reinforce and enhance our policies:

First, we will continue our work with leading experts to expand the scope of our education on domestic violence and sexual assault for all NFL personnel – players and non-players.  This will include enhanced training for entering players through the Rookie Symposium and Rookie Success Program, as well as new programs designed for veteran players and other NFL personnel. All NFL personnel — players and non-players — will receive information about available league resources and local support and advocacy groups in their community.

Second, our club Player Engagement Directors, Human Resource Executives, and other appropriate team personnel will undergo comprehensive training to help them understand and identify risk factors associated with domestic violence and sexual assault. Any person identified as being at risk will be afforded private, confidential assistance.  Persons who decline this assistance will be held accountable for that decision in determining discipline for any subsequent act of domestic violence or sexual assault.  This is a complicated matter and must be approached with care.  We will work with experts to identify strategies based on the most reliable research, recognizing that violence can and does take different forms but generally involves a pattern of coercive behavior.  

Third, we will ensure that the NFL LifeLine and NFL Total Wellness Program are staffed with personnel trained to provide prompt and confidential assistance to anyone at risk of domestic violence or sexual assault – whether as a victim or potential aggressor.  Information regarding these resources will be furnished to all NFL personnel and their families.  Our Player Engagement Directors and Human Resource Executives will meet with team spouses and significant others to ensure that they are aware of the resources available to them as NFL family members, including the ability to seek confidential assistance through independent local resources, as well as through the club or the NFL Total Wellness Program.  In this respect, we will utilize our existing, established telephone and on-line programs, and will communicate the full range of available services to all NFL personnel and their families.

Fourth, the outside groups we met with have emphasized that the NFL can play an important role in communities throughout the nation.  Consistent with that advice, we will expand the educational components in our college, high school and youth football programs that address domestic violence and sexual assault. We will seek to create and promote programs that develop the character of the young men who play, coach or manage our game, emphasizing respect for women and appropriate ways to resolve conflicts.  Outreach efforts embodied in these programs will help young people recognize, establish and maintain healthy relationships.  In our earliest contact with young men, we can communicate our expectations, establish NFL standards of conduct, and stress the responsibility that all men have to adhere to those standards.

Fifth, we recognize that domestic violence and sexual assault are broad social issues, affecting millions of people.  We want our public role to be both constructive and effective.  In the coming months, we will explore meaningful ways to incorporate domestic violence and sexual assault awareness and prevention into our public service work.  We will do this with the assistance of responsible outside organizations and the potential participation of current and former players, coaches and families who have been affected and are willing to speak out.  Actions we take in this respect will be sensitive, thoughtful and will recognize the positive role models and high character presented by so many men in the NFL.  

Finally, and consistent with our Personal Conduct Policy, our own response to domestic violence or sexual assault incidents by NFL personnel will include new elements of evaluation, treatment and family support, as well as enhanced discipline.  We will address these issues fairly and thoughtfully, respecting the rights of all involved and giving proper deference to law enforcement and the courts.  If someone is charged with domestic violence or sexual assault, there will be a mandatory evaluation and, where professionally indicated, counseling or other specialized services.  Effective immediately, violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense, with consideration given to mitigating factors, as well as a longer suspension when circumstances warrant.  Among the circumstances that would merit a more severe penalty would be a prior incident before joining the NFL, or violence involving a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child.  A second offense will result in banishment from the NFL; while an individual may petition for reinstatement after one year, there will be no presumption or assurance that the petition will be granted.  These disciplinary standards will apply to all NFL personnel.  

With very few exceptions, NFL personnel conduct themselves in an exemplary way.    But even one case of domestic violence or sexual assault is unacceptable. The reality is that domestic violence and sexual assault are often hidden crimes, ones that are under-reported and under-acknowledged.  The steps we are taking will reinforce our commitment to address this issue constructively.

In addition to focusing on domestic violence and sexual assault, we will continue to maintain strong policies regarding weapons offenses.  We are similarly working to strengthen our response to impaired driving.  We have sought – unsuccessfully – for several years to obtain the NFLPA’s agreement to more stringent discipline for DUI, including mandatory deactivation for the game immediately following an arrest and a minimum two-game suspension for a first violation of law.  We will continue to press our position on this issue in the hope of securing the union’s agreement.

There are three steps that each club should take promptly:  first, post and distribute the attached “Memorandum to All NFL Personnel” to every player under contract to your club; second, ensure that your head coach reviews the information in that notice with his staff and with all your players; and third, share this letter and the attached Memorandum with all members of your organization, including your team president, General Manager, Human Resources Executive, Security Director, and Player Engagement Director.

In the coming weeks, we will contact all clubs on further steps to be taken in support of these initiatives.  I am grateful for the thoughtful advice received from so many of you and for the support that I know you will give to this important work.

MEMORANDUM TO ALL NFL PERSONNEL

Domestic violence and sexual assault are wrong.  They are illegal.  They are never acceptable and have no place in the NFL under any circumstances.  

Our Personal Conduct Policy has long made clear that domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable.  We clearly must do a better job of addressing these incidents in the NFL.  And we will.

Earlier today, I sent NFL owners a letter that identified specific actions we will take to improve our response to domestic violence and sexual assault. Those actions include the following:

All NFL Personnel will participate in new and enhanced educational programs on domestic violence and sexual assault.  We will also increase our outreach to college and youth football programs.

Families will receive detailed information about available services and resources, both through the club and independent of the club.  These resources and services will be available to employees and their families on a confidential basis.

Violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence and sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to enhanced discipline.  A first offense will be subject to a suspension of six weeks without pay.  Mitigating circumstances will be considered, and more severe discipline will be imposed if there are aggravating circumstances such as the presence or use of a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child.  A second offense will result in banishment from the league; an offender may petition for reinstatement after one year but there is no assurance that the petition will be granted.  These disciplinary consequences apply to all NFL personnel.

 *   *   *   *   *

If you believe that you or someone you know may be at risk of domestic violence or other misconduct, we strongly encourage you to seek assistance through your club’s director of player engagement, human resources department, the NFL LifeLine or an independent local domestic violence resource.  Help is available and can prevent potentially tragic incidents.                                                                                                 

ROGER GOODELL
COMMISSIONER

Permalink 89 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

NFL institutes new policy on domestic violence with 6-game ban for first offense

Ray Rice Press Conference Getty Images

The NFL was roundly criticized for suspending Ravens running back Ray Rice two games under the personal conduct policy after Rice was charged with assaulting his then-fiance and current wife during an incident at an Atlantic City hotel in February.

The league was also criticized for being tone deaf in their response to the criticism, but it seems someone in the league office was paying attention. According to multiple reports, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to owners on Thursday outlining much stiffer penalties for domestic violence and making the rare admission of fault by saying he screwed up when disciplining Rice.

“My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right,” Goodell wrote, per Albert Breer of NFL Media.

Under the new policy, which falls under the personal conduct policy overseen by Goodell, players would be suspended at least six games for a first offense and would face a lifetime ban for a second. The letter also specifies that the new penalties apply to all NFL personnel, not just players.

There’s still some questions to sort out about what will qualify as a first offense (and whether it will apply to cases already in progress before the adoption of the policy, like the one involving Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy) in regard to the way charges are handled in the legal system, but it’s a quick and significant turnaround from the league’s previous attempts to defend Goodell’s decision on Rice and one that brings penalties for acts of domestic violence closer to where many feel they should have been all along.

Permalink 108 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Brady is indeed upset about Mankins trade

Brady AP

When the Patriots didn’t re-sign receiver Wes Welker in the aftermath of quarterback Tom Brady’s team-friendly deal (with a paltry $30 million to sign), someone close to Brady reportedly was enraged.  This time around, with left guard Logan Mankins abruptly traded to the Buccaneers fewer than two weeks before the start of the regular season, Brady reportedly is “very upset.”

Indeed Brady is, per a source familiar with Brady’s thinking on the topic.

While Mankins arrived after the Patriots won their third Super Bowl title, he had become one of the most important veterans on the team.  His departure makes the offensive line a little bit worse, which in turn puts a little more pressure on Brady to make it all work.

The trade arose in part from a reported unwillingness of Mankins to take a pay cut. Mankins’ refusal, as one source has speculated, possibly traces at least in part to contentious contract negotiations between the Patriots and Mankins in 2010 and 2011, which at one point included Mankins making comments about owner Robert Kraft’s integrity and the team reportedly conditioning a new contract on a public apology, which never was made.

While “The Patriot Way” routinely includes moving on from key players a year too early in lieu of doing so a year too late, a few players get the benefit of doubt.  Mankins didn’t.

Brady eventually may — unless he makes too big of a stink about key players like Mankins being dumped.

Permalink 108 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

League has no comment on report of Peterson-Jones conversation

Jones Getty Images

In response to the report that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson talked about Peterson playing for the Cowboys when his time with the Vikings ends, PFT contacted both teams and the league office for comment.

The first comment has arrived.  And the first comment is that the NFL has no comment.

Often in cases of potential rules violations, the NFL will say that the matter is being investigated.  While that may be the case as to the Jones-Peterson conversation, the league isn’t saying so.  The league isn’t saying anything.

And before anyone suggests that the league will look the other way because Jones is one of the more influential owners, keep in mind that Jones received a $100,000 fine in September 2009 for talking about the CBA talks.  Also, Jones’ team lost $10 million in cap space for treating the uncapped year of 2010 as uncapped.

Permalink 41 Comments Feed for comments Back to top