No more suspension? Tom Brady be like …
17 of the most beautiful faces Jon Stewart’s made while mocking sports.
JJ Watt met a very big — and very sneaky — fan on Monday.
Marshawn Lynch dives in end zone of Skittles on ‘Conan’
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch made an appearance on The Conan O’Brien Show Monday night to share some thoughts on repeatedly getting fined for lewd gestures, his feeling on not getting the ball during the final play of Super Bowl XLIX and his retirement consideration.
But it was what Lynch did at the end of the interview that got the biggest reaction from the crowd, and then social media.
Lynch, known for his relentless “Beast Mode” running style when he has the ball, scored a “touchdown” in the studio by doing his infamous lewd gesture while jumping backward into a massive tub of Skittles, his favorite candy.
O’Brien arranged the whole stunt. It seemed Lynch, who was a little hesitant at first, really enjoyed mixing his favorite game with his favorite candy.
During the interview portion, Lynch told O’Brien he considered hanging up the cleats after last season.
“In this game, at this running back position, you don’t go that long,” Lynch said. “But, I mean, they put [$12 million] in front of you for a year, you start to think, ‘yeah, maybe I can do this again.’ “
Lynch signed a two-year contract extension with Seattle in March, keeping him with the Seahawks through the 2017 season.
O’Brien also asked Lynch about his feelings concerning the final play in the Super Bowl when practically everyone, including Lynch, believed he would be getting the ball to score a likely touchdown. It didn’t work out that way, and the New England Patriots won, 28-24.
“I play a team sport, and at the end of the day, I can’t be mad at the situation,” he said. “So, I mean I am good with it, though, to be honest.”
Brady’s Deflategate appeal underway at NFL headquarters
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady arrived at 345 Park Avenue in New York – the NFL’s headquarters – shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday for his appeal hearing in the Deflategate controversy.
A huge media contingent gathered early Tuesday, and while several of the key people involved in the hearing entered via the main entrance, Brady and his agent, Don Yee, went in through a side entrance.
Several Brady supporters also attended and held signs and wore Patriots gear.
Brady was suspended by the league for his role in the use of deflated footballs in the AFC championship game win over Indianapolis.
The NFL Players Association had asked Goodell to recuse himself from hearing the appeal because he could not be impartial and might be called as a witness. But Goodell said it was his responsibility to oversee the hearing to protect the integrity of the league.
Based on the league-sanctioned Wells report, Brady was suspended and the Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks.
Among the key elements of Brady’s appeal will be about who ordered his four-game suspension and whether science supports the league’s findings about deflated footballs.
The NFL says Goodell authorized the discipline that was imposed by league executive Troy Vincent, who signed the letters sent to Brady and the Patriots informing them of the penalties. The NFLPA challenged Vincent’s power to issue punishment, citing Article 46 of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
Goodell dismissed the union’s claim.
“I did not delegate my disciplinary authority to Mr. Vincent; I concurred in his recommendation and authorized him to communicate to Mr. Brady the discipline imposed under my authority as Commissioner,” Goodell said in his letter to the union on June 2. “The identity of the person who signed the disciplinary letter is irrelevant.”
The penalties were announced after investigator Ted Wells found that the Super Bowl champions illegally used under-inflated footballs in the AFC title game.
Both sides have the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses on Tuesday.
However, when Goodell’s final decision will be rendered is still anyone’s guess. Though the appeal will last two days at most, Goodell might not announce his decision until the end of July, near the start of training camp. Cowboys player Greg Hardy’s appeal of his 10-game suspension was on May 28, and nearly four weeks later Goodell still hasn’t announced a decision.
Romo has no regrets about comments made toward NFL over fantasy convention
Tony Romo has no regrets about comments he has made about the NFL since the cancellation of a fantasy football-themed event where the Dallas Cowboys quarterback was to be a headliner.
But Romo refused to elaborate on what he said during radio interviews the previous day.
“I said everything I was going to say. I said what I thought,” Romo said.
The National Fantasy Football Convention event scheduled for next month in Las Vegas was canceled last week after the NFL reiterated a policy banning appearances associated with casinos.
During an interview Tuesday on ESPN Radio, Romo indicated that it could be an issue of money.
“It does make it sound sometimes like it’s an issue about money, which is disappointing because we were just trying to get the fans to hang out with players,” Romo told ESPN Radio. “It seems like a no-brainer to me, especially because it really wasn’t going to be something that I didn’t think was going to break the NFL’s heart money-wise. But obviously they have an issue. Romo said he thought the NFL wasn’t necessarily pressuring anyone to cancel the event but it wanted to dissuade players from attending, which kind of ruins the point of the event. Many NFL stars were slated to attend, and Romo was the headliner. The event was canceled late last week, and Romo isn’t thrilled with how the NFL handled it.
“It’s like when you’re in high school and you don’t get invited to the party, it makes you feel bad,” Romo said. “If they really wanted to just be a part of it, all they had to do was call and ask. It would have been a lot easier than going about the process the way they did.” Romo also said he was disappointed that the NFL waited until so close to the event before voicing its concerns.
“It’s just a very frustrating process that went down, when all they had to do was literally call me or actual event organizers at the NFFC, and that never took shape. Instead, it was about almost scaring the people attending the event. That just seems silly to me. We could have been far more mature about this. That makes you think it was just about money, and that’s disappointing.” Asked Wednesday if he had heard from anyone from the league office since his interviews, Romo responded, “No. I have not had any contact, before or after,” and then smiled.
Romo was aware of a tweet with his picture sent from the NFL’s verified account Tuesday that was quickly deleted. It was a picture of Romo waving at a practice, with the words “Hi Tony!” followed by two emoticons representing a hand waving back.
“Obviously when someone takes it down after nine minutes, it tells you probably all you need to know,” Romo said.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said the Romo vs. the NFL episode doesn’t concern him one bit.
“If we have a conversation, it’ll be a short one,” the coach said when asked if he’d talk to Romo about it.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, however, told The Associated Press last weekend after the event’s cancellation that the league’s only concern was the location.
McCarthy told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Tuesday that the league only found out about the event two weeks ago.
Romo chuckled when asked if he was surprised to hear the NFL’s claim that the league only recently found out about the event, which was announced in March.
There is plenty of time to know about plans for the next one. Romo said there will be a National Fantasy Football Convention next year in Los Angeles.
Buccaneers using WR Vincent Jackson in hybrid role
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson is working at a variety of positions in OTAs this offseason.
Despite playing on one of the worst offenses in the league, Jackson put up good numbers in 2014 and the Bucs are hoping he gets better this season.
New offensive coordinator Dirk Koettner is installing Jackson’s third offensive scheme in as many years, and Jackson likes what he’s seen.
“Dirk is having some fun moving me around and playing me in multiple places, and it’s been fun for me, too,’’ Jackson said via the Tampa Tribune “It’s fun to play inside (in the slot) and outside, to be able stretch the field and cross the field.”
“That’s what’s good about this system. We’re going to put the ball all over the place. The backs, the tight ends, everybody’s going to be involved and that should make it fun for all of us.”
According to Pro Football Focus, 138 of Jackson’s 582 routes came out of the slot last season, accounting for nearly 25 percent of his workload.
That percentage could go up as the team finds new ways to take advantage of Jackson’s size, instincts and playmaking ability. Now entering his 11th season, Jackson may soon reach the stage where he cannot rely on speed alone.
NFL seriously looking at adding more international games
Commissioner Roger Goodell casually mentioned last month the NFL’s interest in adding more international games. He mentioned potential contests in Germany, Mexico and Brazil.
Sure, the league has been thoroughly satisfied with its series of game at Wembley Stadium, with three more London matches set for the 2015 season. The appetite for more global expansion has been aroused, though, and while future games in the United Kingdom pretty much are a certainty, events along the Rhein or in Rio might loom, too.
“From a London perspective, we continue to be very pleased with the demand of the three games for this year,” said Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president for international. “We already are in great shape and sold out. … All of that continues to go very well from a demand standpoint, commercial standpoint. From a UK perspective, we are very committed to the games and that agenda.
“As for where we go next? We started the work that really looks at Germany, Mexico, potentially Brazil. Those are probably the three markets where we are most likely to play an international series game next, outside of the UK.
“That doesn’t mean we are not looking at what more could we do to grow other aspects of what we do regardless of whether we play games in a market. For an example, in Germany, can we get better free-to-air media coverage for our season? What are some alternative ways to get more content to our avid fans?”
Avid is relative, of course. Fans in Munich don’t go crazy for any of the 32 NFL teams the way they do for Bayern. But there’s enough interest in the country that preliminary probes into staging a regular-season game there are underway.
“I think we have heard from at least three or four cities and stadiums in Germany about hosting a game,” Waller said. “I don’t think there is any doubt we could play a game in Germany and be successful selling it out. Any reservations we have are not about playing a game and about the venue, but reservations are much more how to make sure fans in that market can engage with and follow the NFL on an ongoing basis.”
Mexico is an entirely different situation. The fan base is large — Waller estimates it to be bigger than anywhere outside of the United States. There are sponsors with high interest in pro football. The league’s architectural consultant, Populous, has looked at several venues, including Azteca Stadium and Stadio Olympico in Mexico City. Monterrey and Guadalajara also could be in the picture to host a game.
The only regular-season contest played in Mexico was in 2005 at Azteca, a home game for Arizona in which the Cardinals beat the 49ers 31-14 before more than 103,000. In the last decade, though, the Mexican facilities haven’t kept up with the technological advances the NFL requires.
So Waller and NFL executives from various departments — operations, security, technology and broadcast — have visited the Mexico City stadiums.
“We’re at the point today of waiting for a report back from Populous, which will highlight what we think needs to get done in either Azteca or the Olympic stadium,” Waller said. “They will definitely need work to be done; our thinking is particularly for an ongoing series of games being played. We can make most stadiums work as a one-off, but if we want to play consistently there is probably work to do be done on either of those stadiums.”
There also are economic issues to consider in Mexico and Brazil, which is being targeted as a potential host of the Pro Bowl as early as 2017. Mexico has dropped out of hosting some international championships in other sports because of financial problems. And Brazil will follow hosting the 2014 World Cup with staging the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, both involving tremendous expenditures.
Waller will be meeting this month with stadium officials in Rio, as well as some of the NFL’s corporate partners.
“We need to gauge is there interest for us to go down there? We want everyone involved to be comfortable with it,” he said. “I am trying to get a better understanding of the popularity that seems to be emerging for us and what is driving that in Brazil?”
But why the Pro Bowl, which doesn’t carry much cachet with American audiences anymore?
“Specifically to the Pro Bowl, our thinking is if you have a new market that is starting to become interested, the Pro Bowl might be a very good way for fans to get more acquainted with the NFL,” Waller said. “Lots of star players are playing in the game, from probably all 32 teams as well, in a much more relaxed and informal, helmets-off atmosphere for a lot of the time.
“It’s a way to introduce people to the teams and the star players, which might be a pretty good way to do that.”
Texans cancel first day of OTAs due to flooding
The Houston Texans have canceled their organized team activity Tuesday due to torrential rainfall and flooding in the Houston area, the team announced on Tuesday.
The team was scheduled to work out at NRG Stadium, with media availability following the session.
Tuesday’s was scheduled to be the first of 10 OTA sessions to begin Phase 3 of the Texans’ offseason program, as prescribed by the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Phase 3 lasts four weeks and the Texans may reschedule the canceled session provided it falls within the designated four-week period, according to an NFL spokesman.
The team’s other scheduled OTAs are Wednesday and Thursday, June 1-2, 4, 8-9 and 11-12.
According to the National Weather Service, nearly six inches of rain has fallen in Houston in the past 12 hours and the city was under a flash flood watch until early Tuesday morning.
Because of the extreme weather, hundreds of Rockets fans didn’t leave the Toyota Center for several hours early Tuesday morning following Houston’s Game 4 win over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. -
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Miami linebacker Ray Lewis tackles Florida State running back Warrick Dunn on Oct. 9, 1993 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. A 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker with the Baltimore Ravens, Lewis turned 40 years old today. (Peter Read Miller for SI)
GALLERY: Rare SI Photos of Ray Lewis
Robert Kraft: Aaron Hernandez said he was innocent
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft testified Tuesday that his former star tight end Aaron Hernandez told him he was innocent when asked if he was involved in a 2013 killing.
Kraft was called by the prosecution in Hernandez’s murder trial over the June 17, 2013, slaying of Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.
He at times seemed uncomfortable on the stand, even when he was asked where he worked. He first said 1 Patriot Place, the address of Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play. When asked what he did at work, he replied, “Whatever they ask me to do.” Then, asked if he ran a business, he replied: “We’re a packaging and paper business and private equity, and we have two sports teams.” He first listed the New England Revolution soccer team, then the Patriots.
Kraft was asked about the events of June 19, two days after the killing. By then, Kraft said, there was a strong media presence at Gillette Stadium, including helicopters, which were covering the investigation.
Kraft said he found Hernandez in a weight room working out and pulled him into an adjacent office for a private talk.
“I understood there was an incident that had transpired, and I wanted to know whether he was involved, and if he was, any player that comes into our system, I consider part of our extended family, and I wanted to get him help,” he said.
“What did he say?” prosecutor William McCauley asked.
“He said he was not involved. That he was innocent and that he hoped that the time of the murder incident came out because he said he was in a club,” Kraft said.
Prosecutors have said Hernandez was at a bar earlier in the evening, then drove to Boston with two friends, picked up Lloyd and killed him in an industrial park.
Kraft said his conversation with Hernandez lasted five to 10 minutes.
Later, he saw him one last time at the stadium.
“He hugged and kissed me and thanked me for my concern,” Kraft said.
Hernandez signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots in 2012, but as defense lawyer Michael Fee questioned him, Kraft said he couldn’t remember whether it ran through the 2018 season.
“I don’t get into the details. I just knew we signed him,” he said, adding that Hernandez was signed because he was “a very good player.”
Hernandez watched closely during Kraft’s testimony, which lasted a little over 30 minutes.
Next to the stand was the Patriots’ director of security, Mark Briggs. He said he also had a conversation with Hernandez on June 19.
“I asked him why he’d lawyered up,” he said.
The judge struck the comment from the record and instructed the jury that citizens do not have any obligation to speak with police.
Briggs said Hernandez told him that he had been with Lloyd at a club and they went their separate ways, so Hernandez gave him keys to a vehicle. He told him those keys were found in Lloyd’s pocket, Briggs said.
Investigators did find keys to an SUV Hernandez rented in Lloyd’s pocket.
Briggs said he asked Hernandez if he was involved in Lloyd’s killing, and Hernandez replied no. He said he then looked in his eyes and asked if he was telling the truth.
“He swore on his baby’s life that he was telling the truth,” Briggs said.
Briggs said the following day, Hernandez showed up at Gillette Stadium, and Briggs asked him to leave, which Hernandez did.
“You asked him to leave the stadium because his presence there was bad for business?” Fee asked.
“That is correct,” Briggs replied.
Hernandez was arrested June 26 in Lloyd’s slaying. Less than two hours later, he was cut from the team.
Also Tuesday, lawyers said they expect to wrap up their cases next week. McCauley named for the judge just a handful of additional witnesses to call and said he expected to rest Thursday. He did not name any other members of the Patriots organization or anyone affiliated with the NFL. That likely means that Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Miami Dolphins player Mike Pouncey and others listed as potential witnesses will not be called.
Hernandez lawyer James Sultan asked the judge to hear arguments on some pending issues Friday and said he expected to put on witnesses and finish Monday. Both sides will also deliver closing arguments, then deliberations will begin.
Chris Borland returning big part of signing bonus to 49ers
Chris Borland said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” he would willingly hand back part of the signing bonus he received last season from the San Francisco 49ers.
“It’s not a cash grab as I’ve been accused of,” Borland told host Bob Shieffer. “I’m paying back three-fourth of my signing bonus. I’m only taking the money I’ve earned. To me it’s just about health and nothing else. I never played the game for money or attention. I love football. I’ve had a blast. I don’t regret the last 10 years of my life at all. I’d do it over the exact same way.”
Borland, 24, shocked the NFL last week by announcing his retirement. He cited concerns about his long-term health, specifically head injuries, and said Sunday that while he only has been diagnosed with two concussions in his life, he probably suffered others beginning in high school.
Said Borland: “If you play linebacker or fullback or offensive or defensive line, which are physical, I think you’ll sustain at least mild concussions, of which there are over 20 different definitions. There’s a lot of gray area.”
Borland was a third-round pick last year and signed a four-year deal with a signing bonus of $617,436. He earned a quarter of it in 2014, a season in which he led the 49ers in tackles and received one vote for rookie defensive player of the year. He said he’d pay back the other three-fourths – $463,077 – to the 49ers. That money, if not returned, also would have counted against the 49ers’ salary cap in the form of dead money.
Borland said he wasn’t trying to steer young people away from the sport.
“I think the one thing I can say is not to play through concussions,” he said. “I think that’s unwise. Such a small percentage of players ever play in college. Of that pool, a small percentage ever play in the NFL. So do don’t anything silly when you’re 16, 17 years old.”
Dallas Mayor calls signing of Greg Hardy a “shot in the gut”
While most Cowboys fans are happy with the team signing defensive end Greg Hardy, some are not happy about the new addition.
One of those people is Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who called the signing of Hardy a “shot in the gut.”
According to the Dallas Morning News, when the Cowboys signed Hardy on Wednesday, Rawlings called the Cowboys to discuss the signing.
“It is something that I heard about and immediately called the Cowboys this morning. I had a couple of conversations with them because I wanted to hear their side,” he said.
The mayor said the Cowboys told him they “took this very seriously,” conducting background checks and structuring the contract so that he would be held accountable.
“I’m a big Cowboys fan. I love them to death and I want them to beat the Eagles every time they play,” Rawlings said. “But at some point, being a sports fan gets trumped by being a father, husband, wanting to do what’s right for women, so this is not a good thing. I don’t think I’m going to be buying Hardy jerseys any time soon.”
Last spring a North Carolina judge found Hardy guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder, but the verdict was set aside when Hardy requested a jury trial. Charges were dropped when Holder refused to cooperate with the district attorney’s office after receiving a financial settlement from Hardy.
Hardy signed a one-year, $11.3 million deal with the Cowboys but remains on the commissioner’s exempt list and is expected to be suspended for part of the 2015 season under the league’s personal conduct policy.
“I think the attention on this issue is helping,” Rawlings said. “For too long, that line was really vague. It was a gray area. I think that line is getting very clear now. You never, never, never hit a woman. In this case common knowledge says he did. It’s unacceptable by me and he’s going to have to deal with the repercussions of that. I’m sorry that happened for the woman. I’m sorry that happened for him, but it did and we’ve got to deal with it going forward now.”
Rawlings said he’s still going to root for the Cowboys. But, he added, “that doesn’t mean I have to agree with every play that’s called and every person that’s hired, and in this case, I don’t.”
Rawlings did say he hopes Hardy can redeem himself and be an advocate in ending abuse in the future.
“I hope he will be in 10 years a person we look back and say he changed a lot of kids’ lives because he dealt with the issue, he talked about it and he owned up to it,” Rawlings said. “I hope that’s the case.”
Browns WR Josh Gordon suspended at least one year by NFL
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended without pay for at least one year by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The suspension begins immediately.
Gordon tested positive for alcohol, according to a January report. He was being tested for alcohol due to a prior DUI.
Gordon was arrested on July 5, 2014, and charged with driving while impaired after speeding down a street in Raleigh, North Carolina. He pleaded guilty in September and in lieu of a 60-day suspended jail sentence, he received 12 months’ unsupervised probation, a $100 fine and $290 in court costs as a result of the plea. He also had his driver’s license suspended.
Gordon said he thought his alcohol restriction no longer applied when the season ended, but he was mistaken.
Days after it was first reported that Gordon tested positive he wrote an open letter to Charles Barkley and others who have doubted him, “Most importantly, I failed myself. Again.” Gordon wrote.
The Browns have been dealing with Gordon failing himself and the team for too long and this suspension might be the last straw and force the team to part ways with the ultra-talented 23-year-old.
“As we have conveyed, we are disappointed to once again be at this point with Josh,” Browns GM Ray Farmer said in a released statement. “Throughout his career we have tried to assist him in getting support like we would with any member of our organization. Unfortunately our efforts have not resonated with him. It is evident that Josh needs to make some substantial strides to live up to the positive culture we are trying to build this football team upon. Our hope is that this suspension affords Josh the opportunity to gain some clarity in determining what he wants to accomplish moving forward and if he wants a career in the National Football League. We will have no further comment on Josh as he will not be permitted in our facility for the duration of this suspension.”
Gordon, who was suspended for the first 10 games of 2014, caught 24 passes for 303 yards in five games this season. In his three years with the Browns, he has 161 receptions, 2,754 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Gordon was suspended for the season finale at Baltimore because of a violation of team rules after he missed a team walkthrough.
Gordon’s 2015 salary of $1.07 million will not count against the Browns’ salary cap. In 2012, Gordon signed a four-year, $5.34 million contract including a signing bonus of around $2.3 million. He was originally scheduled to be a free agent after 2015 but didn’t meet the six-game minimum requirement last season to accrue a free agency year because of the suspensions. So, the Browns own his rights in 2016.
Gordon’s suspension comes a day after the news that Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel voluntarily entering a treatment program last Wednesday.