The Daily Briefing Wednesday, September 19, 2018

AROUND THE NFL 

Former NFL OT Joe Thomas, genetically engineered to want to see QBs safe and healthy, is still aghast at the NFL’s incredible contention, as voiced by Al Riveron, that Packers LB CLAY MATTHEWS committed an obvious crime with his textbook and timely post-pass takedown of KIRK COUSINS.  Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The NFL has vigorously defended the roughing the passer call against Clay Matthews for a hit on Kirk Cousins in Sunday’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.

 

Just about everyone not in the NFL league offices in New York has vigorously disagreed with the notion that Matthews hit on Cousins should be a penalty. Former Cleveland Browns All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas is the latest to disagree with the ruling and the explanation from the NFL as to why it was a penalty.

 

@joethomas73

 Would the person at the @NFL who thinks the @ClayMatthews52 hit was a foul please stand up so you can; be isolated, publicly shamed and humiliated, and taken away to North Korea so you aren’t able to further in your quest to destroy the game we all have come to know and love

 

Thomas would continue in saying “please come forward and explain yourself” regarding the notion that what Matthews did was against the rules.

 

The NFL is saying that Matthews picked up Cousins and drove him into the turf. In most instances on a football field, that’s called a tackle. However, the desire to keep quarterbacks healthy has led to Matthews’ dropping of Cousins to be viewed as too egregious.

 

Two former heads of NFL officiating and a former league MVP quarterback in Brett Favre are among the voices to disagree with the NFL’s ruling. Even Cousins said the flag was “probably a generous call.”

 

Nevertheless, the NFL says the move is a penalty and is using the play – and a similar hit by Eric Kendricks of the Vikings earlier in the game — as instructional tape distributed to teams this week.

 

That doesn’t mean Thomas or anyone else not in the league headquarters is going to like it or agree with it. And to answer Thomas’ question, that’s where the people who believe the play was a penalty are located.

 

NFC NORTH

 

CHICAGO

ESPN thought Bears fans, and anyone else watching a football game, would rather see a music video by something called “Cheat Codes” than watch LB Brian Urlacher get his Hall of Fame ring.  Or a routine interview with Von Miller. 

 

Bad decision they admit now.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

At halftime of Monday Night Football, the Chicago Bears honored Brian Urlacher by presenting him with his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring. As teams so often do, the Bears chose halftime of a nationally televised game to honor their new Hall of Famer, because those are big moments to give a player recognition on a big stage.

 

Unfortunately, ESPN didn’t get the memo.

 

Instead of showing Urlacher at halftime, ESPN showed a performance by the musical group Cheat Codes. Many Chicago fans complained, and now ESPN has admitted it should have given Urlacher his due.

 

“That was a miss,” Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman told the Chicago Tribune. “We should have played it back. We did not play it back.

 

Rothman said he wishes he would have shown at least a short piece of the Urlacher ceremony at some point in the third quarter, but why not show the whole thing at halftime? Are football fans really more interested in a musical performance by Cheat Codes than in a great player receiving one last honor in front of his home fans?

 

The reality is, football fans would rather see Urlacher, but ESPN doesn’t cater its broadcast to football fans. If you’re a big football fan, you’ll watch football regardless of what the halftime show is. ESPN wants to bring in other viewers, the kinds of viewers who might specifically tune in because there’s going to be a performance from a band they like.

 

Still, is Cheat Codes really a big enough draw to bring in significant numbers of viewers? It’s hard to believe that it is, and in this case, the halftime show would have been greatly improved by simply showing the fans at home what the fans at Soldier Field saw.

 

The Cheat Codes video actually wasn’t that unpleasant or that long.  Both the group and Urlacher could have been accommodated.

 

Another test for ESPN’s struggling telecast comes Monday when a broadcaster for a rival network, Tony Dungy, will be inducted into Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor at halftime of the big tilt with the Steelers.

– – –

Hmmm.  Coach Matt Nagy is saying that QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY is no PATRICK MAHOMES.  Herbie Teope of NFL.com:

 

The comparisons between Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky have grown through the first two weeks of the 2018 regular season.

 

The signal-callers received plenty of hype throughout the summer months and they enter their second seasons. Mahomes, however, has exceeded expectations with 10 touchdowns passes through two games, while Trubisky remains a work in progress.

 

Bears first-year coach Matt Nagy possesses a unique perspective on the comparisons from his previous post as the Chiefs offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. And Nagy pointed out during a Tuesday press conference that there is a large difference between the two quarterbacks within his offensive scheme.

 

“Well, what’s fair to compare is you have one in Patrick, who has had a full year in this offense to understand it,” Nagy told reporters, via the Bears’ official website. “Now, regardless of playing it, he’s had a full year — more than a year — to sit behind it and learn and understand and watch tape with those quarterbacks last year, and get to see all the talk, all the discussions of where you go to on this play and that play, whereas Mitchell hasn’t had that.

 

“[Trubisky’s] being forced into this thing right away, and so that’s where these growing pains are going to occur. That’s where — I just want to make it clear to him and to everybody that if you’re realistic about it, it does take a little bit of time and, in the meantime, as you saw last night, we have a defense that can help us out during this process. And so the sooner we get it and it starts clicking, then the better, but that’s the difference between the two, and it’s obviously neat to see Patrick doing so well right now.”

 

Nagy’s message of patience and stance on Mahomes’ professional upbringing in Kansas City has merit, of course.

 

Trubisky, the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, has more playing experience given his 12 starts the past season, but he is now absorbing his second offensive scheme in as many years. Through two games, Trubisky has completed 48 of 69 passes (69.6 percent) for 371 yards and two touchdowns against two interceptions, while adding 56 yards rushing and a touchdown on 12 carries.

 

Mahomes, the 10th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, had the benefit of using his rookie season to learn behind an established veteran in Alex Smith and the process has transitioned well. Mahomes has completed 38 of 55 passes (69.1 percent) for 582 yards and 10 touchdowns with no interceptions.

 

Meanwhile, Nagy understands outside evaluations for quarterbacks from the same draft class are virtually certain to occur. The Bears head coach, however, doesn’t believe there is a level of urgency or expectations for Trubisky to match Mahomes’ fast start to the 2018 regular season.

 

“I don’t see it that way,” Nagy told reporters. “I think a lot of outsiders will because it’s easy to compare two people because they were drafted in the same draft, top 10, one ahead of the other, and so those comparisons are easy.

 

“But what’s real behind that is what I just said. You have one guy that has had plenty of time now to learn it, and when I say plenty of time trust me, he’s (Mahomes) learning this thing, too, so he’s just had an extra year to go through it. And so I don’t think that’s fair to Mitch to be put in that position, and I know Mitch doesn’t put that on himself. We certainly don’t do that. Hopefully in the end both of them have great, long careers in this type of offense.”

 

NFC EAST

 

PHILADELPHIA

An updated look at the Eagles wide receiver position.  Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Eagles made the expected move to address their short-term lack of receiver depth.

 

The team announced the signing of former Eagles wideout Jordan Matthews, putting Mike Wallace on injured reserve to create the roster spot.

 

Wallace suffered a broken fibula last week, and becomes the second Eagles wideout on IR already this season, joining Mack Hollins. Putting him there leaves the option to bring him back later this season open.

 

Alshon Jeffery has yet to return from his shoulder injury, leaving them with Nelson Agholor, Shelton Gibson, and Kamar Aiken before today’s move.

 

Matthews was their 2014 second-round pick, but was traded to the Bills last offseason for cornerback Ronald Darby. He was in camp with the Patriots this summer, but was released with a settlement after picking up a hamstring injury in the preseason. Injuries have been a hallmark of Matthews’ career, but the Eagles can’t afford to be picky at the moment.

 

 

WASHINGTON

Another trip to IR for RB ROB KELLEY.  Les Carpenter of the Washington Post:

 

The Washington Redskins placed running back Rob Kelley on injured reserve Tuesday with a toe injury.  The move was not unexpected.  Coach Jay Gruden said Monday that Kelley might need surgery — a procedure that would leave him out for four to six weeks. Moving Kelley to IR means he will not be eligible to play until after Week 8, but he will not count against the Redskins’ 53-man roster during his absence.

 

Kelley is the latest Washington running back to go down in a unit that has been hit by injuries. Second-round draft pick Derrius Guice and third-year veteran Byron Marshall were both placed on IR before the start of the season with knee injuries. Kelley, who has rushed for 906 yards in parts of three seasons with the Redskins, has only run four times for eight yards this season as Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson have emerged as the team’s most-used backs. Kelley will likely be replaced by Samaje Perine, the lone healthy running back the team has not activated in the first two weeks.

 

Putting Kelley on injured reserve opens a roster spot for newly signed wide receivers Michael Floyd and Breshad Perriman. Wide receiver Jehu Chesson was released Monday to create the other opening.

 

He closed the 2017 season on IR with an ankle injury.

 

NFC SOUTH

 

TAMPA BAY

The Arizona Uber driver victimized by QB JAMEIS WINSTON seeks her day in court/under the guidance of the same lawyer who reaped millions for Erica Kinsman, the Arizona Uber driver bided her time, but has now made her cash grab. 

 

Rick Stroud in the Tampa Bay Times has the story and we boldfaced the fateful decision that changed Winston’s life:

 

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was sued Tuesday by the Arizona Uber driver who has accused him of sexual assault by groping her in March 2016.

 

The woman — identified only as Kate P. in the federal court papers — is seeking more than $75,000 in damages after she said Winston grabbed her crotch in the drive-through of a Mexican restaurant.

 

Tuesday’s development comes weeks after an eight-month NFL investigation determined that he touched the woman “in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.” It also comes as Winston — who has not been criminally charged in the incident — approaches the final game of a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

 

“She is unimpressed by his continued lack of honesty or awareness into his behavior,” Kate P.’s attorney, John Clune, said Tuesday. “Maybe a more direct financial penalty will get his attention. He needs to learn from this and have some genuine insight or pay the penalty.

 

“She knows that she might be just a speed bump for him in his football career, but she is not going to be a small one.”

 

The civil lawsuit — filed in the U.S. District Court for Arizona — features little new information but reiterates previously reported details of the allegation.

 

When Kate P. stopped at the International Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., around 1:41 a.m., one of the men who approached her car called her “hot” and encouraged Winston to sit up front, according to the suit.

 

She alleged that Winston “became belligerent,” swore and used racial slurs out the window during the drive. The suit said that Winston “did not appear to be very intoxicated.”

 

After Winston requested a burrito, the woman drove him to a Mexican restaurant. She Googled Winston on her phone and recognized him as the passenger, according to the suit.

 

While they were waiting on his food, Winston reached over without warning, “placed his fingers between her legs and pressed them firmly against” her genitals, over her yoga pants, according to the suit. Kate P. looked at him and asked, “What’s up with that?” before Winston removed his hand, according to the suit. She then dropped him off at the Camby hotel.

 

She texted her boyfriend that she “just got semi molested by the Tampa Bay Buc QB,” and that she reported the incident to Uber the next day. Winston said he didn’t recall the incident in a conversation recorded by Uber, according to the suit.

 

The driver said she came forward last fall not because of money but because of the growing #MeToo movement.

– – –

Winston fired his agents in July and terminated his agreement with the GrayRobinson legal firm a week and a half ago.

 

“No one appears to be advising him on this as far as we can tell,” Clune said. “He is apparently making his own decisions.”

 

Winston’s publicist, EAG Sports Management CEO Denise White, declined to comment on the suit but said Winston has “solid” legal and personal representation.

 

“Jameis has guidance,” White said. “He has a good group of professionals around him right now.”

 

This is the second sexual assault complaint Winston has faced. Clune previously represented Zephyrhills’ Erica Kinsman, who accused Winston of rape in a December 2012 encounter when both were students at FSU. Winston was never arrested or charged with a crime in that case, and a university Title IX hearing found him not responsible of wrongdoing. Winston and Kinsman settled their suit and countersuit out of court in December 2016.

 

Tuesday’s suit mentions Winston’s “history of sexually hostile behavior” and that he “appears to be no closer to understanding the impact of his conduct.” It alleges that the woman’s damages include “emotional distress as well as future therapy expenses” and that she is due “exemplary or punitive damages to punish and deter such conduct.”

 

The DB is surprised that she/they are only asking for $75,000.  We’d advise a quick settlement.

– – –

Winston’s replacement as Buccaneers starting QB, RYAN FITZPATRICK, is the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second straight week.  For a discussion of whether or not a player has won three of these awards in a row, go to KANSAS CITY.

 

If you were wondering, Winston has one of these awards, he was NFC Offensive Player of the Week in Week One in 2016, six months after his fateful Uber ride. 

 

NFC WEST

 

LOS ANGELES RAMS

WR MIKE THOMAS has gone on IR, but be still hearts of Saints fans, it is just the obscure namesake of the New Orleans ace who plays or sits with the Rams.

 

Thomas injured his groin in the Rams’ season opening victory over the Oakland Raiders. He played just 12 special teams snaps against the Raiders before being injured.

 

Thomas has appeared in 24 games with the Rams over the last three seasons, catching eight passes for 130 yards. He will miss at least eight weeks before being eligible to return to the roster, which would be at the team’s discretion.

 

The move enables LA to carry two kickers, ailing GREG ZEURLEIN and his temporary fill-in SAM “KICKIN” FICKEN.

 

 

SEATTLE

Curtis Crabtree of ProFootballTalk.com on a curious personnel move in Seattle:

 

In August, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll sung the praises of free agent signing Tom Johnson as he assimilated into Seattle’s defense. And yet, Seattle released him on Saturday and watched him decide to re-sign with the Minnesota Vikings for the rest of the season on Tuesday.

 

“Because of what happened with the numbers, we just, we had to do something to make a move and we had to figure out which is the best way for us and over the long haul of this thing,” Carroll said on Saturday. “Tom did a great job for us. We love him. We hated to have to separate like that. He’s a good ballplayer.”

 

Why Seattle felt like they had to make that move is the curious part.

 

The Seahawks released Johnson to promote Shalom Luani from the practice squad. Carroll was correct in that Seattle’s numbers were thin due to injuries. Six of their seven inactive players were out with injuries that forced usual special teams players into bigger roles in the regular rotations. However, Luani didn’t play a single play against the Bears. He and backup quarterback Brett Hundley were the only two Seahawks not to see the field that were in uniform.

 

Johnson started for Seattle throughout the preseason and earned the starting job in Denver last week.

 

“I wish we found him six or seven years ago,” Carroll said of Johnson in August. “He’s one of our guys. He’s got the chip on his shoulder and he shows it day in and day out by the way he approaches his work. … He’s fantastic and we love the fact that he’s in that room (and) got a lot of young guys with him. He’s got a fantastic influence on those guys.”

 

Even if you want to make the argument that Seattle needed Luani up on the roster for depth at safety with Delano Hill inactive, they could have created the roster spot in different ways than releasing their starting defensive tackle. Maybe Seattle thought by releasing a veteran who didn’t have to go through waivers, they could bring Johnson back this week without any teams luring him away. If that was the case, they guessed incorrectly.

 

Being a veteran on the opening week roster guaranteed his full season salary from the Seahawks. Releasing him on Saturday leaves them on the hook for the rest of his $950,000 base salary from the season in addition to the $900,000 signing bonus they gave him in March. Additionally, he can draw a new salary from the Vikings as well that may offset some of Seattle’s commitment.

 

With Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Tre Flowers all potentially able to return this week, Seattle’s roster crunch appears to have been short-lived. Deciding to release a starter for a one-week band-aid roster fix when you’re on the hook for the contract would seem to be less than ideal.

 

AFC WEST

 

KANSAS CITY

Has anyone ever been a conference player of the week in three consecutive weeks?  We ask because QB PATRICK MAHOMES now has two in a row.

 

It would have been hard for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to improve on his opener.

 

He did it anyway.

 

#AsExpected, Mahomes was named AFC offensive player of the week for the second week in a row, after his six-touchdown outburst against the Steelers.

 

Mahomes was 23-of-28 for 326 yards against the Steelers, an 82.1 completion percentage which is not unheard of for an Andy Reid offense but not what many expect from a quarterback who was often described as a chance-taker prior to taking over for Alex Smith.

 

His 10 touchdowns in the first two weeks stands as a new league record, and given the offensive talent around him, he has a chance to continue setting records as he learns how to be a starter.

 

Our research at ProFootballReference.com would seem to indicate that no offensive player has ever won more than two conference player of the week awards consecutively (they date to 1984).

 

Two in a row is relatively common, it happened twice last year with Todd Gurley of the Rams late in the year in the NFC and Tom Brady early in the year in the AFC.

 

Brady is the king of the double, he’s done it four times that we counted.

 

The most player of the week awards in one season?  We think it was Cam Newton with five, none consecutively, in 2015.

 

But, there is one player who we found who won a player of the week award in four consecutive weeks.  That was Dante Hall of the Chiefs who was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week  in Weeks 2 thru 5 in 2003.

 

And the same watch is also on in the NFC, as RYAN FITZPATICK of the Buccaneers wins the NFC award for the second straight week.

 

 

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

As we noted above, we find the request/demand of the Arizona Uber driver Kate P. for $75,000 from JAMEIS WINSTON for the duress his groping caused to be somewhat reasonable.

 

But, while Chargers DT COREY LIGUET may have been damaged by his trainer, is it really in anyway reasonable to think the poor fellow has $15 million to give to the already wealthy Liguet?  Eric Williams of ESPN.com:

 

Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget is suing his former trainer for $15 million in damages due to lost wages, pain and suffering caused by his positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, according to a document filed in U.S. District Court in California on Tuesday.

 

The person named in the suit is former Canadian Olympic bobsledding team member Ian Danney, who Liuget claims is responsible for the consequences of injecting him with a substance banned by the NFL. Liuget is currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

 

According to the 18-page document, Danney told Liuget he was using a high dose of an over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory to treat Liuget’s pain following a Chargers game last season, stemming from prior breaks in the metatarsals in both feet.

 

However, Liuget claims that Danney lied, injecting him with a banned NFL substance. The suit also claims that Danney injected Liuget with another product that required a prescription without Liuget having a prescription.

 

According to the suit, both injections occurred in California, where Danney does not have a license to administer injections of any sort or a license to practice any kind of therapy.

 

Liuget says as a result of the injections he failed an NFL-administered drug test for the first time in his seven-year career.

 

AFC NORTH

 

CLEVELAND

With troubled WR JOSH GORDON dispatched to New England, the Browns are turning to another WR with a long history of problems.  Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The Browns knew from day one that the talented wide receiver could play, they just didn’t know if they could trust him.

 

And now that he’s gone, they’re doing it all over again.

 

After trading Josh Gordon to the Patriots, the Browns are pushing rookie Antonio Callaway to the fore, setting up an incredible parallel.

 

Callaway had a checkered past in college, and failed a drug test at the combine, allowing a unique talent to slip to the fourth round. The Browns were willing to trust him, a trust that was apparently wounded but not broken by his citation for marijuana possession in August, which they punished him for by making him play.

 

So with the path now clear for Callaway on the field, the Browns are putting the pressure firmly on him. He’s responded well so far, including last week’s 47-yard touchdown which tied the game against the Saints.

 

“He is making strides,” coach Hue Jackson said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. “Obviously, the catch to tie the game is a confidence booster for any young player. I think that he was always coming on. We were not trying to push him too fast, not give him too much too fast. Now, he has to take it all. It’s time.”

 

Callaway had three receptions for 81 yards and the touchdown last week, and they’re making it clear they’re counting on him to continue.

 

“Absolutely. He ain’t got no choice,” veteran wideout Jarvis Landry said. “But he’s definitely a guy that we’re going to count on, we’re going to lean on. We know he can make plays, and Sunday was a prime example of that. And given more opportunities, I’m sure he’ll make more plays.”

 

They’re just hoping the story ends differently than it did the last time.

 

 

PITTSBURGH

RB Le’VEON BELL wants you to know he’s having a great time as the Steelers struggle to prepare for the undefeated Buccaneers.  Jaclyn Hendricks of the New York Post:

 

Le’Veon Bell is making the most of his extended summer vacation.

 

As the Steelers sit tied with the Browns in the basement of the AFC North at 0-1-1 and drama escalates around Antonio Brown, the star running back has retreated to Miami, where he was seen relaxing on a yacht and jet-skiing.

 

In a video obtained by TMZ, Bell, 26, chats up a fellow rider on the water, saying, “You already know what it is man, we out here coolin’ on the jet skis.”

 

His rider beside him cuts right to the point — “Give my man his f–king money.”

 

“You already know! You already know!” Bell responds.

 

Bell’s holdout is heading into Week 3 of the season, as he lobbies for a long-term deal instead of signing his $14.5 million franchise tag.

 

While it remains to be seen if Pittsburgh will be in Bell’s future, his present is all about his new rap project. On Monday, the running back hosted a release party at Rockwell nightclub in South Beach.

 

Though Bell appeared to be the sole Steeler in attendance at his soiree, he isn’t the only player voluntarily staying away from the team. Brown was absent from practice Monday, on the heels of a fiery Twitter exchange with a former team employee in which the star wide receiver suggested he be traded.

– – –

WR ANTONIO BROWN did return to work on Wednesday as the Steelers begin serious work for their challenging Monday night date in Tampa that could leave them 0-2-1.

 

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, who one would usually think would be on Mike Tomlin’s side against the forces aligned against him, regretfully writes that he thinks the embattled coach has lost his locker room.

 

For those of us who like Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, there is a hard truth that must be said: He has lost his locker room.

 

It’s all but impossible to consider all that is happening in Pittsburgh now and conclude Tomlin, now in his 12th year with the club, has a firm grasp on what’s happening with his players.

 

“It’s a circus there,” one NFC South assistant coach told B/R, “and Mike has no control over it.

 

“He’s one of the best coaches of my generation, but the players have too much control there.”

 

Has Tomlin lost every Steelers player? No, of course not. I’ve spoken to plenty of Steelers who believe he is the best coach they’ve played for—and ever will. And as an assistant coach from Tomlin’s division said, “It’s not Mike’s fault that Antonio Brown sometimes acts like an idiot.”

 

But would Brown sometimes act like an idiot under another coach?

 

Most coaches around the sport have great respect for Tomlin, but some of those same coaches will tell you privately that Tomlin doesn’t keep enough control over his players.

 

Things that have happened in Pittsburgh simply don’t happen with other great franchises. Not in New England. Not in Green Bay. Not in Philadelphia anymore.

 

Aaron Rodgers doesn’t simply decide to not show up to meetings.

 

Yet that’s what Antonio Brown did this week. Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Brown skipped work on Monday. That is a massive middle finger to Tomlin.

– – –

It’s surprising when you look at all Tomlin has accomplished, who in more than a decade as the Steelers coach has never had a losing record, won 10 games at least eight times and captured a Super Bowl.

 

Yet there’s no question, at times, players have shown a startling lack of respect for him. Brown once broadcast a team meeting on Facebook Live, a shocking breach of trust that would never happen in a New England locker room.

 

Joey Porter, a former player and current Steelers assistant coach, argued with Bengals players during a wild-card playoff game three years ago.

 

Former linebacker James Harrison, after leaving Pittsburgh, said Tomlin lacks discipline.

 

“Mike Tomlin is good as a head coach,” Harrison told Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed. “He’s a players’ coach. I think he needs to be a little bit more disciplined. The big thing with Belichick is he’s very regimented, he’s disciplined, everyone is going to be on the same page, there’s not going to be anything as far as someone doing their own thing. I think over there [in New England], their whole coaching staff is like that.”

 

Harrison added that Tomlin needs to be “more consistent across the board with everything, from your stars to your special teams players.”

 

Harrison himself wasn’t innocent of stretching the coach’s patience, forcing his way out of Pittsburgh by leaving games early and sleeping through meetings (according to a report by ESPN.com‘s Jeremy Fowler)—more slaps in the face to Tomlin.

 

With Brown’s latest actions, though, it’s no longer theory or just talk, but truth. Tomlin has lost control of this locker room, and he needs to get it back.

 

Too many Steelers players see Tomlin as one of the guys. When you’re chest bumping with players, sometimes the line between coach and player, management and employee, gets obliterated.

 

Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw made this point two weeks ago, and he was criticized for it, but it’s important to note, especially now.

 

NFC South assistant?  Raheem Morris maybe?

 

 

AFC SOUTH

 

JACKSONVILLE

It looks like just a one-game absence for RB LEONARD FOURNETTE.  Herbie Teope of NFL.com:

 

The Jacksonville Jaguars provided good news Wednesday morning at the running back position as the team prepares to face the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.

 

Leonard Fournette, whose hamstring injury prevented him from playing in Week 2, is listed among a group of players expected to practice Wednesday, the team announced.

 

Fournette’s specific participation level won’t be clear until the later in the afternoon, but his return to the practice field should provide a level of optimism on his availability leading to Sunday. The Jaguars will have two additional days of practice after Wednesday, and the second-year pro’s progress will be closely monitored leading to Friday’s game designation.

 

Meanwhile, the Jaguars were fine without Fournette in Week 2’s 31-20 win over the New England Patriots. Backup running back T.J. Yeldon led the charge with 58 yards rushing on 10 carries, and as a team, the Jaguars totaled 104 yards rushing on 24 attempts.

 

AFC EAST

 

BUFFALO

If you were inclined to think that RB LeSEAN McCOY was up to something shady with the home invasion of a home he owned but that his ex-lover was squatting in, a home invasion that has so far baffled Georgia police, this from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com won’t ease your mind:

 

Bills running back LeSean McCoy has yet to face criminal charges or significant NFL scrutiny for the claim that he instigated the vicious attack on his ex-girlfriend, Delicia Cordon, in July. Based on a new document signed by the mother of his six-year-old son, McCoy could still be in real trouble.

 

Stephanie Maisonet has filed an affidavit in the lawsuit filed by Cordon against McCoy, and it contains some significant allegations.

 

First, Maisonet claims that, on the day before the attack, she heard McCoy say of Cordon, “I need to get this bitch out of my house.”

 

Second, Maisonet claims that, on the day before the attack, Tamarcus Porter informed her that McCoy would be unable to pick up his son as scheduled. Maisonet claims it was the first time McCoy ever had to reschedule picking up the child.

 

Third, Maisonet claims that McCoy contacted her directly after the attack and “talked badly about Delicia Cordon.” McCoy allegedly suggested that, if Maisonet assists him in connection with the allegation that he was responsible for the home invasion that led to the attack, “he will concede in our custody case by allowing me to enroll my son in school in Miami.” Maisonet contends that McCoy previously had “been fighting so hard against that during our custody battle.”

 

Fourth, Maisonet alleges that McCoy’s mother contacted Maisonet “and tried to persuade me into being a character witness” for McCoy, and that “[r]eluctantly, I agreed to help him because I believed that I was acting in the best interest of our son.”

 

Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, Maisonet says that she gave Porter the password to her Instagram account, allowing him to post a comment on her behalf. In the comment, Porter allegedly wrote that the allegations from Cordon that McCoy abused Maisonet’s child “were false and that Delicia Cordon was trying to ruin him.” Maisonet now claims that she “knew the allegations were true” and that she “made a report” about McCoy abusing her son before the home invasion and attack on Cordon. “Our son would often come home with bruises in which I would consistently receive outlandish excuses as to where the bruises would come from.”

 

“I feel like I am sending our son to a monster every two weeks,” Maisonet said in the affidavit.

 

McCoy responded via social media, posting this statement on Twitter: “The allegations made against me today regarding my relationship with my son are provably false, outrageously inaccurate and offensive. I have a loving and close knit relationship with my son. That young boy is my whole life. With a custody case coming up in November, I can see why these false allegations are surfacing.”

 

The broader circumstances continue to be curious, at best. Either the invasion of the home owned by McCoy, the alleged robbery of jewelry purchased for Cordon by McCoy, and the vicious assault of Cordon was an inside job or one hell of a coincidence. It seems that there’s plenty of evidence to unpack, if the authorities and/or the NFL want to get to the bottom of the question of whether it’s the former.

 

The inability of local police or prosecutors to act, in some cases (see Jameis Winston) that were never even brought to their attention, has not quelled the ardor of NFL Justice to investigate with extra-legal zeal in the past.  We are curious what the NFL’s role is right now in a case that now involves elements of the Adrian Peterson case to go with a domestic assault.

 

 

NEW ENGLAND

WR JOSH GORDON may or may not be a Patriot.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Josh Gordon‘s trade to the Patriots is done. Unless (you know where this is going) it isn’t.

 

I saw that not because it’s become our stupid little shtick, but because it applies directly to the situation involving the Patriots and receiver John Gordon. The Browns have announced that Gordon has been traded to the Patriots. The Patriots have announced that Gordon has been traded to the Patriots. And the NFL has announced the trade on its daily transaction report.

 

Despite those basic, undeniable realities, coach Bill Belichick took the position with reporters on Wednesday that he won’t be discussing the player because the trade isn’t done.

 

“I’m not going to talk about players that are not actually on our roster, totally,” Belichick said. “There are terms that have to be met before the trade is finalized.”

 

The Patriots’ official roster contradicts that claim. Gordon appears on the active roster, and he’s also listed as a second-string receiver on the depth chart, behind Phillip Dorsett.

 

If any terms need to be finalized, the biggest would entail passing a physical. With Gordon, it’s also possible that the Patriots hope to get a fuller picture of whether Gordon faces another suspension under the substance-abuse policy. The Browns would likely say they should have done that before doing the deal.

 

Either way, Belichick claims the trade isn’t done. So it either isn’t done, or he was simply saying that in order to avoid talking about Gordon.

 

What if the deal was contingent on Gordon passing an expedited drug test?

– – –

More whispers about the Patriots thanks to a new book from ESPN.com’s Ian O’Connor:

 

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady felt trapped this past offseason and was not sure he wanted to play anymore for the only NFL coach he has ever had, Bill Belichick, according to a new book on Belichick’s life.

 

“If you’re married 18 years to a grouchy person who gets under your skin and never compliments you, after a while you want to divorce him,” a source with knowledge of the Brady-Belichick relationship told ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, author of “Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time,” after the 2017 season.

 

“Tom knows Bill is the best coach in the league, but he’s had enough of him. If Tom could, I think he would divorce him.”

 

Based on interviews with 350 people (Belichick did not cooperate), the book, due out Tuesday, reports Brady was so upset with his coach that he still wasn’t certain in late March if he would return to the Patriots.

 

“But in the end, even if he wanted to, Brady could not walk away from the game, and he could not ask for a trade,” O’Connor wrote. “The moment Belichick moved [Jimmy] Garoppolo to San Francisco, and banked on Brady’s oft-stated desire to play at least into his mid-forties, was the moment Brady was virtually locked into suiting up next season and beyond. Had he retired or requested a trade, he would have risked turning an adoring New England public into an angry mob.”

 

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham and several Boston outlets had reported on the escalating tension between Brady and Belichick during last season, much of it revolving around the coach’s decision to reduce the team access that had been granted to Alex Guerrero, Brady’s business partner and fitness coach. Belichick was no longer giving his quarterback the most-favored-nation status that he had enjoyed in the past.

 

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recalled in the book that Belichick told him years earlier about a disagreement Brady had with a Patriots strength coach over equipment. “Belichick said, ‘If Tom Brady wants it, Tom Brady gets it,'” Cashman said. “If you get a player at that level, you get him what he needs, even if the strength coach says otherwise.”

 

Brady was the league’s only starting quarterback who didn’t attend voluntary organized team activities in the spring; he also was angered by the Malcolm Butler benching in the Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Asked by broadcaster Jim Gray in late April if he felt appreciated by Belichick and owner Robert Kraft (with whom the quarterback maintains a close relationship), Brady responded, “I plead the Fifth! … Man, that is a tough question.”

 

The transactional relationship between the five-time champs, Brady and Belichick, had been reduced to a stare-down that didn’t surprise those in the quarterback’s camp. According to the book, Brady’s family long felt Belichick would push out his longtime franchise player before he was ready to retire. Brady’s sister Nancy is quoted telling people that her brother believed “Belichick will definitely do to him someday what the Colts did to Peyton [Manning].”

 

 

Brady started worrying for his job almost immediately after Belichick cited his age and contract status — and the coach’s desire to be “early rather than late at that position” — when the Patriots drafted Garoppolo in 2014. One New England assistant said the general feeling among staff members around that time wasn’t that Belichick’s system could make Super Bowl quarterbacks out of all 32 NFL starters. “But if you gave us any of the top 15, we could do it,” the assistant said. “I don’t think the coaches view Tom as special as everyone else in football does. Mr. Kraft thinks Tom is the greatest gift ever, but the coaches don’t.”

 

Other notable material in the book includes:

 

Deflategate

 

In the early days of the case, Belichick was among the Patriots officials who had “serious doubts” about Brady’s claim he had no involvement in the potential deflation of footballs used in the January 2015 AFC Championship Game victory over the Colts.

 

One person close to Brady said his entire family was “miffed” at Belichick for telling reporters to ask the quarterback about his preferences on game balls and “very miffed” at Kraft for reluctantly announcing in 2015 that he wouldn’t fight Brady’s four-game ban. Of the notion that Belichick had initially dumped Deflategate in his quarterback’s lap, one close friend of Brady’s said, “I thought Bill handled it terribly, especially when it involved a guy who’d done everything to help your career as a coach, and you hung him out to dry.”

 

Brady told friends that his weak answer to the news conference question about whether he was a cheater — “I don’t believe so” — didn’t betray a consciousness of Deflategate guilt, but rather thoughts of the earlier Spygate conviction and his belief that at least some of the suspicions over the years about alleged Patriots black-ops tactics were likely true.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

ERIC DICKERSON SHAKES DOWN THE HALL OF FAME

Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com on Eric Dickerson’s demand/request for sustenance from the Hall of Fame:

 

When Eric Dickerson released a statement calling for an annual salary for Hall of Famers, he didn’t say what that salary should be. But now he has given a dollar amount of $300,000 annually.

 

“If it was up to me, I think every Hall of Famer would get about $300,000 a year. That would, I think, be a proper number,” Dickerson told TMZ.

 

That’s an annual salary Dickerson is asking for, for each Hall of Famer, just for being in the Hall of Fame. TMZ notes that if Dickerson also wants players’ families to benefit after the Hall of Famer dies (and that seems to be Dickerson’s plan, as Reggie White’s widow was one of the signers of his statement), that would come out to more than $95 million a year in payments to Hall of Famers.

 

Dickerson complained that NFL player pensions aren’t big enough and said $300,000 a year for each Hall of Famer would supplement their pensions. Pension amounts can vary based on several factors, including how long the player played and the age at which he started drawing his pension. Some players didn’t play long enough to qualify for any pension at all (players need to be in the league for three years), while other players get more than $100,000 a year from their pension.

 

Although Dickerson is trying to paint his cause as an effort to help players who have struggled, his focus on paying the Hall of Famers first would mean taking care of the players who least need it: Hall of Famers generally made good incomes when they were active and can still make good money for appearances. Dickerson made more than $1 million a year in the 1980s and still gets paid $10,000 to $20,000 per speech. If his concern is helping players who need help, he should be focused on all the forgotten players who made the league minimum, not on players like himself who made millions.

 

Some of those who Dickerson said were with him in his activism are distancing themselves.  Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson is spearheading an effort to get more for the players who made the game what it is. And he now admits that he took a liberty or two with reality in order to make the effort seem stronger than it is.

 

Dickerson has posted a statement on Twitter accepting responsibility for a miscommunication with fellow Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Kurt Warner, whose names were added to the letter threatening a boycott of future Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies unless the league does more for former players. Both Rice and Warner have said they do not support a boycott.

 

Dickerson’s acceptance of responsibility was hardly unconditional and unequivocal.

 

“[T]his is typical NFL pitting players against each other,” Dickerson said, “whether it’s retired players versus Hall of Famers or whether it’s players who are on the Hall of Fame board versus players supporting the cause. At the end of the day, the NFL’s strategy is simply to take attention away from the major issue at hand, which is that the NFL is past due on doing right by the players.”

 

Dickerson also has made it clear that he’s not seeking benefits for only Hall of Famers, but for all former players.

 

Where this goes remains to be seen. But former players don’t really have much leverage other than to try to win the P.R. battle or, for the Hall of Famers, to not show up at the Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend. While Dickerson may be on board with that, it’s not clear whether other Hall of Famers are.

 

 

SOCIAL JUSTICE SCORECARD

Nike is now fine fashion wear in some quarters.  Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Jenifer Lewis, a Broadway actress and star of Black-ish, wore a custom Nike sweater on the Emmy Awards’ red carpet Monday night, telling Variety she was showing support for Colin Kapernick.

 

“I am wearing Nike to applaud them for supporting Colin Kaepernick and his protest against racial injustice and police brutality,” Lewis, 61, said before further explaining that she wondered, “What can I do? What can I do that’s meaningful? I’ll wear Nike. I’ll wear Nike to say thank you. Thank you for leading the resistance. We need more corporate America to stand up also.”

 

Nike recently unveiled an ad featuring the former 49ers quarterback. “Believe in something,” the message superimposed over Kaepernick’s face declares. “Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

 

Lewis is the latest of several celebrities to come out in support of Kaepernick, joining Kathy Griffin, Ava DuVernay and Chelsea Peretti among others.

 

“Thank you, Colin,” Lewis told Variety. “Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for being brave. Thank you for being courageous. Thank you for taking a knee. Thank you.”

 

And in Tampa Bay, generally thought to be a pro-military and pro-police market with MacDill Air Force Base nearby, the Buccaneers and the Glazer family are going all in for “social justice.”  With the full backing of local authorities we might add.  Buccaneers.com:

 

Today, more than a dozen players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with Owner / President of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation Darcie Glazer Kassewitz announced a new year-long, player-led Social Justice Program. The kickoff event, which included Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, was the first in a series of programs developed by the players to create positive change in the Tampa Bay community.

 

The Social Justice Initiative will include monthly events focused on youth empowerment, police relations, criminal justice reform, racial equality and workforce development. The initiative will be supported by the newly-established Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation Social Justice Fund, a campaign driven by Buccaneers players and matching contributions from the team that will commit more than $1 million to Tampa Bay-area charitable organizations.

 

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of many months of personal discussions and meetings with our players to devise a comprehensive, year-round program that touches a wide array of social justice issues throughout the Tampa Bay area,” said Kassewitz. “I am proud of the hard work and passion that our players have put into this program and am excited to assist them in their goal of taking a leadership role to bring about positive change in our communities.”

 

Led by DeSean Jackson, Gerald McCoy, Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith – representatives of the team’s 2018 Social Justice Player Board – the Buccaneers contingent visited the Tampa Police Department’s Training Center for the announcement. Accompanied by Chief Dugan and Mayor Buckhorn, the group spoke about the importance of becoming a driving force for social equality and strengthened relationships throughout the Tampa Bay community.