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San Jose police not saying much about McDonald case

McDonald AP

With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy clumsily placed on an exempt list that wasn’t really intended to provide teams with a way to, as a practical matter, suspend players with pay, the 49ers continue to refuse to take action of any kind with defensive end Ray McDonald.

They’ve been hiding behind the shield of “due process,” a concept that matters only when the question is whether a player will go to jail.  While the truth may be that they have investigated the situation and believe that McDonald did nothing wrong, the broader truth in this context is that teams have a clear bias to believe the things said by players who are regarded as important to the broader cause of winning football games.

Meanwhile, the NFL apparently has not launched an investigation of its own regarding the McDonald case.  The San Jose police have, but they’re saying nothing about what they’ve learned.

“As a professional law enforcement organization we try not to offer a personal opinion on incidents we are responsible for investigating,” officer Albert Morales told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.  “To that end, our investigators continue to diligently conduct follow up investigations on this case.  At this time we are not at liberty to share any information that is directly related to this investigation.”

Per Maiocco, McDonald met with investigators for two hours on September 4 at the team’s facility.  At some point, more will be known about the case.  At some point, the 49ers may have to revisit their position.

Until the NFL takes these decisions out of the hands of the teams, inconsistencies and ambiguities will exist.  And fans, the media, and sponsors will be confused about precisely what the rules are in this new post-Rice video reality.

The rules very well may be that there are no rules, and that the NFL and its teams are making it up as they go.  The longer that perception lasts, the harder it will be for the league to being the process of restoring its credibility.

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Jerry Rice calls on the 49ers to deactivate Ray McDonald

riceyoung Getty Images

Jerry Rice, the former 49er considered by many to be the greatest player in NFL history, says his old team is wrong to let a player accused of domestic violence to continue to play.

Rice says that Ray McDonald, who was arrested last month and accused of assaulting his pregnant fiancee, should not be playing for the 49ers unless and until he is cleared. Rice echoed the comments of his former quarterback Steve Young, who has said that the 49ers should not hide behind “due process” and should instead take the same step that has already been taken with accused abusers Greg Hardy in Carolina, Adrian Peterson in Minnesota and Jonathan Dwyer in Arizona.

“I think I’m just like Steve Young — I would have totally just taken him off the field until it’s resolved,” Rice told SI.com. “But they have decided to let him play, and it’s just unfortunate. I feel that when you have something that’s weighing you down like that, because it’s a very important topic, and it’s very sensitive, I just feel he should have been taken off the field.”

At a time when the rest of the NFL seems to think that an abuse allegation is enough to take a player off the field, the 49ers are taking a very different stand. It’s a stand that finds them taking harsh criticism, even from some of the greatest players in the history of their franchise.

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Chip Kelly claims he had “zero” off-field issues with DeSean Jackson

Jacksonville Jaguars v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles coach Chip Kelly is preparing to face DeSean Jackson for the first time since cutting him in the offseason, and Kelly claims that the only reason he cut Jackson is that Jackson didn’t fit the profile of his offense.

Asked how much concern Kelly had about Jackson off the field, Kelly answered, “Zero.”

So why was Jackson cut?

“Yeah, just trying to build the overall team in terms of what we’re looking for offensively and how we wanted to get bigger at the wideout spot and that’s what we did,” Kelly said.

That answer is hard to buy. Kelly may prefer bigger wide receivers, but he was able to make things work with a small receiver last year, when Jackson was by far the team’s leading receiver, with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. Jackson was targeted on a whopping 126 passes last season, 42 more than any other Eagle. If Kelly had a problem with Jackson’s size, it sure wasn’t reflected in Kelly’s game planning or play calling. It’s also worth noting that one of the ways the Eagles replaced Jackson’s playmaking ability in the passing game this offseason was to trade for Darren Sproles, who is leading the Eagles in both catches and receiving yards this season and is even smaller than Jackson. Kelly even said after Sproles’s big game on Monday night against the Colts that Sproles’s size can be an advantage because it’s hard for opposing defenses to spot him in traffic.

On Sundays, Jackson looked like a great fit in Kelly’s offense. The real problems appeared to be that Jackson and Kelly were reportedly not seeing eye to eye outside game day, and that the Eagles had some concerns about Jackson away from the game. There had been talk out of Philadelphia for weeks prior to his release that Jackson could be on the way out, but the Eagles didn’t actually release him until about an hour after a story alleging that Jackson had gang ties was published.

Whatever the real reasons, Kelly seems comfortable with his decision to cut Jackson. We’ll see on Sunday whether Jackson can make him regret it.

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Ron Rivera: “We don’t need to blame people, we need to find answers”

Ron Rivera AP

At a certain point during yesterday’s press conference announcing Greg Hardy’s banishment with pay following his domestic violence case, Panthers P.R. director Charlie Dayton tried to step in to offer coach Ron Rivera a lifeline.

But Rivera said he wasn’t finished talking, and showed the kind of leadership and accountability as impressive as the coach of the year honors he won last year.

As he closed a round of questions about sending his highest-paid player away with pay, Rivera said he felt a responsibility to make sure the decision was made properly.

“I made a decision [deactivating Hardy last week] that I felt was best for everybody,” Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “There are a lot of distractions out there, and a lot of people being blamed for a lot of things they have nothing to do with. You know, there’s two ladies that work in this building and they answer the phone. And people call, and they get after them about decisions I make. They don’t deserve to have that. They’re people. They’re women. They’re mothers. They’re sisters. They’re grandmothers. And people call and want to complain.

“So I struggle with it. That makes it very hard on me. So when I have to make decisions, I make decisions that are in the best interests of this organization and don’t ever forget that.”

Rivera was clearly emotional during the press conference, and he should be, given the gravity of the charges.

He acknowledged several times that “the climate is changing,” and their initial willingness to play him against Tampa Bay in the opener was something they simply couldn’t continue after the video of Ray Rice punching his wife in the face emerged and the national conversation changed.

“This is not a normal set of circumstances or situations,” Rivera said. “When you get into these types of situations, you try to handle it them the best you can. As I said on Sunday after the game, the biggest thing we have to understand is we’ve got to get this right. We really do.

“In all honesty, we’re worried about the wrong types of things. We’re trying to figure out who we need to blame. We don’t need to blame people, we need to find answers and corrections and make things right for people, and this is what this really should be about. I’ve been up and talked about this on and on and on, and I really just hope people understand we’re doing the best we can under the circumstances that we have and we’re trying to get this right. And at the end of the day, we have to come up with solutions to make that this does not happen again.”

There is a round of finger-pointing that needs to happen, in order to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But if the league is going to take its domestic violence problem seriously, there needs to be more than words, there needs to be action.

And that action shouldn’t be left to the coaches to enact.

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PFT’s Week Three picks

Kaepernick Getty Images

Plenty of people connected to the NFL would prefer that the last week didn’t happen.  I’m part of that group, for entirely different reasons.

When it came to predicting the outcomes of games in Week Two, I had the worst showing I’ve ever had, in the time I’ve been picking games at PFT.  As it all disintegrated, I used language even more offensive than whatever Colin Kaepernick supposedly said on Sunday night.

Ultimately, I got five right and 11 wrong.  Eleven wrong.

MDS didn’t do much better, but his 8-8 showing puts him in the lead by three games, with a 17-15 mark.  I’m at 14-18 through two weeks.  Which is quite lame.

This week, we disagree on four games.  Which means I’ll likely be seven games behind MDS by next week.

Buccaneers at Falcons

MDS’s take: If the Bucs couldn’t beat teams quarterbacked by Derek Anderson and Austin Davis at home, they’re not going to beat a team quarterbacked by Matt Ryan on the road.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 31, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Falcons are better than I thought they’d be.  The Bucs aren’t.  While it’s unclear what Atlanta will do on the road in the division, holding serve at home against the Saints means they’ll hold serve against the Buccaneers.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 27, Buccaneers 17.

Chargers at Bills

MDS’s take: Are the Bills for real? That may be the toughest question to answer after the first two weeks of the season. They sure look like a much better team than any of us expected heading into 2014. I think they’re going to keep it going against a Chargers team that will have a tough time overcoming a tough game and a long road trip.

MDS’s pick: Bills 21, Chargers 20.

Florio’s take:  The Bills are off to a great start.  And we’ve seen how this movie ends.  While I’m not ready to assume a Western New York renaissance isn’t happening, the Chargers are even better than they were when they made the playoffs a year ago.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Bills 21.

Washington at Eagles

MDS’s take: We’ll all have our eyes on Kirk Cousins getting the start and potentially playing well enough over the next few weeks to keep the job even after Robert Griffin III is ready to go. But I’m more interested in watching Nick Foles, who has made a lot of mental mistakes this year, the kind of mistakes he wasn’t making last year. Fortunately for the Eagles, they’ve managed to go 2-0 without Foles even playing very well. I think they should improve to 3-0 and Foles should have a better game than he’s played so far.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 24, Washington 12.

Florio’s takeDeSean Jackson returns home to see that the Eagles really are even better without him.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 30, Washington 17.

Texans at Giants

MDS’s take: The Giants are just not a good football team right now, and although Tom Coughlin has turned his team around after bad starts before, I don’t see it happening any time soon. Bill O’Brien has the Texans playing efficient and mistake-free offensive football and they’ll put plenty of points on the board against the Giants.

MDS’s pick: Texans 31, Giants 14.

Florio’s take:  And here’s where we find out the Giants aren’t quite as bad as perceived, and that the Texans aren’t quite as good.

Florio’s pick:  Giants 24, Texans 17.

Vikings at Saints

MDS’s take: The Saints are 0-2, but they’ll roll on Sunday over a Vikings team that could be ready to go into a deep dive.

MDS’s pick: Saints 34, Vikings 23.

Florio’s take:  Even without Adrian Peterson playing, the Saints will have a hard time slowing down the Vikings’ offense.  Not because the Vikings’ offense is great, but because the Saints’ defense isn’t.  Still, advantage home team.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 31, Vikings 21.

Cowboys at Rams

MDS’s take: The 1-1 Cowboys are one-eighth of the way to their fourth straight 8-8 finish, and I think what we’re going to see from them this year is more or less what we’ve seen through two games: They’ll beat bad teams like the Titans and lose to good teams like the 49ers. This week it’s the Rams, a bad team, so they’ll win.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Rams 13.

Florio’s take:  The next time anyone talks about expanding the NFL, point out that this game could feature a quarterback showdown of Brandon Weeden and Austin Davis.  Advantage:  No one.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 14, Rams 13.

Titans at Bengals

MDS’s take: I’m really liking what I’m seeing of the Bengals, on both sides of the ball: Their defense is one of the most talented in football and the offensive line is giving Andy Dalton plenty of time to pass, which means he’s not being pressured into the mistakes that have plagued him in the past. Cincinnati might be the best team in the AFC.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Titans 10.

Florio’s take:  Even without a full stadium to cheer them on, the Bengals should be able to roll over the Titans.  Maybe eventually the stadium will be full.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 31, Titans 20.

Ravens at Browns

MDS’s take: I went back and forth on this one. I like the direction the Browns are heading in, but I also think the Ravens, who looked so good last Thursday and have a long work week with extra time to prepare, are a better team from top to bottom. Go with the Ravens in a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 16, Browns 13.

Florio’s take:  Yes, the Browns pulled off a thrilling win over the Saints.  But the New Orleans defense currently is flawed, deeply.  The Baltimore defense isn’t.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 17, Browns 13.

Packers at Lions

MDS’s take: The Lions are so thin at cornerback that Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson should have a field day. On the other hand, the Lions’ passing game has so many weapons that I’m not sure how long the Packers’ defense can slow them down. Go with the Lions in a close, high-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Lions 31, Packers 30.

Florio’s take:  A shootout could be looming in the Lions’ den, with both teams having high-powered offense and neither having a defense that can impose its will.  Maybe they should play on a 50-yard field.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 45, Lions 41.

Colts at Jaguars

MDS’s take: With both teams at 0-2, the loser of this game will be in such a deep hole (or, as Roddy White would say, a deep whole) that any hope of winning the AFC South would be just about over. Before the season some saw the Jaguars as potential playoff teams, but I think the Jaguars have a longer rebuilding job than that.

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Jaguars 17.

Florio’s take:  It’s a must-win game for the Colts, who are playing a team that, based on its current talent level, must lose.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 30, Jaguars 23.

Raiders at Patriots

MDS’s take: Charles Woodson said it best: The Raiders suck. This is the easiest game of the week to pick.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 34, Raiders 20.

Florio’s take:  Remember that time when the Raiders were really good and the Patriots stunk?  Neither do I.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 48, Raiders 17.

49ers at Cardinals

MDS’s take: I went back and forth on this one. The Cardinals have looked better than most people thought, and the 49ers are coming off a major meltdown against the Bears. Does that mean there’s a new pecking order in the NFC West? I don’t think so. Uncertainty at the quarterback position in Arizona is a major problem, and Colin Kaepernick won’t throw three interceptions again.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Cardinals 13.

Florio’s take:  The jury remains out on whether Colin Kaepernick is a franchise quarterback.  The verdict is in on whether the Cardinals can find a way to win, no matter who is injured or suspended or otherwise not available.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 20, 49ers 17.

Broncos at Seahawks

MDS’s take: Super Bowl XLVIII I/II (that’s Super Bowl forty-eight and one-half for those of you who don’t speak Latin) will be a closer game than the ugly blowout we saw in February, but the ultimate result will be the same: The great defense will beat the great offense.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Broncos 17.

Florio’s take:  At a neutral site in early February, the Seahawks won by 35.  At CenturyLink Field with a sudden sense of urgency following last week’s loss in San Diego, this one could be uglier.  But if I pick a margin larger than 35, I could get the Phil Simms treatment in Denver.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 34, Broncos 24.

Chiefs at Dolphins

MDS’s take: This is shaping up to be a long, tough season for the Chiefs. After the breakout year of 2013, the Chiefs are off to a bad start, they’re plagued by injuries, and they’re about to lose their third in a row.

MDS’s pick: Dolphins 27, Chiefs 20.

Florio’s take:  They once played the longest game in NFL history.  This one can’t end soon enough for the road team.

Florio’s pick:  Dolphins 27, Chiefs 14.

Steelers at Panthers

MDS’s take: Kudos to the Panthers’ defense for the way it played on Sunday: Despite losing its best pass rusher, Greg Hardy, for off-field reasons on gameday morning, Carolina did a good job of slowing down a good Detroit passing attack. This Carolina team is better than most people realized.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 24, Steelers 13.

Florio’s take:  The Panthers have longer aspired to be like the Steelers.  Maybe the Panthers have gotten there.  The Steelers are trying to find their way back to that.  Maybe on Sunday night they should take a long look at the team on the other side of the field.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 20, Steelers 12.

Bears at Jets

MDS’s take: The Jets’ offense is a lot better than I expected it to be, and the Bears’ defense has some holes. But the Bears have perhaps the best pair of receivers in the NFL in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and I just don’t think the Jets have the cornerbacks to keep up.

MDS’s pick: Bears 28, Jets 27.

Florio’s take:  The Jets barely beat a bad Raiders team and blew what would have been a big upset at Lambeau Field.  Assuming that the Week Two Bears and not the Week One Bears make the trek to MetLife Stadium, the Jets won’t have to worry about losing the game by an ill-timed timeout.

Florio’s pick:  Bears 23, Jets 14.

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Ma’ake Kemoeatu gives brother Chris the gift of life

Chris Kemoeatu, Ma'ake Kemoeatu AP

We all need a feel-good story about football players right now, and what better way than for family to matter more than the regional rivalries, and for something more than the game to overcome.

Former Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu, who had to retire from the game because of kidney problems, got the gift of life from his brother, former Ravens defensive tackle Ma’ake in the form of a kidney donation.

Everyone jokes about me having a Ravens’ kidney,” Chris said, via Mike Klingaman of the Baltimore Sun. “But hey, I can live with that.”

It beats the alternative.

Ma’ake joked that his little brother (relative) “owes me a lot of steak dinners,” but their sheer size made the surgery more complicated than most.

Chris had to have a heart surgery beforehand to make the procedure possible, and both men checked into the hospital weighing 345 pounds.

“It was the largest normal kidney I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Dr. Stephen Bartlett, the hospital’s surgeon-in-chief. “I felt like somebody had thrown me a small football.”

But this story is far beyond football, about the lengths a family will go to look after one another.

“I’m the oldest of seven kids and it’s my responsibility to take care of the rest,” Ma’ake said. “If my siblings need blood, it will be my blood. If they need a kidney, it will be my kidney. We both stopped our careers for this, but I’d have done it even if I was a rookie with the Ravens. I have to lead by example.”

Hopefully, more people in his old line of work will take on that same challenge.

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Mark Davis: Paid leave should follow domestic violence charges, allegations

Mark Davis AP

An NFL owner believes paid leave from league activities should follow an arrest or allegation of domestic violence.

In a story published Wednesday, Raiders owner Mark Davis told Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News that “if somebody’s accused or arrested in a domestic violence case, they should be suspended with pay.”

Davis’ remarks come as the NFL and its clubs have come under major criticism for their treatment of and reaction to domestic and family issues. The remarks also come on a day where Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and Cardinals tailback Jonathan Dwyer were asked to stay away from their clubs as their legal issues were resolved, a marked change in how teams have responded to off-field issues in the past.

In the Mercury News interview, Davis also weighed in on the 49ers’ decision to allow defensive lineman Ray McDonald to continue playing after his August 31 arrest on domestic charges, telling the newspaper he believed a suspension would be a better policy but that he understood the Niners’ position.

“I see what the 49ers and [owner] Jed (York) are going through and what they’re saying, ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ and that’s the American way. But I think we have to get this right, and suspension with pay in those cases (while the investigation moves forward) is the only thing that makes sense to me right now,” Davis said, according to the Mercury News.

If nothing else, Davis’ suggestion — if made a policy — would at least be a standardized approach to an issue that has riddled the league and its teams.

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Cardinals deactivate Dwyer after domestic violence arrest

dwyer AP

Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, who was arrested today in a domestic violence incident, has been deactivated by the team.

“We became aware of these allegations this afternoon when notified by Phoenix police and are cooperating fully,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities. We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available.”

The Cardinals are now following the lead of the Vikings with Adrian Peterson and the Panthers with Greg Hardy by excusing the accused player while the legal case plays out. The Cardinals stand in sharp contrast, however, to the 49ers, who are continuing to allow Ray McDonald to play even after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence.

Although Dwyer’s arrest came today, it reportedly stems from an incident with his wife in July.

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Dennis Allen won’t address speculation about his job security

allenryan AP

Raiders coach Dennis Allen isn’t in the mood to discuss his job security.

Amid talk that the Raiders may already be making plans to fire Allen and replace him with assistant Tony Sparano, Allen was asked today whether that kind of speculation can weigh on him. But Allen wouldn’t have any of it.

Here’s a partial transcript from Allen’s press conference today, via Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

Q: I’m sure you’ve seen or have been made aware of the speculation about your job, the general manager’s job… Does that matter to you? Do you disregard it?

ALLEN: What matters is getting ready for the New England Patriots. And that’s all I’m going to focus on.

Q: Do you think you’re on a short-term time-frame now?

ALLEN: Listen, I’m getting ready for the New England Patriots.

Allen said he has talked to Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie, but not to owner Mark Davis recently. Davis is the man who will ultimately make the decision about how long Allen lasts as the Raiders’ coach. If Allen wants to impress his boss, he’d better take a cue from his boss’s dad, and just win, baby.

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Cardinals’ Jonathan Dwyer arrested in domestic violence incident

dwyer AP

Another NFL player is facing a domestic violence accusation.

Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer has been accused of domestic violence stemming from an incident with his wife, according to Tyler Baldwin of 3 TV in Phoenix. That report says the fight with his wife happened “a while ago,” but she kept records of her injuries. Phoenix TV station KTAR reports that Dwyer was pulled from practice today and questioned at Phoenix Police headquarters.

Dwyer was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and preventing someone from calling 911 in a domestic violence incident, according to the CBS Evening News Twitter account. A police spokesman told the Arizona Republic that Dwyer was arrested.

The incident comes at a time when domestic violence cases have shaken the NFL, eroded fans’ trust and threatened the job of Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The 25-year-old Dwyer is in his first season with the Cardinals after spending the previous four seasons with the Steelers. He has played in both of the Cardinals’ games this season and has 16 carries for 51 yards. Because he’s not a star player (unlike other accused players like Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson), it wouldn’t be at all surprising for the Cardinals simply to cut him and try to get this case behind them as soon as possible.

Of course, if the Cardinals do cut Dwyer, the next man up on the roster would likely be practice squad running back Chris Rainey — who has had two separate domestic violence incidents, one in college that got him kicked off the team at Florida, and one in the NFL that got him cut by the Steelers. Which serves as a reminder that the NFL has to do a whole lot more to get domestic abusers out of the league.

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Panthers announce Greg Hardy takes “voluntary leave”

Greg Hardy AP

For the second time today, a high-profile NFL player facing legal trouble has been banished from his team.

Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy will, like Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, go on the commissioner’s exempt list until is legal case has run its course. Hardy is awaiting a jury trial on a domestic violence charge.

“The Panthers have announced that DE Greg Hardy will take a voluntary leave of absence from team,” a brief statement from the team read.

Presumably Hardy agreed to the voluntary leave because the Panthers told him if he didn’t, they’d give him an involuntary leave. Hardy, who will continue to be paid his salary of about $770,000 a week, released a statement saying he accepts the decision.

“I understand that I need to step away from football right now and take care of this legal matter,” Hardy said in a statement. “I am entitled to due process and my day in court, and that’s where my focus should be.”

Although Hardy was convicted by a judge, the Panthers initially said they would allow him to seek a jury trial, as is his right in North Carolina, before taking any action. However, after harsh criticism following their decision to play him in Week One, the Panthers deactivated Hardy for Week Two. Now he’s done for the foreseeable future.

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Greg Hardy hasn’t agreed to paid suspension, yet

Hardy Getty Images

When it comes to players accused of domestic violence whose cases are still pending, the NFL has discovered plutonium by accident.

Either way, the emerging trend is to suspend the player with pay, via the little-known Exemption/Commissioner’s Permission designation.  It’s catch-all that allows a team to park a player on the sidelines for an indefinite period of time.  And it’s the modern equivalent of the Bucs and Eagles sending Keyshawn Johnson and Terrell Owens, respectively, home with pay.

Because the labor deal no longer allows guys to be sent home with pay, the player has to agree to this approach.  In the case of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, the player agreed.  In the case of Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the player hasn’t, yet.

While there’s a good chance he will, keep in mind that Hardy faces evidence that is less clear than the charges pending against Peterson, who essentially admits spanking his son to the point of broken skin.  Hardy, found guilty via a preliminary trial so informal that the state doesn’t even generate a transcript of the proceedings, still has a chance to go to court and to pull out a win before a jury, especially since the standard for a criminal conviction is so high.

Apart from the fact that Hardy may be exonerated is the reality that he’s due to become a free agent in 2015.  If he’s not playing, it becomes harder for Hardy to position himself for a major payday in free agency.  And if he’s ultimately acquitted, that major payday could still come.

Regardless of Hardy’s circumstances, this seat-of-the-pants procedure gives the NFL too easy of a way out of the maze the league has created by caring about what players do when not at work.  Instead of suspending the player with pay before his case ends and then presumably suspending him without pay after he is found legally responsible, the league should mobilize an NTSB-style team of investigators to explore the circumstances and make a quick decision as to whether the player is or isn’t guilty.

If the NFL believes he’s clean, he plays.  If the NFL thinks he did something wrong, he receives punishment.  Either way, the cloud of uncertainty won’t linger over the player, his team, and the league.

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Greg Hardy won’t be practicing today after all

Greg Hardy AP

It appears a decision on Greg Hardy is coming soon.

On his way into practice, Panthers coach Ron Rivera told multiple reporters that his controversial defensive end would not be practicing today, but didn’t respond to any questions about his status.

Hardy then left the stadium, accompanied by agent Drew Rosenhaus, who said a decision had been made.

Rivera was late coming out to practice, so he was likely inside the team’s facility in a meeting about his franchise-tagged defensive end, who is expected to be dealt with by the league soon for the domestic violence charges against him.

The Panthers have blown back and forth on this one so many times as to induce dizziness.

Hardy played in the opener at Tampa, but was deactivated from last week’s game. On Monday, Rivera said Hardy would practice this week, but no decision had been made about the game.

It appears that decision has been made, though no one expected them to put him out there in prime time against the Steelers anyway.

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Vikings owner: “We made a mistake and we needed to get this right”

Wilf AP

Vikings owner Zygi Wilf admitted today that his team screwed up when it reinstated running back Adrian Peterson on Monday, saying today that he realizes now that a player who is under indictment on a child abuse charge should not be playing.

“We made a mistake and we needed to get this right,” Wilf said. “We embrace our role in the community and the responsibilities that go with it. It is important to always listen to our fans, the community and our sponsors. Our goal is to always make a decision we feel is right for the Minnesota Vikings. And to be clear, we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. Adrian will be away from the team and focused on his personal situation. We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe this is the right decision.”

After Wilf made that statement, his brother and co-owner Mark Wilf took questions from reporters, and he echoed his brother’s statements.

“Our focus is to get things right,” he said. “We support Adrian on the personal level. He has to get his personal life in order and get things right.”

The Vikings have been widely criticized for initially planning to play Peterson, who has admitted that he injured his son by beating him with a stick. But the Vikings say they take the welfare of children seriously.

“We have a longstanding record of being very supportive of children and youth and it’s something we take very seriously,” Mark Wilf said.

The Vikings only changed their minds after losing at least one sponsor and being strongly criticized by the governor of Minnesota, but the Vikings claim they made the decision to put Peterson on an exempt list and hold him out while his legal matter is ongoing simply because they concluded that it’s the right thing to do. They may never come up with a satisfactory answer for why they delayed in doing the right thing. But their message today is that they believe they’re doing the right thing now.

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New PED policy reinstates only three players (and not Dion Jordan)

Dion Jordan AP

Yes, the NFL and NFLPA finally have worked out a new drug policy.  Yes, players who tested positive in the offseason for stimulants banned under the PED policy will be reinstated.

But the joint announcement from the league and the union identifies only three players to return:  Broncos receiver Wes Welker, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and Rams receiver Stedman Bailey.

So where are all the other players who supposedly were suspended for taking stimulants in the offseason?  Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan claimed that his four-game suspension came from taking a banned stimulant.  If so, he should be reinstated.

So maybe he didn’t really take a banned stimulant.  Unless he had prior violations of the substance-abuse policy that resulted in a four-game suspension based on the off-season reclassified stimulant violation or unless his positive test came before March 11, Jordan was lying.

UPDATE 11:19 a.m. ET:  Per a league source, Jordan’s positive test came before March 11, which means that his suspension won’t be listed.

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