The Daily Briefing Friday, September 8, 2017

AROUND THE NFL

 

Be safe, Florida.

– – –

Time for 10 DB fearless picks –

 

1 – EZEKIEL ELLIOTT will only play 10 games this year.  Eventually, the suspension will stick.

 

2 – The 49ers will win more games than the Broncos.

 

3 – The Jets will indeed get the number one pick, but the Browns (on their own pick) will not select in the top 5.

 

4 – This will be TOM BRADY’s final season – and by his standards it will not go well.

 

5 – The Redskins will be sneaky good and KIRK COUSINS will be an MVP candidate.

 

6 – The Cardinals will win the NFC West.

 

7 – Atlanta will not win the NFC South.

 

8 – While they will do okay, the Titans and Buccaneers will not make the playoffs.

 

9 – DAVID JOHNSON and Le’VEON BELL will both have 2,400-plus scrimmage yards.

 

10 – The Steelers will hoist the Lombardi Trophy as BEN ROETHLISBERGER goes out a winner.  The losing QB, ELI MANNING, also retires.

– – –

 

The NFL slaps a meaningless suspension on former PK Josh Brown.  Darin Gantt at ProFootballTalk.com:

 

One of the recent criticisms of the NFL during its recent Ezekiel Elliott investigation/suspension was a lack of consistency, after the Cowboys running back got a six-game punishment the year after Giants kicker Josh Brown got one.

 

The NFL has taken a retroactive step to remedy that.

 

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the NFL has suspended the former Giants kicker six more games for violating its personal conduct policy, for domestic violence.

 

Of course, Brown’s career was probably over anyway, as he’s a kicker, and the Giants parted ways with him after last year’s one-game suspension. (Even though, you know, they signed him to a contract extension with knowledge of the allegations of abuse by his ex-wife.)

 

The league re-opened their investigation into Brown’s case, and will say that they found new information during that process that justified the longer suspension.

 

Of course, no one was going to touch a 38-year-old kicker with a domestic violence charge anyway (unless he was a really good kicker, I mean), but the more interesting question will be how it serves as any kind of factor in the Elliott case or future cases. Elliott’s waiting for a ruling from a Texas judge on a restraining order which would allow him to continue to play beyond this week.

 

 

NFC SOUTH

 

NEW ORLEANS

One of the big mysteries of 2017 is whether ADRIAN PETERSON will be Adrian Peterson.  He tells the AP he is:

 

Adrian Peterson suggests it is “crazy” to assume he isn’t still one of the best running backs in the NFL just because he’s 32 years old and has had two knee surgeries.

 

In a few days, the new Saints running back gets his chance to demonstrate his point against the team that let him go in the city where he became arguably the best ball carrier of his generation.

 

“I’m pretty excited about it — just trying to keep myself calm until Monday night comes around,” said Peterson, who spent all of his previous 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. “I’m looking for amazing things to happen for me and our team.”

 

Peterson’s logic is “just based on the work that I put in and just honestly the God-given ability I’ve been blessed with.”

 

The Saints have been relatively cautious with Peterson, who missed most of last season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He played only a few snaps in the preseason, with just a handful of carries for 2 to 3 yards each and one screen pass that lost a yard.

 

Last year’s knee surgery was his second. Then again, his career-best 2,097 yards rushing in 2012 came one year after his first knee surgery, an ACL reconstruction.

 

Peterson also likes to point out that he led the NFL with 1,485 yards rushing in 2015, “behind a mediocre offensive line,” he added, after missing 15 games the previous season, when he was dealing with the legal and public relations fallout from his use of force to discipline his then-4-year-old son.

 

With his first Saints camp under his belt, Peterson asserts, “I’m back and I’m healthy.”

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

Other than, and it’s a big other than, the injury to S ERIC BERRY, the Chiefs had a dream opener.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Patriots entered Thursday night’s game as overwhelming Super Bowl favorites. The Chiefs? Their 25-1 odds trailed quite a few teams.

 

But in a game reminiscent of a Week 4 game in 2014, the Chiefs stunned the Patriots. Alex Smith outplayed Tom Brady, and Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill rolled up big yardage in Kansas City’s 42-27 win.

 

Hunt gained 246 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns and Hill had 138 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown as the Chiefs gained 537 yards against a defense that ranked in the top 10 last season. It was the most yards a Bill Belichick defense ever has allowed.

 

The Chiefs had three drives of at least 90 yards after having only one last season.

 

But the game didn’t start that way.

 

The Patriots unfurled their fifth Super Bowl banner pregame and gave their fans even more reason to celebrate early in Thursday’s game.

 

Everyone counted out Kansas City when the Patriots scored on their first drive and the Chiefs fumbled on their first play. But Kansas City made a fourth-and-one stop, one of two in the game, and scored a touchdown before halftime to cut the Patriots’ lead to 17-14. The second half was all Chiefs as they outscored New England 28-10.

 

The only bad news for the Chiefs was safety Eric Berry leaving on a cart with an Achilles injury in the fourth quarter.

 

The only good news for the Patriots is they have been here before. They lost to the Chiefs 41-14 in 2014 as Smith completed 20 of 26 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns and Kansas City rolled to 443 total yards.

 

The Patriots rallied from a 2-2 start that season to finish 12-4 on their way to winning Super Bowl XLIX.

 

This is the beginning, not the end, with a long way still to go.

 

Here are five more things we learned during Thursday Night Football:

 

1. Patrick who? The Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round, and Smith’s critics had him heading to the bench sooner than later. But Smith played one of the best games of his career Thursday night.

 

Smith completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 148.6 passer rating.

 

He has earned Pro Bowl honors only twice in his career, but played every bit like a perennial Pro Bowler on Thursday.

 

2. Hunt brings the Chiefs something they haven’t had since Jamaal Charles, whose last 1,000-yard season came in 2014. Hunt’s 246 yards from scrimmage were the most by any player in his debut since the 1970 merger.

 

Hunt rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He also caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

 

His great night didn’t start with great promise as he fumbled on his first carry. Hunt had only one fumble in 856 career offensive touches at Toledo, and that came in his freshman season.

 

But that was forgotten in a record night for the third-round pick, who took over after Spencer Ware was lost for the season with a knee injury.

 

3. The Patriots have had a top-10 defense the past two seasons, but they looked nothing close to that against the Chiefs. Hill had a 75-yard touchdown and Hunt a 78-yarder, the first time the Patriots have allowed two touchdowns of 75 yards or more in a game since 1968.

 

The 42 points scored by the Chiefs was the most of the Belichick era, and the most points New England has allowed since the Jets scored 45 in 1993.

 

While the secondary surely lost confidence, linebacker Dont’a Hightower was lost to a knee injury. The extent of the injury isn’t known, but Hightower didn’t return to the game after being rolled by Chiefs center Mitch Morse.

 

The Patriots will have time to get it together, with 10 days until their next game. But the next game is against Drew Brees and the Saints.

 

4. Hill just might be the most exciting player in the NFL.

 

He now has scored a touchdown of 65 yards or longer in five consecutive regular-season games. Hill might have done even more damage than he did in catching seven passes for 133 yards and running for 5 yards on two carries, but he left with cramps in the fourth quarter and didn’t return.

 

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

He may be on the active roster, but first round pick WR MIKE WILLIAMS is “not running full speed” yet.

 

So he won’t be in the arsenal for QB PHILIP RIVERS who makes his 12th Kickoff Weekend start in Denver on Monday night.  Jack Wang in the Orange County Register:

 

Twenty-eight NFL teams will play before the Chargers officially open the 2017 season. Philip Rivers will try to watch as many of them as he can.

 

The veteran quarterback is heading into his 12th season opener as a starter, and this time, he’ll have to wait. When NFL schedule-makers cranked out their final product this past spring, they slid the Chargers into the final available slot in Week 1: a 7:20 p.m. PT kickoff in Denver — one that is nationally broadcast on ESPN, but will end after half the country is asleep.

 

So Rivers will pass time by, yes, watching football.

 

The league slate opened Thursday night with a showdown between Kansas City and New England, and plenty more tantalizing options are left on the table: the Seahawks against the Packers, a potential preview of the NFC championship game; the Giants and the Cowboys, a marquee division matchup; the Saints against the Vikings, in which New Orleans running back Adrian Peterson will see his old team.

 

“I watch as many as I can watch,” Rivers said Thursday, still antsy to see the field after more than a decade as a professional. “It’s harder when you’re not on the road. Being on the road at least helps. We’ll be traveling. It keeps you a little busier than a home game, where you really, truly are — after the walkthrough — kind of sitting all day long.

 

“Monday’s the day that really drags on, because you get to 5 o’clock, and then the first game’s kicking off. You still got three hours to go.”

 

And come Monday, he said, he’ll likely go for a walk outside the team hotel, getting coffee around the corner just to get outside. He might even flip on clips of old Chargers-Broncos matchups — not to study in depth, but to skim through as an appetizer.

 

This feeling of anticipation is perhaps a good sign for the Chargers, whose hopes of a division title and playoff berth still rest on the 35-year-old’s shoulders. Earlier this week, former NFL coach Rex Ryan — the color commentator for Monday night’s game — summed up Rivers’ value.

 

“Offensively, I don’t like the depth, obviously,” Ryan said. “If something ever happened to Philip Rivers — oh boy. … You’ve got to protect him. And if the Chargers do that, there’s no reason they can’t make some noise in the conference and in the league.”

 

AFC NORTH

 

BALTIMORE

Veteran scribe Mike Preston, who covered the great 2000 team, says the Ravens are back to defensive greatness:

 

While the Bengals were loading up on offensive talent in the draft, the Ravens were selecting young defensive talent with cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Alabama), linebackers Tyus Bowser (Houston) and Tim Williams (Alabama), and defensive tackle Chris Wormley (Michigan).

 

Newsome also signed former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr and former Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson during free agency.

 

“Ross is down right now and that’s a good thing because of the kind of speed he brings to the table,” Mosley said of the rookie receiver who isn’t expected to play Sunday because of a knee injury. “Both teams feel they added what they needed to on both sides of the ball. We have experience on defense, but we definitely went out and got more speed.”

 

Sunday’s game is expected to be a defensive battle and the Bengals do have one major weakness on offense. During the offseason, they lost two longtime starters on the offensive line leave in tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler. Cincinnati is expected to start two third-year players, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, at the tackle positions. So the Ravens might be able to get pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton, who has been known to commit a major turnover or two under slight duress.

 

“They have exceptionally talented runners,” Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce said. “Hill will probably be in the Pro Bowl this year and Bernard is explosive and a change-of-pace performer. Then you look at Mixon, and this is going to be difficult.

 

“But we’ve got a game plan in place and if we stay solid as far as technique and fundamentals, we’ll be OK. We need to be where we need to be and stay in place especially with Bernard because he can jump from hole to hole. I can’t talk about their receivers because I don’t play against them, but all their guys can run.”

 

Cincinnati presents a lot of problems, but great defensive teams shut down great offensive teams. It’s been that way in the NFL forever. If the Ravens want that label, they have to earn it.

 

The road begins Sunday in Cincinnati.

 

AFC EAST

 

MIAMI

Is Hard Rock Stadium ready for some hard rockin’ from Irma?  Darin Gantt at ProFootballTalk.com:

 

When the Dolphins renovated Hard Rock Stadium, one of the biggest projects was the canopy which shields fans from the sun, which was designed to survive a Category Four hurricane.

 

And with Hurricane Irma bearing down on South Florida, we’ll find out how it holds up.

 

According to George Richards of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins have worked in recent days to pack away loose items and batten down the hatches at their building.

 

“This is the first test, obviously,”said Todd Boyan, the Dolphins’ senior vice president of operations. “We’ll see how it goes. We had structural engineers who designed the canopy, and they’ll be here as soon as it’s safe to get them here. Once the storm clears, we will get a team of people from each discipline who will come to the stadium before we open it back up.

 

“We have to make sure the property is safe to occupy again. We’re not going to let anyone into the property until we’re confident the shade canopy, as well as the building structure, is safe. We believe the shade canopy will do well, but you don’t know until you go through it. This is a major storm.”

 

Since the Dolphins aren’t hosting their game against the Buccaneers this weekend, they were able to get a head start on preparations. And with their unscheduled bye followed by road trips to Los Angeles, New York, and London, the Dolphins will have time to fix any damage (though the University of Miami has a game there Sept. 23).

 

But because of the uncertainty about the canopy, team officials won’t shelter there. They also deflated the team’s indoor practice bubble, preparing like the rest of their region for the huge storm.

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

He may be the only one, but Coach Todd Bowles believes in his club.  Josh Alper at ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Jets open their season against the Bills on Sunday and finding predictions of anything other than doom and gloom for coach Todd Bowles’ team has been tougher than collecting needles from haystacks.

 

A glance at the team’s roster and the outflow of talent this offseason is all it takes to understand why the expectations are so low, so you might expect seeing that on a daily basis would leave Bowles feeling some trepidation about what this year might mean for his job security. Bowles isn’t going that route, however.

 

Bowles said he “didn’t get into this thing to worry about my job” and that his approach to this season is “no different” than it has been the last two seasons.

 

“It comes with the territory,” Bowles said, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “You can’t have thin skin in this business. You’re in the public. If you win, they love you. If you lose, they don’t. I get it. … I’m not worried about what many people think. I think we’re going to have a successful season. … As long as we stay healthy, I have no doubt that we’ll be successful.”

 

You wouldn’t and shouldn’t expect to hear anything else from a coach before a single snap has been played, but the definition of success for Bowles probably won’t be based on the standings. He said he’s good “as long as the guys are getting better and we’re winning or working towards winning” and his chances of returning for the fourth and final year of his contract will likely hinge on the Jets brass deciding the team has done that regardless of where they finish in the standings.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

MICHAEL BENNETT

Roger Goodell began his statement in support of MICHAEL BENNETT as he pursues justice (and cash) from the Las Vegas Police Department by calling Bennett “the best of the NFL.”

 

So we wouldn’t think this letter from the union of said LVPD has much chance of swaying The Commish.  Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times:

 

In response to claims Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett made Wednesday alleging that Las Vegas police singled him out for being black and using excessive force, the police’s union on Thursday wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking for an investigation of Bennett.

 

Later in the day, though, the NFL sent out a short and forceful statement saying it found no such investigation necessary.

 

“There is no allegation of a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy and therefore there is no basis for an NFL investigation,” the NFL statement read.

 

The letter from the Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro, Inc., claimed that Bennett made “false and defamatory” comments about the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and asked Goodell to “conduct an investigation, and take appropriate action, into Michael Bennett’s obvious false allegations against our officers.”

 

The letter, reported by 8 News Now in Las Vegas, also notes that Bennett has been sitting for the anthem and states “While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the League will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our officers.”

 

John Burris, an Oakland attorney who is representing Bennett on matters related to this incident, said in a phone interview with the Seattle Times that he didn’t put much stock in the impact of letter because “I don’t give a lot of credibility to unions because they always support the police no matter what.”

 

But Burris said “to impugn the integrity of Mr. Bennett is just outrageous.”

 

Burris said for the police to admit that they have not completed an investigation of the incident but for the union to conclude that Bennett is making “false and defamatory” statements is nonsensical.

 

“To suggest he is lying without having conducted an investigation is ridiculous,” Burris said.

 

Bennett on Wednesday detailed via Twitter an incident in which he was held on the ground with a gun pointed at his head while the Las Vegas police investigated if he was a suspect in a reported active shooter at Drai’s Nightclub at Cromwell Casino on Aug. 27 — Bennett was in Las Vegas to attend the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight. Bennett was later released after he said police realized who he was, and no shooting was found to have occurred with police unclear what the sound was that led to the call.

 

The union’s letter, authored by Detective Steve Grammas, claims police had “reasonable suspicion” to detain Bennett while they determined if he was a suspect. It concludes that Bennett’s claims that the officers, which the department has said are each Hispanic, are racist is “false and offensive to the men and women of law enforcement” and says the union is happy to meet with Goodell.

 

The NFL on Wednesday released a statement about the incident, saying Bennett “represents the best of the NFL” and that it will support Bennett and other NFL players in “promoting mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they loyally serve.”

 

In a statement, Bennett said Wednesday he is considering filing a federal civil-rights lawsuit and has asked for the LVMPD to release any body camera footage of the incident. The LVPMD said Wednesday the officer directly involved in the incident did not have his camera turned on.

 

Burris said a lawsuit “is imminent, just not today.”

 

Burris also said that he has had communication with the Las Vegas Police Department and that they have agreed to turn over videos.

 

“We expect that soon,” Burris said. “They indicated they will try to get them available to us soon.”

 

Burris also took issue with a suggestion made by the Las Vegas Police Department that they had not heard of Bennett’s issues with how his situation was handled prior to Wednesday. Burris said his office made a request for the videos on Aug.  29 and did so again on Wednesday prior to a press conference conducted by undersheriff Kevin McMahill.

 

Burris also countered a statement McMahill made saying the department wants to talk to Bennett saying Bennett’s statement released via social media “creates enough of a basis for an investigation.”

 

While talking to media in Seattle on Wednesday, Bennett said he wasn’t attacking police as a whole.

 

“Do I think every police officer is bad? No, I don’t believe that,” he said. “Do I believe that there are some people out there that judge people by the color of their skin? I do believe that and I’m just focused on trying to push forward and keep continuously championing the quest for justice for people, keeping pushing equality for oppressed people and that’s what I am about and going to keep doing.”

 

Bennett’s teammates, meanwhile, continued to publicly support him on Thursday, including quarterback Russell Wilson.

 

Clay Travis, who is Outkick The Coverage, wants us to know that he alone among the media will stand up for the LVPD and present the facts of the case:

 

Yesterday morning the sports media united in praise and sympathy for Seattle Seahawk defensive end Michael Bennett when he tweeted out a story which claimed police had singled him out, pointed their guns at him, threatened to blow his brains out, and detained him in the back of a police car for “doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

 

When I read Bennett’s story yesterday morning, the facts didn’t make sense to me. Bennett alleged that police had responded to reports of shots fired at a Las Vegas casino and while they were responding to reports of an active shooter he alleged they decided to racially profile Bennett and detain and handcuff him because he was a black man.

 

Leaving aside the allegations of blatant police racism put forth here, it just didn’t make logical sense to me. Why would police decide to handcuff an innocent black man while they were investigating a potential live shooter? Surely, I thought, there had to be something more to this story.

 

But evidently I was the only person to think this because the sports media spent the rest of the day lionizing Bennett for his bravery in the face of racist police officers. MSESPN, FS1, CBS, NBC, just about every radio station in the country, no one actually suggested, “Maybe we should wait to see what the police have to say about this.”

 

If you said anything other than Michael Bennett is a hero you were a racist.

 

If you doubt this go read my mentions. Woe unto you if you have the audacity to suggest there might be two sides to a story or that it was possible the Las Vegas police might not be racists.

 

Twitter demanded a hero be crowned, and that hero was Michael Bennett.

 

Even the NFL sent out a statement praising Bennett and castigating the police for their treatment of him.

 

Then the story started to shift.

 

TMZ released a video of the Michael Bennett handcuffing and it looked downright normal.

 

There were no screaming threats from the officers to “blow his fucking head off” or, at least in this video, a gun placed anywhere near his head. If Bennett, as he alleged, was threatened that his head was going to be blown off, you certainly can’t hear it. And if the officer handcuffing him held a gun to his head, you certainly can’t see that in this video either. Indeed, given the fact that we can hear almost the entirety of the arrest interaction, it seems pretty damn unlikely that there were any threats uttered at all.

 

Later that day the Las Vegas police department held a press conference and released a five minute video from inside the casino that night. The video, which you can watch below after the media briefing, showed how chaotic the casino had been that night. It also revealed that officers entered the casino with weapons drawn and sought to protect the largely black audience exiting the casino.

 

It always bears repeating, but our police officers run towards violence while everyone else runs away from it. As you watch the men and women of the Las Vegas police department courageously walking through the casino looking for a shooter or shooters, it’s hard not to admire their bravery.

 

Most importantly for purposes of Bennett’s allegation, you can also see that the entire casino is full of black people. If police wanted to arrest black people, there were literally hundreds of them exiting the casino and receiving no molestation at all. Why was Bennett, a black man, among hundreds of black people singled out because of his race?

 

Indeed, once you watch this video Bennett’s allegation that he was picked out because he’s black is downright laughable. In fact, it’s so laughable that Bennett’s own attorney has acknowledged race had absolutely nothing to do with his treatment from the police.

 

Near the end of the video you can see Michael Bennett, crouching behind a slot machine inside the casino, appearing to hide from police. When the police approached him because he appeared suspicious hiding there, he jumped up and ran away from them, refusing commands to stop, leaping a wall, and attempting to escape from them before being caught and detained.

 

As police said in their letter they released today demanding the NFL investigate Michael Bennett for telling lies, “As our uniformed officers entered the casino, they observed Bennett hiding behind a slot machine. When officers turned toward Bennett, he bolted out of the casino, leaped over a four foot barrier wall, and hid from officers as he crouched close to the wall on the sidewalk.”

 

The letter continues, “I am sure that your attorney will tell you, our officers had reasonable suspicion, which is the constitutional standard, to detain Bennett until they could determine whether he was involved in the shooting. Our officers, who are both minorities, had the legal right and obligation, to detain Bennett based upon the nature of the call and Bennett’s unusual and suspicious actions. Our officers did not detain Bennett because he was “a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

 

Michael Bennett’s claim that our officers are racist is false and offensive to the men and women of law enforcement. We hope you will take appropriate action against Michael Bennett.”

 

The police said there are over 120 videos to review of this incident and they will provide a full detailing of all of these videos when they have had the time to review them all.

 

With all of this evidence now out there, you’d think the sports media might be shifting their tune. But, amazingly, they are not. In fact, most of you will be seeing all of this evidence for the first time on Outkick. What I’d like to ask you all is this — why is Outkick one of the only, if not the only, sports media outlet pointing out that Michael Bennett definitely told at least two lies?

 

1. That he was detained because he was black.

 

That’s clearly not the case. He was detained because he was hiding from police, when they approached him he ran and he refused their orders to stop.

 

Even Bennett’s own attorney has acknowledged that race had nothing to do with his detention.

 

Furthermore, the allegation that the police officers were racist is undercut by the fact that the two officers arresting him were minorities. Now, contrary to mainstream media coverage, minorities can be racist, but it certainly doesn’t help Bennett’s case at all.

 

2. Police didn’t explain why they detained him.

 

Police say they detained him for ten minutes and then released him upon determining he was not a threat. This is standard operating procedure and Bennett was told exactly this at the time.

 

Moreover, Michael Bennett has likely told at least two more lies:

 

1. That a police officer threatened to blow his fucking brains out.

 

Again, review the TMZ video, you can hear what appears to be the entirety of their interaction during the detention and this threat isn’t made.

 

2. That a police officer held a gun to his head.

 

In the video from the police department it appears to be a taser that the police officer is brandishing. It would not, however, be a surprise if there was a gun out because the officers in the video all had their guns out as they entered the casino on the call that an active shooter was present.

 

But, again, it appears to be a taser, not a gun that the detained officer was using.

 

It’s altogether probable that the only true statement in Michael Bennett’s entire letter is that he was detained by police. Yet despite all of this evidence that I have just marshaled here, why is Outkick the only place in sports media writing this story?

 

I’ll tell you — because the left wing sports media wants Michael Bennett’s story to be true so desperately that they don’t care what the evidence actually shows.

 

This is scary because it’s further evidence of what I see happening more and more, people aren’t interested in the individual facts of cases or the truth, they just want their world view to be confirmed.  The evidence here is clear — Michael Bennett lied about what happened to him in Las Vegas. That’s bad enough, what’s even worse is this — the sports media has been complicit in allowing his lies to spread and has not held him accountable for his dishonesty.

 

Rather than wait for two sides of a story to come out and analyze which side was likely to have the weight of evidence and truth behind it, the sports media leapt to conclusions and, yet again, was proven to be completely wrong.

 

The saddest part of this story, however, remains Michael Bennett, who claims he is protesting the national anthem because of police treatment of minorities. By lying about his own treatment by police, Bennett further poisons the relationship between police and minorities and makes it even less likely that actual mistreatment of police by minorities will be believed.

 

When you get caught in a lie, as Bennett most definitely has, it just makes those people who are actually telling the truth less likely to be believed too.

 

Michael Bennett has done a tremendous disservice to the people he claims to care about, and the police of Las Vegas who have done nothing wrong. He should be ashamed and so should the sports media who trumpeted his lies and have gone totally silent when those same lies have been exposed.

 

I never thought Outkick was going to turn into the most trusted source in sports news, but, somehow, this is where we keep ending up over and over again. It’s amazing how that happens when your only agenda is facts and truth.

 

 

 

 

COLIN KAEPERNICK – CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

 

So the NFL season is about to open with plenty of compelling stories – and the New York Times has its lead football writer do a big takeout on a player who doesn’t have a contract.  You can John Branch’s exhaustive story on how Colin Kaepernick became the legend he is today here – all without a direct quote from Kaepernick himself.

 

Typical:

 

A Quest for an Education

 

Kaepernick’s Twitter and Instagram feeds reveal his trajectory. There were a few football-related messages early in 2016, including a congratulatory note to Harbaugh, coaching collegiately at Michigan, for a bowl victory. Kaepernick posted a photo and quote of Malcolm X on the February anniversary of his murder. In June, he posted a video of Tupac Shakur, the rapper killed in 1996.

 

“I’m not saying I’m going to rule the world, or I’m going the change the world,” Shakur said in the clip. “But I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world. That’s our job, is to spark somebody else watching us.”

 

Kaepernick’s next message was a thank you for supporting Camp Taylor, a charity for children with heart disease. Rick Kaepernick is on the board of directors.

 

By then, Colin Kaepernick was auditing a summer course on black representation in popular culture taught by Ameer Hasan Loggins at the University of California, Berkeley. He drove an hour each way to each class, took notes, did the readings and engaged in class discussions, Loggins wrote in a recent essay.

 

Kaepernick had been introduced to Loggins by Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa Diab, a syndicated radio host and MTV personality whom Kaepernick has dated since late 2015. (Diab previously dated Aldon Smith, another 49ers player, leading to a reported scrap between the two during training camp in 2015.)

 

Diab, known professionally as Nessa, has had a measure of influence on Kaepernick’s views over the past two years.

 

Aside from her work on MTV, she is the host of a nationally syndicated show on Hot 97, an influential hip hop station in New York, and supported the Black Lives Matter movement from that platform. She has been more active and overtly opinionated than Kaepernick on social media.

 

Loggins and Diab were classmates in Berkeley years ago, and she asked Loggins to recommend books for Kaepernick. It was not the first time Kaepernick sought reading material. As a rookie with the 49ers, he asked Edwards, the sociologist and civil rights activist who served as a consultant for the 49ers, for a reading list, Edwards said.

 

He recommended “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time,” Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” Edwards said.

 

“He was willing to work and study to kind of understand what was happening with his teammates, with other people, and how this whole thing rolled out over 400 years,” Edwards said.

 

The list from Loggins included “The Wretched of the Earth,” by Frantz Fanon; “Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment,” by Patricia Hill Collins; “Black Looks: Race and Representation,” by bell hooks; and “The Mis-Education of the Negro,” by Carter G. Woodson.

 

Before long, Kaepernick and Loggins were engaged in lengthy conversations, until the quarterback asked if he could sit in on the professor’s upcoming summer class.

 

“People that trace our connection to U.C. Berkeley assume he became politicized in my class,” Loggins wrote. “But Colin came in aware, focused, well-read and eager to learn. His decision was made on his own — from the heart. He came to me intellectually curious. The questions he asked me regarding my research, the lectures he attended, he was a sponge.”

 

Kaepernick during media day ahead of his Super Bowl appearance. He eventually became very reluctant to say much in interviews. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Kaepernick’s social-media posts flared with urgent intensity, though, when black men were killed by the police on back-to-back days in early July 2016.

 

“This is what lynchings look like in 2016!” Kaepernick wrote on Instagram and Twitter when video of Alton Sterling’s death became public. “Another murder in the streets because the color of a man’s skin, at the hands of the people who they say will protect us. When will they be held accountable? Or did he fear for his life as he executed this man?”

 

A day later, Kaepernick posted video of Philando Castile dying in the passenger seat after being shot by an officer, taken by a woman recording the aftermath from the driver’s seat.

 

“We are under attack!” Kaepernick wrote. “It’s clear as day! Less than 24 hrs later another body in the street!”

 

Kaepernick’s rising anger online created little reaction, at least in football circles. He went to training camp to compete with Gabbert for the starting job. A sore throwing shoulder prevented him from playing in the first two preseason games. He was out of uniform, which is probably why no one in the media noticed that he sat on the bench during the national anthem.

 

It was not until the third game, at home on Aug. 26, that Kaepernick’s gesture got attention. A reporter took a photograph of the San Francisco bench, unrelated to Kaepernick, and later spotted him sitting alone near the coolers.

 

Word of the protest did not spread. Steve Wyche of nfl.com was the only reporter to speak to Kaepernick about it after the game.

 

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

 

Tyler Tynes at SBNation has a look at what he calls “a growing NFL boycott”:

 

Before the regulars started to flood the pub and libations were passed around, a man stood behind the bar and stared at CNN. By 7 p.m. on this August night he was in a media-created daze. To him, he was alone. Just Kenny Johnson and the tube.

 

Johnson, the owner of the Bureau Bar in Chicago’s South Loop, was watching the dust settle at America’s latest football protest. Commentators spoke of the thousands who gathered on a Manhattan street, protesting the alleged blackballing of Colin Kaepernick by NFL teams.

 

Johnson had wondered for weeks what he could do to stand with Kaepernick. He wanted to clearly show his bars — he also owns Velvet Lounge nearby in the South Loop — would not support a league that so obviously didn’t care for the black people he employed or the values he held.

 

He decided on a boycott. Johnson got a graphic made that night. Johnson slapped some crude red bars across the league’s symbol to symbolize his dissent. It went up on Instagram, then Facebook. His two bars, a pebble’s throw from Soldier Field, in the heart of Chicago, wouldn’t show the game. Johnson thought it was a success that Wednesday. Until the phones starting ringing.

 

“Shit, Thursday morning everybody started calling,” he said. “We’ve gotten a lot of hate. People bitching and screaming: ‘You ain’t shit.’ ‘Your bar ain’t shit.’ ‘You’re going to lose a lot of business.’ ‘We’re going to buy your bar when you’re done.’ ‘You should keep politics out of your bar business.’”

 

Johnson lets out an awkward laugh.

 

“Are we going to take a hit? Yeah, we’ll take a hit,” Johnson said. “But it’s not about the money we could make, it’s about what’s right and what’s wrong.’

– – –

The need to boycott the league has never been stronger, Snell said.

 

“We need to send a resounding message that says if the NFL is going to gloss over to issues germane to this fan base, they need to know we can organize and leverage our dollars to influence and affect change,” he said. “It’s a gross miscalculation to assume our loyalties are absolute. Certain rights can’t be trespassed on without ramifications.”

 

The NFL can no longer hide from the Colin Kaepernick movement

 

In a gentrifying Brooklyn, the boycotts make sense to Blake, the cigar lounge owner. Like Johnson, she’s not concerned about the loss of business because of her desire not to show football. She’s willing to make sacrifices if it means inching closer to equality.

 

All of this comes with risk. She understands that. Her stable business could be hurt, just as Johnson’s bars in Chicago might. Yet, she couldn’t ignore her customers’ calls for action, she said. She felt compelled to do whatever was in her power.

 

Boycotting the NFL is only one small part of the fight for racial justice. In a decade peppered with protest and calls for black lives to matter, Blake understands she is only a small part of this movement. It’s essential to her, though, that she stands on the right side of history. Because, to be quiet during a time of turmoil, is to be complicit in the continued oppression she hopes to disrupt.

 

“There’s a revelation of the state of this country that has come to a head and needs to be addressed. We can’t keep turning our back to the call for basic human rights,” she said.

 

“At this moment, being black is bigger than watching football. I can say that without hesitation.”

 

Read the rest here if you want.