The Daily Briefing Thursday, September 7, 2017

AROUND THE NFL

 

James Jones, a nine-year receiver with the Packers and Raiders, has announced his retirement.  He is taking a job as an analyst with NFL Network.

– – –

The NFL now has 21 new “full-time” officials – although some, like Pete Morelli, are senior officials who were otherwise retired from their day jobs and already only counting on the League for direct income.

 

The NFL has hired 21 officials to work on a full-time basis, including four referees.

 

Those refs are Brad Allen, Walt Anderson, Jerome Boger and Pete Morelli.

 

Overall, there are representatives of all seven on-field officiating positions.

 

Both the league and the officials’ union agreed to experiment with full-time officials as part of the current collective bargaining agreement. In August, the NFL said it would hire full-time game officials for the 2017 season.

 

“What we want at the end of the day is consistency,” says Alberto Riveron, who took over as the league’s top officiating director when Dean Blandino left earlier this year for TV work. “The better we can get our message out to the crews, the better off we all are. What I see is bringing the officials into the office during the week. They are full-time, so their first responsibility is to us.

 

“We are going to have officials from each of the seven positions, we are going to have a cross-section of officials from all of the crews that will be coming into the office to help us put video together and identify videos. They will help us with the evaluation process of our officiating developmental staff, and also help us with selecting certain plays of interest that we could use mechanically to get better and more consistent.”

 

In the past, NFL game officials had other jobs, including some lucrative ones.

 

The most experienced official hired full-time is line judge Mark Steinkerchner, now in his 24th NFL season. Least experienced is side judge Jonah Monroe with three years.

 

Other full-time officials will be umpires Barry Anderson, Dan Ferrell and Bill Schuster; down judges Derick Bowers and Ed Camp; line judges Rusty Baynes, Julian Mapp and Mark Perlman; field judges Tom Hill and Steve Zimmer; side judge Boris Cheek; and back judges Steve Freeman, Scott Helverson, Terrence Miles and Greg Steed.

 

– – –

 

@adamlevitan

These 11 QBs are confirmed/ possible Wk 1 starters: Bortles, Tolzien, Peterman, Goff, Savage, McCown, Glennon, Cutler, Kizer, Siemian, Hoyer

 

Scott Tolzien vs. Jared Goff official now. Bortles vs. Savage already confirmed. And we’re very close to Nathan Peterman vs. Josh McCown.

 

Samer Kalaf at Deadspin.com looks at the above tweets and is not enamored with what he sees as Week 1 arrives, particularly at quarterback:

 

The NFL is truly fortunate that it’s coming off one of the most dramatic Super Bowls ever. Had that game turned out boring, how much more intense would the spotlight on the offseason’s dark parade of news have been? One of the league’s two largest stories—both are still ongoing—is the collective refusal to sign a quarterback who is unequivocally worthy of a job. Although recently concussed Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor will return to reclaim his job from Nathan Peterman, look at this heap of shit—this is what everyone waited all offseason for?

 

Blake Bortles spent his summer figuring out a way to refute any notion that he was a less hazardous first-round pick than Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was horrendous on a national broadcast. His best wide receiver is fed up with him. To an extent, Bortles’s failure is emblematic of the NFL’s ills—both a dire lack of talented quarterbacks, and a culture that gives him a starting job while Colin Kaepernick languishes.

 

345 Park Avenue isn’t blackballing Kaepernick—individual teams are, but this isn’t a centralized decision—but the league has created and profited from a pseudo-military code that discourages franchises from taking him. “Protecting the shield” isn’t merely a laughably ironic phrase to those with actual power, and they appear to believe the league’s integrity (such as it is) needs to be protected equally from protest and from crime.

 

But even the criminal-justice system is lacking, in the NFL’s eyes. Should a player be accused of a crime, the NFL has its own cops and courts. In part because of the lack of leverage of the players’ union, there isn’t any real rhyme or reason to how punishments are doled out; it depends on how much attention the offense receives and how bad it makes the league look. This is what Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is currently going through, in the other biggest story of the summer. Elliott was suspended for six games for violations of the personal conduct policy; he appealed; the arbitrator upheld the suspension but allowed Elliott to play in Sunday’s primetime opener against the Giants; and the NFLPA sued the league in federal court to get the suspension thrown out completely. The process has been a mess—the lead investigator recommended that Elliott not be suspended—and now we’ve got two clusterfucks in different courts, one real and one kangaroo.

 

The NFL desires not only for the commissioner to be treated as infallible, like the Pope, but to maintain all-encompassing control over its employees. This latest round started with Ray Rice, but it isn’t merely about a need to look tough on domestic violence. It’s been said ad nauseam, but the league has done everything it can to position itself as moral arbiter, and it has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams. Simply following the sport of pro football can introduce you to as many legal concepts as you’d find in reading the Washington Post’s A-section. You get roundtable discussions where woefully unequipped people try to parse a process that has gradually become as unintelligible as Dez Bryant’s catch, or fantasy football updates where suspensions are designated with the same medical symbol for injuries.

 

The actual football feels like an auxiliary part of the NFL experience now. Maybe this could be remedied by the league diverting attention to its fresh, new, young talent, but after the brutal nature of the sport takes some number of those potential stars out of the equation, you’re left with a majority of quarterbacks—the most visible, marketable position—who need more than one season to resemble anything exciting, while running backs are being shunted out of favor and wide receivers are getting their heads or knees lopped off by hits that look dirty although, really, who the fuck knows anymore? Why don’t other sports deal with this shit all the time? Why is it that their players are usually in the news for doing actual interesting things, both on and off the field? Why aren’t their news cycles so exhausting?

 

This isn’t a declaration that I will no longer watch football, or that football will die, because I don’t know when or if either of those will happen. But the NFL’s current model treats every player as both expendable and subordinate to a system that demands total fealty to league diktats, be they written, unwritten, and made up on the fly. That seems unsustainable, because the faces of the league—quarterbacks nearer to age 40 than they are to their rookie seasons–will retire, and eventually it will be players like Blake Bortles and Nathan Peterman, all the way down.

 

NFC EAST

 

DALLAS

Michael McCann, legal eagle at SI.com, looks at what is ahead in RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT’s battle with NFL Justice:

 

U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III has a self-imposed deadline of 5 p.m. CDT on Friday to decide whether to temporarily restrain the NFL from imposing a six-game suspension on Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

 

No matter how Judge Mazzant decides, don’t expect Elliott’s legal saga to end on Friday. The saga could take many twists and its trajectory could involve multiple courts. In fact, we may not know for sure if Elliott will serve a suspension until 2018.

 

As detailed in previous SI legal articles on Elliott, Judge Mazzant will only grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) if Elliott convinces the judge of four factors: 1) he enjoys a substantial likelihood of success of proving that the NFL unlawfully conspired against him; 2) there is a substantial threat that Elliott would suffer irreparable harm—which normally refers to harm that can’t be remedied through monetary damages—if Judge Mazzant doesn’t grant the TRO; 3) the “injury” facing Elliott without a TRO would outweigh any damage to the NFL cause by an injunction; and 4) an injunction against the NFL and in favor of Elliott would not disserve the public interest.

 

Each of these factors lends itself to competing arguments, but given that Elliott carries the burden of proving all four factors, the odds favor the NFL on whether a TRO will be granted.

 

Judge Mazzant, however, enjoys substantial discretion in deciding whether these factors are met. This creates unpredictability as to how he will decide.

 

For example, Judge Mazzant might reason that he believes the NFL acted unfairly. This is especially true when the league inexplicably de-emphasized impressions shared by Kia Roberts, the NFL’s Director of Investigations and the only co-league investigator who interviewed Elliott’s accuser, Tiffany Thompson.

 

On the other hand, Judge Mazzant would recognize the countervailing fact that, under Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell enjoys substantial discretion and ultimate authority in deciding whether to punish players. Judge Mazzant would also be aware of the NFL’s legal victories over Tom Brady and Adrian Peterson. In their lawsuits, both players detailed various kinds of unfairness in how the NFL came to suspend them. Yet both players ultimately lost their cases because courts found they demanded procedural protections that their union, the National Football League Players’ Association, had failed to negotiate.

 

In this kind of a scenario, Judge Mazzant might conclude that he needs more time to determine if procedural unfairness by the NFL rose to unlawful conduct. He might also reason that Elliott’s missing games would damage his career in ways that money can’t repair. Judge Mazzant could then grant a TRO as something of an interim step.

 

If Judge Mazzant grants the TRO, it would be far from a lasting “win” for Elliott. In fact, it would likely last just two weeks.

 

A TRO would mean that Elliott, whom the NFL has permitted to play in Week 1 against the Giants, would also be eligible to play in Week 2 against the Broncos. That is, unless the NFL calls an audible and places Elliott on the commissioner’s exempt list. When placed on this list, players are paid but barred from reporting to work. The NFL used this list to prevent Adrian Peterson from playing without suspending him. If the NFL similarly used it with Elliott after Judge Mazzant grants a TRO, Elliott would probably rush back to court and ask the judge to grant another TRO—this one to stop the NFL from placing him on the exempt list.

 

In an alternative scenario where Judge Mazzant denies Elliott’s petition for a TRO, Elliott would probably be out-of-luck. He could and would appeal but an appeal would be poised to fail.

 

During any TRO period granted on behalf of Elliott, Judge Mazzant would consider a more lasting injunction against the NFL: a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction would be a game-changer. If issued, a preliminary injunction could conceivably last the entire 2017 season.

 

In deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction, Judge Mazzant would once again weigh the four TRO factors listed above. This time around, however, both sides would produce more evidence and also offer additional testimony. Judge Mazzant would also be mindful of the impact of granting a preliminary injunction. It would mean that the NFL couldn’t carry out its suspension of Elliott until after the judge has carefully examined the lawfulness of the arbitration “award”—the award referring to hearing officer Harold Henderson’s decision to uphold Goodell’s six-game suspension of Elliott. Recall that U.S. District Judge Richard Berman took longer than a month to review Goodell’s arbitration award against Brady.

 

In the event Judge Mazant grants a preliminary injunction, it is unclear how quickly he would be able to review Henderson’s award. Like other judges, Judge Mazzant has a busy docket. He is scheduled to preside over trials that have been scheduled months in advance. It’s possible that Judge Mazzant wouldn’t be able to review Henderson’s arbitration award until later in the fall or even the winter. The more distant in time such a review is scheduled, the more likely Elliott could play the entire 2017 season.

 

Unlike with a TRO, the NFL could appeal a preliminary injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The league would almost certainly invoke that right. A review by a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit, which is considered a relatively “pro management” court, could be conducted in days or weeks. The Fifth Circuit would probably pay particular attention to the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932. This Act prohibits judges from issuing an injunction in an on-going labor dispute. The NFL could portray Elliott’s dispute as an on-going labor dispute. If the Fifth Circuit agreed, it would stay Judge Mazzant’s preliminary injunction. The NFL could then impose its suspension on Elliott.

 

In other words, Elliott could gain a TRO and a preliminary injunction but then quickly face a suspension anyway. There are several points in the potential litigation timeline where Elliott could lose. In order to win he must run the table. The odds are stacked against him.

 

NFLMC V. NFLPA (BETTER KNOWN AS BRADY V. NFL)

As an added twist, the NFL hopes to relocate Elliott’s litigation to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Late Tuesday, the NFL filed a petition in Southern District of New York with a request that it confirm Henderson’s arbitration award.

 

If the Elliott case is relocated to the Southern District of New York, the Brady decision would serve as binding precedent on it. Among other things, the Brady decision instructs judges that they are barred from reading new process rights into a CBA that the CBA doesn’t express. From a practical standpoint, Elliott would almost certainly lose to the NFL if forced to litigate in the Southern District of New York.

 

Analyzing NFL’s Motions to Deny Ezekiel Elliott Restraining Order, Dismiss Lawsuit

Whether or not the case is relocated to New York will be up to Judge Mazzant. He will balance which forum is more appropriate to resolve the case. In doing so, he will place value on the fact that the litigation has already begun in Texas and that Elliott has obvious ties to Texas. Weighing in the opposite direction, however, is the fact that the NFL is headquartered in New York and both Goodell’s decision to suspend Elliott and Henderson’s hearing to review that suspension took place in New York.

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star thinks it is good for the Chiefs that they will be the first notch on the belt of the greatest juggernaut in football history tonight (or will they?):

 

We’ve had this all wrong, and I’m saying we, not you, because I’ve been part of the problem.

 

Maybe problem is the wrong word, because in the context of things that actually matter, well, there are worse sins than taking the natural stance that the Chiefs drawing the NFL’s standalone opener on Ring Night in Foxborough in front of Roger Goodell and the football world is a brutal way to begin a season you think can end in the Super Bowl.

 

But that misses the point.

 

The Chiefs have an opportunity here. Win one game, and they are the talk of the league. Win one game, and they will have done what no AFC team has ever done, which is beat Tom Brady in a regular season game in which he plays all four quarters in the place where the phones don’t work.

 

Nobody thinks they will do it, and that’s a tiny part of the point. This isn’t college football. Playoff seeding is done by results, not voting, so outside perception and power rankings don’t matter much beyond media companies creating content.

 

But football players can be petty creatures. Their wealth and reputations depend upon maximum production and success, so any bit helps, and anyone who has spent even a little time around professional athletes has hilarious stories of slights fueling focus. My personal favorite will always be someone — I think it was Carmelo Anthony, but it’s hard to say for sure — from Team USA basketball screaming about “nobody thought we could do it” after winning gold in London.

 

The Chiefs are good enough that they won’t often be able to pretend nobody believes in them, so this is a chance they won’t let pass.

 

Justin Houston cannot talk about his knee without putting it in terms of recovering quicker than expected. Alex Smith is still motivated in part by the belief that Jim Harbaugh’s decision to go with Colin Kaepernick in 2012 cost the 49ers a Super Bowl. Marcus Peters seems genuinely offended by a quarterback even looking his way.

 

From the top of the roster to the bottom, this is a group driven in part by proving people wrong.

 

Other than pushing a proud but historically underachieving franchise to its first Super Bowl since 1969 — when the current chairman was 3, and the current head coach hadn’t even done that Punt, Pass and Kick thing as a kid yet — the single best opportunity this group will have to prove people wrong is to beat the Patriots on Ring Night.

 

But the opportunity goes beyond all of that.

 

Because if you take the stance that the Chiefs are being led to slaughter, that they don’t have a chance because the Patriots have had all offseason to plan a big win in front of Goodell, then you must at least concede the advantage given to getting this out of the way and on a Thursday night.

 

Because an extra three days to heal and prepare is like half an extra bye week that nobody else gets without the problems of having to play on a short week. Reid is famously — well, at least in Kansas City, it’s famously — successful off bye weeks. Any bumps get a few extra days to heal. This is all good.

 

Also, the Chiefs are simply not at a disadvantage in having to play the Patriots. Virtually every team you’d expect them to be competing with for playoff positioning also has to play the Patriots. That includes the entire AFC West, plus the Texans and Steelers.

 

If you want to pick nits, fine: primetime on Ring Night is more difficult than others. And the Steelers might have a slight advantage because they get the Patriots at home, which will also be the Patriots’ third straight road game, but come on. Nobody’s feeling sorry for you here.

 

The Chiefs can win this game. In pure football terms, they have the personnel to create pressure up the middle against Brady and enough playmakers at every level to be dangerous. They have a freakish talent in Tyreek Hill, who changes the punt game and pairs with Travis Kelce in demanding extra attention in different parts of the field. Their quarterback isn’t going to be rattled, and is one of the league’s best in avoiding turnovers.

 

They’ll still need some luck, and you aren’t any likelier to believe they’ll win than I am.

 

But they have a chance at what would be the win of the NFL season.

 

Even if they miss, the consequences aren’t bad, and the larger context remains positive. Good way to start the year.

 

 

THE RAIDERS

PK SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI’s contract situation is resolved.  Adam Schefter of ESPN.com:

 

Place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski and the Oakland Raiders have resolved their contractual differences, and he will remain with the team, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday night.

 

Janikowski’s contract has been reworked and it’s no longer an issue, the sources said.

 

On Tuesday, Janikowski, the Raiders’ longest-tenured player, was guaranteed the $238,000 Week 1 pay of his $4.05 million salary when he remained on the roster. The Raiders had wanted Janikowski — the franchise’s all-time leading scorer — to take a pay cut, something he had declined, a source familiar with the situation had told Schefter.

 

Janikowski, 39, is purportedly dealing with a back injury that kept him out of the Raiders’ final two exhibition games.

 

This on the details:

 

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Janikowski has agreed to a $1 million pay cut in the final year of his current deal. It will be Janikowski’s 18th season with the Raiders.

 

Rapoport suggests that the $1 million in savings could be directed toward tackle Donald Penn, who held out through the summer in hopes of landing more money and said he had faith that he’d get a new deal from the team when he reported late in August.

 

AFC NORTH

 

CLEVELAND

The DB was near a Browns fan when this news about DE MYLES GARRETT broke.  Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

 

Myles Garrett’s bid to chop down Ben Roethlisberger might have to wait.

 

Garrett, the league’s No. 1 pick, left Browns practice early on Wednesday with a right ankle injury and did not return. It was the first full day of preparation for the Steelers, who will play in the opener here on Sunday.

 

“He went as long as he could,” said coach Hue Jackson, who seemed concerned it could be serious and acknowledged that Garrett’s status for the opener is in doubt.

 

“We’ll see where we are as we move through the week,” he said. “Obviously he didn’t finish practice.”

 

Garrett will undergo further evaluation on the ankle, which will likely include an MRI.

 

Jackson said he didn’t think it was the same ankle that Garrett injured on June 14th during minicamp. In that instance, when Cam Erving stepped on his left ankle, he suffered a lateral foot sprain that sidelined him for several weeks.

 

Garrett stands by his ‘chop down’ Big Ben remarks

 

When he left the Browns facility in June to head home for the summer break, he was spotted in a left walking boot at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. He returned for training camp on July 27 ready to go, but was somewhat limited at the outset.

 

He suffered a high left ankle sprain that hampered him all last season at Texas A&M. As a result, he finished with only 8.5 sacks, down from 11.5 in 2015 and 11.0 in 2014.

 

The injury came just hours after Garrett addressed the media and stood by his draft day remarks that he’s coming to ‘chop down’ Roethlisberger. He stressed that ‘you can’t be afraid to take somebody down.’

 

Former Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who signed with the Steelers last week, knows how much of a blow it will be if the Browns have to play without Garrett.

 

“He’s looking like the first overall pick,” Haden said on a conference call Wednesday. “I was super excited when we got him. I feel like that’s the pick that is a stamp. We didn’t miss on that one. I could tell that from the very beginning. He just has stuff that you can’t teach – his motor, his professionalism and his attitude.

 

“He definitely is a pro already. He is mature beyond his age. He just loves the game and loves getting after it. My bold prediction, I really feel like Myles can make the Pro Bowl his rookie year.”

 

“That is so typical of the Browns,” was the first thing out of the mouth of the Browns fan. “Get your hopes up in the preseason, then this.”

 

We think this is looking like Garrett has a chronic ankle problem.  Does he have an Achilles ankle?

 

This to remind you of the history of the Greek god Achilles:

 

In Greek mythology, Achilles (/əˈkɪliz/, uh-KILL-eez; Greek: Ἀχιλλεύς [a.kʰil.le͜ús]) was a Greek hero of the Trojan War and the central character and greatest warrior of Homer’s Iliad. His mother was the immortal nymph Thetis, and his father, the mortal Peleus, was the king of the Myrmidons.

 

Achilles’ most notable feat during the Trojan War was the slaying of the Trojan hero Hector outside the gates of Troy. Although the death of Achilles is not presented in the Iliad, other sources concur that he was killed near the end of the Trojan War by Paris, who shot him in the heel with an arrow. Later legends (beginning with a poem by Statius in the 1st century AD) state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel. Alluding to these legends, the term “Achilles heel” has come to mean a point of weakness, especially in someone or something with an otherwise strong constitution.

 

AFC SOUTH

 

TENNESSEE

WR COREY DAVIS went undrafted in the DB’s Family Fantasy League last night.  And that might be a mistake.  Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The fifth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft is finally close to taking the field.

 

Titans rookie receiver Corey Davis, who missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, proclaimed himself 90 percent healthy and said he expects to play on Sunday against the Raiders.

 

“It feels real good to finally be out there participating with the team. I’m excited,” Davis said, via ESPN. “I definitely am able to trust it. And I’m telling you, it’s a good feeling.”

 

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Davis got more reps in Wednesday’s practice than he had in all of training camp, but Mularkey won’t push Davis too hard on Sunday.

 

“You don’t want the guy to fail. You don’t want to put a guy in a position ever to do that,” Mularkey said. “I don’t think we’re doing that, we’re going to be smart with him. We’re not going to expose him to things he can’t be successful at. Healthy, not healthy, that’s just the way we are with our players.”

 

Free agent acquisition Eric Decker is also just coming back from an injury, so the new-look Titans receiving corps is not completely healthy yet. But they’re getting there.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW YORK JETS

This doesn’t sound like any fun.  The AP:

 

Rontez Miles felt a sharp pain in his right eye and then couldn’t see for several minutes. That’s when the fear started to creep in.

 

The New York Jets safety broke the orbital bone in two places during the team’s second preseason game at Detroit on Aug. 19. He’ll be out for the season opener at Buffalo on Sunday while he continues to recover.

 

“It’s just a freakish accident, an injury that happened,” Miles said after practice Wednesday. “I wouldn’t say there’s no protocol for this, but it’s not normal that this happens.”

 

It had been previously been characterized as an eye laceration by coach Todd Bowles, who revealed the severity of the injury Wednesday.

 

Miles watched the game film of when he was injured and said he was inadvertently poked in the eye by a Lions offensive lineman, who lunged to block him.

 

“In the process of shooting his hands,” Miles said, “I took a thumb or a finger directly to the eye.”

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

MICHAEL BENNETT AND COLIN KAEPERNICK

As we reported yesterday, DT MICHAEL BENNETT was appalled to be taken down by Vegas police late on the night of the Mayweather-McGregor fight.

 

The usual suspects were quick to lend support for Bennett and condemn the police based on Bennett’s account.  Scooby Axson of SI.com:

 

Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick calls the incident involving Seattle Seahawks defensive Michael Bennett and the Las Vegas Police Department “disgusting and unjust.”

 

“I stand with Michael and I stand with the people,” Kaepernick said on Twitter.

 

Kaepernick responded to Bennett’s social media post describing an incident in which Las Vegas Police assaulted him after running from safety after hearing gunshots following the Aug. 26 Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match.

 

Colin Kaepernick @Kaepernick7

This violation that happened against my Brother Michael Bennett is disgusting and unjust. I stand with Michael and I stand with the people.

 

Bennett says he had a gun pointed at him and was restrained for no reason. Bennett has retained civil rights attorney John Burris to look into possible violations of his civil rights.

 

Presumably, Axson meant to write that Bennett says he was running “for” safety, not “from” safety. 

 

But, as we might have expected, there are two sides to the story, and the side presented belatedly by the Vegas P.D. is slightly different.  He actually may have indeed been running from safety.  John Breech of CBSSports.com:

 

Kevin McMahill, the Undersheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, gave the LVMPD’s version of events during the department’s press conference, and says that he didn’t believe there was any racial profiling involved in the Bennett incident. 

 

“I can tell you as I stand here today, I see no evidence of that,” McMahill said. “I see no evidence that race played any role in this incident.”

 

According to McMahill, police received a call around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday about a possible active shooter who was believed to be somewhere around Drai’s nightclub at the Cromwell casino.

When officers arrived at the hotel, it was total chaos as hundreds of people were attempting to flee the supposed shooter (the Daily Mail has a picture that was taken as people were fleeing and you can see that by clicking here).

 

After clearing the casino, a team of officer’s started heading toward Drai’s nightclub, and while they were on the way there, they located Bennett.

 

“As they moved toward the nightclub, an individual later identified as Bennett was seen crouched down behind a gaming machine as the officers approached,” McMahill sald. “Once Bennett was in the officer’s view, he quickly ran out the south doors, jumped over a wall onto Flamingo Road East of Las Vegas Boulevard into traffic.”

 

According to McMahill, the officers viewed Bennett’s actions as suspicious, which is why he was handcuffed.

 

“Due to Bennett’s actions, and the information the officer’s had at the time, they believed that Bennett may have been involved in the shooting and they gave chase,” McMahill said. “Bennett was placed in handcuffs and detained while officers determined whether or not he was involved in the incident.”

 

In his statement, Bennett said his time in custody felt like an “eternity” due to the brutal way that the officers treated him. 

 

McMahill said the Seahawks defensive end was in custody for 10 minutes.  

 

“He was detained for approximately 10 minutes and released,” McMahill said.

 

McMahill also added that Bennett told the officers that he “understood” why the situation happened after Vegas police explained it to him.

 

“Mr. Bennett, at the scene, had the incident explained to him by a supervisor and he said that he understood and that he had no problem with what the officers did,” McMahill said.

 

However, McMahill did go on to say that Bennett did actually mention having an issue with one of the cops.

 

“He claimed the officer pointed a gun at his head,” McMahill said.

 

McMahill didn’t deny Bennett’s claim that an officer said he wanted to blow the NFL player’s “head off.”

 

“That’s part of what we have to investigate,” McMahill said.

 

McMahill showed a five-minute video that was taken by a police body camera on the night of the incident, and the end of the video appears to show an officer holding something up to Bennett’s head.

 

Basically, the LVMPD’s version of events is that they got a call of shots fired at a casino. They didn’t know exactly what the shooter looked like, so they looked for any suspicious people and Bennett qualified because he allegedly attempted to flee after noticing a group of officers.

 

The exact truth about what happened probably won’t come out for another few days, but there’s a good chance that it will come out at some point because Vegas has more security cameras than pretty much every other city in the world.

 

According to McMahill, the LVMPD will have to sift through hours of video footage before they get to the bottom of what happened. 

 

You can see some that video at TMZ.com here.

 

TMZ Sports has obtained video of NFL superstar Michael Bennett being handcuffed by police while lying face down on the concrete in Las Vegas … and you can hear him screaming that he’s innocent.

 

The video was shot outside Drai’s Nightclub on August 26 — you can see one officer take position on a balcony while another cop handcuffs Bennett on the street level.

 

During the incident Bennett screams out, “I wasn’t doing nothing man! I was here with my friends! They told us to get out, everybody ran!”

 

Bennett claims the officer had pulled a gun on him and threatened to “blow my f*cking head off” — but you don’t see that in our footage. At the time the video begins, Bennett is already being cuffed.

 

We would guess that classic “racism” – picking on the only African-American in the crowd was not a factor at Drai’s.  Some more details from the East Bay Times:

 

The video will help determine if what Bennett said of the officer’s threat is true, McMahill told media.

 

“I see no evidence that race played any role in this incident,” the undersheriff said.

 

The two officers involved are both males and of Hispanic descent, he said. An internal investigation was opened after police learned of Bennett’s statements and an announcement through his attorney Wednesday morning.

 

Bennett, who has been one of several NFL players to sit during the national anthem, stated that he has a strong conviction that standing up for justice is the right thing to do. “The system failed me,” he said.

 

(Bennett’s attorney) Burris said Bennett was sober, unarmed, and not involved in any altercations that night when police arrested him.

– – –

It was later determined that the noise that Bennett reacted to — and drew a police response — was not gunshots but undetermined loud noises, police said.

 

Burris has represented multiple high-profile civil rights and police brutality cases, including Oscar Grant’s family in a lawsuit against BART, rapper Tupac, and most recently the woman formerly known as Celeste Guap in the Oakland police sex scandal lawsuits.

 

We also would also think, considering the darkness and crowds of most clubs (think the scenes in movies like “Collateral” with Tom Cruise or “John Wick” with Keanu Reaves) that it is harder for officers to discern what exactly is happening and thus they get amped up with anxiety and blurt things out.  Especially when confronted with a “suspect” who is physically larger and moving with great power and dexterity like an NFL lineman.

 

But that all may not matter. 

 

The Commish and his handlers were quick to weigh in on the matter – and they did so with a surprising statement that came down squarely on the side of Bennett.  Jarrett Bell of USA TODAY deems it as “progress”:

 

Michael Bennett, weighing a civil rights lawsuit against the Las Vegas Police Department after alleging racial profiling and excessive use of force, received a show of support from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that may have sent a message in more ways than one.

 

“Michael Bennett represents the best of the NFL – a leader on his team and in his community,” Goodell said in a statement released by the league late Wednesday. “Our foremost concern is the welfare of Michael and his family. While we understand the Las Vegas police department will address this later … the issues Michael has been raising deserve serious attention from all of our leaders in every community. We will support Michael and all NFL players in promoting mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they loyally serve and fair and equal treatment under the law.”

 

Goodell vouched for Bennett and played it down the middle at the same time. But the fact that he responded to the controversial detainment of the Seattle Seahawks defensive end – part of which was captured on a video released by TMZ – is progress in itself.

 

Amid his icy relations with the NFL Players Association, affected by hard-line rulings on discipline, Goodell showed compassion for an individual player.

 

Too often in recent years, Goodell – who hadn’t talked to Colin Kaepernick about the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s national anthem protests when I asked in May, and perhaps still hasn’t – seemed to have a disconnect with players.

 

Coach Pete Carroll of the Seahawks also is outraged at LVPD based on Bennett’s account.

 

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says he’s thankful Michael Bennett is safe after a “horrendous” incident with police in Vegas … and made it clear the entire Seahawks organization is supporting their star player.

 

Carroll just addressed the media after Seahawks practice and said Bennett “unfortunately experienced a horrendous incident” in Vegas … “and we’re thankful that he’s safe.”

 

Carroll noted, “We stand in support of him and anyone facing inequalities.”

“What happened with Michael is a classic illustration of the reality of inequalities demonstrated daily.”

 

He added, “May this incident inspire all of us to respond with compassion when inequalities are brought to light, and allow us to have the courage to stand for change. We can do better than this.”

 

The reaction of Christine Brennan of USA TODAY, as one might expect, is the kind of thing the NFL is guarding against as the media gather:

 

The allegations are chilling; the alleged videotape disturbing.

 

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett’s troubling social media description of the “excessive use of force” he said he endured at the hands of officers from the Las Vegas Police Department last month is a fitting reminder that the nation and the National Football League have reached the same cultural crossroads at the same time.

 

This critical juncture for the NFL doesn’t involve Tom Brady or Ezekiel Elliott, although Elliott’s suspension and subsequent appeal over alleged acts of domestic violence should never be minimized.

 

This is much bigger than that. This is about the continuing backlash that is occurring around the nation in the wake of the horrifying events in Charlottesville and President Trump’s dreadful response to white supremacism and neo-Nazism, and how that tragedy has become intertwined with the issues of race and protest that have been present on NFL sidelines for more than a year.

 

If Colin Kaepernick’s original national anthem protests were the launching pad for these issues, Bennett’s statement Wednesday that a Las Vegas police officer ordered him onto the ground and said if he moved “he would blow my (expletive) head off” might well have brought the matter to a boiling point just as the new NFL season approaches this week.

 

Bennett sat during the national anthem this preseason and has vowed to continue that practice throughout the upcoming season. Nearly a dozen members of the Cleveland Browns knelt in protest during the anthem last month. Cleveland-area first responders then said they will protest the players’ protest by not showing up to hold a large U.S. flag during the national anthem at the Browns’ home opener.

 

One wonders what might have been had Kaepernick, who quarterbacked the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl five seasons ago, been signed by an NFL team in the offseason rather than deemed too controversial because of his protests.

 

Kaepernick was planning to return to standing for the anthem this year, according to multiple news media reports all the way back in March. He has continued to meet his pledge of donating $1 million to charitable organizations. Had he been on a roster and in uniform, he could have been a calming influence, perhaps even someone league officials could have turned to in moments of discord and uncertainty.

 

And, of course, any animosity other players felt about the way he has been shunned would have disappeared once he was signed.

 

Instead, Kaepernick is on the outside looking in at what has become an increasingly unsettled situation in the nation’s most important and popular professional sport.

 

Ironic, isn’t it? Kaepernick is now the least of the NFL’s problems, as the league and its owners are tested in ways they never would have imagined.

 

Eric Adelson of YahooSports.com is another media member who thinks it is a great idea that NFL players are woke to the epidemic of police violence against innocent members of society.

 

A year has passed since Colin Kaepernick first protested the national anthem. In one sense, his initiative has foundered: the quarterback is out of work and the intended discussion of police brutality and accountability has continually veered to a debate about the American flag and patriotism.

 

Just last weekend, the Cleveland police union boss who defended a police officer’s killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice announced his group’s decision not to participate in a Week 1 pregame flag ceremony because some of the Browns kneeled during the anthem. It was a protest of a protest, and it pointed the finger back at the players instead of at the system Kaepernick is troubled by. The pressure boomeranged back to athletes instead of civic decision-makers.

 

It was something Kaepernick anticipated last August.

 

 “I think there’s a lot of consequences that come along with this,” he told the media back then. “There’s a lot of people that don’t want to have this conversation, they’re scared they might lose their job or they might not get the endorsements, they might not be treated the same way. And those are things I’m prepared to handle and those are things that, you know, other people might not be ready for.”

 

That was prescient. A lot of people didn’t want to have this conversation. It’s possible, even likely, that the conversation scared would-be employers more than Kaepernick himself did. But the conversation is happening, and that’s significant.

 

****

 

More NFL players are protesting before games. Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles is not only raising a fist during the anthem, he is also meeting with police leaders and making trips to Capitol Hill. When a white player for the Browns, Seth DeValve, took a knee before a recent preseason game, his African-American wife’s supportive response online went viral. “Colin Kaepernick bravely took a step and began a movement throughout the NFL,” Erica Harris DeValve wrote, “and he suffered a ridiculous amount of hate and threats and ultimately lost his life’s work in the sport he loves.”

 

Kaepernick’s detractors feel like sports should be a haven from all this. Sports are an escape from the “real world,” even though for most of us, the “real world” we’ve carved out is carefully cultivated: an escape from anything that challenges our worldview. Think about it: what percentage of your Facebook feed consists of friends who agree with you on pretty much everything?

 

By veering away from traditional avenues like Facebook, Kaepernick interjected in a lot of worlds. He pushed people (including media) to consider an issue they might not otherwise give thought to. And he tacitly challenged other football players to ask themselves if they should follow.

 

When Charlotte, North Carolina, became chaotic last fall after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, some of the Carolina Panthers spoke up. “I feel like America has a problem,” Tre Boston said. “I don’t feel like America is a horrible place. I love America. … But at same time, there are wrongs that are happening every day.”

 

Thomas Davis called for peace and offered to be a liaison between police and protesters. The unrest abated in the days after the Panthers made their comments, in part because of the efforts of the National Guard and local clergy.

 

The team’s game that weekend went ahead despite fears of more turmoil. “I felt like it was important for me to step up and be one of the voices during that time,” Davis told Yahoo Sports last week, looking back. “I think it’s important. We are in the position. We have a huge voice. And it’s important to use that voice and do it in the right way.”

 

Davis has been a leader his entire career, and he says his social awareness comes from his upbringing in southern Georgia. “It was a combination of growing up with different friends of different races,” he says. “I grew up in a hometown that was partly divided. You had one group of one ethnicity on one side and another that that lived on another. When I went to college [at Georgia] it was all about one group coming together. That was a huge part of it.”

 

****

 

Football is one of the rare places in society that consistently blends race, faith, region and class. It promotes both individual leadership and team play. But it also conveys the message that every person is replaceable. There is a “next man up” mentality that keeps the system intact and also empowers the decision-makers over the employees. That’s part of what Kaepernick was alluding to when he mentioned “things other people might not be ready for.” There is a risk of lifelong consequences for a decision made in the two minutes during the national anthem.

 

Still, the comments from Davis and Boston last year reflect a little bit more readiness among older, more established players. Just this week, Cam Newton called the Kaepernick situation “unfair” and added, “Should he be on a roster? In my opinion, absolutely.”

 

Maybe an individual player’s decision isn’t to protest the anthem, but maybe, “What should I do?” leads to other, less controversial acts.

 

“We all have a role, as citizens,” Panthers safety Kurt Coleman said. “If we don’t as people come together, we will fall. Doesn’t matter what your profession is. If you have a bigger platform, stand on that platform.”

 

When asked if he wrestles with whether to speak up, Tampa Bay Bucs all-pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said, “I used to. I don’t now. I’m eight years in now. I feel I’ve done enough in this league where if I speak, my voice will be heard. I’ve done enough where if I do say something, people will listen.”

 

The Bucs held a team meeting during training camp in which players were encouraged to share thoughts or concerns they had about anthem protests. “[Head coach] Dirk [Koetter] let us have the floor,” said receiver Josh Huff, who has since been waived. “We said our opinions. You can’t be blind to the fact at what’s going on around the world.”

 

The players would not share what was said in a private meeting, but McCoy was open about his fears in a Yahoo Sports interview, worrying that a “civil war” is possible. “There’s just a rift, it’s a break, it’s a split in society,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is. That is a fact. Society is starting to split.”

 

This is not a radical opinion, especially after the tragedy of Charlottesville, Virginia. Football is a place where people come together, and it gathers huge audiences every week. Kaepernick’s protest is something that can be seen as divisive, but it also can be seen as something that was intended to include. And it has grown to include players Kaepernick didn’t even play with or against.

 

 “I don’t see it as a distraction,” he said last August. “I think it’s something that can unify this team, it’s something that can unify this country. You know, if we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people. If we have these conversations, there’s a better understanding where both sides are coming from.”

 

For some, the conversation was never going to happen. For others, Kaepernick’s choice made the conversation easier. “Now that you look back at the season and what’s transpired since then, I think Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel or take a seat or to protest the national anthem was genius and worked better than I think he even probably assumed at first,” Jenkins told ESPN. “Because here we are a year later and it’s still a topic of conversation, and it sparked a conversation that’s been long-lasting. And since then, guys have really moved into action and have been doing a lot in the community.”

 

That conversation is happening more now than it has in the past. And it is happening even if Kaepernick is no longer playing.

 

We wanted to make sure we read that correctly, – Adelson now views “Facebook” as a “traditional avenue.”