NHL betting scandal another cautionary tale for the NFL

San Jose Sharks v Buffalo Sabres
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But for the grace of Jimmy the Greek goes the NFL.

The NHL will provide another cautionary tale for the NFL, which has avoided gambling scandals for decades. Via ESPN.com, the NHL will Investigate an allegation made by the wife of Sharks forward Evander Kane that he bet on his team’s games and that he has intentionally tried to lose, in order to win.

The scandal began with social media posts from Anna Kane, who asked: “How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he’s obviously throwing games to win money? Hmm maybe someone needs to address this.” She also said, “Can someone ask [Commissioner] Gary Bettman how they let a player gamble on his own games? Bet and win with bookies on his own games?”

“The integrity of our game is paramount and the League takes these allegations very seriously,” the NHL said, via ESPN.com. Added the Sharks, in an email to the Associated Press: “The San Jose Sharks have been in contact today with the National Hockey League about the serious allegations made against Evander Kane. We support a full and transparent investigation into the situation to maintain the integrity of the game and consistency with our team values.'”

Kane has a history of gambling. Per ESPN.com, a Las Vegas casino sued Kane in 2019, alleging he failed to repay a $500,000 gambling debt that he incurred during a playoff series against the Vegas Golden Knights.

The ongoing spread of legalized gambling increases the pressure on all sports to ensure that its players don’t rack up big debts and, in turn, strike deals with gamblers that could entail efforts to control the outcome of a game. Although it’s seemingly difficult for one player in a hockey game to make much of a different, the NHL needs to take this very seriously.

And the NFL needs to be paying very close attention, like it did during the Tim Donaghy scandal, which rocked the NBA. The NFL has been lucky to not have its own betting scandal. Unless the NFL remains vigilant and diligent, it’s inevitable.

Report: Sean Mannion signing with Seahawks

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Veteran quarterback Sean Mannion worked out for three teams this week. He is signing with the Seahawks, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Mannion also worked out for the Jets and Giants this week, but he has a tie to Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron from their time together with the Rams.

He spent the past two years with the Vikings backing up Kirk Cousins after playing his first four seasons for the Rams. Mannion started one game for Minnesota in 2019.

He’s completed 60.8 percent of his 74 career passes for 384 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Seahawks have Geno Smith, Alex McGough and Danny Etling behind Russell Wilson, but it seems likely that McGough or Etling is on his way out.

Bisi Johnson tore an ACL in Friday’s practice

NFL: JUN 15 Vikings Minicamp
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Vikings receiver Bisi Johnson tore an anterior cruciate ligament during Friday’s practice, Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports.

Johnson was injured during one-on-one drills. He was evaluated by trainers before heading to the training camp to be examined. He later emerged with a large brace on his right leg.

The Vikings made Johnson a seventh-round choice in 2019. He has 45 catches for 483 yards and three touchdowns, having appeared in all 32 possible games with nine starts.

Bisi’s third season, though, is over before it has begun.

The team recently signed Dede Westbrook. They also have K.J. Osborn, Chad Beebe, fifth-round choice Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Blake Proehl, Whop Philyor, Dan Chisena and Myron Mitchell behind stars Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

Browns, Nick Chubb reach agreement on extension

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Nick Chubb said last month that Cleveland was where he wanted to stay, and indeed he will for the foreseeable future.

The Browns have reached agreement on an extension with the running back, Mike Jones of USA Today reports.

It is a three-year extension worth $36.6 million with $20 million fully guaranteed, a source tells PFT.

Chubb was entering the final year of his rookie deal due to make $3.384 million in base salary in 2021.

He finished seventh in the league last season with 1,067 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns despite playing only 12 games. He ranked second among qualified running backs in averaging 5.6 yards per carry in 2020.

Chubb has 3,557 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns along with 72 receptions for 577 yards and two receiving touchdowns in 44 career games since the Browns made him a second-round choice in 2018.

Mike Zimmer: I’m frustrated by everyone who is unvaccinated

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For anyone wondering how the NFL has created a competitive advantage for teams with a high vaccination rate and for vaccinated players, the Vikings have provided the example.

Vikings rookie quarterback Kellen Mond tested positive for COVID-19, sidelining starter Kirk Cousins and backup Nate Stanley as high-risk close contacts, Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports. That has left Jake Browning as the team’s only quarterback available to practice tonight.

“Something like this happens the day before a game with a chance to get into the playoffs?” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wondered aloud, via Chris Long of KSTP TV.

Zimmer did not try to hide his frustration with unvaccinated players, though he declined to talk about specific names in regard to Saturday’s developments.

“Quite honestly, after everything we went through last year, I’m not surprised one bit,” Zimmer said, via Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. “I am disappointed that this happened. I’m frustrated, not just with my football players who didn’t get vaccinated, but I’m frustrated with everybody [who didn’t].”

High-risk close contacts must isolate five days. Fully vaccinated players do not need to isolate after exposure. Browning is vaccinated.

“He’s out there. He’s available,” Zimmer said of Browning, via the team’s official Twitter account. “That’s important. It’s important to be available in a team sport.”

Zimmer said the Vikings will consider quarantining a quarterback in the future. The Broncos, of course, played a game without a quarterback last season because of COVID-19 protocols, leaving practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton to start at quarterback.

“This Delta variant is tough, and you can see the cases going up,” Zimmer said. “For the sake of everybody, it’s important, but some don’t see it that way.”

Zimmer said he never considered calling off tonight’s practice despite having only one quarterback available. He would not say how many other players are out because of COVID-19 contact tracing.

Giants sign Joe Looney, Damion Willis

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Veteran offensive lineman Joe Looney has followed his former Cowboys head coach, Jason Garrett, to the Giants.

Looney signed with the Giants on Saturday, the team announced.

The Giants also signed linebacker Todd Davis and receiver Damion Willis. Davis’ signing previously was reported.

Looney is entering his ninth NFL season. He has played 104 regular-season games, with 42 starts for San Francisco, Tennessee and Dallas.

He spent the previous five seasons with the Cowboys, the first four of those with Garrett.

In 2020, Looney started 12 games, 11 games at center and one at right guard. He appeared in 13 games, the first time he did not play a full 16-game season since 2015, his lone season with the Titans.

Willis was cut by the Broncos on July 20 after signing with them in mid-May. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent for the Bengals in 2019, appearing in 10 games. He caught nine passes for 82 yards as a rookie.

Cincinnati waived Willis last August. He also spent time with the Browns and Jaguars in 2020 but did not appear in any games last season.

Washington claims Ross Reynolds off waivers

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Washington placed offensive linemen Brandon Scherff and David Sharpe on the COVID-19 reserve list Saturday. That necessitated the need for an offensive lineman.

Washington claimed offensive lineman Ross Reynolds off waivers from the Dolphins, the team announced.

Reynolds signed with the Dolphins on Thursday to take D.J. Fluker‘s roster spot. Miami cut Reynolds on Friday.

Reynolds spent time on the practice squad of the Patriots last season and the 49ers in 2019. He originally entered the NFL as an undrafted college free agent with San Francisco in 2019.

Report: Kellen Mond tests positive for COVID-19, Kirk Cousins a high-risk contact

NFL: JUN 15 Vikings Minicamp
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Details emerged not long after the Vikings tweeted multiple players would miss Saturday night’s practice inside TCO Stadium because of COVID-19 protocols.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports rookie Kellen Mond has tested positive for COVID-19, and starter Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley were deemed high-risk close contacts.

Jake Browning is expected to get all the reps at today’s practice. Browning is vaccinated, Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune reports, and no quarantine is required for vaccinated players who are close contacts.

The Vikings are going through contact tracing to determine who else is a high-risk contact.

The Vikings’ statement reads: Due to the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, multiple players will be held out of tonight’s practice inside TCO Stadium. Further updates will be shared as they become available in the coming days.

The Vikings had not placed any players on the COVID-19 reserve list during training camp.

Devonta Freeman agrees to terms with Saints

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The Saints hosted a number of players, including cornerback Prince Amukamara, running back Devonta Freeman and running T.J. Yeldon. They didn’t take long to agree to terms with Freeman on a one-year deal, according to Freeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Freeman played at Florida State with Saints quarterback Jameis Winston.

Freeman appeared in five games for the Giants in 2020, getting 61 touches for 230 yards and one touchdown. The Giants cut him in January, and he signed with the Bills’ practice squad during the postseason but did not play for Buffalo.

The Falcons drafted Freeman in the fourth round in 2014, and he spent six seasons in Atlanta.

In seven seasons, Freeman has played 82 games and has 1,005 carries for 4,144 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also has added 264 receptions for 2,073 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Packers place Simon Stepaniak on reserve/retired

NFL: JAN 03 Packers at Bears
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Offensive guard Simon Stepaniak missed the past two practices of training camp for personal reasons. On Saturday, the Packers announced they placed Stepaniak on the reserve/retired list.

Stepaniak was running as the No. 2 right guard.

The Packers drafted Stepaniak in the sixth round in 2020, but he never played a down in the NFL.

During his senior season, Stepaniak tore an anterior cruciate ligament before Indiana’s Gator Bowl appearance. He underwent surgery in January 2020 and spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve.

The Packers activated from injured reserve for the final four regular-season games of last season, but he was inactive for all four.

Stepaniak made 31 career starts at Indiana.

Colts have no timetable for return of Carson Wentz

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Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is out of practice with a foot injury, and the Colts don’t know when he’ll return.

Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, who is handling some of the head-coaching duties after Frank Reich tested positive for COVID-19, said today that it remains to be seen when Wentz can return.

“There’s no timetable,” Eberflus said.

Wentz reportedly could need surgery that would put his availability for Week One in jeopardy. With the uncertainty surrounding Wentz, the Colts signed free agent quarterback Brett Hundley today.

The only silver lining for the Colts is that if Wentz misses significant time, they won’t lose their first-round draft pick: If Wentz plays 75 percent of the Colts’ offensive snaps, or 70 percent of snaps and the Colts make the playoffs, the Colts have to send the Eagles their 2022 first-round pick. If not, the Colts only have to send the Eagles a second-round pick.

Ron Rivera hopes players will consider his immune deficiency and get the vaccine

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Two players went on the COVID-19 reserve list on the Washington Football Team today, which brought renewed attention to Washington’s status as the team with the most unvaccinated players in the NFL.

Washington coach Ron Rivera, who was treated for cancer last year, is hoping players will consider that his immune system remains weakened when they decide whether to get the vaccine.

“I think just making the statement that I am immune deficient is hopefully part of their conversation and their thought process,” Rivera said in comments distributed by the team. “Again, it is a personal decision, and we just hope that we can get more guys vaccinated.”

Rivera said the vaccine will be available to players tomorrow and he hopes some will get it.

“We will see tomorrow,” Rivera said. “Tomorrow we are hoping that we will get some more guys vaccinated. We will see. It is a difficult topic. I have tried to broach it with a lot of our players and have talked with a lot of our guys that haven’t. It is a personal thing, but hopefully, we can sway it. Hopefully.”

Rivera also tried to impress on players the competitive disadvantages facing teams with more unvaccinated players, as the NFL has stricter protocols about isolating unvaccinated players who have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

“And that’s part of the problem,” Rivera said. “I mean, to be very honest, that’s going to make things difficult and that’s the thing we have to be aware of. It makes it difficult in terms of everybody working together. Difficult on us as coaches with our evaluations and the scouts. It will be difficult on the player because having time off, not really getting an opportunity to work, develop, grow and learn, that’s the downfall, and the downside. I mentioned it to our guys. I said, ‘you know, here is the what if scenario: what if this had been game day Sunday for the opener?’ Even though it’s only contact tracing for some of them, that’s five days. So, if this is the opener, imagine this, opening against Los Angeles, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, playing Thursday night against the Giants. Those guys would not be eligible. So, to me, it brings the reality of what the rules are and I hope it helps. But again, these young men have to make their decisions.”

It is ultimately the players’ decision. But there’s little doubt that the right decision is to get vaccinated.

Washington placing Brandon Scherff and David Sharpe on COVID-19 list

Washington Football Team Mandatory Minicamp
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Washington will put two more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday.

Head coach Ron Rivera told reporters after Saturday’s practice that offensive linemen Brandon Scherff and David Sharpe are both headed to the COVID-19 list.

That will give the Football Team six players total on the list: Scherff, Sharpe, offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas, receiver Curtis Samuel, defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, and safety Chris Miller.

Washington is among the league’s least-vaccinated teams, which Rivera admitted this week has made him “beyond frustrated” as an immune-deficient cancer survivor. Per Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post, the team’s vaccination rate is now above 70 percent as of Saturday.

Rivera has continued to talk to players about getting vaccinated.

“I just think it’s a matter of these guys being educated and understanding,” Rivera said Saturday, via Jhabvala. “I’ve gotten the sense that there are some guys that have dug in so hard for so long that they’re not going to back down.”

Rivera also noted that Washington is hoping to get more players vaccinated on Sunday.

Colts sign Brett Hundley

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With Carson Wentz out indefinitely as the team continues to evaluate his foot injury, the Colts have signed quarterback Brett Hundley.

Hundley has spent the last two seasons with the Cardinals backing up Kyler Murray. He appeared in three games for Arizona in 2019 but did not take a snap in 2020.

Hundley entered the league as a Packers fifth-round pick back in 2015. The quarterback received his most extensive playing time in 2017 when Aaron Rodgers was out with a fractured collarbone. Hundley started nine games for the Packers that year, completing 60.8 percent of his passes for 1,836 yards with nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Green Bay went 3-6 in those games.

The Packers traded Hundley to the Seahawks prior to the 2018 season. He didn’t appear in any games for Seattle.

Indianapolis also announced the signing of defensive tackle Joey Ivie on Saturday. The lineman reportedly struck a deal with the Colts earlier this week but had to go through COVID-19 protocols before the deal became official.

Giants sign Todd Davis

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The Giants have signed veteran linebacker Todd Davis, the team announced on Saturday.

Since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2014, Davis has appeared in 96 games with 69 starts. He started 63 games for Denver from 2015-2019, recording over 100 total tackles for the Broncos in his last two seasons with the franchise.

Denver released Davis at the start of the 2020 regular season, and he ended up signing with the Vikings in late September. Davis appeared in 11 games with six starts for Minnesota last year, recording a sack, a pair of tackles for loss, and two passes defensed.

The Giants had been thin at inside linebacker because Blake Martinez is on the reserve/COVID-19 list and Reggie Ragland is on the non-football injury list with a hamstring issue.