Shutdown Corner - NFL

  • New York Giants rookie safety Landon Collins wore No. 26 in college to honor the late Sean Taylor, who wore the number during his career at the University of Miami. Collins, who has called Taylor his idol, wants to keep honoring the former safety as he begins NFL career.

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    The Giants and Collins announced Tuesday on Twitter that Collins has changed his number to 21, the number Taylor wore during his NFL career with the Washington Redskins.

    To allow Collins to wear No. 21, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie switched his jersey number from No. 21 to No. 41.

    “Want to give a big thanks to my big bro DRC for blessing me with the number of my idol Sean Taylor,” Collins wrote on Twitter. “Means the world!”

    Collins, an Alabama product, was picked by the Giants in the second round (No. 33 overall) in the 2015 draft. He’s expected to earn a starting role. 

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    Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

  • Here's your weekly Aaron Hernandez legal update:

    Lawyers for the former New England Patriots star turned convicted murderer have filed four motions asking that their client's guilty verdict be overturned because of, essentially, "a juror's exposure to extraneous matters," according to a report from FOX25 News in Boston.

    In other words, they're alleging a juror found out about something he or she shouldn't have, which isn't too farfetched given the widespread media coverage of the trial.

    Jurors were not sequestered during the two-plus-month-long trial. And while Judge E. Susan Garsh asked them at the end of each day of testimony to avoid consuming coverage of the trial, 12 people adhering to that directive seems like a tall order considering one could have happened upon news simply by mistake.

    Exactly what a juror may have been exposed to is unclear, as the documents filed by Hernandez's lawyers are sealed from the public.

    What we do know is that at several points during the trial, Judge Garsh ruled to withhold certain evidence and/or testimony from the jury. For example, jurors were not told that Hernandez had been charged for a separate double-homicide or that one prosecution witness alleges that Hernandez shot him in the face.

    Such evidence was deemed too prejudicial against Hernandez, who in April was found guilty of the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez is currently serving a life sentence without parole.

    "These are experienced lawyers, they know the rules, they know the hurdles they have to reach," legal analyst Brad Bailey told FOX25 News. "Clearly there is something there or they wouldn't be doing it."

  • Cam Newton's contract is historic. Now the Carolina Panthers will hope his play jumps to historic levels.

    Newton not only got a mega-deal from the Panthers, it's one of the biggest the NFL has ever seen. Newton will make $67.6 million in the first three years of his five-year, $103.8 million deal, according to multiple reports. The deal became official on Tuesday.

    That would be the largest payout over the first three years of a deal in NFL history, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said. USA Today's Tom Pelissero said Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger held the record at $65 million. The deal includes $60 million in guarantees for injuries, according to reports.

    Newton is very talented and his production has been severely underrated throughout his career, but that's still a heck of a payout based on what Newton has done so far. And it must make the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks a little nervous.

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    Newton isn't considered at the same level as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, and hasn't been a part of as much team success as Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. So it's fair to wonder if Luck and Wilson, who entered the NFL a year after Newton did, will get long-awaited contract extensions that will surpass Newton's deal. That deal certainly sets the bar high.

    Newton put up career lows in most statistical categories last season, but he dealt with some major injuries along the way. Still, expectations will increase for Newton now. That's the nature of such a big deal. And, at least by one measure, there has never been a bigger deal.

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    Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Jameis Winston's days at Florida State University are not completely behind him.

    Erica Kinsman, a former FSU student who alleged in 2013 that Winston raped her, is suing Winston for false imprisonment, assault, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Recently, Winston filed a countersuit, alleging defamation and interference with business relationships arising out of Kinsman's initial lawsuit.

    Now, Kinsman's attorneys have moved to dismiss Winston's defamation lawsuit and strike that lawsuit's opening statement.

    Part of Winston's countersuit charges that Kinsman defamed him by naming him as her rapist in statements to both Tallahassee (Fla.) law enforcement and Florida State University in December 2012 and January 2013. The two-year statute of limitations on the defamation claims has run out, Kinsman's attorneys say, since the statements date to early 2013. The motion adds that Kinsman is immune from a lawsuit on these alleged statements, since such statements to law enforcement qualify as "protected" speech under the First Amendment.

    In other words, Kinsman says Winston can't sue her for naming him as her rapist because 1. time has run out on the opportunity to do so and 2. she named him in protected settings (i.e. to law enforcement and university officials).

    Moreover, Kinsman's attorneys add, Winston's 17-page opening statement in the countersuit is a "highly inflammatory and gratuitous" attack on "Ms. Kinsman's character and credibility through unfounded claims of lying, manipulating evidence and other impertinent allegations." As Kinsman's motion notes, the statement "disparages Ms. Kinsman's moral character, repeatedly calling her a liar ... or stat[ing] that she is lying at least 19 times," while asserting that she is "motivated by the most insidious objectives – greed."

    In other words, Kinsman's motion notes, Winston's opening statement "falls somewhere between an improperly hostile closing argument at trial and a posting on a Florida State football blog." As such, the motion notes, "such a scandalous, redundant, and gratuitous Preliminary Statement should be stricken."

    Kinsman first filed suit against Winston in April, with Winston countersuing in May. Kinsman has also filed suit against the Florida State University Board of Trustees. That case is set for trial in July of 2016; if this case proceeds at a similar pace, Winston will be dealing with its repercussions for years to come.

    Read the entire Motion to Dismiss here.

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    Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

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  • Either the Minnesota Vikings and running back Adrian Peterson have truly mended all fences or they were at least able to put on a really happy face on Tuesday.

    Peterson reported to OTA practices on Tuesday, after staying away during an acrimonious time. Peterson missed almost all of last year while dealing with a legal situation that stemmed from his young son suffering injuries when Peterson hit him with a switch. There were many reports that Peterson wasn't all that happy with the organization. You wouldn't have known that on Tuesday, when he and coach Mike Zimmer gave their news conferences.

    "I love this kid. I really do," Zimmer said. "I wouldn’t fly down to Houston to see him if he wasn’t important to me and to my program and our coaches and the rest of the football team."

    Peterson said that all of his teammates reacted with hugs and jokes when they saw him. He was asked why he reported now, and he said it was because he "just wanted to." He said it felt like family when he came back.

    "There’s been a lot of love I’ve felt through this process, and I was able to feel that same love today being around the guys and just being back in the building," Peterson said.

    It was a wide-ranging news conference for Peterson, who hadn't made many comments since he was indicted last year. One moment that stuck out came when he was asked if at any point he wanted to play with a different team. He said he didn't know what he wanted to do, and that came off as genuine.

    "I’m going to be 100 percent with you, with everything going on in my life during that time, I didn’t really know what I wanted," Peterson said. "I didn’t know if I wanted to play somewhere else, I didn’t know if I wanted to retire, I didn’t know if I wanted to go off and get into track, just change it up, do something different."

    Advice from people like his parents and advisers got him back on track. That's how he ended up back with the Vikings on Tuesday.

    Peterson also talked about his son. Peterson said he apologized to his son right after the incident with the switch happened. He said repeatedly that he loves his son and all of his children.

    "The relationship is good. It’s love," Peterson said. "I made a mistake. I know a lot of people don’t view it that was based off what they’ve seen, but ultimately that’s what it was. My son knows that and he knows I love him. And my other kids, they know the same."

    "I made a mistake, and I’m not taking it lightly at all. It’s something I regret. My son knows that and the people who truly know me and my character and what type of person I am when I’m around my kids, they know that as well."

    It was clear that Zimmer had a huge part in Peterson returning, even after his hard-line comment last week that Peterson would play with the Vikings or nowhere else. He said he supported Peterson through the entire ordeal, and the team never had any trade talks that included him. Peterson was obviously happy to be back, and if Zimmer's demeanor was any indication, the entire team was happy as well.

    "We welcome him with open arms, unequivocally," Zimmer said. "I've always supported him 100 percent and will continue to do so as long as he's with us, and hopefully that's for a long, long time."

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    Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Unsurprisingly, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell won’t recuse himself from the Tom Brady appeal.

    Goodell officially informed the NFLPA of his decision Tuesday, confirming his decision to personally preside over the hearing regarding the New England Patriots quarterback’s four-game deflate-gate suspension.

    "Our Collective Bargaining Agreement provides that ‘at his discretion,’ the Commissioner may serve as hearing officer in ‘any appeal’ involving conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football. I will exercise that discretion to hear Mr. Brady’s appeal,” Goodell’s letter reads, via NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

    The NFLPA said in its appeal that the process followed to reach Brady’s punishment (namely Goodell assigning the duty to executive vp of football operations Troy Vincent) “contained procedural violations” of the collective bargaining agreement and that the commissioner “must designate a neutral party to serve as an arbitrator in this matter.”

    In his letter, Goodell said the NFLPA’s arguments have no merit.  

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    “Based on the unambiguous language and structure of the CBA, as well as common sense, I conclude that none of the arguments advanced by the NFLPA has merit,” Goodell wrote. “First, the NFLPA argues that I may not serve as hearing officer because Mr. Brady’s discipline letter was signed by NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent rather than by me. I disagree. The identity of the person who signed the disciplinary letter is irrelevant. The signatory’s identity does not influence in any way my evaluation of the issues; any suggestion to the contrary defies common sense.”

    The NFLPA contends that Goodell is a “central witness” in the appeal hearing, and therefore should not preside over it. Goodell, of course, thinks otherwise.

    “I have carefully considered this argument and reject its premise,” Goodell wrote. “I am not a necessary or even an appropriate witness, much less a “central witness” as the NFLPA contends. I do not have any first-hand knowledge of any of the events at issue. Nor did I play a role in the investigation that led to Mr. Brady’s discipline. Furthermore, there is no reasonable basis for dispute -- or for any testimony -- about authority for the discipline reflected in the letter signed by Mr. Vincent.”

    Goodell also took umbrage with the NFLPA’s statement that he has “prejudged” Brady’s punishment and could not come to a fair decision relative to his “evident partiality with respect to the Wells report.”

    “I have publicly expressed my appreciation to Mr. Wells and his colleagues for their thorough and independent work. But that does not mean that I am wedded to their conclusions or to their assessment of the facts. Nor does it mean that, after considering the evidence and argument presented during the appeal, I may not reach a different conclusion about Mr. Brady’s conduct or the discipline imposed,” Goodell wrote.

    “That is true even though the initial discipline decision was reached after extensive discussion and in reliance on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game. As I have said publicly, I very much look forward to hearing from Mr. Brady and to considering any new information or evidence that he may bring to my attention. My mind is open; there has been no “prejudgment” and no bias that warrants recusal.”

    According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Goodell will hear Brady’s appeal on June 23. 

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    Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

  • The Washington Redskins' plight isn't going to be unusual for many NFL teams going forward, it's just that the Redskins had one of the biggest stadiums in the league.

    That stadium is getting smaller, as far as capacity goes. The Redskins have removed thousands of seats from FedEx Field, the third time in five years the team has removed a large number of seats, according to the Washington Post. The Post said seats were gone from the top eight rows of the upper deck during an open house for fans hoping to buy season tickets, and the team said it would reveal full details of the stadium reshaping plan later. Although the team says it has sold out every home game for the past 47 seasons, attendance in the 85,000-seat stadium never topped 81,000 last season, the Post said. The attendance average was 77,964 as the team went 4-12. The team is hoping downsizing will help the fan experience.

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    Obviously, the product on the field makes a difference. Washington has been terrible the past couple years, and for most of Daniel Snyder's time owning the team. The Redskins have won one playoff game since the 1999 season. Everyone knows that losing a ton of games won't lead to better attendance or happier fans. But there's more in play here.

    The Post story details many issues fans have had with the stadium, including traffic, parking and concessions. Snyder has said he already wants to replace the stadium, which was built in 1997. Selling fewer tickets could help with some of the issues. But teams will have a challenge attracting fans as the in-home experience gets better and makes people question dropping a lot of money to go to the stadium.

    “It’s just more fun to watch at home, without spending eight hours of your day,” Redskins fan Jen Riskus told the Post. “It used to be that everyone wanted to go with us to the game. Starting two or three years ago, we couldn’t get anyone to go with us. We couldn’t even give them away for free.”

    Riskus' family had six season tickets, but dropped two several years ago and another two this spring, the Post said.

    Riskus' comments aren't going to be unusual going forward. NFL teams will be trying to figure out how to optimize the in-stadium experience like the Redskins are. It would help Washington a lot if it started winning games too. But for now, as far as the stadium goes anyway, the team hopes less is more.

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    Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • When San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick appeared at his retirement news conference, it was shocking. He looked like he was half the size he was for his last NFL game.

    Not quite. But he lost 85 pounds in less than five months. That, of course, prompted speculation on how someone could quit the NFL and look like a new person in less than a half of a year.

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    Hardwick talked about the weight loss in a great story by Emily Kaplan of The MMQB, but the story has to begin with the weight gain. To maintain a body of about 300 pounds to play in the middle of an NFL offensive line, Hardwick's eating habits were mind-blowing. Here's what he told Kaplan he consumed every day:

    - At 4:45 a.m., a 600-calorie protein shake and a 20-gram protein bar
    - After working out, a 300-calorie Gatorade protein shake
    - A large "everything imaginable" smoothie after showering, which included "five eggs, sausage, and 32 ounces of whole milk"
    - Snack of mixed nuts while watching film
    - Two or three hours into meetings, another 700-calorie protein shake
    - After practice, another protein shake
    - For lunch, a salad with "as much protein as possible piled on top" and a lot of bread on the side
    - A normal dinner with normal portions with his family
    - About 90 minutes after dinner, a 32-ounce container of Greek yogurt with cereal on top
    - A pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, with 1,040 calories and 104 grams of sugar

    Not that anyone thought an NFL lineman maintaining a 300-pound body through massive amounts of calorie intake was healthy, but that's ridiculous. It gives a good insight into what many of the men playing in the trenches in the NFL have to do to maintain the type of body mass needed to survive in the sport. That has to take a terrible toll on one's body.

    Thankfully Harwick got his weight under control right after he suffered a season-ending injury in 2014 and decided to retire. Kaplan's story does a great job outlining how he cut way back on his food intake and exercised a lot to get his weight down.

    Everyone knows of the physical dangers associated with playing in the NFL. You can add simply eating as one of the pitfalls for many NFL players, too.

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    Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • The Cleveland Browns made 9-year-old Dylan Sutcliffe’s dream come true.

    Dylan, who was diagnosed with ataxia telangiectasia (A-T), a rare genetic disorder, told the Make-A-Wish Foundation that his dream was to play for the Browns. That became a reality as he signed a one-day contract on Tuesday morning.

    “We are excited to add another quality player to our roster as we prepare for the 2015 season,” said general manager Ray Farmer. “When we first connected with Dylan, it was clear he was a competitor who had all of the right attributes to be a contributor to our team.”

    Added head coach Mike Pettine: “Dylan is definitely a young man who has all of the ‘Play Like a Brown’ traits, particularly through his passion, toughness and relentlessness. We look forward to seeing him bring that energy to practice this afternoon.”

    Dylan, who watched film with Farmer and had a private coaching session with Pettine, is set to join the team on the practice field later in the day. He’ll also be given his own locker in the Browns locker room.

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    According to the Browns website, Dylan, a native of Lyndhurst, Ohio, was joined by his parents, Derek and Jennifer, his grandparents, Dennis and Mary, and his 4-year-old brother Sean. Sean also has A-T.

    Per the Browns, A-T affects many organs in the body and results in neurological issues.

    Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) is a primary immunodeficiency disease that affects a number of different organs in the body. A rare, recessive genetic disorder that affects between one out of every 40,000-100,000 children worldwide, A-T is a progressive ailment that is characterized by neurological problems, particularly abnormalities of balance, recurrent sinus and respiratory infections and dilated blood vessels in the eyes and on the surface of the skin. Patients also typically have immune system abnormalities and are very sensitive to the effects of radiation.

    Dylan’s big day is a part of the Browns’ “First and Ten” community service campaign, which celebrates its first anniversary this week. 

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    Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

  • It should probably go without saying that if you're not healthy enough to participate in NFL offseason practices, it's not the best idea to go all out in a charity dodgeball tournament.

    It shouldn't comes as a surprise that the San Diego Chargers weren't happy to see rookie linebacker Denzel Perryman, who has been sitting out practices with a hamstring injury, getting crazy during the Fox Sports San Diego Dodgeball Tournament along with many other Chargers.

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    The difference between Perryman and his teammates at the dodgeball tournament is that his teammates are healthy enough to participate in their day jobs.

    "It's been discussed," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "That's all I'm going to say. I've discussed it with him. That's it. You've got to get past these tests here before you do all of that stuff."

    You can picture the steam coming out of McCoy's ears as you read that.

    Perryman wasn't cleared for any team drills in the four OTA practices through Monday, when McCoy addressed Perryman's cameo with the Globo-Gym team.

    Perryman looked pretty spry on the dodgeball video, which McCoy watched according to the Union-Tribune. That's great, considering the Chargers were hoping to get an athletic run-stopper with their second-round pick, but they'd probably rather see that athleticism on the football field soon.

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    Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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