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In wake of Cam Newton pummeling, Roger Goodell pens letter on player safety

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—Thursday night to kick off the NFL season, Cam Newton got pummeled.

The hits were illegal but they kept coming.  Wednesday, the NFL followed up with fines for two Denver Bronco defenders. Brandon Marshall and Darian Stewart were each fined. Marshall just over $18,000 and Stewart about $24,000.

Marshall denied claims from the Panthers that the Broncos played dirty.

“We’re not dirty,” Marshall said via the Denver Post.

“When I think of dirty, I think of stepping on somebody’s ankle at the bottom of a pile (or) twisting somebody around. Stuff like that. We just play hard, man. We hit hard. We play fast. We play faster than any defense in the league. Just because we hit Cam in the head a couple of times, that doesn’t make us dirty. Look at some of the dirty plays in the league. There are a lot of dirty players, and that’s not our M.O.”

Further, things got testy this week when the media questioned Panthers head coach Ron Rivera as to why Newton was allowed to continue playing after taking several shots to the head.

“I’m not the doctor, my understanding is he went through the initial steps during the game and after the game, and my understanding he had several exams all of which he passed,”

“I’m not going to question the doctors,”

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Wednesday commissioner Roger Goodell also penned a letter stating the NFL’s commitment to player safety. 

For the NFL league office, Wednesday’s letter or “announcement”, represents a continued, if not non-stop, effort to change the conversation and the public perception concerning player safety and concussions.

“Our game, of course, is a contact sport,” Goodell wrote. Fans love to see the action on the field, including the big hits. While we can never completely eliminate the risk of injury, we are always striving to make the game safer—for our professional athletes down to young athletes first learning how to play.”

“Fans love to see the action on the field, including the big hits. While we can never completely eliminate the risk of injury, we are always striving to make the game safer—for our professional athletes down to young athletes first learning how to play.”

Goodell also states the NFL has been a leader in the field of health and safety, a point that many would dispute given the evidence that concussions suffered by those playing the sport have had serious detrimental health effects. Some believe that concussions could be linked to the suicides of some former NFL players.

Goodell says in terms of addressing “head injuries” (note the absence of the word concussion) he and the league’s 32 owners are not satisfied.

The hits in which Stewart and Marshall were fined were helmet-to-helmet hits. And it appears that would be the problem. Fines are nice, but ultimately for millionaires fines are not penal in nature, whereas suspensions and season-long bans are.

Dan Patrick on Wednesday asked Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com and NBC Sports on his radio show why the NFL does not have a targeting rule (where players are ejected for hits deemed to be targeted) like college football?

“I don’t know that they can change the rules that dramatically without union consent, but maybe they can,” Florio said.

“It could be they (NFL) are just not prepared to go to the bargaining table and make a concession to the union in order to get the ability in order to eject players for targeting.”



NFL TV ratings are off to a slower start, but still really incredible

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The big one for a lot of people who follow these sorts of things and view TV ratings as a barometer for overall fan interest is the first Sunday Night NFL game of the year on NBC.

Just over 20 million people tuned in this season, down 18% from a year ago in the same time slot.

Not great, but still 20 million people is a tremendous rating for a regular season sporting event.

The first game of the season also broadcasted on NBC airing Thursday, September 8th drew at 16.5 overnight rating, which in terms of ratings is still really good, but down 7% from a year ago when the Steelers and Patriots played.

But the total number of viewers? 25.2 million.

That’s huge and the NFL has nothing to worry about just yet.

By comparison, Major League Baseball averaged just over 14 million for last year’s Mets-Royals World Series, and that was the highest rating in six years for the World Series.

That said 7% is not huge and not as meaningful considering about 14 years ago in 2002 the kickoff game scored a 12.2 rating, per Sports TV Ratings.


ESPN’s Monday Night Football was down as well, for the early game down 7% and the late game between the Los Angeles Rams and 49ers drew 25% less viewers compared to the second game of last year’s first Monday Night Football coverage on ESPN.

Overall, the NFL has lots of wiggle room to work with and probably is not concerned that it’s opening weekend in the second week of what is a busy September with good weather across the country-will turn the tides back to grossly huge numbers.

The Achilles heel for the NFL is not the lack of interest but perhaps a turn off by viewers at large for off the field incidents which continue to plague the league and keep league officials up at night. Further it’s yet to be decided what impact the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the singing of the National Anthem will do for the league in terms of viewership and fanship and the like.

Nick Saban doesn’t own the media, Harbaugh and Urban Meyer probably do

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You have to give the SEC credit, for many years, or should we say for a brief period of time, the SEC media days were a summer highlight for the sports obsessed fan.

The SEC was king of the mountain and there was no slowing it down. That has changed, not because of on the field success. But ask 20 random people who won the 2016 National Football Championship and how many can tell you Alabama? (Outside of the bible belt).

None the less, the Big Ten and to some extent the Pac-12 have made strides.

Yes the mind of the sports obsessed college football fan is now in the powerful grip of the Big Ten with the masters of the media Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh.

The controversy and the reason for this incredibly forgetful post has to do with a little ESPN panel that was held on Wednesday at the SEC media days in Hoover, Alabama when Dari Nowkhah and Paul Finebaum declared that Nick Saban owned the media for no one asked the Alabama head coach about all-world left tackle Cam Robinson.

Robinson was arrested on felony narcotics charges in May.

According to Awful Announcing, Nowkhah quipped that Saban owned the media while mics were hot and the show was on commercial break. The conversation then picked up back from live on the air and Nowkhah asked Finebaum if Saban in fact owned the media, which of course the reporter turned radio and media superstar agreed no question Saban does own the media.

Eventually Saban was asked about Robinson at some point Wednesday and said they still have a chance to play in the season opener if things go well and they comply with their community service guidelines.

The truth is that the SEC media days aren’t quite causing the stir they used to.

The Big Ten media days will be held July 25th and 26th.



Nick Saban says he does not care what Jim Harbaugh thinks

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban has responded to Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh a day after Harbaugh tweeted “Amazing” to me- Alabama broke NCAA rules & now their HC is lecturing us on the possibility of rules being broken at camps. Truly “amazing.”

Wednesday we have a response from Saban, who said, per ESPN:

“That’s his business. I don’t really care what he thinks or tweets. I say what I think is best for college football and say what I think is best for the players and the kids. As I said (Tuesday), it’s not about him or anybody else.”

The NFL: Forever a quarterback’s league

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The NFL will forever be a quarterback’s league…but it’s nice if you can get a really crazy linebacker or two …or big guys up front.

The Los Angeles Rams have tried so many times and failed at drafting the big time quarterback. No offense to Sam Bradford a fine college quarterback and a decent NFL quarterback riddled by injuries, but the Rams just haven’t had success but they went all in on Thursday night on Cal’s Jared Goff.

At No. 2 the Eagles selected another quarterback North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.

Both had incredible collegiate careers (Goff set 26 school records and 2 Pac-12 passing records) and no doubt passed all the physical tests that NFL scouts, general managers and the like like to see before dishing out the franchise.  Wentz has the NFL pro-type body at six-foot-five. But none the less, it’s still a huge gamble. It speaks that quarterback’s are still scarce.

Still many think that head coach Jeff Fisher may or may not be pulling the whole over our eyes about Goff’s pro potential in an effort to bring the needed excitement with the No. 1 pick.

“Jared has a skill-set that is special,” Fisher said via Rams.com.

“He sees, he’s got a quick release, he understands the quarterback position. He’s going to get rid of the football. He’s extremely competitive. Once you look at his body of work in the red zone in college — the scoring area, it’s impressive.”

The red zone in the Pac-12 and the NFL are totally different.

Still, it’s a calculated gamble for the Rams in that they are in a new city trying to market hope and excitement for a franchise that has not had any since they acquired a grocery bagger named Kurt Warner.

In Philadelphia, after the debacle of that dude from Oregon, Chip Kelly, anything is needed to give a little hope. NJ.com surveyed a group of fans, and clinging to the memories of Donovan McNab each of the comments posted are glowing of the potential of Wentz in the NFL, without a snap having been recorded.

Ike Reese of 94WIP Sports Radio says,  referring to McNabb, “The last time we took a quarterback at this position, he did a pretty good job.”

One fan said, “I’m glad we got Wentz,” He’ll be just like McNabb was — sit for the first four games, then start.”

Nothing jumpstarts hope like a quarterback drafted high in the first-round of the NFL draft.

Ohio State sees 100,000 strong for spring football

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Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

It was Urban Meyer’s idea to reach past the thousand-century mark for the Buckeye’s annual spring football contest year.

In 2015, Ohio State drew a record 99, 931 to Ohio Stadium. This week the push was to pack 100,000 into Ohio Stadium. It helped that students got in free and the public paid $5 a ticket.

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It may be that people really, really like Ohio State, which they do, or they just can’t much else to do that’s better than watching football for $5. It’s a hard one to say.

100, 189 was the official attendance for Saturday’s spring game, breaking the school’s 2015 record.

Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics
Photo Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

Of course, the Spring game is multi-purpose. For one, it is a great promotional program for the program and for a second well, it’s really all about promotion of the program. Squeezed into the fan and media frenzy it introduces the die-hards to the newest Buckeyes or Buckeyes who were riding the pine in the previous season.

Of the names that jumped out on Saturday among them were: Joe Burrow who is competing for the backup quarterback position behind solidified starter J.T. Barrett.

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Parris Campbell who caught not only the eyes of ol’ Urb but also three footballs for 106 years. Of those three receptions, one was a catch to close out the game, which Meyer considered a much-catch.

“Parris Campbell had to make that catch at the end of the game,” Meyer said.

“It was a great catch. I watched the whole thing. You do that in practice, it’s not that big of a deal. He has to do that in game.”

Many question the Buckeyes defense headed into the 2016 season, a possible weak point.  Meyer doesn’t sound worried but he does sound concerned.

“There’s a lot of pressure on Coach Johnson and that unit,” Meyer said.

“When we won the national championship the defensive line played as well as any team in America, and a good chunk of those guys are gone. I think they’re talented, very eager, we have an excellent D-line coach, and the good thing, they’re allowed to spend time with our players now in the summer.”

“In the old days you were done, and they weren’t allowed to even talk football with them until August. Now we get to still spend time with them, and the learning process has to continue, but I was — we finished pretty good in the defensive line the last few practices. ”

The Buckeyes return just six starters from the 2015 squad. Despite their inexperience the Buckeyes are ranked in many projections anywhere between six and twelve in early preseason polls.



Joe Montana’s post-NFL life: Arthritis, Balky Knee, Bad Neck, Bad Eye 

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“The mental part was hard initially when I first retired. Because it’s quick — cold turkey, the game’s gone,” Montana told USA Today Sports, recalling the years since he retired. “Then the physical stuff tries to catch up with you.”

“I tried a little bit of skiing, but unfortunately when you get weight on one ski under my left knee, it’s just not very strong. After my first back surgery, what kind of compounds things, is my sciatic nerve has been damaged. So the muscles along my sciatic nerve into my left foot have been numb since ’86.”

It’s a price many players must pay to play the game, Montana believes.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “most of us leave this game with things that linger.”

Source: Joe Montana, former San Francisco 49ers QB, details physical woes of post-NFL life

Sally Jenkins of the WaPO on Cam Newton’s giant ego

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Veteran columnist Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post seems to be enjoying her time in San Fran this week, taking shots at both Roger Goodell and Cam Newton.

With Newton she goes a little lighter.

It would be a little easier to admire Cam Newton if he wasn’t so relentlessly admiring of his admirable self. The Carolina Panthers quarterback has been introduced fully to the global audience on the Super Bowl stage this week, and this is the impression he has left: He is brilliant and beautiful, and anyone who doesn’t like his bold dancing is a joyless prude, and he may even be the new super-species he claims to be. He also appears to own a new size of ego.

He strolls around with a languid yet self-studied air, uttering pronouncements such as, “Every time I put on an attire, every single morning of my life, it’s a must-win attire.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Sally Jenkins on Roger Goodell: He’s a blockhead

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Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post is bringing the heat this week at Super Bowl 50, helping both Roger Goodell and Cam Newton come to the light.

First, Roger Goodell.

Jenkins writes under the following title.

Roger Goodell defends the indefensible, spinning nonsense”

It’s not funny, actually. It’s not funny at all. It would only be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. Goodell didn’t say something ill considered because he’s a blockhead. The remark was part of a league strategy comparable to the tobacco industry covering up the harmful effects of teenage smoking. Asked if the NFL is comfortable endorsing tackle football for kids, Goodell said, “I’d want my son to play football,” and conflated the dangers of brain trauma with the health benefits of exercise — as if discouraging kids from playing tackle football is tantamount to encouraging them to stay indoors and get diabetes. It was nonsense. Disingenuous, willfully deceptive nonsense, and he knows it.


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