The Daily Briefing Monday, August 6, 2018

AROUND THE NFL 

Peter King thinks about the helmet rule:

 

• The exact rule has been confused in the last few weeks—it’s not helmet-to-helmet, but rather helmet-to-anything. The NFL wording: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent’s head or neck area — lowering the head and initiating contact to an opponent’s torso, hips, and lower body is also a foul.”

 

• The call of the play should change.“Unnecessary roughness” at the start of ref Walt Coleman’s calls the other night was a seven-syllable waste of time. Obviously the league has ruled this as unnecessary. It sounds too much like the other calls that start with “unnecessary roughness” anyway. Just call it “helmet violation,” or something of the sort. Make it clear and concise.

 

• It’s going to take a while to get it right, if it ever gets right. The intent behind the new call is good—further emphasis on taking helmet-hits out of football. The other day, I sat in on a session at Panthers camp—a group of officials explaining to media the new rules and points of emphasis this season. The most notable thing that was said was this from veteran line judge Jerry Seeman: “We will be better in the back half of the year at this than we will in the first half. It will slow down.” The overall intent is good, and the teams and officials understand there will be some hiccups along the way. There’s no way in the offseason to simulate officiating this call. It’s just got to happen starting in the preseason, and there will be debacles. Big deal. It’s the preseason.

 

• The officials are going to struggle mightily with the consistency. “Obviously when you have a new change, there’s an adjustment period for everyone,” side judge Boris Cheek said at this session. “My advice to players is obviously get the helmet out of the game. Use your shoulders as much as possible. Your arms, wrap ’em up. There are things we can do in lieu of using the helmet. Lowering our helmet and infecting a blow on our opponent. That’s mainly the message I gave them.” The players’ response so far? Said Cheek: “They accepted it. They had to. They have to.”

 

• Over-call the rule in the preseason. Is there any doubt that’s the edict from the league office? The NFL wants players to have this call in their minds. Players I’ve been speaking to don’t think it’s going to change how they play. “I can’t be thinking about this,” Atlanta safety Keanu Neal said. “I’ve been taught how to tackle. It’s legal.”

 

The first things King writes there, if applied, would seem to assure that all penalty rules will be broken.  “Hey, we only had 100 yards in penalties,” will be the new standard?

 

NFC NORTH

 

GREEN BAY

An ankle injury for T DAVID BAKHTIARI.  The AP:

 

Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari was taken off the field on a cart Saturday, dampening the spirits at Family Night at Lambeau Field.

 

Bakhtiari walked to the cart with his left shoe removed.

 

“I don’t have enough information to answer that,” coach Mike McCarthy said about the severity of the injury. “I know it’s his ankle but that’s all I know.”

 

Bakhtiari was named a second-team All-Pro each of the last two seasons, the first Packers offensive tackle to earn back-to-back All-Pro accolades since Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg.

 

“I think he said he got his foot caught underneath him,” left guard Lane Taylor said. “Not 100 percent sure, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

 

The Packers have been getting through training camp without one of their starting offensive tackles. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga practiced on Friday for the first time since suffering a torn right ACL against Detroit on Nov. 6 but did not practice on Saturday as the team brings him along slowly.

 

Without Bakhtiari and Bulaga, Kyle Murphy played left tackle and Jason Spriggs played right tackle for the two-minute drill that ended the night.

 

Word on Sunday was that the ankle is only sprained.

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

QB DAK PRESCOTT has a perfectly legitimate (and probably substantially majority) position on the National Anthem’s role at football games.  Nonetheless there are those in the media (social and otherwise) badgering him to take back his comments.  So far, he is resolute.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Dak Prescott can’t seem to escape the hits, but the Cowboys quarterback keeps trying to defend himself.

 

An artist recently painted a mural in Dallas depicting Prescott in the “sunken place” from the movie “Get Out” in response to Prescott’s anthem comments. Late Sunday, though, someone spray painted blue sunglasses over Prescott’s eyes.

 

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Prescott said when asked about the mural, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It is what it is. When I made my statements on the anthem, I knew there would be backlash. No surprises.”

 

Prescott said the first week of training camp that protesting during the national anthem was the wrong time and wrong place. He made clear he supports Jerry Jones’ edict that the Cowboys stand for the anthem “toes on the line.”

 

“I think there was a little misunderstanding of the fact of what I believe in,” Prescott said. “I never said I didn’t believe in social injustice and things that were going on. I just said I didn’t think that the national anthem was the time. It’s two minutes out of our day that we could also be spending embracing what our country should be and what our country is going to be one day that we know that it’s not right now. That is the sad part about it. That it’s not.

 

“I respect everybody. And power to the people that kneel. That is what they believe in, and they should be able to kneel. For me, the game of football has been such a peace. It’s a moment for me to be at peace and think about all the great things our country does have.”

 

Prescott, though, doesn’t take anything back or regret anything he said, even if his comments have drawn him into the middle of “one of the most controversial topics we’ve had in the game since I’ve been in it.”

 

“I stand by what I said,” he said. “I just said some people may have misunderstood it or whatever. I feel strongly about what I said. And it is what it is.”

 

 

PHILADELPHIA

Contract extensions for the braintrust.  Herbie Teope of NFL.com:

 

The architects of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2017 championship team have earned extended time with the franchise.

 

The Eagles on Sunday announced head coach Doug Pederson and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman signed contract extensions.

 

Financial details were not disclosed, but the extensions will keep Pederson and Roseman in Philadelphia through the 2022 season.

 

“We are thrilled to solidify continuity in our organization’s leadership with the extensions of Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman, whose collaborative partnership helped deliver our city its first Super Bowl Championship,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “Doug and Howie are committed to the success of our franchise by ensuring that we remain competitive, both in the short and long term. That unified vision for the future of our team is what gives us the best chance to win moving forward.”

 

Speaking during a news conference Sunday before the start of the team’s prime-time practice, Lurie added that Pederson and Roseman have the Eagles “terrifically positioned” heading into their title defense. Lurie also said sees “no chance” of a potential power struggle developing between the two thanks to their strong working relationship.

 

“I’ve often said it takes a village to win a championship,” Lurie said. “I want that village to be maintained with its leadership, its continuity, and its innovativeness. That’s kind of where we’re at today.”

– – –

With Pederson and Roseman at the helm the past two seasons, the Eagles are 20-12. But perhaps even more impressive was the quick turnaround from a 2016 team that finished last in the NFC East with a 7-9 record to an improved 13-3 squad in 2017 before going on to defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

Peter King with a name to watch in your Fantasy Football Draft, TE AUSTIN HOOPER:

 

In Atlanta, watch for the emergence of Austin Hooper. The third-year tight end from Stanford did this offseason what Julian Edelman did to force-feed himself to Tom Brady a few years ago—Hooper became Matt Ryan’s consistent workout partner, staying in the Atlanta area in the offseason so he could get on the same wavelength with his quarterback. It worked. They’ve been a great tandem so far in camp. “Hooper’s been like a dog this offseason—over and over, he’d catch everything Matt threw and bring it back,” said coach Dan Quinn. Ryan and his wife welcomed twin boys in April, so he stuck close to home through the off-season. So did Hooper. And anytime Ryan called looking for a throwing partner, Hooper was there. He had 68 catches in his first two pro seasons, and could have that many this season alone.

 

NFC WEST

 

SAN FRANCISCO

Should we be worried that aging CB RICHARD SHERMAN has hamstring issues or is it a veteran ploy to avoid camp?  Herbie Teope of NFL.com:

 

The San Francisco 49ers are without cornerback Richard Sherman for at least a week.

 

Sherman suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain in practice Friday, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday. Sherman will be out at least a week, Shanahan said, and he won’t play in the team’s preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

 

The veteran cornerback felt his hamstring tighten up after falling during Friday’s practice and had to leave the field.

 

Sherman joined San Francisco in March on a three-year deal after his release from the Seattle Seahawks, where he was a three-time All-Pro selection and four-time Pro Bowler in seven seasons.

 

AFC WEST

 

THE RAIDERS

The Raiders are looking to take their training camp to Nevada in 2020.  Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal:

 

The Raiders are searching for a new city to call their summer home.

 

“The Biggest Little City in the World” has their attention.

 

While the team plans to hold training camp in Napa next year, the Raiders continue to explore other opportunities for 2020 and beyond. A departure from Napa, where they have trained every summer since 1996, would coincide with the franchise’s scheduled relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas.

 

Reno looks to be the in-house favorite.

 

Days ago, a group of officials from Reno visited the Raiders’ camp headquarters at the Napa Valley Marriott, team president Marc Badain said. Those officials grew increasingly familiar with the structure and breadth of the club’s current operations. Not only does the team practice on fields adjacent to the hotel, but other uses include meetings, a weight room and more than 100 alumni who are able to be entertained one weekend each year.

 

This list of venue requirements is not considered exhaustive. The search for Napa’s potential successor is.

 

 “I anticipate we would find a location in north Nevada,” Badain said, “but there are a lot of factors that go into that.”

 

Among those factors, the Raiders must find a venue that can house all their needs. Reno presents an interesting added dynamic, as the city sits at about 4,500-feet altitude. Determining how elevation impacts three weeks of training, for better or worse, is among the variables in play.

 

The franchise does seem decided on one aspect of its training-camp home: It won’t be in the Las Vegas area.

 

It is owner Mark Davis’ preference for camp to be away from the team’s normal headquarters, he said recently, as he believes camaraderie forms more naturally when players and coaches are away from home. Napa is more than an hour north of the Raiders’ practice facility in Alameda, California. Their new team headquarters will be constructed in Henderson.

– – –

The early returns on Oakland’s experiment with WR MARTAVIS BRYANT are not promising.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Raiders used the third-round pick they picked up by sliding back five spots in the first round of the 2018 draft to take a flier on receiver Martavis Bryant. So far, the flight is having a hard time getting off the ground.

 

“He’s got to get out here and play better,” Gruden said Saturday, via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He’s in a competitive situation. Right now, a lot of the other receivers have had a nice camp. He’s just got to learn the offense. He’s got to stay out here. He’s had some illnesses. He’s got to get on the field. He’s got to master the offense and become more versatile, and that’s the key to making this team better.”

 

Amaro Cooper and Jordy Nelson sit atop the depth chart in Oakland. It remains to be seen where Bryant fits.

 

The draft-pick investment likely gives Bryant the benefit of the doubt when it comes to carving the roster down to 53. But that won’t guarantee playing time or opportunities to make an impact on the field.

 

Bryant’s on-field struggles come at a time when, as Gehlken previously reported, the Raiders are bracing for another potential suspension of Bryant under the substance-abuse policy. Although he reportedly has not failed or missed a drug test, there are other ways to run afoul of the substance-abuse policy when a player is in Stage 3 of the program, one false move away from another minimum banishment of a full calendar year.

 

Bryant missed all of the 2016 season in Pittsburgh. His best year came in 2015, when he caught 50 passes for 765 yards.

 

AFC NORTH

 

BALTIMORE

Peter King senses a ticket from Baltimore to Bustville on the way.

 

I think it’s hard to imagine the Ravens keeping Breshad Perriman (three touchdowns in the three NFL seasons since being drafted 26th overall) at final cutdown. I get the strong sense they’re moving on from him.

 

 

CLEVELAND

The current regime has shed a player coveted by the prior regime.  A tweet from Adam Schefter:

 

@AdamSchefter

Cleveland is trading former first-round pick WR Corey Coleman to the Buffalo Bills for a draft pick, per source.

 

Coleman was the player the Browns selected after trading the No. 2 overall pick to Philadelphia so the Eagles could draft Carson Wentz.

 

Points out Peter King:

 

• I know nothing should shock me any more, but this does: Cleveland had 11 first-round picks in the eight drafts between 2009 and 2016. None are left on the team. DID YOU READ WHAT I JUST WROTE? Trading Corey Coleman to Buffalo for a bag of footballs—um, actually a future draft pick—Sunday proved the Browns should keep John Dorsey in power for years. The mayhem of impatient change just has to stop.

 

Here is a list of that rogue’s gallery – some are actually good players, just not in Cleveland anymore:

 

2009    21        Alex Mack                   C         California        

2010    7          Joe Haden                  CB       Florida

2011    21        Phil Taylor                   DT       Baylor 

2012    3          Trent Richardson        RB       Alabama         

            22        Brandon Weeden        QB       Oklahoma State         

2013    6          Barkevious Mingo       OLB     LSU    

2014    8          Justin Gilbert               CB       Oklahoma State         

            22        Johnny Manziel           QB       Texas A&M    

2015    12        Danny Shelton            DT       Washington    

            19        Cameron Erving         C         Florida State   

2016    15        Corey Coleman          WR      Baylor 

– – –

This from King on WR JARVIS LANDRY:

 

Cleveland wide receiver Jarvis Landry has 400 catches in his first four NFL seasons, the most in a player’s first four years ever.

 

He needs 27 catches, only, to break Larry Fitzgerald’s record of 426 catches in a player’s first five NFL seasons.

 

Amazing: Landry averages exactly 100 catches a year. There was exactly one 100-catch season in the first 70 years of NFL history. Now Landry would be below average if, say, he caught 95 balls this year.

 

That’s 400 catches, 22 TDs for Landry.

 

The 400 catches rank 3rd in the NFL in that span.

 

The 22 TD catches are tied for 27th.

 

Which might be why Landry’s name doesn’t pop into your head as being among the NFL’s elite WRs.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

INDIANAPOLIS

Peter King on the so-far-successful return of QB ANDREW LUCK:

 

He missed a few long ones earlier in the morning, but this one, a combination of touch and enough power, dropped out of the sky toward the corner of the end zone and into a scrum of five Colts—two receivers, three defensive backs. Hilton, inches from the back line, jumped up and grabbed the perfect spiral, coming down with two feet in. Touchdown.

 

“What a beautiful day!” said Luck, all smiles when we met 20 minutes later.

 

I wanted to know about that throw to Hilton. Luck said he had a joyous feeling that he described as, My arm’s still attached to my shoulder! This is gonna be okay!

 

“I was like, Oh that felt good. I’m glad I could do that again,” he recalled. “Things that happen on the practice field, every practice there’s been a couple things that’s like, I haven’t done that in a long time. This is fun. It really is.”

 

It’s startling to hear Luck say, “There is a part of me that thought I would never have fun playing football again.” But when you haven’t played a football game in 582 days after playing year after year, season after season, with the joy of a kid, you can go into a dark place sometimes. “I did,” he said. “I worked myself into a fairly dark place. But I think I see light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not torturing myself anymore.”

 

It’s easy to say it’s not that long a time since he played—19 months. But think of this: The Colts’ 22-man starting lineup on Jan. 1, 2017, Luck’s last start, will have either five or six of the same names when the Colts open the 2018 season. With a new coach (Frank Reich) and a new GM (Chris Ballard) too. All that newness, with so much pressure on a guy who hasn’t played in a year and a half, and who hasn’t been pain-free in his shoulder in three years.

 

The Colts are accounting for all that in camp. Luck threw 68 passes, including warmups, Sunday. A starting quarterback in a regular summer practice might throw 120 or so. But Luck skipped one throwing period Sunday, doing agility work instead. In other drills, he might throw one or two reps, with Jacoby Brissett and the backups taking more. The Colts are being cautious. Luck is on a regimen that will have him approximate the rhythm of a regular-season week consistently: three days on, one day off, then a game or another three days of practice. This week, it’s practice Sunday, today and Tuesday; off Wednesday; and about a quarter of play Thursday night when the Colts open the preseason at Seattle. “Nervous? I’ll be very nervous,” he told me.

 

I asked him how he feels day to day.

 

“I’ve been able to turn off the governor in my mind,” Luck said. “I’m just going out there throwing balls. There is nothing holding me back. There are some things that feel really good, like an old sweatshirt that you put on that just fits well. And there are some things that still feel awkward and new and wobbly, per se.”

 

I watched Luck’s face a lot Sunday when I could see it clearly enough. Did he wince? Did he flex his arm or rub his shoulder after any of his work? I saw none of it, and he told me later he is pain-free after a nightmare 2017. The garrulous Luck went into a shell—“He lived under a black cloud last year,” one team insider told me—and wasn’t the guy who loved just hanging around with his teammates, win or lose. “Being injured in the NFL is an isolating experience,” his tight end, Jack Doyle, said after Sunday’s practice. “Being injured as the quarterback, the face of the franchise, is even more isolating because Andrew, especially, doesn’t want to let his teammates down. I know it killed him.”

 

 

TENNESSEE

CB MALCOLM BUTLER is doing well in his new home.  Peter King:

 

Malcolm Butler is playing great in Tennessee, even as Patriot Nation is angsty still over the weird end to his New England career. I watched Butler make two very good pass break-ups Friday night in a team practice. Titans people said that’s been common in camp after he signed a five-year, $61.3-million contract … after he didn’t play a defensive snap in the Super Bowl loss to Philly. Understandably, New England fans cannot let go of the Butler benching in the 41-33 Super Bowl loss. Bill Belichick has never explained why Butler didn’t play defense on a horrible night for his secondary, and the attention continues; Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote a front-page (of the paper) column on grilling Belichick about the move in late July. “It’s amazing the run this is still getting,” Titans GM Jon Robinson told me. “People won’t let it go.” Asked if the Patriots owe him an explanation, Butler said, “No, we’re good.” What Tennessee wants is the aggressive, risk-taking Butler, which is what they’ve gotten so far. “We talked,” coach Mike Vrabel told me, “and I said if you’re willing to compete like that undrafted free agent coming out of college every single day, we’ll all be happy. And he’s done that every single day.”

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

Word had it that QB CAM NEWTON and WR KELVIN BENJAMIN were inseparable pals during their days in Carolina, but now Benjamin is saying that his buddy held him back as a player.  ESPN.com:

 

Kelvin Benjamin wasn’t happy being drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2014 and having Cam Newton as his quarterback.

 

The Buffalo Bills receiver told The Athletic in a Q&A after practice on Friday that he and the Panthers were never a good fit and he lamented that he wasn’t able to play with a more accurate quarterback to begin his career.

 

“I mean, I felt like I would’ve been even more successful if … I don’t know, man … if I would’ve … looking back on it, I should’ve just been drafted by somebody else. I should’ve never went to Carolina. Truly, I just think Carolina was bad for me. It was a bad fit from the get-go,” he told the website.

 

“If you would’ve put me with any other quarterback, let’s be real, you know what I’m saying? Any other accurate quarterback like [Aaron] Rodgers or Eli Manning or Big Ben [Roethlisberger] — anybody! — quarterbacks with knowledge, that know how to place a ball and give you a better chance to catch the ball. It just felt like I wasn’t in that position.”

 

Newton posted a 58.5 completion percentage in Benjamin’s first season in 2014 and has cracked 60 percent just twice in his career — 60 percent in 2011, his rookie season, and 61.7 percent in 2013. He has a career completion percentage of 58.5.

 

Benjamin answered those critical of his comments in a tweet Saturday, writing that he has been “holding it all in. And now I’m free. Hate me or love me.”

 

@kelvinbenjamin

 I’m just crazy then !!! I was the one who buried my mom and skip the grievance process to get back and help that team …. let be real it’s was all  fake .. and to be honest i was salty Who wouldn’t be …. I just ben holding it all in. And now I’m free. Hate me or love me ..🖐🏽

Benjamin was one of four receivers drafted in the first round in 2014 (28th overall), along with Sammy Watkins, Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandin Cooks. Asked by The Athletic if he felt being drafted by Carolina set him back compared to those other players, he said, “Not at all!”

 

“I feel like I’m the best one that came out of that class! They were just put in better opportunities to have success. If you notice, at the end of the day, my rookie year I was the only one to get to the playoffs. Nobody else went to the playoffs. I’m the only one that helped my team go to the playoffs,” he told the website.

 

The Panthers qualified for a wild-card spot in the NFC during Benjamin’s rookie season. He missed the 2015 season, when the Panthers advanced to the Super Bowl, after he tore his ACL during the preseason. The Panthers traded Benjamin to the Bills during last season.

 

Benjamin, 27, has caught 184 passes for 2,641 yards and 19 touchdowns in his NFL career. Last season between the Panthers and Bills he finished with 48 receptions for 692 yards and three touchdowns.

 

Reasoned comments in response to Benjamin from TE GREG OLSEN who knows about being traded.  Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took the high road after some weekend jabs from former teammate Kelvin Benjamin, but Panthers tight end Greg Olsen thought they were just “weird.”

 

“We enjoyed Kelvin. For the most part he was a good person to have around. Things didn’t work out here for him. I get it. I know what that’s like,” Olsen said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “But you’d like to see him just kind of move forward to his team, embrace his new opportunity rather than go personal on it.

 

“I’ve been shipped off from another team, too. So I get it. At the same point I always knew there was probably more I could’ve done, at that point in my career. And tried to make those improvements the last eight years to do what I thought I was capable of.”

 

Benjamin took some shots at Newton’s accuracy and knowledge of the game, saying he’d have been better off never being picked by Carolina. After some up and down production and injuries (which caused him to miss Newton’s MVP season), he was traded to Carolina North last season.

 

Newton’s only comment was an understated Instagram post from a treadmill saying he was “just gonna work,” while Bills coach Sean McDermott has already scolded his wide receiver.

 

And Olsen’s the right guy to vouch for Newton’s ability. Before he was injured last year, Olsen had three straight 1,000-yard seasons, something no tight end had ever done. And he made it clear he coudn’t have done it without his quarterback.

 

“I’ve told him a lot he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to my career,” Olsen said. “Coming here, this has been the best eight years of my career, and obviously he’s a big part of that.

 

 

– – –

Meanwhile, another receiver, ZAY JONES, returns to practice after a bad year on and off the field.  The AP:

 

The scars still visible on Zay Jones’ right knee are a reminder of what could have happened in March, when the Buffalo Bills receiver was caught on tape, bloodied and naked, while arguing with his brother in a downtown Los Angeles apartment hallway.

 

“I could’ve lost my life, so I’m grateful to just be here and be on this field, and to be with my teammates,” Jones said Sunday, in speaking to reporters for the first time this offseason. “I don’t think there’s any other word that describes it, but just thankful and grateful.”

 

Though the second-year player declined to explain what happened, Jones said he’s now focused solely on securing his spot on the roster, rather than reflect back after practicing for the first time this year.

 

“I think I would be doing myself a very big disservice if I went back to there,” Jones said. “That moment was very traumatic for me and my family. And to rehash that now, at this point in time, it wouldn’t be doing me any good.”

 

Jones was activated off Buffalo’s non-football injury list 10 days into training camp and practiced on a limited basis.

 

The former second-round draft pick missed the team’s spring practices after coach Sean McDermott in mid-May announced Jones had knee surgery. McDermott wouldn’t reveal how or when Jones was hurt.

 

Jones wouldn’t shed much light on how the injury occurred.

 

“It happened a while ago, man,” said Jones, who also had shoulder surgery in January to repair an injury that nagged him for much of last season. “I’m just trying to move forward in the right direction.”

 

The 23-year-old Jones said he’s at peace, and grateful for the support from his coaches and teammates.

 

He was arrested after officers were called to a disturbance, where Jones was found “breaking glass doors and windows.” Prosecutors declined to file felony vandalism charges against him because of insufficient evidence.

 

Jones is coming off a disappointing rookie season in which he failed to play to the expectations he established at East Carolina, where Jones set an NCAA FBS record with 399 career catches at East Carolina.

 

He finished fifth on the Bills with 316 yards receiving and scored twice in 15 games.

 

 

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

BROADCAST NEWS

Joe Buck has an extended contract with FOX and will continue to call the World Series.  Andrew Marchand of the New York Post:

 

Joe Buck considered not broadcasting the World Series anymore for Fox, but now has thought better of it.

 

Buck just signed a new three-year, multimillion-dollar extension that will not only keep him as Fox’s lead voice on the NFL and golf, but also on baseball for at least as long as the network’s current deal runs, sources told The Post and Buck confirmed.

 

During an interview at the end of 2016 with one of his hometown stations, St. Louis’ 590 The FAN, Buck said he thought he could potentially walk away after a few more World Series, meaning he could have been hanging up his baseball microphone in the next year or two.

 

That has changed — and credit Hall of Famer and Buck’s MLB broadcast partner John Smoltz with the save.

 

“If there is one person who has kind of changed that for me, it is John Smoltz,” Buck told The Post.

 

Buck said working with Smoltz has made life really easy. Prior to Smoltz, Buck spent most of his 20 World Series in the booth with Tim McCarver. After McCarver retired from the big stage in 2013, Buck was joined by Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci in 2014 and 2015.

 

Fox has the World Series through 2021 and they are a pretty good bet to retain it after that, as well. So Buck will be front and center for all of October and then through football season with no end in sight.

 

For Buck, that omnipresence in viewers’ homes can breed some disparagement — especially in the social age, where broadcasters are often trending on Twitter, no matter their skill level.

 

 “I think social media, on some level, is having less and less of an effect,” Buck said. “And it has less and less relevance. It is like going to the complaint box at Macy’s and you are looking for compliments. They don’t come. They are not in there. There is no real balance.

 

“The only social media I’m worried about is [Fox Sports president] Eric Shanks’ Twitter account, and if he starts ripping me, then I have a problem.”

 

Before this new deal, Buck already had two years remaining on his contract, meaning that as he turns 50 next year, he will be in the midst of what is in essence a five-year deal.

 

“There wasn’t a lot of posturing,” Buck said. “I don’t want to go anywhere. They know I don’t want to go anywhere. And they want to use me and have me do these events. Let’s just figure out what seems fair to both sides.”

 

When asked how much would be fair to both sides, Buck declined to say. It is safe to assume his family will be able to afford to go out for dinner.

 

He did say he finds it easy to work at Fox in large part due to Shanks, who started as a broadcast associate back when Buck first began.

 

“I’ve grown up at Fox,” Buck said. “He grew up at Fox.”

 

When in doubt, Shanks turns to Buck. After Fox struck out in its pursuit of Peyton Manning for “Thursday Night Football,” it asked Buck and his NFL partner, Troy Aikman, to fill the night that Fox wants to make bigger than ever before. The new Thursday night gig was the impetus for the contract overhaul.

 

To make it workable, Fox lightened Aikman and Buck’s Sunday workload a bit. Buck had already lessened the amount of regular season MLB games he does.

 

Buck’s two children from his first marriage just graduated — one from high school, one from college — but he now has 3-month old twins with his new wife, ESPN NFL reporter Michelle Beisner.

 

“Fox has been so good in letting me shape my calendar year that by the end of it, I’m ready to start back up again,” Buck said.

 

Buck said it helps that, besides Smoltz, with MLB producer Pete Macheska, director Matt Gangl and the two dugout reporters, Verducci and Ken Rosenthal, and epic series featuring the Cubs to the Astros in recent years, it has made what can be a grind of October fly by.

 

So Buck will be back for more World Series and now has no immediate plans to give it up anytime soon.

 

Joe Lucia of AwfulAnnouncing says the NFL-MLB conflicts are less this year than usual:

 

Major League Baseball has announced the 2018 Postseason schedule, starting with the National League Wild Card game on October 2nd on ESPN and ending as late as October 31st with Game 7 of the World Series on Fox.

 

This year, the National League games (with the exception of the Wild Card game on ESPN and two Division Series games on MLB Network) will air on Fox and FS1, and the American League games will air on TBS. Fox, as usual, has the entire World Series.

 

And now, the most important part of the schedule – where will baseball potentially run into conflicts with football?

 

On October 4th, the first day of the NLDS, Fox and NFL Network will be airing a Thursday Night Football matchup between the Colts and Patriots. At least there won’t be a potential conflict with the Red Sox. I would fully expect the two games to start at something like 7 PM ET and 10 PM ET instead of something more palatable to a sports fan that might actually maximize viewership in the face of TNF, like 1 PM ET and 4 PM ET.

 

On October 7th, both NLDS matchups will have their third game. The Sunday Night Football matchup is Cowboys-Texans (again, great news for Astros fans), but the 4 PM ET NFL window features a host of National League markets in the playoff hunt, including Philadelphia, Arizona, San Francisco, and both Los Angeles teams.

 

October 8th could end up being a four-game day for MLB, with at least the two Game 3s of the ALDS matchups taking place. The Monday Night Football matchup is Redskins-Saints, which could create a conflict for Nationals fans.

 

October 11th could host Game 5 of both ALDS matchups. TNF features the Eagles taking on the New York Giants, and that could be awful news for TBS. “Hey, you’ve got the Yankees in primetime…head to head with the Giants. Have fun!”

 

Flashing forward to the LCS, Game 2 of the ALCS takes place on October 14th, and Red Sox fans could be faced with a tough decision as the Patriots host the Chiefs on SNF that night. Game 3 of the NLCS takes place on October 15th during a 49ers-Packers MNF matchup, creating potential conflicts for Giants and Brewers fans. A potential Game 5 of the ALCS would go head to head with the Broncos-Cardinals TNF matchup (two NL markets), and a potential Game 7 on October 21st would be staring down a Rams-49ers SNF matchup.

 

The World Series avoids any possible conflicts with both TNF and MNF, with the two travel days of the series falling on Thursday and Monday. The one NFL conflict could come on October 28th during Game 5, featuring a Saints-Vikings SNF matchup.

 

 

 

HALL OF FAME A.W.O.L. RULE

The weekend has come and gone – and in Terrell Owens’ case he never came to Canton.  If some writers have their way, they will never be insulted this way again.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com is not impressed with their plan to demand attendance prior to selection:

 

More than a decade ago, an injury to receiver Terrell Owens forced a change to the rules of the NFL. Now, an insult to T.O. could force a change to the rules of the HOF.

 

Per multiple sources, the Hall of Fame currently is considering a requirement that candidates for enshrinement commit to showing up for the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony before the selection committee makes its final choices.

 

As one source explained it, the issue became a hot topic on Friday in Canton. During the annual Ray Nitschke luncheon, attended only by members of the Hall of Fame, most strongly disagreed with Terrell Owens’ decision to boycott the weekend’s festivities. Some supported Owens. Most if not all agreed that it is important to stop Owens’ boycott of the ceremony from becoming a trend.

 

The Hall of Famers want advance screening of the candidates along with a commitment that they will show up. The plan, as another source put it, would consist of having the 25 semifinalists sign an agreement that they would show up if selected. It’s currently believed that he adjustment to the procedures is virtually certain to happen.

 

Three obvious questions arise. First, what happens if the semifinalist refuses to sign the document? Presumably, the person automatically would not become one of the 15 finalists, thereby preventing the members of the selection committee from voting the candidate in.

 

Second, what happens if the person signs the document, wins enshrinement, and then doesn’t show up? Would the Hall of Famer be replaced by an alternate, or would the bronze bust still be added to the Hall of Fame in the new enshrinee’s absence?

 

Third, and perhaps most importantly, is the Hall of Fame willing to change its bylaws to permit consideration for induction to stray beyond events and dynamics unrelated to the candidate’s football career? If an inclination to not attend the ceremony becomes a factor in keeping someone out of Canton, what about other things that are supposedly off limits when it comes to screening Hall of Famers?

 

The best approach could be to regard the T.O. situation as a once-in-318 aberration and to continue with the same rules that otherwise would have been applied. Indeed, Owens didn’t show up, but he’s still a Hall of Famer. It wouldn’t be fair to any other potential Hall of Famer to apply a different set of rules.

 

It also would be wrong to ignore Owens’ overriding point: He was indeed passed over, not once but twice, for reasons unrelated to his accomplishments. The fact that Owens and Randy Moss generally are regarded as the second- and third-, or third- and second-, best receivers of all time behind Jerry Rice coupled with the fact that Moss got in on the first try proves that Owens also should have gotten in on the first try.

 

So instead of creating a litmus test that violates the letter and spirit of the Hall of Fame’s bylaws for enshrinement, the current members of the Hall of Fame should instead recognize the merit of T.O.’s argument and consider revamping the selection process to ensure that another first-ballot Hall of Famer isn’t made to wait for reasons other than the things he did on the field.

 

As Florio alludes, there really are two kinds of Hall of Famers.  Those, one or two a year, who go in the first year of eligibility and those who wait in line. 

 

Should Owens have been one of the former as he insists and Florio seems to feel was obvious?  He had to wait until his third year, which the DB feels isn’t all that long.  It wasn’t decades like Jerry Kramer.