Mark Ingram: Unless you look at my birth certificate, you can’t tell I’m 31

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens
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Mark Ingram is a 31-year-old running back who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Texans earlier this month.

He rushed for 1,000 yards with the Ravens in 2019. But then in 2020, the club put him on the back burner in favor of younger running backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins. Ingram finished fourth on the league’s top rushing team — behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, Dobbins, and Edwards — with 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 11 games with nine starts.

Despite heading into his 11th season, Ingram was optimistic about his future in his introductory Texans press conference.

“I still feel like my best football is ahead of me,” Ingram said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “Unless you look at my birth certificate, you can’t tell I’m 31 years old. I feel like my game has a lot left in the tank and I’m excited to prove that.”

Ingram’s teammate, David Johnson, recently said he thinks having a stable of running backs with him, Ingram, and Phillip Lindsay will be a good thing for a 17-game season. All three backs will have something to prove in head coach David Culley’s first season in Houston.

NFL owners approve Dan Snyder’s debt waiver and buy-out of co-owners

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NFL owners approved a $450 million debt waiver for Daniel Snyder and buy-out of his three limited partners, Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports. The vote was 32-0.

Snyder now controls all equity in the Washington Football Team franchise.

The NFL’s finance committee already had given its OK to the debt waiver.

Snyder’s purchase ends a bitter dispute between Synder and his limited partners.

PFT has reported Snyder will pay in the ballpark of $950 million to purchase the ownership shares held by Dwight Schar, Fred Smith and Robert Rothman, who, together, owned just over 40 percent of the team.

Snyder purchased the team for $900 million in 1999, and it now is worth an estimated $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.

Yannick Ngakoue: You’d have to be a fool not to want to play for the Raiders

Divisional Round - Baltimore Ravens v Buffalo Bills
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During offensive lineman Gabe Jackson‘s first media session with Seattle, the former longtime Raiders guard said flatly that his new team wins.

I want to be a part of an organization that’s like that,” Jackson said, in what could be interpreted as a bit of a shot to the franchise that dealt him.

Conversely there’s defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who just signed a two-year deal with the Raiders in free agency. He has 26 million reasons to say nice things about his new team, but Ngakoue feels the nostalgia that many associate with the Raiders brand.

“I never once ever came out and said that I wanted to play for the Raiders for a long time,” Ngakoue said during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. “But you’d have to be a fool not to want to play for the Raiders — just the tradition and the history behind them, the Hall of Famers they have. I aspire to be a Hall of Famer one day when it’s all said and done and I hang up my cleats. It’s just more motivation when I walk into that building, just to see all the others that did it.”

It’s been a while since the Raiders “Just won, baby,” as the club has only one winning record and postseason appearance since losing Super Bowl XXXVII to the Buccaneers in 2002 (with past and current head coach Jon Gruden at the helm for Tampa Bay).

But the club hired Gus Bradley as defensive coordinator for 2021, and he was the Jaguars’ head coach when they selected Ngakoue in the third round of the 2016 draft.

“I’m going with a defensive coordinator that’s used to my style of play, that’s used me before, was my former head coach,” Ngakoue said. “And the defense definitely allows me to utilize my skills to help the team out tremendously. So it’s just a blessing.”

Las Vegas’ pass rush could certainly use an upgrade, after ranking 29th in sacks in 2020. Since Gruden returned to coach the Raiders in 2018, the club has finished with 13, 32, and 21 sacks in each of the last three seasons, respectively.

Though great pass rushers are hard to find, Ngakoue has 45.5 sacks in five seasons, with a high of 12.0 in 2017.

Ja’Marr Chase wouldn’t mind playing with Joe Burrow again

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Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase opted out of playing for LSU in 2020, so the last quarterback he played with was Joe Burrow.

Burrow could be the next quarterback Chase plays with as well. Burrow is now a member of the Bengals and Chase’s Pro Day workout on Wednesday should help his bid to be the first wide receiver off the board, which could be when Cincinnati makes the fifth overall selection next month.

“I wouldn’t mind going back with Joe,” Chase said. “If we got back together, we’d try to get out chemistry back and have some more fun.”

Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said earlier this year that the team is going to build everything around Burrow. Tight end Kyle Pitts and tackle Penei Sewell are a couple of other players that would help that effort, but the Bengals might opt to see if a reunion is the best thing for their offensive future.

Phillip Lindsay appreciative that Broncos let him leave

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Phillip Lindsay is grateful to the Broncos — grateful for giving him an opportunity and grateful they have given him an opportunity elsewhere.

The running back signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and rushed for 1,037 yards with nine touchdowns as a rookie, earning Pro Bowl honors. The Broncos, though, fazed Lindsay out of their plans, signing Melvin Gordon a year ago and Mike Boone this offseason.

So Lindsay asked for and received a chance to become a free agent, with the Broncos rescinding the $2.133 million tender. Lindsay signed a one-year deal with the Texans.

“[It] definitely was a whirlwind of things, different points of views on certain things, but in the end, everything worked out how it’s supposed to work out,” Lindsay said on SiriusXM NFL Radio, via Aric DiLalla of the team website. “I’m a full believer in that. Nothing but respect for George [Paton]. I think that he’s going to be a great G.M. there in Denver. I think what he did for me was he was able to let me go. When I was pretty much stuck on the tender, it was harder for teams to come get me, because they were nervous they were going to be matched. When we came to a mutual agreement, it helped me find a different destination that was going to fit me better at this moment in my career.”

Lindsay isn’t the only back in Houston, with David Johnson and Mark Ingram also in the fold.

Lindsay is coming off his least productive season, with only 118 carries for 502 yards and one touchdown.

NFL anticipates relaxed protocols for vaccinated players, team personnel

NFL: SEP 17 Seahawks at Bears
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In a memo to teams on Wednesday, the NFL said that it anticipates a return to in-person work this offseason after last year’s programs were fully remote.

They did not specify any details of what that in-person work will look like, but it suggests it will look more like normal for teams that have a large number of vaccinated players, coaches, and other staff. The NFL and NFLPA have developed materials about the available vaccines and the memo asks teams to use them and other ways to educate individuals about them.

While there are no plans to mandate vaccines, the league does anticipate amending current protocols for those who have been vaccinated and for teams as a whole if certain vaccination levels are met.

“It is expected that the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 Protocols will be amended in the coming months to eliminate a number of significant restrictions for vaccinated individuals, such as the need to participate in daily testing, quarantine periods due to close contact with an infected individual and/or refraining from social gatherings among other vaccinated individuals,” the league said in the memo. “It is also anticipated that clubs that achieve a certain rate of vaccination among its tiered staff and players may be permitted to relax restrictions that apply to meetings, mealtime and use of locker rooms.”

Teams were told to create a list of players and staff that have been fully vaccinated in advance of any changes to the protocols that have been in place since last year.

Report: Bears voted against 17-game schedule

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NFL owners approved moving to a 17-game regular season schedule in a vote on Tuesday, but it was reportedly not a unanimous decision.

Seth Wickersham of ESPN reports that Bears chairman George McCaskey voted against adding another game to the schedule. It is the first report of a no vote on the move, which also includes cutting the preseason down to three games and creates a provision that every team must play at least one international game every eight years.

There is no word on what motivated the vote and the Bears did not respond to a request for comment from ESPN.

With the change in place, the Bears will now have a road trip to Las Vegas added to their schedule for the 2021 season.

18 massage therapists, with names attached, voice support for Deshaun Watson

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None of the 21 women who have sued Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of misconduct during massages have attached their names to the lawsuits. On Wednesday, 18 message therapists who have worked with Watson issued comments regarding his behavior during massage sessions.

All 18 have attached their names to their statements, which were provided to PFT by Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin.

The 18 massage therapists are: Myah Roberson, Sara Fetherolf, Kaleigh Galindo, Masako Jones, Luretia Dany Craig, Norma Reyna, Kam Phommyuong, Nalisha Storm, Dr. Arielle Ball, Jas Brooks, Ashley Thomas, LaWonda Howard, Nadiyah Luqman, Ana Compean, Raechal Martin, Joanne Brito, Tina Nguyen, and Kya Hillman.

The statements extend beyond vouching for Watson, however. Some criticize and/or challenge the plaintiffs.

Said Roberson of Watson: “I started working with Deshaun in December 2019 after being referred to him by another therapist. He sent me a screenshot of a diagram that the head trainer of the Texans gave him, highlighting the muscles that needed to be worked on, which included the groin and hamstrings. He asked if I felt comfortable working on those areas and I said yes, because I am used to working on athletes. During the massage, Deshaun was more comfortable using a towel than draping sheets over the table; this isn’t unusual at all. I have several clients that prefer using a towel over sheet. We began using a towel, and that became the norm. When I saw that the first lawsuit mentioned a towel, I chuckled because I gave him that idea. And it’s not inappropriate because they teach you in massage school that using a towel is okay. Some of these accusations are so ludicrous. I just can’t see him doing any of those things. He was never inappropriate with me. I never felt threatened in any way.”

From Fetherolf: “On July 16, 2020, I performed a very thorough massage on Deshaun, focusing on his lower back, hips and groin, at a home he was renting while visiting Los Angeles. He is one of the most professional athletes I ever worked on. When the session was over, Deshaun helped me put away my table and walked me to my car. Because it was already quite late, Deshaun texted me during my drive home to make sure I had gotten home safely. My experience was nothing like the plaintiffs are describing. I don’t believe they are being truthful.”

From Galindo: “I worked on Deshaun Watson several times from August to December in 2020. He was respectful in every session. I never had any issues with him being inappropriate. Focus areas requested were hip flexors, groin [adductors], glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, abdominals. These are common areas of strain with pro athletes, especially those who play his position. He was always hospitable and communicated to make sure I always felt comfortable and safe. Many people idolize Deshaun Watson and perceive him as a legend. However, in getting to know him, I know he’s just your regular 25-year-old.”

From Jones: “I have worked with Deshaun several times since October 2019 and he’s never been anything other than professional and polite. We would focus on areas that were strained or injured, his shoulder, quads, calves, adductors, glutes, feet, things like that. That’s not odd or inappropriate; you have to think about how athletes use their bodies, the stances they’re in, how they move during games. All of those areas are typical, especially for football players. Deshaun never made me feel uncomfortable or intimidated. He’s rather quiet compared to other professional athletes I’ve worked with. I am just completely floored by these lawsuits. The behavior described in them doesn’t sound like him at all. I can’t even imagine him saying those things or doing those things.”

From Craig: “I massaged Deshaun three times. He was always pleasant. I never had any uncomfortable or inappropriate experiences with him. He often listened to his music and said very little. During my career, unfortunately I have experienced inappropriate situations where I stopped a massage. This never happened with Deshaun. He was respectful to my craft. Deshaun specifically came to me requesting I work on his lower body. I worked his hamstrings, quadriceps as well as his glutes and lower abs. Asking for these muscle groups to be massaged is not uncommon for athletes. Working those muscles from origin to insertion is imperative to properly treat the muscle. If a therapist is inexperienced in this type of work, I could imagine it may make them uncomfortable trying to translate the ‘layman’s’ suggestion on how to stop the discomfort. It is important for a therapist to talk through any request with the client to determine exactly what hurts; as even the most educated person loses their anatomy knowledge when in pain.”

From Reyna: “I frequently observed Deshaun attending sessions with another therapist who works in the same building next door to me. I have never observed Deshaun acting in an inappropriate manner and he never appeared to make anyone uncomfortable. He was always cordial when he walked by. Glutes, lower abs, psoas and adductors are very common areas for athletes – both males and females – to request their therapists to work on. You must release the psoas and gluteal muscles to release tension in the lower back. There’s a proper and professional way to address this area with proper draping and communication. When working the adductors and groin/pelvic area, it is not uncommon to accidentally graze the penis, but you don’t engage it. I teach my students to use a firmer touch or to move to a different area if a client gets aroused during a session, which sometimes happens. There’s a professional way to deal with it. If a therapist feels uncomfortable at any time during the session, he or she has the ability to end the session and immediately file a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations and vice versa. You don’t get a lawyer and file a lawsuit or go to the news media. You file a complaint immediately.”

From Phommyuong: “I first met Deshaun about three years ago. He was a regular of ours, and I worked on him twice — both times a combo Tai and deep tissue massage. He wore boxers for both sessions. I found him to very polite and respectful. I didn’t even know he was a professional football player during his first appointment. Myself and my co-workers were really shocked to hear about the lawsuits and allegations, because Deshaun never hinted at or did anything improper.”

From Storm: “Deshaun first contacted me in February of this year by direct message on Instagram after he saw a flyer that I had posted. I have worked on him two times and in both instances he asked for a sports massage with a focus on his abs, abductors, thighs and glutes. Each session lasted an hour and he supplied the draping towel, which was the size of a beach towel. Deshaun was very respectful and professional towards me. He was also very quiet, listening to music on his phone. After each session, he thanked me and said he would be contacting me again for another massage.”

From Dr. Ball: “I worked with Deshaun several times in 2019 and 2020. He was very quiet during our sessions, often played his music and zoned out. Like most athletes, he requested that I focus on his hamstrings, abs and adductors. He never made me uncomfortable and was always professional during our sessions.”

From Brooks: “I began providing massage therapy to Deshaun in 2018 and have massaged him at least 40 times since then. I worked with him once or twice a week during the season and as needed during the off season. Early on, he said he wanted me to focus on his hamstrings [he had a trainer that worked on his upper body] and just to work the lactic acid out of his legs. This included the groin, glutes and feet. He never asked me any questions and hardly ever spoke at all. In all that time, I never had a single uncomfortable or inappropriate experience with Deshaun.”

From Thomas: “I first worked on Deshaun at a hotel in Houston in December of 2019 after reaching out to him on Instagram. I remember Clemson was in town that day for a football game and Deshaun watched it during his session. Before the appointment, he laid out what he wanted in very clear terms: he was only interested in a professional massage. I worked on him four or five times total, the last time being in June 2020. He was always pretty quiet and never anything but respectful, he was the sweetest guy. The sessions were very professional – he arrived, got his massage, and he left. I’ve never heard anything negative about him and I was completely thrown off guard by the recent allegations.”

From Howard: “I first met Deshaun about a year ago when he reached out on Instagram. I had two therapy sessions with him, both of which were uneventful. On the first, he was just focused on his areas of concern and the pressure. He listened to music and scrolled on his phone on the second session. He was never inappropriate or did anything to make me feel uncomfortable. He asked that I focus on areas that are typical for athletes: glutes, hamstrings, quads and groin. He was appropriately and properly draped with a towel, which is common with sports clients. Deshaun was respectful before, during and after both visits. I am puzzled by the allegations in the lawsuits and in the media, as they are not consistent with Deshaun’s character.”

From Luqman: “I massaged Deshaun on August 12, 2020 at my office in Houston. He asked me to pay attention to his glutes, hamstrings and abductors. This was consistent with requests I have received from other athletes I have worked with in the past. He was always respectful and quiet, and I never felt uncomfortable.”

From Compean: “I first met Deshaun in 2017 at a spa where I worked, which he would visit once or twice a week. I worked on him six or seven times over the next three years. He would always want his back, shoulder and arms massaged, and he asked for deep tissue massages as well. Deshaun was always draped during massages and a couple of times he even asked for an extra towel because he was cold. He was completely covered. He never said much during the massage, he was very quiet. He would always say ‘yes ma’am or no ma’am.’ I never had any problem with him and I never heard anyone say anything bad about Deshaun.”

From Martin: “I massaged Deshaun four times at his house and at the Houstonian. When we first met, he asked if I was comfortable with glutes, lower legs, and groin and I said yes. As an athletic trainer, this was a normal request. Deshaun barely talked; he was super quiet and passive. He has been one of the easiest clients I have ever had. That’s what makes these accusations against him so infuriating. Any licensed therapist knows that you may graze the penis during the course of the massage and you are taught how to address it professionally. You are also taught that the therapist is in charge and to immediately speak up if something makes you uncomfortable.”

From Brito: “I started treating Deshaun in early 2020 and have provided him massage therapy three to five times in all, the last time being in November 2020. He tells you what areas he wants worked on – usually groin, glutes and abs, which is normal for athletes. I always found him to be polite, respectful, professional and absolutely nonaggressive.”

From Nguyen: “I first met Deshaun three years ago and have provided massages to him several times. He wanted to focus on stretching and deep tissue massage. He never asked for, or even hinted at, anything inappropriate. He was always polite and respectful. When I eventually realized who he was, I asked him to have his picture taken with me to give to my son, who is a big fan.”

From Hillman: “I worked with Deshaun to give him full body scrubs and body wraps. At no time did he act inappropriate with me. If he did, I would have talked with him and handled it with him.”

This list of comments from 18 different women who provided massage therapy to Watson stands in stark contrast to the allegations, all of which have been made without names being named. The accounts represent, in our view, the first major step taken by Deshaun Watson and his lawyers to defend himself in the court of public opinion.

Of course, it’s possible that all 39 individuals (plus the woman who spoke to SI.com and has not sued) are telling the truth, and that Watson only acted inappropriately with the 19 who has sued him. With 18 massage therapists putting their names on accounts of their positive experiences with Watson, attorney Tony Buzbee may feel compelled to provide something more substantial and more specific as it relates to his 21 clients.

Offseason programs to begin with remote work, in-person work is expected

Miami Dolphins Training Camp
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The NFL was fully remote during 2020 offseason programs, but they do not expect that to be the case this offseason.

Earlier this week, the NFL told teams that offseason programs can begin on April 19 without offering any word on whether they will include in-person work. On Wednesday, they moved on to that important piece of information.

PFT has obtained a copy of the memo that the league sent to all teams informing them that programs will be conducted remotely when they start next month. The league also said that it does not anticipate the programs being virtual throughout the entire offseason.

Given the ongoing pandemeic, any in-person portions of the offseason program will not look like past editions but the exact nature of the protocols that will be in place have not been announced at this point.

Steelers will sign Mathew Sexton

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Central Connecticut at Eastern Michigan
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The Steelers had personnel at Michigan State’s Pro Day last week to evaluate draft prospects and they came back with a player who the team is adding to the roster immediately.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that the Steelers are signing wide receiver Mathew Sexton.

Sexton went undrafted out of Eastern Michigan in 2020 and reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in the low 4.3-second range. Pelissero adds that the Bills and Patriots also worked out Sexton.

He had 100 catches for 1,335 yards and nine touchdowns while in college. He took part in The Spring League last year and was used as a kick returner in addition to playing wideout.

Seahawks extend Tyler Lockett

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The Seahawks are locking up Tyler Lockett for the prime of his career.

Lockett and the Seahawks have agreed to a four-year contract extension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

The deal is reportedly for $69.2 million over four years, with $37 million guaranteed, although those numbers need more context to give a complete view of what the contract means for the Seahawks. It’s highly likely that the deal reduces Lockett’s 2021 cap hit, as the Seahawks need to create cap space this season and Lockett had been slated to count $14.95 million against the salary cap this year.

The 28-year-old Lockett has been with the Seahawks since they selected him in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft. Last year he had a career-high 100 catches but a career-low 10.5 yards per catch. He totaled 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns.

With Lockett now under contract well into his 30s and D.K. Metcalf having two years left on his rookie deal, the Seahawks have a good chance of keeping a good pair of receivers playing together for years to come.

Tyrell Adams signing with Bills

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Linebacker Tyrell Adams went on a visit with the Bills this week and apparently it went well.

According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Buffalo is signing the linebacker to a deal.

Adams has bounced around the league, but started 12 games with the Texans last year. He recorded 125 total tackles with five going for loss. He also registered four passes defensed, a pair of forced fumbles, and 2.0 sacks.

Adams entered the league as an undrafted free agent with out of West Georgia in 2015. He’s appeared in 12 games for the Raiders and 25 games for Houston, while also previously spending time with the Bills, 49ers, Colts, Raiders, Chiefs, and Seahawks.

Malik Jackson: If Jadeveon Clowney wants to hop on board with Browns, come on board

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The Browns added veteran Malik Jackson on a one-year deal to help upgrade their defensive line.

They could also sign Jadeveon Clowney for that same purpose, having brought in the defensive end for a visit earlier this month.

But on Wednesday, Jackson said he doesn’t feel like he needs to sell Clowney on coming to Cleveland, which made the playoffs for the first time since 2002 last season.

“It’s one of those things that the team speaks for itself and what we’re trying to build speaks for itself,” Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “If you want to hop on board, come hop on board. I understand the free agency market isn’t probably what he wants, but things are bigger than monetary value and you get a chance to be on a good team and set yourself up in the future.”

Jackson also wasn’t shy about terming the Browns a Super Bowl contender. It’s a statement that might seem farfetched to attach to Cleveland, but the club was one of the final eight teams alive in the playoffs and gave Kansas City all it could handle.

“If you’re not saying your team’s going to the Super Bowl, then you’re wrong,” Jackson said. “You have to have those expectations that you want to meet.”

With the Browns finishing 11-5 last season in their first year under head coach Kevin Stefanski, the bar has been raised. After spending a pair of years in Philadelphia, Jackson is looking forward to being in Cleveland in 2021.

“I’m excited to be able to help turn a culture around that’s already been turned around and be able to say I helped that team go even further than they did before,” he said. “That’s what I’m excited about, just trying to etch this team in history.”

Leonard Fournette ready to compete for starting RB role with Tampa Bay

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Leonard Fournette transformed into “Playoff Lenny” when he accounted for 448 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in four postseason games, helping the Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV.

He’s now back with Tampa Bay on a one-year deal, saying he chose to return in part so that he wouldn’t have to acclimate to another team.

“I know what I deserve, I believe in myself and I just wanted to come back and enjoy myself instead of being a new face on the block,” Fournette said Wednesday, via PewterReport.com. “I came back to the team that I enjoyed my process with. Me coming to this team kind of humbled me a lot, coming to a team that had so much talent. You get used to being ‘that guy’ on the team. It helped develop me as a better man, too. I could have went somewhere and got some more money. I just think this is the place right now for me.”

But, Fournette is now expecting to be a part of a competition for the starting role in 2021. The Aside from Fournette, the Buccaneers have Ronald Jones — who was the lead back until dealing with multiple injuries late in the year. Head coach Bruce Arians also mentioned on Tuesday that Ke'Shawn Vaughn is primed to take on a bigger role.

“We’re going to camp and we’ll have to compete,” Fournette said. “Nothing is promised to anyone. I’ve been here before and I understand about competing. It’s like college. … Right now, we’re just training and getting our bodies right. It’s just coming in and knowing that we’ll have to start all over and compete for that starting job. It’s going to be a great one.”

With the Jaguars, Fournette twice rushed for over 1,000 yards — once as a rookie in 2017 and again in 2019. If he becomes the Buccaneers full-time starter in 2021, based on his playoff performances, he’ll have a chance to push that mark to three.

NCAA faces its long-overdue reckoning

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At a time when the NCAA is preparing for one of its signature annual high points, the NCAA could be on the brink of dealing with its biggest loss in years, if not ever.

Oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court in a lawsuit led by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston included questions from justices that suggest the NCAA finally may be facing its reckoning over the failure to compensate football players and other athletes for the billions in revenue they generate.

It’s an antitrust claim, alleging that the NCAA places illegal artificial on the ability of colleges to compete for players, limiting the total expense that any school will incur for its athletes. A federal appeals court previously ruled that the NCAA was not permitted to limit benefits to educational expenses only. Although the decision did not call for the payment of salaries, it opened the door for items like, via the New York Times, “musical instruments, scientific equipment, postgraduate scholarships, tutoring, study abroad, academic awards and internships.”

The NCAA’s best argument is that fans somehow value amateur status. That argument, frankly, is hogwash wrapped in bullspit.

“Consumers will likely come to view NCAA athletics as just another form of minor league sports,” the NCAA argued in written filings to the Supreme Court.

Actually, most consumers view NCAA sports like football and basketball as another form of MAJOR league sports, with the only difference being that the players aren’t fairly compensated for their abilities, risks, and sacrifices.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jeffrey Kessler, a long-time counsel for the NFL Players Association. Accounts from the oral argument show aggressive questioning of both sides, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh making the most spirited attack against the NCAA. Via Gabe Feldman, Kavanaugh asked whether the NCAA is using the notion of amateurism as “cover for exploitation of college athletes.” Also, Justice Clarence Thomas (who rarely poses questions to the lawyers during any oral arguments), asked whether the NCAA tries to limit compensation for coaches in the same way it tries to limit compensation for athletes, in the name of amateurism.

Added Kavanaugh, via Nicole Auerbach of TheAthletic.com, “It does seem . . . that schools are conspiring with competitors to pay no salaries to the workers who are making the schools billions of dollars on the theory that consumers want the schools to pay their workers nothing.”

Although many of fans will argue that the athletes should be happy with a “free education,” few would balk at the athletes getting a fair share of the revenue they generate. That’s ultimately what this is about, as it relates to college football — fairness and equity to players who have no choice (thanks in part to the inherently unfair three-year waiting period implemented by the NFL and NFLPA) but to play college football for peanuts in order to have a chance to make a lot more as a pro.