Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 2 hrs ago
OXNARD, Calif. – An impressive array of talent stepped onto the twin practice fields of the Dallas Cowboys' training camp here last Thursday morning. There was Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Tyron Smith and so on. They were milling about waiting for an air horn to signal the start of the first session of the first day of a season with Super Bowl possibilities.
Standing near one of the end zones may have been the unlikely key to it all, a blue-collar, 66-year-old, Vietnam War veteran who in football terms holds a humbling, and considering his current role, unlikely distinction:
Coach of the worst team in NFL history.
Rod Marinelli is the Cowboys' defensive coordinator. In 2008 he was the head coach of the Detroit Lions, which isn't just the only NFL team to go 0-16, but one that barely even threatened to win a game. Those Lions, in one example of futility among many, lost its eight home games by an average of 22 points.
Still, 0-16 is 0-16 and it isn't easy for anyone's career, let alone their confidence, to recover from such a calamity.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
There are exclamation points and words in all CAPS, harsh attacks, repeated pleadings for action and eventually just befuddlement. And that's just the New England Patriots' side of intraleague emails that the team released Friday.
From the NFL there was mostly dismissive arrogance, if any response at all.
If league commissioner Roger Goodell was hoping the swirl around deflate-gate was closing in on an end, one that would take place in the cool confines of federal court, he might want to buckle up. Patriots owner Robert Kraft may look like a harmless grandfather but he's a self-made billionaire and one who operates by an old school, look-them-in-the-eye code and isn't much for anyone who violates it.
Goodell violated it by Kraft's thinking and now this looks like all out war on the league office. Just as a federal judge told everyone to tone down the rhetoric, Kraft went scorched earth.
The Patriots were convinced the NFL leaked the fake story in the first place. The least the NFL could do, New England argued, was set the record straight.
Roger Goodell trifled with him though.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
OXNARD, Calif. – La'el Collins was about to board a flight to Chicago in May, to the NFL draft, to the dream come true for a kid from Baton Rouge who was projected to be a top-15 selection as an offensive lineman.
That's when news broke publicly that a Brittany Mills – 29 years old, eight months pregnant and briefly romantically linked with Collins – had been shot and murdered in the doorstep of her apartment complex. Her unborn son would later die also. Worse for Collins, the police were interested in talking to him.
By the time he landed in Chicago, his phone wouldn't stop blowing up and his agent was telling him that he may need to turn around and go home, that the draft was now in flux and in a post-Aaron Hernandez world, the NFL was panicked. The agency, Priority Sports, had already hired a defense attorney and a private investigator and was convinced of Collins' alibi and innocence. But this was the swirl of dwindling hours of the draft.
Rumors fly. Teams scare.
Collins tearfully told family and friends who'd come to celebrate with him that even though he had nothing to do with Mills' murder, the NFL celebration was being deferred.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago
They brought coolers and cookers and a sense of optimism – try exhilaration – about a season that hasn't been felt around this franchise in years. Everyone here thinks Dez caught the ball. Most think the refs up in Lambeau saying otherwise did nothing but delay a long-awaited return to the Super Bowl one season.
And that season is now here, Super Bowl or bust, and for all of them, perhaps especially the ones wearing Tony Romo jerseys, that means the chance for their quarterback to fulfill a long-awaited potential. Not that Romo wants to hear about outside expectations.
"Last year we were in fifth in the NFC East going into the season," he joked about the four-team division.
They wound up 12-4 though, beat Detroit in the wild-card round for a rare playoff victory and then nearly strolled out of Green Bay with another win. Romo had his best season as a pro, 38 touchdowns against just nine picks (counting the playoffs) and led the NFL in completion percentage at 69.9 percent. His regular-season QB rating of 113.2 was nearly 20 percent higher than his then career average.
And he did it all with a bad back that limited practice time.
In other words, windows shut quickly.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago
It's a term you'd never think to use when describing the New England Patriots – from owner Robert Kraft right down to star quarterback Tom Brady:
Yet there was Kraft on Wednesday morning at a stunning and unscheduled news conference all but admitting he was just that as he apologized to fans for backing off the fight against the NFL over deflate-gate.
He was acknowledging the obvious: the Patriots lost this case – lost two draft picks, a million bucks, four games of Tom Brady's service and incalculable reputation for all involved. And they lost it as much out of poor strategy as evidence.
"I have come to the conclusion this was never about what was fair and just," Kraft said. "I was wrong to put my faith in the league."
Goodell played him as a fool.
"Unfathomable," Kraft said.
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Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
Tom Brady is too smart for this, or at least he's supposed to be.
It's why even if he were somehow proven innocent on the facts surrounding the inflation level of footballs in January's AFC championship game, he probably deserves a four-game suspension for being such an idiot during the investigation.
Brady knew the NFL was after him for being involved in what the league believed was the deflation of footballs in that playoff game. He knew commissioner Roger Goodell fancied himself as a law and order sheriff, here to punish players for all sorts of misconduct. He knew the NFL wanted his cell phone, or the information it held.
Knowing all of this, he should have known one thing: don't destroy the phone.
Yet Brady did, according to the NFL, which announced it would uphold the quarterback's four-game suspension on Tuesday.
He gift-wrapped a present for Goodell, who was desperate for an angle to drop the hammer on the New England Patriots star.
Boom. Phone gone. Appeal done. Court of Public Opinion lost. Reputation in tatters.
Except in this case.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
Notre Dame should have a strong team this year, with the NFL salivating over linebacker Jaylon Smith, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and wideout William Fuller, among others. Brian Kelly has to break in a new quarterback in Malik Zaire, but the Fightin' Irish are a legit playoff contender.
Of course, in the playoff era every team – from Alabama to Army – is, or should be, a legit playoff contender. What they do on the field of play is the only thing that matters.
Then again, both Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and Clemson's Dabo Swinney recently discounted ND not on the potential strength of the team, but because the school refuses to join a conference full-time and instead remains a throwback independent. Swinney seemed most concerned that this limited their season to 12, rather than 13 games.
"They don't have independents in NFL," Pinkel noted.
"Absolutely Notre Dame needs to be in conference or play 13 games to be in," Swinney echoed.
These are intellectually lazy opinions that can't stand up to any reasonable debate considering the state of college football scheduling.
More years need to go by before any conclusions can be made.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago
Over the weekend Mike Pereira, the former vice president of officiating for the NFL and current Fox Sports analyst, detailed that the league will use "new procedures" for how the inflation levels of footballs will be "prepared and monitored."
There will be more footballs used – 12 primary, 12 backup. Each will be numbered. All footballs will be set to 13 pounds per square inch before the game and then measured again afterward. At select games, the primary balls will be measured and removed at halftime and the second half will be played with the backups.
The story has been framed as the NFL doing a better job securing its game balls – a long overdue development. However, this is way more than that. This is a science experiment, allowing the league to begin to understand how weather, game use and other factors impact the inflation level (if at all) of footballs.
Commissioning a real study is one of the most responsible and professional things the league office has done in the deflate-gate scandal.
It's also potentially self-destructive for the NFL.
The NFL didn't have much choice, of course.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago
One month has passed since Tom Brady's appeal hearing in deflate-gate. One month and Roger Goodell still hasn't announced a decision.
Nothing. No upholding the suspension. No reversing the suspension. No lightening of the suspension. This isn't a Supreme Court case. This isn't complicated. It shouldn't take a month of leaving a player hung out to dry, as the biggest storyline going into the start of training camp remains an overblown, self-inflicted soap opera from last season.
One month and Goodell still can't figure out what to do, which somehow isn't really all that surprising since if he knew what to do in the first place the entire story would have been snuffed out in a day or so – or however long it took the NFL to figure out it has no idea, let alone any actual proof, that the footballs at the AFC title game were even all that deflated.
There are three rings to this circus.
This is truly one of the dumbest scandals in sports history, a molehill the NFL turned into a mountain.
It was damning.
Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 25 days ago
For years and years, decades even, seemingly everything about the Los Angeles Clippers felt cloaked in failure and embarrassment.
There was the racist slumlord of an owner. There were endless losing seasons. There were terrible draft picks, bad trades and brutal injuries. There was a general malaise that surrounded the place. That everything occurred in the shadow of the glamorous Lakers, who turned L.A. into a basketball town, made everything worse.
So it's a short list when recounting the greatest days in Clippers history. The fact it's probably topped by the time NBA commissioner Adam Silver stripped Donald Sterling of ownership kind of says it all.
Wednesday was one of the good ones, though, perhaps the most unexpected of them: a day of tweets and emojis and jokes and foolishness befitting a free-agency circus. Only, this time the Clips weren't the punch line.
Cuban would never get in the door. The Clippers, of all people, got to keep their man, for four years, $87.6 million.
The Clippers? Yes, the Clippers.