Skip to content

Seahawks don’t seem to be inclined to give Lynch a raise

Lynch AP

It was quite the coincidence, or perhaps not a coincidence at all, that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch called former teammate Michael Robinson while Robinson was spending several hours on the air at NFL Network and told Robinson that Lynch plans to hold out.

Lynch has been making noise for weeks about wanting a new deal, but he has yet to take concrete action toward that end.  He showed up for a mandatory minicamp amid reports he wouldn’t.  Now, Lynch potentially is throwing a Hail Mary pass in the hopes the Seahawks will blink.

It would be a surprise if they do.  As the Seahawks see it, Lynch has completed half of a four-year, $30 million contract.  He has two years left, and by the time those two years have expired, if not sooner, the team may begin to devote a sizable chunk of Lynch’s touches to Christine Michael or Robert Turbin.

Lynch knows that, given his age (28) and the hits he has absorbed, now is the time to get one last payday.  By next year or the year after, he’ll be at best among the smattering of veterans fetching $3.5 million annually, at best, on the open market.

Permalink 58 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Tony Romo: You’ll see the best version of me in the next 4-5 years

tonyromo AP

A 34-year-old coming off back surgery isn’t exactly the perfect description of an athlete entering his prime. But that’s what Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo says he is.

Romo told reporters today that he thinks he’s going to be better than ever this year, and for a few more years to come.

“I feel personally like I’ve just started to come into the player that I wanted to be six, seven years ago,” Romo said, via the Star-Telegram. “I think over the course of the next four or five years, you’ll see the best version of me that I’ve had throughout my career. That’s for a lot of different reasons, but I really believe that. I believe that will show as we go forward, so I’m excited about that.”

Romo had a strong season statistically last year, with 31 touchdown passes and only 10 interceptions in 15 games. Given the sorry state of the Cowboys’ defense, Romo may have to be even better than that this year if the Cowboys are going to break their streak of three straight 8-8 seasons and reach the playoffs.

Permalink 98 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Peyton disappointed fans can’t attend Broncos camp

peyton AP

The Broncos have closed training camp to fans this year because of construction at the team facilities, and Peyton Manning says that makes this year’s camp different.

“As great as these facilities are going to be, the disappointing thing is that just due to the safety issues we couldn’t have fans here, and I’m disappointed in it – it was not the same today,” Manning told Tom Jackson on ESPN.

Manning said he and his teammates have always enjoyed hearing the fans cheering them on at practice, and this year that won’t be the case.

“You need fans out here in training camp. The energy, you get into the padded practices, those third and fourth padded practices, just a little shout out from the fans . . . it makes a difference and I missed it today,” Manning said. “I know we’re really going to miss it as these training camp practices go on. I just want them to know it will be missed and it was an unavoidable situation.”

The Broncos are planning some open practices at Mile High, but that’s not the same as the day-in, day-out close contact with fans that teams have when they open up training camp.

“We’ve got a couple practices at the stadium. Hopefully we’ll have a great turnout there,” Manning said. “But fans, to me, are a part of training camp, and this will be different this year, and it’s sad for me. Especially these Broncos fans, I know these are some loyal fans, I know fans that have been planning vacations around training camp. I’ve seen them for the past two years and [John] Elway said they’ve been here since he’s been playing so that tells you the kinds of fans we’re playing for and we’re sorry not to see them this year.”

The Broncos say this year’s construction will improve the facilities and make future training camps a better experience for fans. In Manning’s view, that will also make training camp a better experience for players.

Permalink 33 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Marshawn Lynch will be holding out

Marshawn Lynch AP

The Seahawks managed to coax running back Marshawn Lynch to show up for a mandatory minicamp amid concerns he would hold out.  Now, Lynch won’t be showing up for training camp.

Former teammate Michael Robinson, who’s currently working for NFL Network, said on the air moments ago that Lynch said he’ll hold out.

The move exposes Lynch to $30,000 per day in fines, along with (after five days) partial forfeiture of his $6 million signing bonus.

In 2012, Lynch signed a four-year, $30 million contract.  He’s due to earn $5.5 million in 2014, with a cap number of $7 million.

The move comes a day after the Chiefs bumped the 2014 pay of Jamaal Charles from $3.9 million to $8.3 million, via a two-year extension that puts him under contract for four years, $28 million.

Lynch’s holdout represents the first significant negative development for the defending Super Bowl champions, who gave long-term contracts in the offseason to safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman.

Permalink 116 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Browns may use Manziel in a specialty package

Manziel AP

For a guy who lived through the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow debacle in New York, Browns coach Mike Pettine doesn’t seem to be concerned about his quarterback competition in Cleveland becoming a potential two-man show.  In fact, it looks like that’s what Pettine wants.

During his interview with Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, Pettine said that the team is considering using Manziel as a Wildcat-style change-of-pace in his rookie year.

We’ve already talked about it,” Pettine said regarding the possibility of using both Manziel and Brian Hoyer in the same game.
“We’ve already installed elements of it in the spring.  We ran some of the zone-read stuff in practice and Kyle [Shanahan] incorporated some of the mobile quarterback elements of what he did in Washington.  We’re still going to go back to the beginning in pads, but as we get going, some of the stuff that’s more game-plan-specific that we don’t want to show, we might work on in our walk-throughs as opposed to a public practice.”

Pettine wisely didn’t point to the Sanchez-Tebow experiment as justification for doing it.

“That’s how Colin Kaepernick got his start in the NFL, as a package quarterback,” Pettine said of the former 49ers backup.  “On the other side of the ball, I’ve seen that give defenses some trouble.  I think there’s positives and negatives to it.  You’re taking your starter off the field.  You have his rhythm and continuity to take into account, but at the same time defensively you’re now forcing a team to basically come up with two game plans.  I mean, there are pluses and minuses to it and it’s something I’m sure will be discussed at some point.”

In theory, the Jets wanted Tebow because of the pressure that preparing for two quarterbacks puts on a defense.  And if former offensive coordinator Tony Sporano had any faith at all in Tebow, the Jets may have actually used him.

The Jets and Pettine nevertheless got a first-hand look at the challenge of dealing with two quarterbacks in September 2012, when Kaepernick rushed five time for 50 yards and a touchdown coming off the bench and showing the Jets how to properly employ a two-quarterback system.

If the Browns could pull it off, the dilution of the ability of the opposing defense to fully prepare for each guy could help both guys thrive.  The only downside is that, as Manziel has more and more success, more and more fans will be clamoring for him to be something other than a part-time player.

Permalink 55 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ray Rice not expected to appeal suspension

Rice AP

By rule, Ravens running back Ray Rice has the right to appeal the two-game suspension and one-game fine imposed on him by Commissioner Roger Goodell for violating the personal-conduct policy.  Per a league source, initial indications are that Rice will not appeal the ruling.

Since the appeal is handled by the person who made the decision in the first place, the chances of getting the discipline reduced are small.  Likewise, the strong media and fan reaction to the ban as being too lenient would shift more directly and forcefully to Rice if Rice were to fight a suspension that his G.M., Ozzie Newsome, has been criticized for calling “fair.”

Rice has three days to appeal, so he has a couple of nights to sleep on it.  Until a final answer comes, share your thoughts on whether the suspension went far enough.

Permalink 59 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Aldon Smith says he’s remained sober, expects to meet with Goodell soon

Aldon Smith AP

With word of Ravens running back Ray Rice’s two-game suspension being announced on Thursday, we may be drawing closer to learning what kind of discipline the league has in store for 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith.

Smith pleaded no contest to three weapons charges and a DUI this offseason and reports were that he’d meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell soon to discuss his situation. On Thursday, Smith confirmed, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, that he expects to have a meeting with Goodell soon but that no date has been set yet.

Barrows also reports that Smith said he has remained sober since checking into a rehab facility after being arrested for DUI last September. Smith missed five games while in rehab, something Goodell said could be a factor in any penalty that is ultimately handed down.

The sobriety may also help persuade Goodell to opt for lesser discipline, but Smith has racked up enough negatives that it would be surprising if he’s in the 49ers lineup for the first few weeks of the regular season.

Permalink 45 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Mike Priefer: I’ve learned a hard lesson

Minnesota Vikings Media Access Getty Images

The Vikings suspended special teams coach Mike Priefer last Friday night after an investigation into claims by the team’s former punter Chris Kluwe that Priefer made homophobic remarks while speaking to the team.

Priefer made his first public comments about the suspension, which is for three games with the potential to go down to two games after Priefer completes sensitivity training, and said he made a mistake that went “way below the bar” by making the remarks. Priefer reiterated the apology that he made on Friday and said he’s learned a lesson.

“I’m not going to change the way I coach and I’m not going to change the way I teach,” Priefer said, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But I’ve learned a lesson. I have learned a lesson here. That’s a great thing about this situation, I’m going to look back and say something good had to come from this. But I learned a hard lesson, I’ve got to be sensitive to other people in what I say and that’s not going to happen again.”

Priefer didn’t go into specific detail about what he said and will undergo sensitivity training during the first week of the regular season. General Manager Rick Spielman indicated that the team considered firing Priefer, but thought a suspension was more appropriate. Coach Mike Zimmer said he stands behind Priefer because he’s a good person that made a mistake.

“We all make mistakes,” Zimmer said. “We all try to learn from our mistakes. And I think this guy is a very high-character, quality person that I want to stand behind. Honestly, I want to stand behind him because I know what is inside of him, I know what’s in his heart. And he made a mistake, and if anyone here hasn’t made a mistake, I want you to raise your hand, because I know I’ve made plenty.”

Kluwe and the Vikings are working toward a settlement that would avoid a lawsuit from Kluwe alleging wrongful discharge and defamation of character. Should that happen, Priefer and the team will be closer to fulfilling Priefer’s desire to “move on” from the investigation.

Permalink 80 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Rice suspended two games, fined a game check

ray-rice Getty Images

The reports regarding the two-game suspension to be imposed on Ravens running back Ray Rice were mostly accurate, but ultimately incomplete.  The league has announced that Rice will be suspended two games and also fined an additional game check.

The decision will result in $705,0882 in lost salary for Rice.  The Ravens also could try to recover $352,941 of Rice’s $15 million signing bonus, paid in 2012.

Since the Ravens play on Thursday night in Week Two, he’ll be back on Friday, September 12, before the rest of the league has played its second game.

“As you acknowledged during our meeting, your conduct was unquestionably inconsistent with league polices and the standard of behavior required of everyone who is part of the NFL,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter to Rice.  “The league is an entity that depends on integrity and in the confidence of the public and we simply cannot tolerate conduct that endangers others or reflects negatively on our game. This is particularly true with respect to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.”

The suspension has been widely criticized as being too soft, even though the league-owned network has described the punishment as an example of the NFL’s iron fist.

That’s an unfortunate metaphor in cases of domestic violence.  In this specific case, many would also say it’s inaccurate.

Permalink 111 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

John Harbaugh: Ray Rice is a heck of a guy who made a mistake

Baltimore Ravens Training Camp Getty Images

Ravens coach John Harbaugh is standing behind running back Ray Rice, who was suspended for the first two games of the regular season for assaulting his wife.

Harbaugh said today that he and his team would get past the suspension and continue to support Rice, one of the team’s veteran leaders.

“It’s not a big deal, it’s just part of the process,” Harbaugh said, via ESPN. “There are consequences when you make a mistake like that. I stand behind Ray. He’s a heck of a guy. He’s done everything right since. He makes a mistake, alright? He’s going to have to pay a consequence. I think that’s good for kids to understand it works that way. That’s how it works, that’s how it should be.”

To many, Harbaugh’s comments will come off as too supportive of Rice, and not reflective enough of the gravity of the situation. That’s also a criticism the Ravens as a franchise received when they arranged a press conference for Rice and his wife in May. Whether Harbaugh meant it this way or not, calling Rice’s crime a “mistake” suggests that it was a relatively minor transgression, and saying that it’s good for kids to learn from it suggests that there’s some kind of silver lining to this story. Harbaugh’s comments struck the wrong note.

Permalink 108 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Get ‘em while they’re hot: Buy your ladies’ Ray Rice gear

pinkray

The league’s in house network referred to the “iron fist of the NFL” this morning while discussing the pending two-game suspension for the Ravens running back Ray Rice.

But that iron palm can still be greased, mind you.

In case you wanted to show your support for the Ravens running back during his time off for knocking his wife unconscious, you can order your very own Ray Rice ladies’ jersey from the team store, for the low price of $94.95.

Or even better, you can order the shimmering pink one (with the sassy laces to cover up your cleavage) from the league for only $59.95.

Those will be perfect for the warm autumn afternoons of October, when the league goes to great pains to remind you it supports breast cancer research.

If only they showed as much respect for the rest of the woman.

Photo credit: NFLShop.com

Permalink 114 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Manziel won’t get first-team reps right away

Pettine AP

Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel got plenty of first-team reps during offseason workouts.  He won’t be getting any in training camp, at least not initially.

He will get reps with the ones at some point,” coach Mike Pettine told Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com.  “But early on . . .  we only talked about how we would handle things very early in camp and then make that assessment after the first off day and then have a plan for the scrimmage [on August 2].  We’ll see where he is coming out of the summer.”

The summer break began with Manziel defiantly saying at the Rookie Symposium that he won’t be changing his off-field ways for anyone.  Grossi asked Pettine whether he was surprised by that.  But Pettine seems to still be OK with Johnny Football being Johnny Vegas or Johnny Rolled-Up-Hundy or Johnny Whatever when he’s off the clock.

“Yeah, but I think it still needs to get to a point where if it’s affecting his job, that he’s in a situation where he goes out and has a good time, are there other players in the NFL that do that? Absolutely,” Pettine said.  “But his persona, and it’s a phenomenon, has created something where people seek those photographs and are very eager to put them out.  Does he go out more than some guys?  Maybe.  But he’s young and that’s his lifestyle and it is the offseason.  If this is a pattern during the season and it is affecting his work, then that’s much more cause for concern. . . .  To me, his life as an NFL player truly starts now and he’ll be judged on that. And if we get the hint that there’s behaviors affecting his work or there’s criminal activity then absolutely there’s cause for concern.

And that’s precisely why the NFL should quit testing guys for recreational drugs, especially in the offseason.  Teams don’t care about what a guy does unless and until it affects his job or his freedom (which in turn affects his ability to show up for his job).  If the individual teams don’t care about anything more than that, why does the collection of 32 teams care?

Of course, Pettine does indeed have a concern about the photo of Manziel tightly rolling up a piece of paper money.  Pettine confirmed to Grossi that player and coach talked about it.

“I felt very positive coming out of the conversation and I’m very confident moving forward, now that it’s 100 percent about football, that it will be much less of an issue,” Pettine said.

If it’s truly 100 percent football, it shouldn’t be an issue at all.  And if Manziel hopes to be like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, it needs to be 100 percent football far more often than when it’s football season.

And when football season starts, it currently appears Manziel will be on the bench.  Pettine admitted that his goal of naming a starter sooner than later favors Brian Hoyer.

Permalink 38 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ravens website says Rice will be suspended two games, based on “reports”

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Getty Images

As more and more sports leagues and more and more teams try to get into the media business, unusual developments occur from time to time.

Most recently, the Ravens have posted an item on their website acknowledging “multiple reports” that running back Ray Rice will be suspended two games for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.  Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported that an announcement of the suspension will come later today.

On one hand, it’s smart that the Ravens didn’t avoid the topic.  On the other hand, it would have been stupid to post the item without running the issue by folks higher on the organizational chart who may know which way the wind is or isn’t blowing.  So if the folks who run the team’s website are smart, the mere posting of the story should be regarded as a very strong hint that, indeed, Rice will be suspended two games.

The backlash already has begun, on two fronts.  Some have argued that the suspension of Rice without a suspension of Colts owner Jim Irsay shows favorable treatment of the folks who sign the checks.  Others have argued that Rice didn’t get suspended long enough.

Both sentiments have a considerable degree of merit.  Even though players are almost never suspended for a first-offense DUI and despite the fact that no discipline comes for a first-time DUI offender until the case is resolved, a strong expectation has emerged that Irsay should be and will be held to a higher standard.  As to Rice, the fact that the NFL will throw a guy out of the game for a year due to the disease of addiction to marijuana or other non-PEDs but will ban a guy who knocked out his future wife in a public place for only two games seems more than a bit inconsistent.

The common thread between those two angles comes from the league’s ongoing desire to police what players do on their own time with substances that don’t enhance performance.  Regardless of whether Irsay is suspended sooner than later, the league likely won’t subject him to the same rigorous testing that would throw a player who has an uncured disease out of the league for a year or longer, for fear of ultimately having to throw an owner out of the league for a year or longer.  Or permanently.

So maybe the discussion eventually needs to focus squarely on the substance-abuse policy that applies to players.  With coaches constantly policing performance by playing and/or keeping only the best players, that should be the ultimate litmus test for determining whether a guy should remain in the league notwithstanding the use of recreational drugs.  If/when the use of street drugs affects his performance, he won’t have a job.  If the use of street drugs doesn’t affect his performance, why should the NFL or anyone other than the appropriate law-enforcement agencies care?

Permalink 92 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

HGH use up among high school students

HGH AP

Nearly three years ago, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to implement HGH testing.  And they’ve yet to actually implement it, due to a series of roadblocks and hurdles that currently has the two sides squabbling not over HGH testing but the Commissioner’s power when it comes to players disciplined for PED violations unrelated to positive drug tests.

Meanwhile, more and more kids are using HGH.  As mentioned earlier in the morning on The Dan Patrick Show, a new survey featured at Time.com shows that 11 percent of 3,705 high-school students admitted to using HGH without a prescription.  That’s an increase from five percent in 2012 and 2011.

It’s entirely possible that the ongoing discussion of HGH arising from the inability of the NFL and NFLPA to actually implement testing has increased national awareness of HGH, introducing more kids to the product.  And with the NFL still not testing for it, kids looking for a reason to justify the use of HGH could easily twist the lack of testing into a belief that the NFL doesn’t really think it’s a big deal.

The NFL acts like HGH is a big deal, but the NFL won’t do what needs to be done to get HGH testing rolling.  While it’s understandable that the league doesn’t want to set a bad precedent by yielding to the union a little-used slice of Roger Goodell’s authority, the league office is full of very smart people who should be able to find a way to craft a win-win.

As a result, the impression lingers that the league is trying to avoid a lose-lose, in which HGH testing would expose a major PED problem and sideline many of the men fans pay to watch play football.  Some even wonder whether the unspoken goal of the protracted delay is to allow players who require some sort of pharmaceutical enhancement to find a comparable product that isn’t detected via current testing or easily masked.

Regardless, in the three years since the league and union agreed to adopt something other than the honor system for HGH, more kids are using it.  Which makes it even more important for the NFL and NFLPA to make a strong statement by finally testing for HGH and suspending those caught using it.

Permalink 32 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Justin Blackmon arrested for marijuana possession

Justin Blackmon AP

Justin Blackmon, the talented but troubled Jaguars receiver who is currently serving an indefinite suspension for substance-abuse violations, has been arrested again.

Blackmon was arrested for possession of marijuana Wednesday night in Edmond, Oklahoma, according to Channel 6 News in Tulsa.

Police say Blackmon was initially pulled over for a traffic violation and officers could smell marijuana coming from his car. They searched, found marijuana and took Blackmon into custody.

Blackmon has previously been arrested twice for drunk driving.

The Jaguars spent the fifth overall pick on Blackmon in the 2012 NFL draft. He showed promise as a rookie but was suspended indefinitely after playing just four games in 2013. Even before this arrest the Jaguars were not counting on him to play for them at all this year, and his inability to stay out of trouble raises questions about whether he’ll ever play in the NFL again.

Permalink 142 Comments Feed for comments Back to top