Skip to content

Roger Goodell: Marijuana is addictive and unhealthy

Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is willing to explore the possibility of allowing NFL players to use marijuana for medical reasons, but he’s not on board with the idea of taking it off the list of banned substances for recreational use.

Goodell said on Mike & Mike that he continues to believe marijuana is bad for players.

“I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long-term. All of those things have to be considered. And it’s not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren’t something that is something that we’ll be held accountable for some years down the road.”

Goodell did acknowledge, however, the growing body of evidence that marijuana can be used for medical reasons.

“We look at it from a medical standpoint,” Goodell said. “So if people feel that it has a medical benefit, the medical advisers have to tell you that. We have joint advisers, we also have independent advisers, both the NFLPA and the NFL, and we’ll sit down and talk about that. But we’ve been studying that through our advisers. To date, they haven’t said this is a change we think you should make that’s in the best interests of the health and safety of our players. If they do, we’re certainly going to consider that. But to date, they haven’t really said that.”

So even as an increasing number of states legalize marijuana, the NFL appears to be some time away from allowing players to use it for medical reasons, and dead-set opposed to allowing players to use it just because they want to use it.

Permalink 225 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Raiders did “miles and miles” of research on Gareon Conley

Getty Images

Among the many storylines heading into Thursday night’s first round of the NFL Draft was the one involving sexual assault allegations made against former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley.

Conley strongly denied the accusation and reportedly passed a polygraph test, but there was some doubt that he’d remain a first-round pick with the cloud hanging overhead. Conley did wind up going before the night was out when the Raiders selected him at No. 24.

After the pick was made, General Manager Reggie McKenzie said he spoke to owner Mark Davis about picking Conley after doing work that convinced him that picking the corner wasn’t an undue risk.

“We did our due diligence throughout this whole process, and we trust our research, reports, everything we have on Mr. Conley,” McKenzie said, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We feel really good about having him join the Raiders, and having him be a great teammate. The research was done. It wasn’t just a gut [feeling]. It was based on research, and we are very confident in all the information we got. I don’t want to get into all the details about who we talked to. The bottom line is, we’ve done miles and miles of research to make sure we were totally comfortable with our decision, which we were. We feel really good about the pick and where it’s going.”

It’s a move that comes with obvious risks for McKenzie, Davis and the Raiders if things should play out differently than they expect on the legal front, but the team headed for Vegas obviously felt comfortable rolling the dice anyway.

Permalink 59 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

John Lynch says 49ers got two of top three players on their board

Getty Images

The 49ers were involved in the first big twist of the 2017 draft when they were able to obtain two third-round picks and a fourth-round pick for moving down one spot from No. 2 to No. 3 in a trade with the Bears.

General Manager John Lynch earned a lot of praise for pulling off that move while running his first draft since taking the job and he remained busy. After taking defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, who was the expected pick at No. 2, Lynch traded back into the first round by sending the newly acquired fourth-round pick and the No. 34 pick to Seattle to take linebacker Reuben Foster with the 31st overall selection.

That ended a major drop for Foster, who was generally expected to come off the board far earlier in the round, and gave the 49ers a player that Lynch said they rated right alongside Thomas on their board.

“I can tell you right off the bat that what we had on the board was just under 200 players, and in terms of how we rated them, we got two of our top three players,” Lynch said, via ESPN.com. “We were able to do that, and we’re thrilled. We’re ecstatic. We think these guys have a lot of traits of what we want to be about as a football organization.”

Both players should be playing early for the Niners and Lynch will be back at work trying to turn the team around on Friday night.

Permalink 40 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

John Elway’s contract is the unanswered question in Denver

Getty Images

Is Broncos General Manager John Elway conducting his last draft in Denver?

Elway, whose contract expires after the upcoming season, declined to answer when asked following the first round of the draft what his own contract status is.

“We’re not going to talk about that now. We’re in the middle of this. We’re trying to get better as a football team. We’ll talk about that later. We’re going to be fine. I’m not worried about that,” Elway said.

Elway took no further questions after that. According to USA Today, the Broncos originally left that portion of the press conference off the video and transcript that the team posted online, although it was later added.

From all indications the 56-year-old Elway is happy in Denver and eager to build another Super Bowl winner, but until a new contract is in place, it’s an open question just how long a future he has with the Broncos.

Permalink 25 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Ryan Pace: If you want to be great, you can’t sit on your hands

Getty Images

In a pre-draft season that saw few things go unnoticed, the Bears’ interest in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky slipped through the cracks.

Trubisky seemed to indicate the same after the pick, but General Manager Ryan Pace admitted to having a private workout with Trubisky that the team was able to keep under wraps. That visit, conversations with Trubisky and scouting his play at North Carolina were enough to leave Pace and the team convinced that he was the right man for them.

During a press conference after the trade and pick, Pace was asked if he felt the 49ers may have been bluffing about other teams coming up to get Trubisky. Pace said he knew other teams were making calls about a trade and “maybe you call the bluff and you miss out on the player.”

“If we want to be great, you just can’t sit on your hands,” Pace said, via the Chicago Tribune. “There are times when you’ve got to be aggressive, and when you have conviction on a guy, you can’t sit on your hands. I just don’t want to be average around here; I want to be great. And these are the moves you have to make.”

Pace said Mike Glennon is the starter and that there’s no timeline for Trubisky to change that, although moving up to take a quarterback with the second overall pick starts an unofficial one because Pace set a course for the future of the franchise and his future with the franchise on Thursday night.

Permalink 48 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bears’ Week 13 win over 49ers cost them three picks

Getty Images

In Week 13, the Bears beat the 49ers in a game that seemed utterly meaningless: Chicago entered the game 2-9, San Francisco entered the game 1-10, and neither team had anything to play for.

But it turned out to be a very meaningful game: The 49ers finished the season 2-14 and had the second overall pick in the draft, while the Bears finished the season 3-13 and had the third overall pick. If the 49ers had beaten the Bears, those records and draft orders would be reversed. And the Bears’ trade up from No. 3 to No. 2 for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky never would have happened.

As it turned out, the Bears sent their third-round pick this year, their fourth-round pick this year and their third-round pick next year to San Francisco just to move up to a draft spot that would have belonged to the Bears if only the Bears hadn’t beaten the 49ers in Week 13.

NFL teams keep playing hard even if the season is lost. Even the Browns, last year’s worst team, won in Week 16 and took the Steelers to overtime in Week 17 in a season finale that could have cost Cleveland the first overall pick with a win. But sometimes teams would be better off losing. The Bears would undoubtedly be better off today if they had lost that meaningless game in December.

Permalink 36 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Bill O’Brien, Rick Smith say Tom Savage is the starter

Getty Images

The Texans made a big move up the draft board on Thursday night when they sent their 2018 first-round pick to the Browns for the chance to use the 12th overall pick on quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Houston had already sent their 2018 second-round pick to Cleveland as a way to erase Brock Osweiler from their roster, so one might think that mortgaging the future in that manner would give Watson the inside track on a starting job this year. Both Texans coach Bill O’Brien and General Manager Rick Smith say that isn’t the case.

O’Brien called Savage the starter after the Watson pick was announced and Smith said he was “comfortable” with Savage as the starter, whcih was what he said in his pre-draft press conference as well. Watson didn’t upset the apple cart when discussing his immediate future.

“All I need to do is put my head down, don’t say anything, learn from all the veterans, learn from Tom Savage, learn from Brandon Weeden and just play my role,” Watson said, via the Houston Chronicle. “Whatever my role is help the team win.”

It’s April, which means there’s a lot of time for Watson to learn the offense and make people with the team less comfortable with leaving him on the bench. Until and unless that happens, it will be Savage at the helm in Houston.

Permalink 25 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Both Cleveland and Washington deny Kirk Cousins trade talks

Getty Images

One of the cannonballs into the pool on a busy news night for the NFL was a report from its own network that the Browns were trying to trade for Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.

By the end of the night, one-sixteenth of the network’s ownership had denied it, with both teams poo-poohing it.

Via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Browns executive Sashi Brown dismissed it, calling it “bad reporting.”

Meanwhile in Washington, via John Keim of ESPN.com, coach Jay Gruden said they didn’t “receive one call” about Cousins.

The Browns used three picks Thursday night, none on quarterbacks, which means their depth chart still consists of Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler.

And until Cousins has a long-term deal somewhere, the speculation about him will continue, in Cleveland and elsewhere. But the time being, both teams are shooting this one down.

Permalink 19 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

49ers end Reuben Foster’s slide

AP

Reuben Foster’s loss was San Francisco’s gain.

The Alabama linebacker, one of the top talents in the draft, slid after being sent home from the Scouting Combine and, more recently, generating a positive drug test via a dilute sample.

It caused him to plunge, but the 49ers decided to trade up to get him, doing a deal with the Seahawks for the 31st pick in the draft.

The 49ers gave up their second-round pick and a fourth-round pick to make the move up and grab Foster, who possibly would have been nabbed by the Saints.

Permalink 23 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Saints close first round by taking Ryan Ramczyk

Getty Images

The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books.

The Saints closed out the night’s activities in Philadelphia by taking Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the 32nd overall pick. The pick was one they acquired from the Patriots in the trade that sent wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots.

Ramczyk is the latest of many strong blockers to come out of Madison in recent years and was widely projected to be a first-round pick this season. He had hip surgery after the end of the Badgers’ season, which may have pushed him down a bit but he ended the night making good on those projections.

They had previously taken cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the 11th pick of the round, so they were able to address both sides of the ball before the night was out.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Steelers grab T.J. Watt with 30th overall pick

Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt with the 30th overall pick in the draft.

The brother of Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, T.J. made a name for himself at Wisconsin last season.

He started just one season for the Badgers after converting to the defensive side of the ball. Watt posted a team-best 15.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks to earn First Team All-Big Ten and multiple All-American honors for Wisconsin last season.

Outside linebacker was a big need for the Steelers as James Harrison isn’t getting any younger.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

At 24, Raiders take a chance on Gareon Conley

Getty Images

In perhaps the biggest surprise of the first round of the NFL draft, the Raiders have selected Gareon Conley, the Ohio State cornerback who came under intense scrutiny this week when he was named as a suspect in a sexual assault investigation.

Until his name surfaced in the police investigation, Conley was expected to be a high first-round pick. As it turned out, Conley wasn’t a high first-round pick, but he was a first-round pick, with the Raiders taking him at No. 24.

Obviously, the Raiders have to be confident that Conley will be cleared. Conley has professed his innocence and insisted that he has multiple witnesses who can testify that he was never alone with his accuser on the night in question.

Conley is an undeniably talented football player. The Raiders also believe they can trust him to be clean off the field.

Permalink 25 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Jonathan Allen’s slide ends at No. 17

Getty Images

It was hard to find too many people predicting Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen would remain available past the halfway point of the first round, but that’s one of many surprising developments in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Allen was projected to be a top-10 pick by most observers heading into the draft, but a run on offensive players helped leave him there for the taking with the 17th overall pick. So that’s just what the Redskins did to end Allen’s longer than expected wait.

If Allen produces the way he did in Tuscaloosa, the way things played out will be a happy memory in Washington. He had 10.5 sacks during his final season with the Crimson Tide and was a disruptive player for several years.

The run on offensive players wasn’t the only reason for his slide, however. Allen also had issues with both shoulders in college, leading to durability questions as he made his way into the professional ranks.

There’s some risk, but the Redskins don’t think they outweigh the potential rewards at this point in the first round.

Permalink 11 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Texans trade up to take Deshaun Watson 12th overall

Getty Images

In the days leading up to the draft, there was plenty of speculation about the Browns using the No. 12 pick as part of a package to trade up for a quarterback after taking Myles Garrett with the first overall pick.

The Garrett part of the equation was right, but the rest didn’t play out. The Browns traded out of the spot and the Texans moved in to take Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson is the third quarterback to come off the board and the third to go to a team that traded up to secure his services.

While it may have been a surprise to some that the Browns have again opted not to take a quarterback, it’s no surprise that the Texans took one. They dealt a first-round pick in 2018, which joins the second-rounder next year that they attached to Brock Osweiler in a previous trade with Cleveland, to get a player they hope can solve the biggest weakness on the team throughout Bill O’Brien’s run as the team’s head coach.

It was shaping up to be one again this season with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden remaining in the wake of the Osweiler trade. Watson’s arrival changes that and it would not be surprising if Watson, who will play with fellow Clemson product DeAndre Hopkins, winds up running the offense by the start of the season.

The Browns now have five picks in the first two rounds next year to go along with No. 25, No. 33 and No. 52 this year. They still don’t have a quarterback, though, and that explains why there are reports of making a run at Kirk Cousins with the Browns again passing on the top signal callers in a draft.

Permalink 20 Comments Feed for comments Back to top

Saints take Marshon Lattimore with eleventh pick

AP

The Saints need defensive help. And they’re getting it.

With the eleventh selection in the draft, New Orleans has taken cornerback Marshon Lattimore from Ohio State.

He’s the first corner off the board, and likely the first of many. He could be the first of many taken by the Saints, who are committed to improving one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

The move could slam the door on any effort to trade for Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. The Saints also hold the No. 32 pick in the draft, as a result of the trade that sent receiver Brandin Cooks to the Patriots.

Permalink 2 Comments Feed for comments Back to top