Fri May 24 07:45pm EDT
Former Denver Broncos center Tom Nalen made a surprising revelation this week, admitting that he tried to injure a defensive lineman's knee on a specific play during his career.
The act itself shouldn't be all that surprising. Nalen had a reputation as a dirty player through his career, as did many of Denver's linemen in the Broncos' zone-blocking era. That he tried ruining San Diego defensive lineman Igor Olshansky's knee on a play near the end of a game in 2006 shouldn't truly shock anyone.
The fact that he would announce it publicly is pretty startling, however.
"I wouldn’t consider myself a dirty player," Nalen said at a press conference for his election into the team's ring of fame. "I know people will bring up the Igor Olshansky play in 2006, but if people will look at the play before that and realize why I did what I did—and even on that play, I missed the cut. Definitely I wanted to blow his knee out on that play, because of what happened the play before. But is that dirty? I don’t know. It’s revenge, kind of."
Fri May 24 02:40pm EDT
The satire site SportsPickle.com had a great joke article the other day, titled "Brian Urlacher Retires as a Green Bay Packer: 'I just wanted to go out a winner.'"
If you understand or appreciate the Packers-Bears rivalry in the slightest, you know how funny and brilliant that is. And if you're basically any sane person, you also understand it was a joke.
Well, someone at NESN (New England Sports Network) didn't get it, which led to a joke on top of the original joke.
Fri May 24 01:40pm EDT
Some will tell you that the NFL is a height/weight/speed league, and St. Louis Rams undrafted rookie free agent Terrell Brown certainly has the first two nailed down. Brown, who played predominantly for Mississippi as a defensive lineman and will switch to the offensive line for Jeff Fisher, measured at 6-foot-10 and 388 pounds at his pro day on March 7. However, when the Rams signed him and weighed him in, it seemed that Brown had been spending extra time at the wrong training table.
"Actually, we weighed him in at 403," Fisher said on Thursday. "We had him in for the tryout, and he had some issues that we had to clear up from a physical standpoint. But he got that put behind us. We worked him out on both sides of the ball, defensive line and offensive line, and we felt like his best position would be right tackle. [Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau] said he'd love to have him. He's a defensive lineman that we've converted to offensive lineman."
Brown actually played on both sides of the ball in college, and Fisher also joked about using him to block kicks. And why not? As Gil Brandt of NFL.com said of him, Brown "just might be the biggest player we’ve reported on."
And as you can see from the video below, the Rams had best reinforce their folding chairs.
Fri May 24 01:11pm EDT
Admit it -- when you read this headline, you thought to yourself, "Wait a minute -- didn't the Chicago Bears already retire Mike Ditka's number at some point in time?" Well, no. But the organization will right that obvious wrong when the Bears take on the Dallas Cowboys in a Monday Night Football game on Dec. 9. Thus, nobody will ever wear #89 for the Bears again.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Ditka said via a team statement. “It’s something that I didn’t anticipate or expect, but it’s a great honor. When you think of all the great Bears players who have had their jerseys retired, I can’t say that there’s any greater honor. I’m very humbled by it and very thankful that [team chairman] George [McCaskey] made the decision to go ahead and do that because it’s really great."
Ditka was selected in the first round by the Bears in the 1961 NFL draft out of Pittsburgh and went on to define the franchise's tough-minded mentality as much as anyone who's ever been a part of it. He caught 316 passes for 4,503 yards and 34 touchdowns in six years for the Bears at a time when tight ends were generally afterthoughts. But contract negotiations with George Halas went south when Ditka famously said that Halas "throws nickels around like manhole covers," and he was traded to Philadelphia. His playing career ended in Dallas in 1972, and Tom Landry immediately hired him as an assistant coach. Halas brought Ditka back into the fold by hiring him as the Bears' head coach in 1982. And in 1985, Ditka's Bears won Super Bowl XX with one of the greatest defenses of all time. He became the first person in the modern NFL to win an NFL championship (1963) and a Super Bowl with the same team as a player and as a coach.
“Mike Ditka embodies the spirit of everything the Bears are about,” McCaskey said. “He’s an icon. The last time we won the championship Mike Ditka was our coach, and the last time we won before that Mike Ditka was a player. The organization knew it was the right thing to do. He revolutionized the tight end position as a player and grabbed an entire franchise by the throat as a head coach and willed it to victory in the Super Bowl. We have more retired numbers than any other team in the NFL. After this, we do not intend to retire any more numbers but we thought if there is going to be a last one, there is no more appropriate one than 89.”
In 1988, Ditka became the first tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It’s the consummation of a career," Ditka said of the Bears honor.
Fri May 24 12:59pm EDT
A Dallas County, Texas judge has ordered Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent to undergo further alcohol monitoring while he awaits a trial on an intoxicated manslaughter charge, Selwyn Crawford of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Brent was arrested by Irving, Texas police following a Dec. 8 accident that claimed the life of Jerry Brown, a linebacker on the Cowboys' practice squad and Brent's former teammate at the University of Illinois. Brent's blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit when his Mercedes S600 hit a curb, causing it to overturn and catch on fire.
Brent faces up to 20 years in prison and his trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 23. Brent is currently free on a $100,000 bond. Friday's hearing came about after the Dallas County District Attorney’s office filed a motion on Thursday to revoke Brent’s bond on the grounds that he had violated his bond by either drinking alcohol or being around it. Brent has been wearing a SCRAM bracelet on his ankle and failed to log data on 22 occasions.
Brent will continue to wear the SCRAM bracelet, which will now randomly sample for alcohol.
Fri May 24 12:14pm EDT
Hemingway once wrote that Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is also known as "Ngaje Ngai," or "House of God." Ray Lewis has spent enough time thanking God for all of his success over his career, so it makes perfect sense he'd head up to the Big Guy's house to say hello in person.
Lewis announced on Twitter that he'll be ascending the 19,000+-foot summit this summer:
— Ray Lewis (@raylewis) May 23, 2013
Lewis' "TackleKili" journey is intended to help raise awareness, and funds, to bring water to children in East Africa. It's a noble aim, and you can take part in TackleKili by clicking here.
Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa, and the largest freestanding mountain on the planet, so congrats to Lewis on attempting such a feat. We demand video of the Squirrel Dance at the summit.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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Thu May 23 08:30pm EDT
The news release from the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday, announcing the signing of undrafted free agent receiver Justin Veltung, was about as vanilla as you're going to get:
The Seattle Seahawks have signed wide receiver Justin Veltung, the team announced today.
Veltung, from nearby Puyallup, played 43 career games at the University of Idaho and collected 62 receptions for 901 yards with eight touchdowns and returned 80 kickoffs for 1,743 yards with two touchdowns in his career. He left Idaho as its all-time kickoff return leader (78) and kickoff return yardage leader (1,743), and 11th on its all-time all-purpose yardage list with 2,972 yards.
Veltung attended Seattle's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis from May 10-12.
So ... yeah. That's not why Veltung made Shutdown Corner today. He made Shutdown Corner today because he can rock a 56-inch (4-foot-8) standing box jump at 5-foot-11. To put that in perspective, NBA draft prospect DJ Stephens recently got a lot of attention for a 46-inch vertical leap while working out for the Brooklyn Nets. Box jumps and verticals are different, but still ... wow.
You can view Veltung's super-jump below:
Thu May 23 05:21pm EDT
Arizona Cardinals third-round safety Tyrann Mathieu has signed his first NFL contract, the team announced on Thursday.
Because Mathieu had failed multiple drug tests at LSU, where the "Honey Badger" was booted off the team before the 2012 season, the terms of Mathieu's contract were the subject of a mini-controversy following his selection in the 2013 NFL draft. Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported that the Cardinals could receive permission to test Mathieu for drugs on a weekly basis and that the deal might not contain any guaranteed money.
Mathieu's agent, Patrick Lawlor, quickly denied that his client would accept a deal that didn't include guaranteed money. As "Shutdown Corner" noted at the time, since the 2006 season, no rookie had signed a contract that contained zero guaranteed money. In that post, we suggested that the Cardinals and Lawlor could model Mathieu's contract after the rookie deal of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who had some failed drug tests while at Florida and fell to the Patriots in the fourth-round of the 2010 draft.
Hernandez was scheduled to receive a four-year, $2.29 million contract that included a guaranteed signing bonus of around $500,000. Instead, he received a $200,000 signing bonus, but his deal had a maximum value of $2.69 million as Hernandez could earn an additional $388,000 in weekly roster bonuses (for being on the 53-man roster, injured reserve or physically unable to perform list, i.e., not suspended for violating the substance abuse or personal conduct policies) during all four seasons of the contract, essentially exceeding the guaranteed amount dedicated to his draft slot.
According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, it appears as though the Cardinals and Mathieu took the same approach New England took with Hernandez in 2010.
Thu May 23 02:30pm EDT
Four and a half months after undergoing surgery on his right knee, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin was throwing to Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis while working alongside other players who are rehabilitating injuries during the team's OTA practices. (Garcon is recovering from chest surgery, Davis is coming off a torn Achilles.)
According to multiple reports out of Redskins Park, Griffin, who had surgery to repair tears of his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in January, was not moving at full-speed, but was able to plant his right leg and made "crisp" throws to his targets.
“The knee feels great," Griffin said. "I’m able to do all the stuff out there without any hesitation, so that’s the best part about it. I’m excited about that. It’s all about having that confidence, and if you put the work in you’ll have that confidence when you get back out there on the field. It’s about playing like you were never injured."
Whether or not Griffin will be available for the start of training camp has yet to be determined. Though Griffin is ahead of schedule in his rehab, the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year acknowledged that he needs to work on "explosive sprinting" and "cutting" before he will be ready to play. Griffin hopes to be ready for training camp, but has the proper perspective in that he knows he's entering Year 2 of what it is expected to be a very long and productive NFL career.
"Yes, I'm all-in for Week 1 but I'm also all-in the rest of my career," Griffin added.
Griffin also said that he has been taking "mental reps" and doesn't feel as though he needs offseason or preseason snaps to play against the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2013 regular season-opener. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan would not be as comfortable with that scenario.
Thu May 23 11:33am EDT
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree had surgery on Wednesday to fix the Achilles tendon he tore during one of the team's OTAs. But while 49ers fans may be depressed over the news, Crabtree sent out the above message using his Instagram account to put them in a more optimistic mood .
Like the Terminator, Crabtree says he will be back.
Posted Jul 2 2012
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Posted Jun 21 2012