Skip to content

Source: Facebook encouraged Antonio Brown to do locker-room live broadcast

unknown Getty Images

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown’s ill-advised decision to broadcast live from the post-game locker room in Kansas City can no longer be chalked up to an exercise of unbridled enthusiasm.

Per a league source, Facebook actually encouraged Brown to engage in a Facebook Live session from the locker room after the game.

A Facebook spokesperson declined comment on the situation. One other source, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that there has been contact between Facebook and Brown but insisted that Brown was not directed to broadcast live from the locker room.

Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the reality that one or more Facebook representatives may have thrown out ideas for ways to generate more interest and bigger audiences for Brown’s Facebook Live broadcasts. Coupled with the report from NFL Media that Brown has a six-figure deal with Facebook, it would hardly be a surprise to learn that Facebook has tried to steer Brown toward strategies for using Facebook Live that would have maximum impact.

It provides another layer to Brown’s blatant violation of the league’s social-media policy, and it pulls a corporate behemoth into the middle of the potential violation of the league’s broadcast deals by infringing on the exclusive rights of the networks to broadcast locker-room video and audio.

Permalink 62 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Police apprehend Boston man for false alarm at Steelers’ hotel

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08:  Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off the field after defeating the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers got a 3 a.m. wakeup call courtesy of a false fire alarm at their team hotel in New England, and the authorities were quick to act.

Sal Paolantonio of ESPN reports that Massachusetts State Police have apprehended a 25-year-old Boston man on charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace and pulling a false alarm at the Steelers’ hotel.

The false alarm was apparently planned out in advance by Patriots fans wanting to disturb the Steelers: Paolantonio reports that the man pulled the alarm, ran out of the hotel and jumped into a waiting car, fleeing the scene. But police were nonetheless able to catch up to them.

The Steelers were awakened by the alarm but may still be able to get a decent amount of rest before today’s 6:40 p.m. ET kickoff.

Permalink 220 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams expected to play

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 1: Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers looks for yards against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on January 1, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers called up a wide receiver from their practice squad on Saturday, giving themselves a healthy body at the position in the event that one or more of their three unhealthy ones isn’t able to play against the Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

Max McCaffery may be headed for an afternoon as an observer, however. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison will all be in the lineup for the NFC Championship Game unless they have trouble during pregame warmups.

Nelson missed last week’s game with broken ribs suffered against the Giants in the Wild Card round and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Nelson ordered extra kevlar padding to protect his injury. Adams and Allison also drew questionable tags on the team’s injury report after missing practice during the week.

Safety Morgan Burnett is also expected to be available. He injured his thigh against the Cowboys in the divisional round.

Permalink 48 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Packers couldn’t fly out of Green Bay, got to Atlanta late

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers consults with head coach Mike McCarthy during a timeout against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter on December 20, 2015 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Packers won 30-20. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The trip to Atlanta did not go smoothly for the Packers.

Although the team was supposed to get a flight from Green Bay to Atlanta, dense fog in Green Bay prevented that, as the plane that was supposed to take the Packers to their destination couldn’t land in Green Bay because of the fog.

As a result, the Packers had to board buses from Green Bay to Milwaukee, then fly from Milwaukee to Atlanta.

The Packers landed in Atlanta at 8:30 p.m. ET, much later than road teams usually arrive on a Saturday before a game. So while the Packers made it to their Atlanta hotel in time to get a good night’s sleep, it wasn’t as smooth a trip as they would have liked before the NFC Championship Game.

Permalink 44 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jim Irsay: Peyton Manning won’t be joining the Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 07:  Peyton Manning (L) and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay hug during a press conference announcing that the Colts will release Manning at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on March 7, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts owner Jim Irsay finally has done that which seemed quite possible if not likely three weeks ago: He has fired G.M. Ryan Grigson.

At a press conference to announce the move, Irsay said that Peyton Manning will not be joining the team as the G.M. But Irsay may have taken his position on Peyton Manning a bit too far by claiming that Manning and Jon Gruden joining the team was “never in the cards.”

Multiple reports indicated that Irsay tried to woo Gruden and Manning as a package deal. The two men are close friends (it’s not quite The Odd Couple, but it’s close), and the goal was to get both of them. If those reports were all #fakenews, Irsay should have shot them down days ago.

Irsay said he has a list of G.M. candidates, that it could expand, and that he’ll interview current Colts executive Jimmy Raye III for the job. (I think Irsay knows who he’ll hire, but he’s trying to ensure the perception of a full and fair search.)

As to coach Chuck Pagano, Irsay explained that Pagano will be back for 2017, but it’s obvious he’ll be on the hot seat — especially if the new G.M. comes from outside the organization. Every coach wants his own quarterback and every G.M. wants his own coach, and half-measures of this kind rarely work.

Permalink 50 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Pat McAfee celebrates the firing of Ryan Grigson, apparently

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 24:  Pat McAfee #1 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts after throwing a first down pass on a trick play during the second quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

If you’re wondering what Colts players think about the decision to fire G.M. Ryan Grigson, look no farther than the Twitter page of Colts punter Pat McAfee.

Thank God,” he tweeted not long after the news broke. He then followed it with an observation that “‘Unwarranted Arrogance’ just ran into a brick wall called karma.”

After Indianapolis radio personality and former college basketball coach Dan Dakich sneered at these observations from “the punter,” McAfee removed any doubt that he was talking about Grigson: “‘All Pro punter’ please and thank you.. also someone who has seen your best friend treat humans absolutely horrendously for 5 years.”

It’s stunning stuff from McAfee, but I’ll take honesty over robotic Foxboro cliches any day. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether any teammates join in the chorus or publicly dispute McAfee’s views about Grigson.

Permalink 73 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Colts fire Ryan Grigson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 16: General manager Ryan Grigson of the Indianapolis Colts looks on during a rookie minicamp at the team complex on May 16, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

After five seasons and little progress, Ryan Grigson is out as the General Manager of the Colts.

Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay fired Grigson today, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The Colts have announced that Irsay will speak to the media later this afternoon, but they have not confirmed that Grigson is out.

It has been widely reported that Irsay would love to change the structure of his front office and work out a deal to put Peyton Manning in charge. It is unclear if firing Grigson is a step toward hiring Manning, or whether Irsay just decided to can Grigson and start searching for a new G.M. now.

It is also unclear whether head coach Chuck Pagano’s job is safe.

The Colts will now get a very late start on the offseason, as most teams have their front office personnel in place and are already making preparations for free agency and the draft. But Grigson had ample opportunity to build a team around Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, and he failed to do so. As a result, he’s out.

Permalink 117 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bill Belichick going for postseason win No. 25

belichick

Patriots coach Bill Belichick is already the all-time leader in career postseason victories, and so each time he wins it sets a new record, and it hardly even seems worth mentioning.

But Belichick is going for a milestone win on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game: No. 25.

Belichick is 24-10 in the postseason as a head coach, putting him four wins ahead of Hall of Fame Cowboys coach Tom Landry for the most ever. Belichick got his first postseason win with the Browns in 1994, and has added 23 more with the Patriots.

If the Patriots beat the Steelers tomorrow to advance to Super Bowl LI, the Super Bowl will be Belichick’s 36th postseason game coached, which will move him into a three-way tie with Landry and Don Shula for the most postseason games ever. Those three coaches are far ahead of the rest of the pack; Chuck Noll is a distant fourth with 24 postseason games coached.

A win tomorrow would also improve Belichick’s career postseason winning percentage to .714, which would allow him to leapfrog Joe Gibbs and tie Bill Walsh for the highest postseason winning percentage among coaches who coached at least 10 postseason games. Only Vince Lombardi (9-1) and Tom Flores (8-3) have better postseason winning percentages.

Belichick’s place in Canton is already assured, but with each postseason game he’s making a stronger case that he’s the greatest coach in NFL history.

Permalink 112 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Enforcement of illegal substitution rule doesn’t match its language

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 20:   Brice Butler #19 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after catching a pass during the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys receiver Brice Butler’s NFL career may not last very long, but at least his name will be attached to an obscure rule, at least until the next time the rule is applied. It’s quite possible that the rule wasn’t applied correctly as to Butler.

NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained in his weekly officiating video the quirk that saw the Cowboys penalized 15 yards after Butler entered and exited the huddle area without participating in a snap last Sunday against the Packers. Blandino said that the so-called (at least by me) Brice Butler Rule is aimed at preventing teams from deliberately fooling opponents by sending players on and off the field. Blandino admitted that the officials have discretion in this regard, when for example a team facing fourth and short initially decides to punt and then sends the offense back onto the field.

Blandino added that the rule has been on the books since the 1950s, and that it was last called in 2014 during a game between Washington and Dallas. (The NFL’s excellent Game Pass feature includes the Week Eight Washington at Dallas game, but neither the broadcast footage nor the coaches film show what Washington tight end Logan Paulsen did before the snap to draw a 15-yard penalty.)

Blandino’s explanation was reasonable, and it all makes sense. But it seems to conflict with the plain language of the rule book.

“The rule is pretty straightforward in terms of the way it reads,” Blandino said. “It says an offensive substitute who moves onto the field inside the numbers and leaves without participating in one play, that’s a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. There’s a second part of the rule that talks about coming into the huddle and communicating with a teammate and then leaving, but really once a player’s inside the numbers and then leaves but doesn’t participate that’s going to be the foul for unsportsmanlike conduct.”

Here’s the full language of Rule 5, Section 2, Article 2:

“The following are applicable to any offensive substitute who is entering the game:

“(a) He must move onto the field of play or the end zone as far as the inside of the field numerals prior to the snap to be a legal substitution. If he does not, and is on the field of play or end zone at the time of a legal snap, he is an illegal substitute.

“(b) If he approaches the huddle and communicates with a teammate, he is required to participate in at least one play before being withdrawn. Violations of this rule may be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.”

The first part of the rule seems to apply only where the substitute tries to sneak onto the fringe of the field. Moreover, the foul under the first part of the rule arises only if the player “is on the field of play or end zone at the time of a legal snap.” Thus, because Butler’s foul had nothing to do with being on the field at the time of the snap, the first part of the rule simply doesn’t apply.

The second part of the rule becomes the focal point of the analysis. By its plain terms, a violation occurs only if the player “approaches the huddle and communicates with a teammate” but doesn’t participate in at least one play.

The video included with Blandino’s explanation doesn’t show Butler communicating with a teammate — unless slapping the hand of the player who was exiting as Butler was entering counts as communication. Instead, Butler enters the huddle area, immediately turns to the sideline, realizes he shouldn’t be in the game, and then leaves. (That fact that Blandino glossed over the second part of the rule seems to confirm that he doesn’t believe that there is evidence of “communication” with a teammate.)

The discretion to which Blandino referred is codified in a note to the rule that explains the overall intention “to prevent teams from using simulated substitutions to confuse an opponent.” The question of whether discretion should be exercised if relevant, however, only if the two key elements of the violation have occurred: (1) the player has approached the huddle; AND (2) the player has communicated with a teammate.” If the player approaches the huddle and doesn’t communicate with a teammate, there’s no reason to exercise discretion because a potential violation has not occurred.

So, based on the language of the rule, there was no foul absent proof that Butler communicated with a teammate once he arrived at the huddle. If there is no such evidence, it’s entirely possible that this is yet another example of a discrepancy between the rules as written and the rules as enforced.

If that’s the case, the rule needs to be rewritten to match the enforcement, or the enforcement needs to be changed to respect the language of the rule.

Permalink 63 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Stephen Jones: Jerry and Romo will work something out

Tony Romo, Jerry Jones AP

Stephen Jones has a big role in the operations of the Cowboys, but when it comes to the biggest decision the team will make this offseason — what to do with Tony Romo — Stephen knows that his father is still the owner and G.M.

Asked on KRLD-FM about Romo’s future, Stephen Jones answered, “You got the wrong guy on the phone right now.”

In other words, it’s going to be Jerry Jones who makes that call.

So how will it be worked out? Stephen Jones said he thinks his dad and Romo can come up with something that suits everyone’s interests.

“I’m sure as we move forward, obviously, there’s two really important people in this mix,” Stephen Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “First and foremost will be Jerry and then, of course, Tony. I read where Jason said his wish is that Tony, whatever happens here, is happy. I’m sure most people feel that way. At the same time, we all know we’re in a business. It’s something here that will be, obviously, handled with, if you will, kid gloves. And something that we’ll work through and when we’re ready to have any comments about it, I know Jerry and Tony will be the ones to do that.”

Romo has lost his starting job to Dak Prescott, and there’s no getting it back. And there’s no way the Cowboys are going to keep a backup with a cap hit of more than $24 million in 2017. So the only question is whether Jones can find a team willing to trade for an old, injured, expensive quarterback, or whether Jones will release Romo. That’s something the two of them may work out between now and the start of the new league year, which is less than two months away.

Permalink 80 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tom Brady has 19 touchdowns, 0 interceptions vs. Mike Tomlin

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots drops back to pass in the second half during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Rooneys own the Steelers, but Tom Brady owns Mike Tomlin.

In the 10 years since Tomlin became head coach of the Steelers, Brady and the Patriots have faced Pittsburgh six times. And in those six games, Brady has absolutely embarrassed Tomlin’s defense.

According to NFL Research, Brady has 19 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in six games against Tomlin’s teams. Brady’s passer rating in those games is 127.5, his highest against any head coach he’s faced at least three times. His completion percentage against Tomlin’s defense is 71.2 percent and he has averaged 314.8 yards a game.

Brady has never failed to throw for at least two touchdown passes against Tomlin’s Steelers. Tomlin may need to find a way to reverse that on Sunday if he wants to get to the Super Bowl.

Permalink 104 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Aaron Rodgers: It’s loud in Atlanta, whether it’s all natural or not

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 30:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 30, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a shot at the Falcons’ history of playing fake crowd noise over the Georgia Dome loudspeakers in his final media appearance before Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

Asked about the noise in Atlanta, Rodgers acknowledged it’s loud, and then noted that the noise might not actually be coming from the fans.

“It’s really loud in there. Whether that’s all natural or not is yet to be seen,” Rodgers said.

The Falcons were stripped of a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft and fined $350,000 after an investigation revealed that they had been using fake crowd noise while the opposing offense was on the field during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Falcons fired their director of event marketing, whom they blamed for overseeing the scheme, and the NFL temporarily pulled Falcons President Rich McKay off the Competition Committee for it.

There have been no allegations that the Falcons resumed their practice since then, but Rodgers found it amusing to take a little shot at the team before Sunday’s game.

Permalink 88 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Report: Gus Bradley agrees to be Chargers’ defensive coordinator

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Head coach Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars yells out on the sideline during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on November 27, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Gus Bradley will be the Chargers’ new defensive coordinator, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday night.

Bradley spent the last four seasons as head coach of the Jaguars. He had been linked to multiple teams as a defensive coordinator candidate, and landing him is considered a win for new Chargers’ head coach Anthony Lynn.

The Seahawks’ defense took off in Bradley’s four seasons as their defensive coordinator from 2009-12 and ranked in the top 10 in total defense in his final two seasons before he went to Jacksonville. Prior to that, he had been the linebackers coach for the Buccaneers.

The Jaguars fired Bradley in December, knowing they would be headed in a different direction for 2017 after the team went 14-48 with Bradley as head coach. With the Chargers he’ll take over a defense headlined by 2016 rookie defensive end Joey Bosa and Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward.

Permalink 29 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

James Harrison on Tom Brady: Any QB can be rattled if you hit him

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks with James Harrison #92 and Mike Mitchell #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers after the conclusion of the New England Patriots 27-16 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison knows his primary job on Sunday will be hitting Tom Brady.

Harrison was asked today whether Brady can be rattled and he answered, “I believe anybody can be rattled if you get hit enough.”

In Harrison’s view, beating Brady is all about getting pressure on him.

“You can put pressure on any quarterback, to make him uncomfortable — if a quarterback is sitting back there without pressure he’s going to do a good job of spreading the ball around and getting it to his receivers,” Harrison said.

If Harrison fails at rattling Brady, he knows the Patriots’ offense can put a lot of points on the board.

“He gets the ball where it needs to go, his receivers do a good job of catching the ball and getting yards after the catch, his line does a good job of holding up and blocking well and they run the ball pretty decent too,” Harrison said.

And so Harrison will try to hit Brady enough that the Patriots’ offense can’t do all the things it does very well.

Permalink 71 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Travis Kelce fined for ripping ref

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Tight end Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs signals a first down in the first quarter of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers  in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

After the Chiefs lost to the Steelers on Sunday, Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce ripped referee Carl Cheffers, saying Cheffers “shouldn’t be able to wear a zebra jersey,” even at Foot Locker. The NFL was not amused.

A league source tells PFT that Kelce has been fined for criticizing Cheffers.

Although we have not confirmed the exact amount of Kelce’s fine, it’s believed to be about $12,500. That’s half of what Josh Norman was fined for telling an official he sucked during the regular season.

Players generally get a pass if they criticize the officiating in a general sense. When they start to get personal toward an individual official, that’s when the league cracks down. The NFL felt that Kelce, by specifically identifying Cheffers and criticizing not just one specific holding call but Cheffers’ competence in general, had crossed the line.

The NFL has also said that Cheffers was correct on the call in question, a holding call on Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher. And the NFL has appointed Cheffers to referee the Super Bowl, demonstrating that the league is satisfied that Cheffers is fully capable of wearing the zebra jersey to do more than sell footwear.

Permalink 54 Comments Feed for comments Back to top