- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner4 hrs ago
The Chicago Bears made a heck of a statement this offseason. They gave quarterback Jay Cutler a $126 million contract.
The team was telling everyone that even though Cutler was a mediocre quarterback for eight years, the ninth would be different. He would be paid like he was on the same level as the game's best quarterbacks. And now, 14 games later, they’re benching Cutler for Jimmy Clausen.
ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported the news. It’s a stunning move by a team that is falling apart at the seams through constant backbiting, both public and private. The Bears have lost three in a row, there are reports that coach Marc Trestman will be fired, and now the team is starting Clausen (three touchdowns, nine interceptions in his NFL career) over the man they paid like one of the best quarterbacks in football less than a year ago.
Mistakes? Oh, there have been a few.
- Kristian Dyer at Shutdown Corner5 hrs ago
An NFL fan embracing the passion for his team on a holiday card is nothing new. But for New York Jets fan Rich Nagle, his holiday card is hoping for coal in the stocking of the team's general manager.
In recent weeks, second-year general manager John Idzik has come under intense scrutiny from Jets fans, tired of the step backwards from their 3-11 team. There is a website, FireJohnIdzik.com, whose domain name leaves nothing to the imagination. There are billboards asking for his firing by owner Woody Johnson, and a planned protest for this weekend's home finale against the New England Patriots.
And now, the "Season of Giving" has Jets fans wanting to give him a new job. Nagle, a Jets fan in north Jersey, has included the "Fire Idzik" movement into his seasonal spirit, turning the family's Christmas card into another call to fire the team's GM.
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner6 hrs ago
Prison will always define Michael Vick. But in a very tangible way, he's almost shed one of the heaviest burdens of his days behind bars: an $18 million debt.
Vick's career out of prison, six seasons, is now as long as his career before it. But as ESPN's Darren Rovell notes, much of the second half of Vick's career, which is now in low gear in New York, has been spent paying off a $17.8 million debt to creditors. Vick declared bankruptcy while in prison on federal dogfighting charges in July 2008.
Vick has spent the last five years on a budget in an effort to pay back creditors. Vick had to pay back the Atlanta Falcons $6.5 million in salary, among many others.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner6 hrs ago
A few things happened in Week 15 that caused us to reshuffle our playoff projections.
Here's how the playoff field looks right now entering Week 16 of the NFL season, with the Arizona Cardinals still sitting atop the NFC field with home-field advantage and the Super Bowl being played on their home turf.
However, with the Cardinals' shaky quarterback situation (and injuries elsewhere), we're projecting a new team landing the coveted top seed — the Seattle Seahawks — in advance of their meeting with the Cards this weekend.
Losses by the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles and victories by the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints also tilted those respective divisional races and the wildcard picture. One double-digit team will miss the field entirely, and right now it's the Eagles on the outside looking in.
With that in mind, here's how the first-round matchups could end up looking if our projections are accurate.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner7 hrs ago
The Chicago Bears have become a joke. Football teams that have become jokes illicit jokes from the people who watch them.
But there's a line of taste and standards, too, and one Chicago broadcaster certainly crossed it.
After the Bears lost to the New Orleans Saints, deeping their nightmare of a season, WLS-TV sports anchor Mark Giangreco spoke over while a sixth-grade pun of a chyron headline — "Cut him or cut your wrists" — ran next to a picture of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who has drawn the continued ire of Bears fans after another slew of turnovers in the loss.
Suicide-prevention advocates likely didn't see the gallows humor in the caption.
After a strong negative response to it, Giangreco issued an apology, via mediabistro.com.
“My remarks were inappropriate, and I deeply regret and apologize for this incident. I will be issuing an on-air apology in [Wednesday] evening’s newscast,” Giancreco said.
- Eric Edholm at Shutdown Corner8 hrs ago
Well, well, look who made an appearance at football practice on Wednesday.
A mere eight days after he was in a frightening car accident, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton participated in practice in advance of Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, according to Black and Blue Review's Bill Voth.
Is it possible that Newton could play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns?
Pump the breaks there — part of this is the Panthers seeing where Newton is with his transverse process injury he suffered in the crash. But it has to be tremendously encouraging that Newton is even in a place where he can go through basic practice movements, which would give the Panthers a lift as they remain in the thick of the NFC South race.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner8 hrs ago
San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, who was in the news earlier this season for an alleged domestic violence incident for which he ultimately wasn't charged, is being investigated for alleged sexual assault.
And the 49ers have had enough of those headlines. The team released McDonald, general manager Trent Baalke announced.
According to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, Baalke said the team released him because of a pattern of poor decision-making. McDonald, in his eighth NFL season, had started all 14 games for the 49ers this season.
"This is a team decision, not a league decision," Baalke said, according to the 49ers' Twitter feed.
The San Jose Police Department said it received a call at about 10:43 p.m. on Tuesday from an area hospital regarding a possible sexual assault victim, CSN Bay Area reported. The SJPD said no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. The alleged victim is not McDonald's fiancee, CSN Bay Area said.Sat, Dec 205:25 PM PSTSan Diego at San FranciscoPreview Game
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner9 hrs ago
Nobody should question Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray's toughness again.
Two days after undergoing surgery for a broken bone in his left hand, Murray was back on the field, wearing a pad on his injured hand. He caught passes, too, in the warm-up period open to the media before practice. While there are still a few days to go before the Cowboys play the Indianapolis Colts, it would seem he's got a great chance of playing given that he appeared at Wednesday's practice.
UPDATE: Although Murray was suited out for practice and participated in the warm-up period open to the media, the Cowboys' official listing for him was "did not participate" in Wednesday's practice, according ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon. That technically means he was not a part of any team drills in practice.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner10 hrs ago
Social media was supposed to be great for athletes, a way for them to get their message directly to fans.
Here’s the rub: People then have unlimited access to complain to those athletes. And with the anonymity of the Internet, they could blast away. If you want to criticize the media for being overly cynical and critical, that's fine, but go and check a prominent athlete's mentions on Twitter sometime. It can be brutal. If an athlete screwed up and it cost a fantasy victory, plenty of fans will let him know in 140 characters.
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner12 hrs ago
The key questions remaining in the Ray Rice spousal abuse investigation remain: What did the NFL know and when did it know it?
An investigation into those questions is digging deep into NFL personnel's correspondence.
In July, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell served Rice with a two-game suspension for striking his then-fianceé in an Atlantic City elevator in February. However, when a videotape of the incident became public in September, Goodell increased that suspension to indefinite. Rice appealed that decision, saying the league office had knowledge of and access to the incriminating videotape at the time of the initial punishment. Rice won that appeal and is currently available to be signed by any team.