Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
He’s already made a vow for the biggest night of his life: “I plan on tasting my own blood.”
And that’s fitting, considering everyone else can smell blood.
The people do not like Roman Reigns. They don’t like his character, his storyline, his way. They do not like him . There seems to be a constant torrent of vitriol on social media for the World Wrestling Entertainment star. There’s the all-caps screaming: “IN NO WAY, SHAPE OR FORM IS ROMAN REIGNS READY TO BE WWE CHAMPION AND BE LABELED AS THE GUY,” which was written by the handle “RobbyTheBrain.” And there’s the profane. Oh, there's the profane.
This isn’t the "love-to-hate" hate, either. This isn’t Rowdy Roddy Piper hate, which was true love. This is refuse-to-play-along hate. When Reigns was bailed out by The Rock at the “Royal Rumble” in January, paving his way to the main event at Sunday’s WrestleMania 31 from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., there was a simultaneous explosion of joy at seeing the “People’s Champ” and explosion of derision for this other guy.
To understand Roman Reigns, this rusty 16-by-16 ring is the place to start.
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
PHOENIX – The word Jason Garrett used on many occasions during his media session at the NFL owners' meetings Wednesday was "exhaustive."
The Dallas Cowboys' head coach said the team was exhaustive in its vetting of defensive lineman Greg Hardy, who was arrested in May 2014, charged, and convicted by a North Carolina judge for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Last week, Dallas signed Hardy to a one-year deal worth up to $13.1 million.
The question is: Were the Cowboys exhaustive enough?
Garrett said his team spoke with "dozens and dozens" of people about Hardy. He spoke to Hardy's former coach with the Panthers, Ron Rivera, who gave "great wisdom." He said the team spoke with people who knew Hardy as far back as high school. He said he interviewed people in law enforcement. And he spoke with Hardy himself, for many hours.
Yet through the course of that hour, other questions emerged. Garrett said he did not speak with anyone in Hardy's family. He said he asked Hardy "specifically" about the incident that led to his arrest, but when asked if Hardy showed remorse, Garrett said, "We just spoke specifically about what happened."
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago
PHOENIX – Everyone wants to see the Cleveland Browns on "Hard Knocks" … except the Browns.
Head coach Mike Pettine said the team "declined to volunteer" for the show, which chronicles training camp, during meetings with producers this week. Yes, that's a euphemistic way of saying "Please don't do this to us." And yes, quarterback Johnny Manziel is part of the reason.
Pettine, who was on "Hard Knocks" as a staff member of the Jets in 2010, said there were "positives and negatives" to the show, and when asked for the negatives, he said: "It's hard to be yourself. Some guys play to the camera. If you have to change, then it's a distraction."
Manziel isn't the only factor here. The other first-round pick from last year, Justin Gilbert, had some rookie struggles as well. Pettine mentioned at the NFL scouting combine that the cornerback was going through something "very personal," though he backtracked on that somewhat on Tuesday.
"Football takes a back seat," Pettine said of the Manziel situation.
Reality television should take a back seat too.
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago
PHOENIX – This dream-chasing business can be tough for a football player. Especially when that business costs you $400 for a job interview, $180 for physicals and more than $2,000 for a full-ride scholarship.
That's part of the bill for Rakim Cox, who had his last, best chance at the NFL here on Sunday at the NFL veterans combine. Cox, a defensive end who went undrafted out of Villanova last year, stood out in drills alongside Michael Sam in front of team scouts and personnel officials at the Arizona Cardinals' practice facility.
He certainly felt the urgency: Cox said he had to take out a loan to help cover the cost of the weekend trip and the taxes he paid on his "free ride" to Villanova.
Cox and his mother, Tiffinny Beard, were unaware that room and board on scholarship is taxable, so when they claimed it on a W-2 form, they ended up with a bill: $2,355.47.
Beard even went to the IRS office in Houston, where she lives, to get clarity on the tax matter.
"I still got a headache from that," Beard said.
"The situation never crushed me," he said. "I always wanted to play football."
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago
PHOENIX – For months, the most meaningless word in the NFL lexicon was "investigation."
Now there's a new muddled term: "clearly."
NFL head of officials Dean Blandino met with reporters here Monday at the NFL owners' meetings and gamely tried to explain why the infamous Dez Bryant/Calvin Johnson catches are still not considered catches.
He announced not a change in the rule, but a change in the language.
A receiver, Blandino said, must "clearly establish himself as a runner" in order for his catch to be considered a catch. This is the latest iteration in a concerted effort to apply reason to something that is hard to reason. At first, the receiver had to make "a football move," then it was a move "common to the game," and now it's "clearly establish himself as a runner."
The problem, of course, is defining "clearly."
Blandino, in an interview after the news conference with Sirius XM radio, admitted the language is "still subjective." And that's the problem.
A step rule would mean Bryant's catch was valid – which it probably should have been.
Eric Adelson at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago
TEMPE, Ariz. – Michael Sam's window of time to make an NFL team is getting shorter, and perhaps his patience is, too.
Sam was here at the Arizona Cardinals' training facility on Sunday for the first NFL veterans combine, one of 105 players invited for a tryout for scouts and team officials, including Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
Sam is the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, but auditions with the St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys didn't vault him to an active game day roster. On Sunday, he ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial electronic time of 5.10 seconds and then in 5.07 – not spectacular numbers for a defensive end, and slower than his original rookie scouting combine time of an official 4.91.
Sam said he felt he was "just as good if not better than the other guys here," but that's up for debate. A few of the other members of his position group, like Caesar Rayford and Rakim Cox, looked faster and stronger than the former SEC defensive player of the year.
Still, he spoke with great self-assurance, saying, "I am very confident I will be playing somewhere."
Eric Adelson at The Dagger 12 days ago
South Carolina is hosting an NCAA tournament game for the first time in 13 years, and there are more than a few members of the NAACP who aren't happy about it.
The Palmetto State is under an NCAA tournament ban because it flies the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds. But the organization is allowing the SEC champion Gamecocks to host games this weekend because of a new format delegating home dates to top-16 seeds in March Madness.
So the home team gets to stay home even though the ban is still in effect.
"If they were really serious about supporting the cause of justice, there would be no loopholes," said Lonnie Randolph, president of the state chapter of the NAACP.
Randolph said he accepts the NCAA's decision, but he's upset his group was not informed until it was made.
"I don't agree with how they handled it," Randolph said. "We didn't have a chance to have a conversation with them about it."
In an email to Yahoo Sports, NCAA spokesman Cameron Schuh explained the decision to allow the Gamecocks to host:
So games in those two states that are earned through play are allowed, while games that are delegated, or chosen, are not.
It wasn’t just his age that was so remarkable about Chris Borland’s decision to leave pro football. Others have called it a career at 24, or younger.
It wasn’t just his concern about concussions; everyone in football has those fears.
It was also the timing of the announcement: at a zenith in his profession that extremely few reach. Borland — an undersized linebacker — went through high school and college football and got to an NFL team. He endured the difficulty of a rookie season and all the acclimation it requires. He worked his way to a possible starting spot with the 49ers. He lived the dream.
And that’s when he decided to walk away.
“Coming from the excitement of making it to the big show, you finally play that first year, and then you retire,” said former New Orleans Saints defensive back Jabari Greer. “My question would be, ‘Why now?’ Why when it’s all starting to pay off?”
“If you play one game in the NFL,” he said, “you know.”
“It’s an opportunity to make a difference,” Greer said. “To make a change.”
NEW YORK – The NFL playoffs brought all kinds of clamor for expanded instant replay and other changes to how games are officiated.
Now it seems that momentum has fizzled.
League officials studied the Canadian Football League's challenges of pass interference calls, and the results haven't encouraged too many people at NFL headquarters. Over the course of a full season, the CFL's first year allowing such challenges, there were 55 challenge flags, with most of them being for calls that coaches felt should have been made but weren't.
Only 17 were overturned.
That has given some in the NFL league office pause, suggesting added wrinkles to replay will only delay the game needlessly and perhaps create second-guessing that shouldn't be there.
"Every year it could be something else," said vice president of operations Troy Vincent. "Is that really where we want to go?"
"How many more replays would we be creating [if we did what the CFL is doing]? We see replay as an aid, not a replacement." Blandino said. "We don't think reviewing would correct an exorbitant amount of incorrect calls."
The decision former San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland made was a brave one, and one that sends a strong message.
The question for the rest of us is: what kind of message will we hear?
Borland decided to retire from professional football following his rookie season at the age of 24, citing concerns about his long-term health and the potential effects of head trauma. He is only the latest in a list of players under the age of 30 who have retired in the last week.
It’s easy to see a trend here, one of young players walking away from millions and quitting football.
Instead, it’s more healthy and instructive to see these decisions as choosing life after football. Borland, along with Jason Worilds, Jake Locker, and Patrick Willis, have weighed their future with care and respect. That’s an important statement in a society that too often believes football is an identity rather than a short-term job.