Tue Jun 18 06:30pm EDT
According to Pete Thamel and Greg Bedard of Sports Illustrated, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was questioned by Massachusetts State police investigating a possible homicide in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.
The body of an unidentified 27-year-old Boston man was discovered by a jogger in a clearing in a North Attleboro, Mass. industrial park at 5:30 p.m. ET on Monday. According to the Sports Illustrated report, the body was discovered less than a mile from Hernandez's home.
The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro, Mass. reports that police found a 2013 Chevrolet Suburban with Rhode Island license plates in connection with the possible homicide. The vehicle was rented from Enterprise and, according to Sports Illustrated, the rental of that vehicle is tied to Hernandez, who is not believed to be a suspect in the homicide.
ABC News reports that Hernandez has been "uncooperative" with police, who refer to the deceased as an "associate" of Hernandez. Bedard reported via his Twitter feed that police blocked off the driveway to Hernandez's home, and that two males (neither of whom was Hernandez) were taken away by police after they attempted to leave the house and questioned why the driveway was blocked.
North Attleboro is on the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border, approximately 40 miles to the southwest of Boston and a little over 10 miles southwest of the Patriots' headquarters in Foxboro.
Tue Jun 18 05:20pm EDT
The first drawings of the Atlanta Falcons' proposed new stadium put the team firmly in the forefront of facility design, to be sure. While most of the new stadiums in any outdoor sport go forward at reasonable" paces, the Falcons' idealized stadium looks like something out of the next century, and it's looking like it will happen.
According to the team's official site, the Falcons have completed a full conceptual design of the new stadium, which is estimated to be complete in time for the 2017 season. As you would expect from the designs, it will take a LOT of people to get this done. As the Falcons move forward on the actual schematic design stage, they announced that three different architectural firms will partner with the main agency, 360 Architecture.
“The conceptual design phase of the new stadium project has been a dynamic, interactive and collaborative process,” Falcons President & CEO Rich McKay said in a statement. “Our discussions and decisions have focused on creating an iconic asset for the city and state, a great game day experience for our fans and attendees of other events that will be held in the new stadium, and a connection with the surrounding communities. We look forward to moving into the more detailed design phase with our great partners at 360 Architecture and their recently-selected joint venture partners.”
The estimated cost for the facility is $1 billion, with public funding of $200 million, and the Falcons taking on all other costs. It will sit on the south side of the Georgia Dome, the Falcons' current home, which will be demolished when the new place is complete.
At a recent meeting with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s Stadium Development Committee, Bill Johnson of 360 Architecture talked about the concept of a more open stadium -- a "window on the world," so to speak. One challenge was the idea of a more open retractable roof, and Johnson said that the plan is to have “an open building that closes rather than a closed building that opens,” which may involve a glass-like material that can be transparent or opaque, depending on the weather.
Tue Jun 18 04:12pm EDT
The recent Twitter assertion from Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel that he "can't wait to leave College Station" has many wondering if it's time to scout him as a 2014 draft prospect. Manziel, the NCAA's leader in total yards in 2012 and the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, would certainly fly to the tops of many draft boards based on his athletic potential, and the fact that the NFL is far more hospitable to mobile quarterbacks than it has been. CBS' Mike Freeman recently spoke to a number of NFL personnel people about Manziel's prospects, and opinion is all over the place. One general manager told Freeman that Manziel could be a better pure passer than Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, or Russell Wilson, while one scout said that Manziel "has Canada written all over him."
Projecting a one-year college quarterback to the NFL is tough to do, but we thought it would be an interesting exercise to put Manziel under the same "Shutdown 50" Microscope we give the best draft prospects every year, just to see what the tape shows. As you would expect from a kid who racked up the awards and numbers in his first collegiate season, there are an equal number of ridiculously positive and alarmingly underdeveloped sides to his game.
Pros: As a pure runner, Manziel is as good as any quarterback who's come down the pike. He's not a straight-line sprinter like Michael Vick or Robert Griffin III, but he's a lot more quick and elusive than, say, Tim Tebow. He reads open gaps well on designed runs, follows his blocks patiently, shows excellent acceleration at the second level, and gets around fast linebackers and most safeties. His performance on the ground against Alabama was a real wake-up call for a lot of people -- if he could do that against a feeder stream of pro-level talent, what could he accomplish at the next level? Manziel does possess a positive improvisational quality to his game -- with his mobility and pure guts under fire (so to speak), he will make plays other quarterbacks simply can't, because it wouldn't occur to them, and they're not physically able.
Has a basic and developing ability to roll outside the pocket under duress and make deeper throws into tight coverage. While he doesn't have a proverbial cannon for an arm, Manziel is able to make most NFL throws. Not only is he mobile, but Manziel will also keep things alive in the pocket with very quick feet -- he uses this attribute to read the field until something opens up. Has an outstanding feel for play action and can use it in an advanced sense, implementing the fake throw/playfake combo at times. With time and work, Manziel's passing ability should be able to fit nearly any overall concept.
Cons: Though he is able to think outside the box if his rushing lanes are closed up the middle, Manziel has been directed to read run too quickly at the collegiate level, and he'll have to learn to process more in the NFL. Primarily, he's succeeded in an offense where he's his own draw option a lot of the time, and that leaves him ill-equipped to do what all NFL quarterbacks must do, no matter how mobile they are -- stand in the pocket, look the defense off, and make the killer stick throw. Has a hitchy, slightly over-exaggerated overhead delivery that works for quick passes, but has him struggling at times with longer throws and timing routes. Automatically looks to run rather than throw when the pocket breaks down, which will not serve him well in the NFL. Tends to push the ball and needs to develop more zip on his release. Must learn to consistently re-set and drop the hammer when he's flushed out of the pocket.
Tue Jun 18 01:43pm EDT
Shortly after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquired cornerback Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets, the team announced that Revis would wear his familiar No. 24 jersey, which had been worn by 2012 first-round safety Mark Barron.
Barron was willing to give up the No. 24 (and is now wearing No. 23), but what Revis would have to give up to get his old jersey number hadn't been disclosed. At his introductory press conference, all Revis would say about the matter was that he and Barron had discussed the No. 24.
According to Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch.com, Revis shelled out big money to get No. 24 from Barron.
"A well-placed source tells me that the amount Darrelle Revis paid to Mark Barron in order to get Barron to give up No. 24 was — get this — $50,000. Is that a record? Is it not even close? Has anyone been tracking these uni number transactions over the years?," Lukas wrote on Tuesday.
The details of most jersey number transactions are often unreleased. However, when wide receiver Chad Johnson (who was then going by Chad Ochocinco) was traded to the New England Patriots in 2011, he was reportedly willing to pay anything to tight end Aaron Hernandez for the No. 85 jersey. Hernandez ended up giving away the number for free. Way back in 2004, Clinton Portis agreed to pay Ifeanyi Ohalete $40,000 for the No. 26 jersey with the Washington Redskins. Portis stopped payments when Ohalete was cut by the Redskins the following year, which prompted a civil suit that was settled out of court.
Tue Jun 18 01:27pm EDT
Now that he's served a 30-day sentence, reduced to seven days, for showing disrespect in a Broward County, Fla. courtroom, former NFL receiver Chad Johnson would very much like to become current NFL receiver Chad Johnson. And so, the man who hasn't caught on with an NFL team since the Miami Dolphins cut him in the 2012 preseason, took to the airwaves to plead his case for one more shot at the NFL.
"I think everyone deserves a second chance," Johnson told "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts on Tuesday morning. "Many would say I might not deserve it. I would like to finish my career the right way. I don't want the last thing to be remembered -- 'Chad was cut from the Dolphins for an incident he had with his wife.' I would love to grace the football field one more time and to help some team. I'm not injured; there is nothing wrong with me. I've learned my lesson, especially after those past seven days.
"Situations like this usually break people," Johnson concluded. "I wouldn't allow anything to break me, so I try to continue to be my same positive self. And I think with me being Chad, it kind of made the judge feel I wasn't being serious about the situation. But trust me, I understood exactly what I did and lost two of the things I loved the most at that time.
Those two things would be his ex-wife, Evelyn Lozada, who divorced him after a domestic violence incident, and the game of football, which has seemed to divorce him just as definitively. Johnson last caught a pass in an NFL game for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, and while his arrest may have led to his decline with the Dolphins, Johnson's decline in a football sense most likely had a lot more to do with it. In that Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin's team was able to cheat its safeties up with impunity, despite the fact that this defense was facing Tom Brady, for two primary reasons: Tight end Rob Gronkowski was injured (though he played), and Johnson never acclimated to the offense Brady runs. The Patriots' offense has arguably the most complex system of option routes in the game, and Johnson -- who made his bones with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2001 through 2010 with a far less complex book -- couldn't keep up. It's safe to say that although it hasn't been that long since Johnson disappeared from the league in a relevant sense, the game has passed him by even more since then.
More than ever, today's NFL defenses are constructed with multiple fronts, extra pass defenders, and zone/man hybrid schemes which require precision from every quarterback/receiver combination. As Brady intimated in 2012, after Johnson was not welcomed back to his organization, that instant and unspoken trust between a quarterback and his targets is not an option -- it is a requirement.
Tue Jun 18 10:10am EDT
Could newly-retired soccer star David Beckham have a future as an NFL kicker if he so chooses? According to the Daily Mirror, there are some in the league who believe that the 38-year-old Beckham, who retired from the "beautiful game" in May, could use his shot-shaping skills to good effect with the other football. Reportedly, Beckham was offered a tryout with one NFL team through a call from an unknown scout.
A source in Hollywood apparently told the Mirror this:
“A couple of scouts felt that David has the potential to become a kicker in the NFL team, and one actually put a call into him for a trial. It is no secret that David is one of the best in the business when it comes to accuracy and length in his passing. And he has stood on the greatest stages to perform magnificent feats with his feet.
“Major league kickers can send the ball 40 yards straight - David has shown for the last 15 years he can do that week in week out. It was obvious too that if Becks took up the offer any NFL franchise would be interested as his international appeal would generate billions in PR and commercial opportunities.”
Beckham rejected the offer, saying that it wasn't right for him, though the source believes Beckham might change his mind at some point.
While it would be interesting to see what Beckham could do with the American version of football, our friends over at Yahoo's "World of Sport" blog rightly point out that Beckham's chances of becoming one of the 32 best kickers in the land are pretty slim.
Mon Jun 17 04:05pm EDT
UPDATE: The three radio hosts named below have now all been fired, per the station's website. Why this wasn't the station's first response is beyond us.
If you're the kind of nimrod who thinks it's humorous to make fun of people suffering from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) -- a disease that mercilessly takes away nearly every bodily function most of us take for granted ... well, Atlanta radio "talent" Nick Cellini, Chris Dimino, and Steak Shapiro might be your kinds of guys.
For the rest of us, however, what these three chuckleheads did on their show Monday morning for the 790 The Zone station was outrageous, unprofessional, and most certainly fireable. After former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, penned a guest column for SI.com's Peter King that went up Monday morning (Gleason penned that column with his eyes, by the way), Cellini and Shapiro went on the air and made fun of Gleason. Yes, they did.
According to Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com, the hosts set up a skit in which they pretended that Gleason was a caller to the show and set up a fake caller with a robotic voice, because the disease has robbed Gleason of his ability to speak. They then wondered, on the air, whether Gleason would be alive by next week. You can listen to the clip here if you so choose, though you should be aware that it's pretty tough to swallow.
In an obvious "CYA" move, Cellini apologized via his Twitter account.
My apologies to everyone. It was a stupid attempt at humor that backfired. Emphasis on stupid.
— Nick Cellini (@NickCellini) June 17, 2013
Cellini's first tweet about the subject, however, was quite a bit less apologetic:
The station first suspended all three hosts indefinitely, which was announced by way of a boilerplate statement that isn't really worth re-running here. What Rick Mack, Senior VP and General Manager of the station, should have been asking himself is why these two individuals still have jobs. When they were fired, hours after their suspension and the subsequent outrage their comments caused, the station issued this statement:
"We deeply regret the offensive programming that aired this morning on “Mayhem In The AM” on 790 The Zone, related to former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment. 790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content. We sincerely apologize to Mr. Gleason, his family and all those touched by ALS."
And since this happened on the Atlanta Falcons' flagship station, you can bet the Falcons franchise wasn't happy about it at all. The Falcons' statement:
“The Falcons are disappointed in the comments made about former Saints player Steve Gleason on a local Atlanta radio station Monday morning. The content concerning Mr. Gleason was completely inappropriate and is not representative of the views of the Falcons organization, nor does it represent the way we conduct our business on and off the field. To single out Steve the way he was this morning is totally lacking in taste and discretion.”
As Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com so eloquently wrote today, the station needed to make this right by firing the hosts, reaching out to Gleason with a public and heartfelt apology (if they can muster one up), and making a sizable donation to Team Gleason, which Gleason and his family established to help others suffering from ALS. (You may do so here, if you would like).
Nothing else will do.
Mon Jun 17 02:55pm EDT
Wade Davis played for three different NFL teams, and retired in 2003. In June of 2012, he came out, joining a small group of professional athletes who are publicly gay. This weekend, Davis attended Nike's LGBT Sports Summit, and talked to Shutdown Corner about the past year, Jason Collins, and helping youth.
Shutdown Corner: In the past year, NBA player Jason Collins and WNBA star Brittney Griner both came out. Other athletes have, too. Do you feel a change in climate in that one year?
Wade Davis: It feels different because there are so many conversations around LGBTQ athletes in sports. There's so many great organizations and people who are really making it their priority to make sure young people have spaces in sports that are accessible to people of all genders and sexualities. Also, there are so many athletes of all races and sexualities that are speaking out to add their voices to make sure that even pro athletes feel safe in sports.
SC: What was behind your decision to come out?
WD: There were two things. One, I was ready. I was in a point in my life where I knew enough about myself. I loved myself. There was so much self-hatred I lived with that I had to unlearn. Two, I was working with LGBTQ youth, and they really inspired me everyday. Just living in their truth and exhibiting so much courage that I was like, ya know, if these people can do this under insurmountable odds, an ex-NFL player who is draped privilege? I can also do it. I can also use the platform that was given to me to really share their stories.
SC: Now that it's been a year, how do you look back and judge the reaction?
WD: I would say 99 percent of the feedback was amazing. From ex-teammates, to college teammates, to high school teammates, they were all truly amazing. What I found kinda funny was that they were all a little bit mad at me. They said, 'Why didn't you tell me before? I would have loved you regardless, and I would have loved the opportunity to prove that to you. That I'd view you no different.'
Mon Jun 17 01:31pm EDT
After a brief hiatus, our good buddy Greg Cosell of NFL Films, ESPN's NFL Matchup, and Shutdown Corner is back to talk a little football. And with more than a month passed since the draft, we thought it would be interesting to review that selection process by division, now that teams have given a bit of insight into how their new players will be used. We've already covered the NFC West, and we'll move to the other conference's Western division for a look at how the Broncos, Chiefs, Raiders, and Chargers did with their selections.
A few words of wisdom from Mr. Cosell:
On Denver Broncos second-round pick RB Montee Ball: "I liked him in tape. He was such a volume runner in college -- you wouldn't call him spectacular, but I came away believing that he was a very solid player. A very loose-hipped kid -- very naturally smooth. He's a gliding runner with sharp change of direction. He didn't hesitate at all -- he was decisive as a downhill runner and he ran a lot of power, because that's what Wisconsin does. He also ran a lot of zone schemes, so he's very familiar with NFL rushing concepts. He was a player I liked the more I watched him, and I think he's a really good fit in Denver."
On Kansas City Chiefs second-round TE Travis Kelce: "He's an NFL tight end -- he's got that athleticism and movement. He's fluid -- I wouldn't call him explosive, but how many tight ends do we really say that about? They tend to be more measured and methodical in their movements, but he was fluid. I thought there was a toughness to him as well, and he was deceptive as a route-runner. He can threaten the vertical seam, there's no question. Look -- we know about the two-tight end element in the NFL now. A lot of teams are going that way, and that's tougher for defensive coordinators to defend that three receivers, because it gives the defense more questions that need to be answered."
Mon Jun 17 01:19pm EDT
Last summer, HBO and NFL films had a very difficult time finding an NFL team that was willing to let film crews into their facility to document training camp for the popular "Hard Knocks" series. The Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins passed on the series before the Miami Dolphins and first-year head coach Joe Philbin agreed to be the featured franchise.
Finding a subject 2013 was easier as HBO and NFL Films announced on Monday that the Cincinnati Bengals will appear on "Hard Knocks" for the second time in the last five years.
"We are delighted that Hard Knocks will be returning this summer and excited for our return to the AFC Central and the Cincinnati Bengals franchise," said Ken Hershman, president of HBO Sports. "With playoff appearances three of the past four seasons, the Bengals have built a terrific young team and we are extremely grateful to both Coach Marvin Lewis and the entire organization for agreeing to participate. The series has become captivating television with appeal far beyond the hardcore football fan. Hard Knocks is a cornerstone franchise at HBO Sports."
The Bengals won the AFC North after appearing on "Hard Knocks" prior to the 2009 season, but that was not a factor in the team's decision to let camera crews document their training camp.
"Some people say, 'Well, you won the division the last time you did this; is that a reason for doing it again?'," head coach Marvin Lewis said. "I really don't think that matters or figures much into the decision. Every day, every time is a new experience. As coaches and players, we just go into it knowing we have to do our jobs to the utmost. We have a grueling schedule, and expectations are very high, particularly among ourselves.
"We've got to take a workmanlike attitude from the very start. Hard Knocks is another element you have to be prepared to deal with. The NFL Films people are totally professional, so that's not a worry, but it's not like a normal day. One thing I did see as a positive last time was exposing our players to another group of people who are working hard every day the way we need to work. The diligence and the effort of the people on-site is very impressive."
News that the Bengals were the team to appear on this year's edition of "Hard Knocks" was first tweeted by Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News on Friday. That tweet quickly disappeared, but Domowitch is close enough to the Mt. Laurel, New Jersey-based NFL Films for his report to have the utmost of credibility. Confirmation would come later on Friday evening from Joe Reedy, who provides blanket coverage of the Bengals for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Reedy reported that official announcement was "likely to happen" next week.
Less than 72 hours later, that announcement has been made. The first episode of "Hard Knocks" will premier on Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 10 p.m. ET and the finale will be broadcast on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
Posted Jul 2 2012
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Posted Jun 21 2012