Tua Tagovailoa donates $10,000 to TuAnon founder’s family

Miami Dolphins Offseason Workout
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Eric Carmona the founder of the Tua Tagovailoa fan club known as TuAnon, recently died in a car accident. A GoFundMe page has been created to support him family.

One of the contributors is Tua himself. He gave $10,000 of the $67,322 that has been raised to date.

Tagovailoa was asked about the gesture during a Wednesday press conference with reporters.

“He’s a diehard fan about me, but out of my respect to him, I mean, he basically not just covered me but the entire Dolphins,” Tagovailoa said. “For me to have done that, Tyreek [Hill] was able to do the same. Other guys have been able to do the same as well, to donate. But I just want his wife and his kids to know that we’re praying for them and that we’re thinking of them.”

If you’re a Dolphins fan or just a fan of football who has the kind of passion Eric Carmona had for his favorite team, peel off a few bucks and make a difference for three young children who have lost their father.

Carmona, a Navy veteran, was only 30 years old. He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and four children.

Report: Commanders sale could be approved in July

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The final days of Daniel Snyder are upon us.

Via the Washington Post, the sale of the Commanders “is advancing” toward “expected’ approval by the NFL. It could happen as soon as July.

That’s the news in the aftermath of a 2.5-hour meeting between prospective owner Josh Harris and the NFL’s finance committee on Wednesday in New York.

Although, per the report, “more work must be done,” the vote could happen — with approval the anticipated result — in late July.

Harris and his investment group will buy the team from Daniel and Tanya Snyder for $6.05 billion, if/when the transaction is approved.

Josh Harris, Mitchell Rales exit league office after 2.5-hour meeting

NFL: NOV 20 Commanders at Texans
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As expected, proposed Commanders owner Josh Harris met with the NFL on Wednesday, against a smoky dystopian backdrop that serves as a fitting metaphor for the entirety of the Daniel Snyder era in D.C.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that Harris and Mitchell Rales, the top minority investor in the Harris-led group, spent roughly 2.5 hours at 345 Park Avenue on Wednesday.

Harris has vowed to fix any issues with the deal that potentially run afoul of league rules. One major concern has been the debt structure of the $6.05 billion transaction.

The league has a strong motivation to move on from Snyder, but it is trying to do justice to requirements aimed at ensuring that the franchise will be financially viable post-closing. Fans desperate to dump The Dan should be in support of measures aimed at ensuring that the team won’t struggle to compete due to funding issues.

Isaiah Rodgers was absent from Wednesday’s OTA practice

Indianapolis Colts Training Camp
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Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers had been present for the team’s prior offseason workouts. In the aftermath of the news that he’s under investigation for “pervasive” violations of the league’s gambling policy, he was not seen by reporters during Wednesday’s session.

Via Stephen Holder of ESPN.com, Rodgers was absent from the on-field workout. Coach Shane Steichen declined comment, due to the ongoing probe.

Rodgers issued a statement on Monday night, accepting responsibility and apologizing for the distraction.

The NFL’s gambling policy gives the Commissioner broad discretion to determine the appropriate punishment for a violation, up to and including lifetime banishment. Rodgers reportedly bet on Colts games; if he ever bet on the Colts to lose or to not cover the spread, it’s hard to imagine him ever being allowed to play in another NFL game.

Inside the NFL lands at The CW

In this photo illustration The CW Television Network (The CW
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After decades on HBO, Showtime, and most recently Paramount Plus, Inside the NFL is heading for broadcast TV.

The CW Network (WTF?) has announced that it has become the new home of the long-running weekly studio show covering the NFL.

The hosts and producers for the show will be unveiled at a later date, per the press release. The quote from the relevant NFL Films executive suggests that the show will go younger (and possibly cheaper).

“Generations of football fans have grown up watching Inside the NFL,” NFL Films senior executive Ross Ketover, Senior Executive, NFL Films. “It is a show we cherish at NFL Films and we are thrilled to bring it to a great new partner in The CW. This is a special opportunity to reimagine and reboot Inside the NFL for a wider audience and a new generation of fans. We can’t wait to get started.”

In the years before the Internet, Inside the NFL provided indispensable content for football fans, with thorough highlights and analysis of the prior week’s games. Now, anyone who wants to see the best plays from a given game can get them virtually in real time. Also, the prevalence of Sunday Ticket and the ability to watch completed games on demand supplants what once was the only way for fans to get a lengthy glimpse of games they didn’t see live.

So what will the reimagination and reboot look like? That will go a long way toward determining whether it works, and whether it survives.

The show debuts on The CW on Tuesday, September 5 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Sean McVay, Cooper Kupp have good things to say about Puka Nacua

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After taking an “eff them picks” approach to the draft over the past few years, the Rams need their picks to perform.

They especially need it at the receiver position, given the departures in recent years of players like Allen Robinson, OBJ, and Robert Woods.

Enter fifth-round receiver Puka Nacua, from Brigham Young. Both coach Sean McVay and receiver Cooper Kupp had great things to say about Nacua on Tuesday.

“It’s been really impressive how quickly he’s gotten up to speed,” McVay told reporters. “I think you can’t say enough about [receiver] Eric Yarber, [offensive line assistant] KJ Black, [pass Game specialist] Jake Peetz, those guys have done a great job and he’s really conscientious. Matthew [Stafford] has done a great job of really just kind of taking him under his wing and being able to kind of just help give those little nuances, having Cooper [Kupp] back.

“So he’s smart, he’s conscientious. It’s hard to really compare to anybody because a lot of those guys, whether you talk about Robert [Woods’s] first year, Cooper’s rookie year, having Sammy [Watkins] but then ended up having Brandin Cooks, there’s been a standard set in that room where there’s been really conscientious players. Even if you go with Josh Reynolds, how quickly Van [Jefferson] has done a great job of grasping the offense. And so, he’s a guy that we’re expecting him to come in, expecting him to be able to contribute and compete. Every spot is going to be earned on this team, but I really like what he’s done and I think it’s a credit to everybody around him and his conscientiousness.”

Kupp had great things to say, too.

“Yeah man he’s pretty special,” Kupp told reporters. “I think if he can stay on a good trajectory, he’s going to be a very good football player in this league. I love the way that he attacks each day. He’s got a great feel for the game, great feel for leverage, running routes. You come in, you’re running new concepts and things like that. Things that you’ve done before to get open might not fit within the realm of the things that we want to do here, but he’s just transitioned so quickly over understanding what the parameters are that he’s able to work in.

“He’s got a great feel for attacking leverage, how to stick things, his timing on when he needs to show up for things and he’s asking the right questions, too. I think that’s the big thing. He’s asking the right questions and as he gets more reps over and over as he gets to see these things, he’s just going to get better and better. So, I’m really excited about him and the steps that he’s going to be able to take over these next few months.”

Again, the Rams need these youngsters to step up. Including Nacua, and the rest of the team’s 14 draft picks.

George Kittle’s praise for Trey Lance confirms his past struggles

NFL: MAY 31 San Francisco 49ers OTA
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49ers tight end George Kittle has plenty of praise for quarterback Trey Lance, the third overall pick in the 2021 draft. Kittle’s positive comments, however, make it clear that Lance struggled in the past.

“I think Trey looks significantly better than he did last year,” Kittle told reporters on Tuesday. “I think his confidence is there. I think that he’s throwing really good passes. . . . I think Trey’s, he just looks comfortable back there. He doesn’t look like — um, he just looks like he’s having fun.”

Watch the clip. He stops himself from saying, “He doesn’t look like he did last year,” or something along those lines.

That’s significant because Lance was the Week One starter in 2022. It’s fair to ask whether his teammates truly believed he should have been.

This year, Lance likely won’t be the Week One starter. That job goes to Brock Purdy, if healthy. If he isn’t, Sam Darnold could take over.

But they’ll be keeping Lance because, last year, they needed QB3. If that’s who Lance is this year, there’s a chance they’ll need him, too.

If he ends up playing, apparently he’ll be ready. Apparently, he won’t look like — um, he’ll just look like he’s having fun.

Jaguars renovated stadium looks great; now, who will pay for it?

Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s one thing to release drawings of what a new or renovated stadium will look like. It’s another thing to, you know, build it.

The Jaguars have done the easy thing, publishing “conceptual designs for the Stadium of the Future.” Now, they simply need to find a giant pool of money in the present to pay for it.

Wednesday’s announcement is simply the sound and fury signifying nothing. It’s all meaningless unless we know who’s footing the bill.

It won’t be paid for solely by the Jaguars. They’ll want public money. And today’s unveiling of the stadium design is calculated to generate political support for free money.

A new mayor will take office on July 1. That’s when the real work will start. The Jaguars hope that today’s announcement will lay the foundation for a strong commitment by the public powers-that-be to pay for most or all of the new venue.

Indeed, the team will host over the next two weeks events throughout the community aimed spreading the word about — and building support for — the eventual request the team will make for a massive amount of taxpayer money.

Then there’s the question of where the Jaguars will play while the new building is being built. The outgoing mayor has said it will require alternative arrangements for at least two seasons.

Regardless, this is clearly what the team wants. And there’s no reason for the team to ever explain what the “or else” would be. Not when they currently play at least one game per year in Or Else City.

Secretive NFLPA executive director selection process continues

NFL: JAN 30 Super Bowl LIV - NFLPA Press Conference
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There’s a fine line between confidentiality and transparency. At a certain point, secrecy suggests chicanery.

For the NFL Players Association’s ongoing effort to find a new executive director, there’s no evidence of chicanery. Of course, there’s no evidence at all. The entire process has been shrouded in extreme secrecy.

Mark Maske of the Washington Post has some new details on the “protracted” search for a replacement to DeMaurice Smith.

Per the report, Domonique Foxworth, Kellen Winslow Sr., and Matt Schaub “were considered for the job” by the NFLPA’s executive committee, but that they are “no longer regarded as candidates.”

Maske also reports that NFLPA executive Don Davis “has reemerged as a potential candidate,” following a report last month from TheAthletic.com that the list of finalists included no internal candidates.

David Feher, an outside attorney for the union, also is regarded as a “possible contender,” according to Maske.

Not under consideration, according to Maske, are former NFLPA president Eric Winston, attorney Cyrus Mehri, attorney David Cornwell, and former Packers executive and agent Andrew Brandt.

Maske identifies others who have been “mentioned in speculation”: NFLPA general counsel Tom DePaso, NFLPA COO Teri Smith, NFLPA spokesperson George Atallah, and former NFL receiver and member of Congress Anthony Gonzalez.

The end result could be a Brewster’s Millions-style “none of the above.” Maske writes that some are wondering whether the entire process will end with the inability of the players to agree on a new executive director, which could result in Smith remaining in the position.

So what’s really going on? It would be nice for players to know. Even though the rank and file don’t vote on the position, they seem to be every bit in the dark as the rest of us. At some point, shouldn’t the union send out an email listing the candidates and asking the players to make their preferences known to the team-elected representatives?

This is a fairly big issue for the union. And, yes, the ongoing absence of any information about who is or isn’t a candidate eventually will invite fair suspicion that someone is up to something.

For enough money, sure, Saudi Arabia could buy an NFL team

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NFL rules prohibit foreign investment in franchises. But rules were made to be disregarded, when sufficiently profitable to do so.

Tuesday’s stunning news that the PGA Tour and LIV golf have settled their differences with a merger that is more akin to a LIV buyout shows that everything and everyone has a price. At a certain price, everything and everyone is for sale.

So, yes, the Public Investment Fund (the formal name of the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia) can get into the NFL if it wants. And if it has to set up a competing league to light the fuse, so be it.

It worked in golf. Why wouldn’t it work in football?

Again, they have to want it. If they truly do, they can pull it off.

The NFL, after decades of rule changes aimed at making the game safer, has risked the arrival of a competitor with players and fans that embrace “old-school football.” The Public Investment Fund could start there, if blocked in the effort to buy a team. If they want one.

Everything and everyone has a price. At a certain figure, the NFL’s owners will look the other way. Money changes everything, including positions that presumably would never change.

Look at the things the PGA Tour said about LIV golf, leaning far into Saudi Arabia’s connections to 9/11. Now, consider the things NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said about the potential legalization of betting on pro football, when Delaware tried to challenge the federal law preventing states from embracing it in 2009: “Normal incidents of the game such as bad snaps, dropped passes, turnovers, penalty flags and play calling inevitably will fuel speculation, distrust and accusations of point-shaving and game-fixing.”

Eight years later, the Supreme Court upheld New Jersey’s challenge to that same federal law, opening the floodgates of legalized gambling — and causing the NFL to dramatically change its position, once it realized there was much money to be made from this new reality.

The LIV golf cash grab represents another new reality that can be parlayed into a ton of money. And if the Saudis keep putting more and more and more money on the table, eventually the league would change “no” to “yes.”

It all starts with whether the Saudis want in. If they do, and if they’re willing to invest unlimited cash into the effort, there will eventually be a number that causes those who own the NFL’s teams to tell Goodell to earn some more of his own annual compensation package by being the pin cushion for any and all criticism that would flow from the many millions, if not billions, to be earned by simply doing business with folks who have a ton of money and are willing to spend it on football. If they want to.

No one knows at this point whether they want to. It’s now obvious that, if they do, there’s an easy way to make it happen.

Make them an offer they happily won’t refuse.

Sean McVay tiptoes through the minefield of talking about Jared Goff’s improvement

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks
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The Rams loved quarterback Jared Goff until they didn’t, giving him an ill-advised market-level contract in 2019 before tucking a first-round pick into the Matthew Stafford trade to get Goff off the books after only two seasons of the new deal.

Now, after two years of Goff in Detroit, the Lions have decided they like the first overall pick in the 2016 draft a lot more than the Rams did. Most recently, Lions coach Dan Campbell said he believes Goff is better now than he was with the Rams.

Rams coach Sean McVay was asked by a reporter on Tuesday to try to tiptoe through the minefield of responding to that assessment, balancing the risk of admitting a mistake with the possibility of being accidentally candid about why he decided to treat Goff like a hot ptomaine potato.

“I think Jared’s played at a really high level,” McVay said, via the transcript distributed by the team. “I’ll tell you what though, when you watch what he did last year, he played great. And I think because he’s so conscientious, repetition is the mother of learning. The more you play, the more you learn. You can really see he’s able to get through progressions quickly. They were asking a lot of him. He got a lot of different guys involved, took great care of the football, and so I think he’s only gotten better. He played really good football here for us, really grateful for those things. But I was really impressed with just the way that he led and the way that he ended up demonstrating a lot of the things that we want to embody, that mental toughness. I think he was like 29-7 in terms of touchdowns, interceptions, one of the better ratios, and threw for a bunch of yards and they were one of the top offenses. I was really happy to see how well he did. I think that’s probably a fair assessment because he’s only getting better.”

Then why didn’t you keep him, Sean? That’s the obvious question. The truth is they became exasperated with Goff’s lack of development, believing he had taken the Rams as far as he could.

They were right, insofar as Stafford took the Rams even farther. But look at where the Rams are now, a shell of a Super Bowl contender with a fading franchise quarterback who is an old 35 — while the Lions benefit from the presence of Goff, who is still only 28.

That doesn’t mean Goff is free from pressure. The expectations are high for the Lions this year, for the first time in a very long time. And the Lions could eventually come to the same conclusion the Rams did, that there’s a ceiling that falls short of Goff getting his small hands on a big silver trophy.

Kyle Shanahan downplays recent exchange with NFLPA observer Dwayne Allen

San Francisco 49ers Offseason Workout
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Recently, an NFL Players Association observer attended a 49ers OTA practice. Head coach Kyle Shanahan didn’t seem to appreciate the presence of NFLPA player director Dwayne Allen on the practice field, as explained by Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Maiocco called it a “unique scene,” as Shanahan “ordered” Allen off the field.

Maiocco added that Shanahan and Allen “exchanged words, bringing practice to a temporary halt,” and that they “later met and cleared the air.”

On Tuesday, Shanahan downplayed the interaction.

“I wasn’t agitated, I was just surprised,” Shanahan told reporters. “You get surprised and that’s all, but we had a good conversation. He had asked me something, I was surprised to see him out there and I actually know him pretty good. He’s a good dude and there’s no issues at all.”

Here’s an explanation of what happened, from Grant and Lowell Cohn. Apparently, Allen entered the field and yelled “you can’t do that” after a defensive player “clotheslined” an offensive player during a non-contact OTA practice. The exchange was described as “catty” and “juvenile,” on both sides. G.M. John Lynch reportedly helped smooth it over.

It would have been interesting if the non-altercation altercation had literally seen push come to shove. Allen is a former NFL tight end, still only 33 years old. Shanahan, while seemingly underfed, also looks scrappy and feisty. Feisty enough to be annoyed by every word in this article, including the headline.

Tyler Lockett has high praise for Devon Witherspoon, Jaxon Smith-Njigba

NFL: NOV 24 Seahawks at Eagles
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The draft is always a crapshoot. The Seahawks had a pair of first-round picks in the most recent edition of it.

Receiver Tyler Lockett believes the team ended up with a pair of good players for their first-round selections.

“I love him,” Lockett told reporters on Tuesday regarding cornerback Devon Witherspoon, the fifth overall pick. “I love the way that he plays. Obviously I haven’t been able to go out there and actually go with the team, but just being able to see how he plays when we’re out there doing a little faster walk-through, when I’m watching him out there as he’s kind of like doing his little movements, you could tell he knows the game. You can tell he knows when to sit, when not to sit, when to jump, when to play it safe. And the more and more he understands the plays and he understands the freedom that he has to be able to know when to do certain things and when not to, I think he’s going to be a really, really great player.”

Lockett had similar praise for receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, taken 20th overall.

“I think he’s going to be phenomenal, man, Lockett said. “It’s always hard just being able to get adjusted when you first come in. But the way he runs routes, the way he’s understanding the way that receivers coach Sanjay [Lal] coaches, the sky’s going to be the limit. I think he’s going to be really good at all the things that the Seahawks — that we want him to be able to do. I’m excited to be able to go out there and work with him. Even though you’re a vet, you can still learn from the young guys too. So it’s always being able to teach each other stuff and iron sharpening iron and just helping each other be better to win.”

The Seahawks had the high pick thanks to the Russell Wilson trade. They landed at No. 20 after having a better than expected season of their own.

If both of their first-rounders can produce quickly, next year’s pick could end up being lower than that. And they’re currently slated to not have a second first-rounder in 2024.

Report: Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to be ready for training camp

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Jimmy Garoppolo failed his physical in March, due to a foot injury from December. He has since had surgery, and he continues to recover from it.

He reportedly will be ready to go when training camp begins. That was the report on Tuesday from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, via NFL.com.

That’s fine. He’s expected to be ready. Just another “nothing to see here” message from a team and a player that desperately need the expectations to become reality.

Obviously, the foot was and still is an issue. In a league where every surgery is a success and every rehab is ahead of schedule, the glass remains half full until the last drop of water evaporates from it.

Time will tell if he’s able to finally pass a physical. And then the time will come to worry that one of the most injured quarterbacks in recent years can manage to stay healthy through training camp, the preseason, and into September.

Everyone who passes a physical and makes it through camp without landing on injured reserve is 100 percent, or close to it, when the season begins. That’s when the risk of something breaking, straining, and/or tearing sets in, particularly on game days.

Garoppolo has suffered plenty of injuries because he’s not particularly adept at protecting himself. His torn ACL happened in 2018 because of one of the most boneheaded blunders imaginable — a decision to drop a shoulder into a defensive back at the sideline instead of just getting out of bounds.

Some quarterbacks have the awareness to avoid contact. Some don’t. And with each instance of unnecessary contact comes the risk of the next injury.

Tom Brady made it to 45 in large part because he knew how to avoid taking hits, even to the point of developing a late-career habit of chucking and ducking in order to avoid getting blown up by someone half his age. There was a time when quarterbacks were ridiculed for playing it safe. Now, it’s a skill to be admired and emulated.

That’s what Raiders fans need to be concerned about. Sure, the foot may be healed by August. But what else will happen to Garoppolo once he’s taking live reps? Will he minimize the hits he takes, or will he keep taking them, hoping that the next one won’t be the last one he takes for weeks or months?

That, by far, is the biggest risk for any team that puts its eggs in the Jimmy G basket. Far too often, the basket breaks.

Would NFL suspend a superstar for gambling, or brush it under the rug?

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As a noted NFL conspiracy theorist, it would be irresponsible for me to ignore a conspiracy theory that I’ve heard more than a few times in recent weeks — and particularly in recent days.

If the NFL were to have evidence of a superstar violating the gambling policy, would said superstar receive the same punishment as the non-superstars at whom the league otherwise throws the book?

It’s tempting to say the league would look the other way. And maybe it would be tempted to try. After all, superstars (especially quarterbacks) stir the NFL’s drink. They schedule prime-time games based on which teams the prime quarterbacks will be playing for.

But it wouldn’t be easy. The evidence that has become low-hanging fruit for the league would be as undeniable as a star as it is for a slappy. Digital footprints, tracked by sports books and gaming commissions. Too many people beyond the NFL would know about a star player breaking the gambling rule; it would be difficult for the NFL to keep a lid on it.

Thus, the league would be foolish to even try to do it. The coverup could end up being far worse than the crime. And it’s all the more reason for the league to do everything it can to ensure that superstar players don’t violate the rules and force the NFL’s hand.