New York Congressman elaborates on his criticism of the Jets

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In a Saturday morning tweet, New York Congressman Peter King criticized the Jets’ reluctance to fine players for protesting during the anthem, questioning whether CEO Christopher Johnson would provide the same cover for players who display “Nazi salutes or spew racism” under the guise of free speech. Later in the day, King elaborated on his remarks.

“To me, the people who are kneeling down, accusing the police of misconduct, that’s not something that fits within reasonable protest,” King told Kristopher Brooks and Bob Glauber of Newsday. “If I owned an NFL team, I’d say, ‘Either stand up or not be on the team.'”

King has the right think that and to say that, just as the players have the right to think and do otherwise. King’s position is fueled by his belief that the underlying premise of the protests — police brutality against African-Americans and persons of color — arises from a “lie” and that “the statistics don’t show” that minorities have a greater likelihood of suffering unjustified injury or worse at the hands of law-enforcement officials.

Apparently, King trusts statistics more than his own lying eyes.

Even if there’s merit to the argument that African-Americans and people of color are more likely to face unwarranted force when interacting with police, King believes that the protests automatically constitute disrespect.

“You shouldn’t be disrespecting the American flag no matter who you are,” King told Newsday.

The NFL Players Association questioned whether King’s views reflect the principles on which the nation was founded.

“On one level, management should be applauded when it supports labor, because it doesn’t happen as often as it should, and Christopher Johnson is doing the right thing by supporting the players,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told Newsday. “On another level, as an Arab-American immigrant kid from Queens, I know American values and this point of view doesn’t reflect them.”

Which further demonstrates the divide between those who believe that any protest during the anthem constitutes disrespect of the flag, the anthem, and/or the military and those who believe that peaceful protest constitutes an exercise of the very freedoms for which so many men and women have fought and died. People feel very strongly on both sides of the issue; for whatever reason, the NFL has felt compelled to listen only to those on one side of it.

C.J. Anderson motivated to prove he still can “play this game at a high level”

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C.J. Anderson has a chance to make $800,000 in incentives this season. He also has a chance to get a bigger deal next year with a big season.

The Panthers get a 1,000-yard back for an $800,000 million base salary and one who is motivated.

It’s a win-win.

I should be in my prime,” Anderson said, via Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer. “I think I have an opportunity to do something really special here. I asked for the one-year deal. I want to prove myself that I can still play this game at a high level.”

Anderson, 27, had his first career 1,000-yard season, rushing for 1,007 yards on 245 carries. The Broncos cut him in April to save $4.5 million against the cap.

“The 1,000 yards?” Anderson said. “That was just a start.”

The Panthers also have Jonathan Stewart and Cameron Artis-Payne, but Anderson will have a role.

Jason Verrett not yet cleared to practice fully

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In the one season Jason Verrett played more than half the games, the Chargers cornerback earned Pro Bowl honors. But the other three seasons have ended in injury.

He played six games his rookie season, four games in 2016 and only one game last season.

Verrett is not yet cleared to fully participate in organized team activities as he works his way back from another knee injury, Eric Williams of ESPN reports.

Unable to count on Verrett, the Chargers have loaded up at the position. Starters Trevor Williams and Casey Hayward and slot corner Desmond King all return as do Michael Davis, Craig Mager and Jeff Richards, all of whom were either on the active roster or the practice squad last season.

“There’s great competition amongst them,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said, via Williams. “Every play, you have to be on it. With competition, it just keeps elevating the level of play.

Verrett, 26, will start if he’s healthy, but that’s been a big if so far in his career. He has played 25 of a possible 64 games.

The former first-round pick didn’t even make it through one game last season, reinjuring his left knee after 63 snaps in the opener. He partially tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee in a Week 4 game in 2016 and needed more surgery last season.

James Conner hopes to make a jump in second season


Steelers running back James Conner, who overcame cancer while in college at Pitt, became a third-round draft pick and one of the most popular players in the NFL as a rookie. But his first season didn’t result in much production, with only 144 rushing yards in 14 appearances.

This season, Conner hopes to do a lot more.

“Didn’t really do much [last season] so I have a lot to prove,” Conner recently said, via Jeremy Fowler of “I just needed to learn more, needed to grow more. I’m in the process of growing right now.”

The Steelers need that from him, because there’s a chance that 2018 will be Le'Veon Bell‘s last year with the team. If so, they’ll need someone else to step up. If it’s going to be Conner, he’s going to have to earn it.

“I haven’t proved anything yet,” Conner said. “Just another opportunity for me to prove to my coaches and earn respect from my teammates that I’m capable of playing on Sundays.”

Steelers tight end Jesse James sees some improvement, so far.

“He’s a little bit more confident in the playbook, handling protections — he’s just in better shape,” James told Fowler. “He’s running fast, running every ball to the end zone. He looks good.”

Conner specifically needs to improve in pass protection. If he does, James predicts a “big jump” for Conner.

It will have to be a big jump for the Steelers to ever consider entrusting the future starting running back job to Conner.

“Old, young guy” Robert Griffin III focuses on making the team in Baltimore


Six years ago, quarterback Robert Griffin III was a lock to start in Washington. Now, he’s merely trying to stay on the roster in Baltimore.

He seems unfazed by the challenge.

Describing himself as an “old, young guy” of 28, Griffin took some of the second-team reps on Thursday, along with rookie Lamar Jackson. But, as Mike Jones of USA Today notes, during some segments of Thursday’s practice, Griffin “merely split a handful of snaps with fourth quarterback Josh Woodrum.”

Thus, as Jones points out, Griffin may not even make the team. Jackson’s arrival via round one presents the biggest threat to Griffin’s status, but Griffin doesn’t come off as jealous or resentful.

“When they drafted Lamar, I didn’t look at it as a shot at me or a shot at Joe [Flacco],” Griffin said. “It was ‘OK, Lamar is coming in here, and it’s our job to help him learn the offense and help him compete.’ So, for me, my job is to show them that I’m an asset to the team and not a detriment. . . . One [reporter] asked me if I was trying to showcase for other teams. No, my focus is, ‘I’m a Baltimore Raven. I’m showcasing to them that this is where I’m supposed to be.'”

He seems to be prepared for the adversity that may come.

“I feel like the chips have been stacked against me numerous times throughout my life, not just my career,” Griffin said. “The biggest thing I learned last year was, whatever your first instinct is to do when you are faced with an obstacle, when you face a challenge in life, that’s who you are. I feel like I’m a fighter. My first instinct is to continue to keep swinging, continue to keep trying, perfect my craft as best I can.

“A lot of people, their first instinct is to quit or to say, ‘It wasn’t me, it was that.’ You remember the stories of the guys in the bar who are telling stories of what great players they were in high school? And, ‘It wasn’t my fault. It was this and that.’ That’s never my reaction. My reaction has never been to do that. It’s been to go lift more weights. I go throw passes.”

Whether he’ll be throwing passes during the regular season for the Ravens or anyone else remains to be seen. But Griffin needs to be ready for anything, because as the last six years have proven, anything can happen.

Players who don’t like anthem rule can take immediate action


In the aftermath of Wednesday’s decision by the NFL to alter the anthem policy in a way that managed to do more harm than good, the NFL Players Association wasn’t happy. The NFL’s players can do something about that in a way that is far more immediate and tangible than pursuing legal remedies over the next several months.

The NFL’s players can make their displeasure known by boycotting OTAs.

Technically (but not actually), these ongoing offseason workouts are voluntary. There’s no requirement to be there. So if the players aren’t happy with ownership right now, all they have to do is nothing.

Yes, some players would jeopardize offseason workout bonuses if they miss more than 10 or 20 percent of the total offseason program. But if players aren’t willing to go without a six-figure payment in order to prove a point now, how will they ever go without seven-figure salaries when the time comes to consider striking, or not caving in the face of a lockout?

Besides, it’s not as if all players need to not show up. If the NFL’s starting quarterbacks come together and agree to make it known to all other quarterbacks on the roster that none of them will be working, well, good luck having football practice with no quarterbacks.

And if any of the young quarterbacks decide to cross the de facto picket line, consider this cautionary tale from Paul Zimmerman’s memoir.

In 1974, Chiefs quarterback David Jaynes, a third-round rookie, crossed the picket line. Center Jack Rudnay, who was the leader of Kansas City’s strike effort, had a message for Jaynes when the strike ended.

“Before practice Rudnay had taken a pair of scissors and cut out the crotch of his football pants,” Zimmerman writes. “When he got down to snap the ball, everything was hanging out. Jaynes began his call . . . he reached down . . . and the ball went flying out of his hands.”

Coach Hank Stram, monitoring practice from a tower, yelled, “What’s the hell’s going on down there?”

“He won’t take the snap, Coach,” Rudnay replied.

“Well, get another quarterback in there,” Stram said.

And that, according to Zimmerman, was the beginning of the end for David Jaynes.

At best, it’s the end of the beginning of the NFL’s anthem controversy. If the players are genuinely upset about what has happened, it also could be the beginning of perhaps the most significant thing they can do.

Come Tuesday morning, they can not show up.

Amid comeback attempt in CFL, Josh Freeman retires

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Former first-round Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, who at only 30 is still younger than many of the NFL’s current starters, has retired amid a comeback attempt in Canada.

“We would like to thank Josh for his work and dedication. He was a consummate professional throughout camp,” Montreal Alouettes General Manager Kavis Reed said. “We respect his decision and we wish him the best in the future.”

Less than three weeks ago, Freeman’s return to football provided an unexpected offseason feel-good story. The guy who once had a 4,000-yard season was giving it another go, more than two years after his last NFL action.

Someone asked me the other day, ‘Dude, are you out of money? Why are you playing in the CFL?’ ” Freeman told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times in early May. “I said, ‘Because I like playing football.’”

Freeman’s quick exit from Canada is a reminder that the CFL features great athletes and significant competition. Former CFL and NFL quarterback Doug Flutie, who arguably was the greatest CFL player of all time, recently explained during a visit to PFT Live the challenges presented by playing in Canada.

It’s important to keep this in mind at a time when many are assuming that Johnny Manziel’s ascension to the starting quarterback job with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be simple or automatic.

Fired Giants equipment staffers “did not see this coming”

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Less than two weeks after settling a four-year-old lawsuit arising from allegations of fraudulent memorabilia, the Giants fired three members of their equipment staff. Two of them were surprised.

Via Ryan Dunleavy of, equipment director Joe Skiba and assistant equipment director Ed Skiba did not expect to be fired.

Joe and Ed did not see this coming,” attorney Gerald Krovatin told Dunleavy. “They are two stand-up guys, and they stood tall throughout the four difficult years of this lawsuit. They remain very grateful for the 20-plus years they were able to work with the players, coaches and everyone else in the Giants organization.”

Though not said expressly by Krovatin, the Skibas also may be surprised because they cooperated with the lawsuit, saying what needed to be said to push back against the allegations. But it’s hardly uncommon for a company to rally around the employees whose conduct gave rise to a lawsuit, ensuring their cooperation with the reality of ongoing employment and the vague promise that the relationship will continue until the case goes away. And then the employees whose behavior fell at the heart of the lawsuit go away, too.

Absent a settlement agreement of their own that gives the Skibas severance pay in exchange for silence, the Giants may have to worry about what Joe and Ed Skiba may say.

Consider this exchange of text messages from May 2016 between the Skibas, as reported last year by the Washington Post.

“I hate it here,” Joe Skiba said to Ed Skiba. “Guys who mow the lawn make more.”

“[Our] raises are because they are paying our legal fees,” Ed Skiba replied.

Joe Skiba suggested that he was considering requesting overtime, “Cause my insights on the case cost money now.”

Ed Skiba said at one point that it’s “[n]ot even worth it.”

“For me it is,” Joe Skiba replied. “I’ll tell the whole f–king world the truth.”

Maybe now Joe Skiba will. Or at least his version of it.

Saturday one-liners

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Former Dolphins WR Chris Chambers has been trying to help current WR DeVante Parker, but Parker is snubbing him.

Bills LB Lorenzo Alexander thinks rookie first-round LB Tremaine Edmunds could be an All-Pro within two or three years.

Patriots rookie QB Danny Etling, in his No. 58 jersey, is getting extra opportunities with Tom Brady not at OTAs.

If QB Christian Hackenberg doesn’t make the team in Oakland, the Jets get nothing in return for their 2016 second-rounder.

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson had a hard time drawing his team’s logo. (He wasn’t alone.)

Former Bengals WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh has filed a lawsuit over $200,000 he invested in a marijuana dispensary.

Steelers rookie LB Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is wearing James Harrison’s old number.

Is running back the biggest area of strength for the Browns?

Texans WR Will Fuller V hopes to make a major leap in 2018.

The Colts aren’t loading up on bulletin board material, yet. (Even though there’s plenty out there.)

New Jaguars G Andrew Norwell is impressed with what he has seen from QB Blake Bortles. (Chris Simms would say, “Norwell apparently has had his eyes closed a lot.)

Titans QB Marcus Mariota hopes to improve his accuracy by widening his stance.

Should the Broncos focus on improving their red-zone offense?

Chiefs coach Andy Reid will help raise money for Kansas gubernatorial candidate Jeff Colyer.

Raiders WR Amari Cooper has been learning a lot from veteran WR Jordy Nelson.

QB Geno Smith is drawing praise during Chargers OTAs. (Stop laughing.)

The Cowboys have put a “governor” on LB Sean Lee during OTAs.

Giants (formerly Dolphins) defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo still refers to a game-winning interception of Tom Brady by Giants (formerly Dolphins) S Michael Thomas in his first career game.

The Eagles want to learn more about QB Nate Sudfeld.

Washington has announced its training camp schedule.

Even though Bears coach Matt Nagy will call the plays, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is designing a variety of tweaks and quirks, prompting RB Tarik Cohen to describe Helfrich as “a bag full of tricks.” (Unfortunate typo avoided.)

Lions RB LeGarrette Blount spent draft weekend hosting a football clinic at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

Veteran TE Marcedes Lewis will bring blocking skill to the Packers offense.

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs will be making an appearance on Celebrity Family Feud.

The roof over the Falcons’ stadium will remain open for 10 days as work continues on the effort to allow it to open and close.

Panthers RB C.J. Anderson practices in a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a hoodie; “You practice heavy, and then you play light,” he said.

Saints QB Drew Brees is trying not to think about the all-time passing yardage record, which is only 1,495 yards away.

Interceptions are up for the Buccaneers defense during OTAs.

Cardinals undrafted rookie LB Frank Ginda suffered a sprained shoulder and multiple facial lacerations in a car accident only days before his Pro Day workout.

Rams CB Marcus Peters has had a smooth transition to Wade Phillips’ defense.

Joshua Garnett is expected to battle Jonathan Cooper for the starting RG job with the 49ers.

Seahawks DE Frank Clark and CB Byron Maxwell have been absent from OTAs.

Civil rights activists protest outside league office on Friday


Two days after the NFL changed its controversial anthem policy to require any player inclined to protest to retreat to the locker room, a group called the National Action Network gathered outside 345 Park Avenue to criticize the NFL’s decision.

Via the Associated Press, roughly 50 people showed up for the rally. Roughly 10 people spoke out against the new rule.

“Our demand is that the NFL reverse that immoral and unconstitutional decision,” Kirtsen John Foy, the first of the speakers, said.

“I’m proud because I’m going to be on the right side of history,” New York city councilman Jumaane Williams (pictured in the #ImWithKap T-shirt) said. “I’m going to be standing and kneeling with Colin Kaepernick.”

The groups plans to hold other demonstrations in Detroit and Los Angeles.

Some will surely scoff because the numbers weren’t in the hundreds or thousands, but consider this. For all the huffing and puffing from those who strenuously object to the protests, how many rallies or gatherings did they conduct? How many who swore they were done with football actually deprived themselves of something they enjoy, and how many were simply hoping to force a change to the anthem policy with “I’ll turn this car around right now”-style threats?

Regardless, the truth is that there are NFL fans on both sides of the issue. For reasons still not known or apparent, the NFL has opted only to hear the voices of those who protest the protesting. The NFL’s secret research project regarding Kaepernick’s unemployment revealed that opinions were split, but the NFL ultimately decided to bow to the demographic that is opposed to the protests.

The NFL also has opted to inflate the views of less than half of the total fan base into a throng of customers who cannot be ignored. Consider this recent quote from Steelers owner Art Rooney II: “The bottom line is that with this new policy we have attempted to strike a balance between respecting the right of a player not to be forced to stand for the anthem, while acknowledging that the vast majority of our fans who attend or watch our games, particularly those in the military and veteran communities, do not want to come to a game to see a political protest.”

That’s simply not a statement based in fact. A minority of fans have chosen to exercise their right to make their displeasure with the protests known. Another minority of fans have chosen to exercise their right to make their support of the protests known. The NFL has chosen to listen to only one of those groups.

In so doing, the NFL has persuaded some in the media to blindly parrot the “bad for business” mantra when it comes to the protests. Apart from the fact that, as Falcons owner Arthur Blank recently acknowledged, league and club revenues are up, there’s still no specific, reliable, quantitative proof that the protests are “bad for business.” It’s just as likely that the clumsy, awkward manner in which the NFL has handled the issue is “bad for business.”

But the NFL isn’t pushing the angle that it’s “bad for business” to stifle the protests, because the NFL continues to choose not to heed the opinions or complaints from those who believe that peaceful protest can be respectful to the military, an appropriate tactic for bringing attention to legitimate public grievances, and ultimately an exercise of one of the many freedoms that Americans have fought and died for from the day the founding fathers decided to no longer bow to the heavy-handed rule of the King of England.

Le’Veon Bell has another rap song with not-so-hidden messages

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In connection with the Fourth of July holiday nearly two years ago, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell unveiled his contractual demands with a rap song.

“I’m at the top and if not I’m the closest, I’m a need 15 a year and they know this,” Bell said in the tune called Focus.

As he closes in on that target (a freestyle rap posted last year updated 15 to 17), he has a new song. Called Target, which has debuted just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.

Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has transcribed some of the lyrics, which seem to contain a message for the Steelers: “So they put me on the tag, alright. Definitely not going to trip like I that bad guy. Wonder why they treat me like the bad guyYou say I ain’t the best, but that’s a bad lie. I’m a do what I want just leave me alone. If I don’t do what you want then you want me gone. I’m a say you being real aggressive, the way you switch up on me real impressive.

The Steelers have opted twice to keep Bell from becoming an unrestricted free agent by applying the franchise tag. Bell responded last year by exercising his right to remain away from the team until Labor Day, at which time he showed up and got his full $12.1 million salary. But he has been criticized for not being in football shape, and pressure continues to be applied to get him to show up for offseason and preseason work.

“You think if I sit out, I’ll be sluggish,” Bell says in the new song. “You think they won’t pay me because of drug tests. For a fact, I ain’t never failed one, that’s on me. You so worried about the weed, what about them PEDs?”

The Steelers and Bell have been unable to come to terms on a long-term deal, in part because a contract based on the franchise tag dramatically exceeds the market at the position. If no deal is done by July 16, Bell will be on track to make $14.52 million this season and to hit the market next March, since the Steelers would have to offer him the quarterback franchise tag to keep him around for 2019.

And he’d be hitting the market with $26.7 million in pre-tax salary for 8-9 months of work over a 17-month period.

So even though Bell may feel like a target, his decision to stick to his principles and wait for more has put him ahead of the game, giving him a chance to become the running back equivalent of Kirk Cousins next March.

New York Congressman blasts the Jets over anthem stance

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It’s official: The NFL’s new national anthem policy did not make things better. It made things worse.

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the league’s new anthem policy, he hoped to placate those on the right, who have insisted that players should stand, while not alienating those on the left by allowing players to remain in the locker room if they didn’t want to stand on the field while the anthem played. But Goodell took immediate criticism from the left for seeming to turn his back on players who wanted to make a political statement.

And as for placating those on the right, any illusions about that were destroyed this morning by Representative Pete King, a Republican from New York, who took to Twitter to blast Jets CEO Christopher Johnson, who said that he wouldn’t support any discipline for any Jets players who chose not to stand for the anthem.

“Disgraceful that Jets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem,” King wrote. “Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!”

By invoking “Nazi salutes,” King is using incendiary language that is sure to enflame the situation just as the NFL was hoping to find a way to prevent it from dominating the headlines. King is also showing that some on the right will put other alliances aside to focus on this issue: After all, Johnson is only running the Jets right now because his brother, Jets owner Woody Johnson, is serving as President Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom. Woody Johnson is a Republican who has given millions of dollars to Republican campaigns, and he would obviously prefer not to see his football team associated with “Nazi salutes” in a tweet from a Republican Congressman. But King went there.

King’s tweet may be the strongest sign yet that the NFL’s anthem problem isn’t going anywhere. Partisan fighting over the issue will continue all summer, and the media will monitor which players stay in the locker room for the anthem when the season starts. Any players who choose to stay in the locker room will be labeled “sons of bitches” by President Trump. That will surely result in a backlash that sees other players stay in the locker room to show solidarity with their teammates. Which will create a greater backlash among those who criticize the players who don’t stand.

As the November elections approach, every candidate in America will be asked to take a side in the great National Football League anthem debate. Candidates who side with the players who remain in the locker room will be blasted as unpatriotic. Candidates who support requiring all players to stand will be blasted for failing to respect our country’s reverence for freedom of speech.

If you thought the NFL’s national anthem stance was a mess before, you ain’t seen nothing yet. It’s going to be an even bigger mess this year.

Landon Collins pushing to participate in Giants’ June minicamp

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When Giants safety Landon Collins had to undergo a second surgery on his broken arm in April, there were concerns it could be a significant problem: Collins had already had surgery at the end of the 2017 season, and it’s never a good thing when one injury requires two surgeries.

But Collins says he’s doing so well that he hopes to be cleared for the Giants’ minicamp next month. Collins told Newsday that he’s pushing to participate in the mid-June minicamp, although he added that he’ll accept it if the coaches and medical staff prefer that he take it easy to be sure he’s fully healed before training camp.

Collins can still run while his arm heals, so he says he’s fine as far as conditioning is concerned, and he said that while working with the new coaching staff at Organized Team Activities, he’s been pleased to feel more on the same page with this staff than he felt with the staff last year — even as he’s been admonished by new coach Pat Shurmur for weighing in on the situation surrounding Ereck Flowers, which Shurmur felt should have been handled in-house and not through the media.

Collins had started every game of his three-year career until missing the final game of last year with that broken arm. Now he’s heading into the final season of his four-year, $6.1 million rookie contract, and he’s eager to make his fourth year his best year.

Jets rookie Nathan Shepherd thanks Nate Burleson for believing in him


Jets rookie Nathan Shepherd took a long and winding road to the NFL. He grew up in Canada, played college football at Simon Fraser University, and had to quit school and do odd jobs when he couldn’t afford the tuition. Eventually he found his way to Fort Hays State in Kansas, where he played so well that he got an invitation to the Senior Bowl. He impressed scouts so much at the Senior Bowl that the Jets took him in the third round of the draft.

One NFL player helped Shepherd along the way: Nate Burleson, the former Vikings, Seahawks and Lions receiver who happened to meet Shepherd while Shepherd was working as a doorman at a club. Burleson now works at NFL Network, and the two met again on set, where Shepherd thanked Burleson for his guidance.

“Nate, you were actually the first NFL player I ever met,” Shepherd said.

Burleson said he remembered meeting Shepherd, who approached him to ask for advice. Shepherd told Burleson that he wasn’t sure if he’d continue playing football, but Burleson said he could see Shepherd had a passion for the game and urged him not to give up. Burleson also gave Shepherd a big tip and told him a day would come when he was making big money playing football.

“Before the night was over you said I was gonna make it to the league. You gave me a $100 bill and said, ‘Here’s a little advance on your signing bonus.’ I’ve never forgotten that,” Shepherd told Burleson.

Shepherd then tried to give Burleson a $100 bill, but Burleson told him to keep it.

Cliff Avril: Seahawks started questioning Pete Carroll after Super Bowl interception

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Did one play call derail a potential Seahawks dynasty?

It may have, according to former Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, who says that the team began to doubt coach Pete Carroll and his staff after losing Super Bowl XLIX.

Avril said on Dave Dameshek’s podcast that “a lot of guys got turned off” to Carroll when the Super Bowl ended with Russell Wilson throwing a game-losing interception to New England’s Malcolm Butler, rather than the Seahawks calling a handoff to Marshawn Lynch, which Seattle players thought would have given them a game-winning touchdown. Avril said that if the Seahawks had won that Super Bowl, which would have been their second in a row, they probably would have won another one after that, too, because the team would have been more united.

“If we win that Super Bowl I think we would have won another one,” Avril said. “I do think the team would have bought in more to what Coach Carroll was saying, instead of going the opposite way.”

As it turned out, the Seahawks began to decline amid reports that key players were increasingly not on the same page. After losing that Super Bowl after the 2014 season, the Seahawks lost in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2015 and 2016, then failed to make the playoffs in 2017. Avril attributes that decline directly to seeing players start to wonder whether Carroll’s coaching was still effective.

“Guys started kind of questioning him more instead of following his lead if we had won the Super Bowl,” Avril said.

This offseason the Seahawks have parted ways with several older veterans, perhaps in the hopes that they can move on from the players who were no longer buying in to Carroll’s way of doing things.