Thu Aug 21 03:54pm EDT
When you're an NFL team named for a company that canned animal by-products under the slogan, "A meat market on your pantry shelf," and your fans wear cheese as a hat, your stadium better have a menu to match. Enter The Horse Collar, a 22-inch kielbasa covered in beer cheese and fried sauerkraut.
According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, this monstrosity will sell for $20 at Lambeau Field this winter, and as many astute observers have noted — it looks like a toilet seat after a tailgate. Or a horse collar even the least discerning steed would think twice about eating, especially former Colts lineman Jeff Saturday.
Or perhaps the chef drew inspiration from a Randy Moss touchdown celebration in Green Bay.
For the record, Green Bay ranked as the nation's 10th fattest city with approximately a third of its citizens weighing in as obese, according to a Gallup poll, and they're apparently making a push for top billing.
The Packers will also be unveiling a doughnut ice cream sandwich, which looks delicious, and the Bratchos — a bowl of brats, cheese and fried chips Rovell dubbed "Wisconsin in a bucket" — but The Horse Collar is the star of the show, coming in at a rough estimate of 10 billion calories.
"It's made for two," Lambeau Field's executive chef Heath Barbato told ESPN.com. "If you can tackle this one alone, you're a champ." Or currently suffering from a massive coronary.
Thu Aug 21 03:13pm EDT
Welcome to the latest Shutdown Corner podcast! On today's piping-hot episode, we have an NFC North breakdown:
• Can Detroit ever get out of its own way?
• Will Adrian Peterson ever see success again in Minnesota?
• How will the new-look Chicago Bears fare?
• What does a healthy Aaron Rodgers mean for Green Bay?
All this and more as part of the Shutdown Corner Podcast. Listen below, and while you're listening ...
The Shutdown Corner podcast is the product of Kevin Kaduk (@KevinKaduk), Frank Schwab (@YahooSchwab) and Jay Busbee (@JayBusbee). New episodes every Tuesday and Friday, with bonus episodes when you least expect it. Enjoy!
Thu Aug 21 12:45pm EDT
Levi's Stadium, the brand-new home of the San Francisco 49ers, might be one of the more fan-friendly spots in the NFL, but that kind of gets overshadowed if the turf is unusable for playing football.
The 49ers cut short their practice on Wednesday, attended by thousands of fans, because of safety concerns over the turf. According to CSN Bay Area, large divots in the turf kept coming up during practice, including when receiver Stevie Johnson fell hard on a normal out route.
According to CSN Bay Area, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh took his team off the Levi's Stadium field after Johnson's fall and the players finished practice at the team facility, which is right next to the stadium. Harbaugh took his team off the torn-up field less than an hour into practice.
“The 49ers organization would like to apologize to any fans who were inconvenienced by today’s practice ending early," the team said in a statement. "We have determined the appropriate measures necessary to have the field ready for Sunday and look forward to hosting the San Diego Chargers.”
A helicopter news crew found that the 49ers were already in the process of tearing out a large stretch of the turf, and will replace it before Sunday's game:
Again, if you're going to spend more than $1 billion on a new stadium, it's fantastic if the Wi-Fi works well but the turf needs to hold up longer than just one preseason game. The 49ers and Broncos played the first NFL game on the field last Sunday. The 49ers had a couple of practices on the field before Wednesday, there was a soccer match on the field and a concert too. That shouldn't wear out a turf, although there are challenges with sodding a brand new field. CSN Bay Area said the turf was discolored in patches from Sunday's game, and it hadn't taken root yet.
The turf was a Bermuda Bandera grass, which the team said required 50 percent less water than the average turf in the Bay Area. That's very eco-friendly, but it didn't hold up to much wear and tear.
As CSN Bay Area points out, Levi's Stadium is set to host Sunday's preseason game against the Chargers, two high-school games on Aug. 29 and an international soccer match on Sept. 6. We'll see how the turf holds up through that. The 49ers' home regular-season opener is Sept. 14.
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Thu Aug 21 11:52am EDT
Not surprisingly, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't hold up their team charter flight for Le'Veon Bell while he was having blood drawn following a marijuana possession arrest.
So not only did Bell, the team's second-year starting tailback, get charged with marijuana possession and likely a DUI (that's why he was having blood drawn), he had to book a flight, go through security with the common folk and squeeze into a regular airline seat on the way to Philadelphia for the team's preseason game on Thursday. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette confirmed that Bell wasn't on the team charter but made it to Philadelphia on his own. No word on whether Bell kept asking for extra dry roasted peanuts the entire flight to cure his munchies.
One would assume coach Mike Tomlin didn't send a limo to pick him up at the airport either.
Whatever one thinks about marijuana, whether it should be legal and if the NFL punishes those who use it too harshly, the Steelers can't be happy with Bell and fellow tailback LeGarrette Blount, who were both arrested on Wednesday and charged with marijuana possession. Blount made the team charter flight because he was charged only with possession, not a DUI like Bell.
The crime might not be that big of a deal, depending on your views, but the timing raises questions. The two running backs and a female companion were pulled over after an officer smelled the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle, according to ESPN.com. That came at about 1:30 p.m., less than two hours before the Steelers' flight for their game against the Eagles was to leave.
Again, no matter your views on marijuana, smoking it less than two hours before you have to get on a flight for your job is frowned upon by most companies.
If the Steelers let the NFL handle any discipline that comes from the case, it's unlikely to be settled this season. Even though the duo might avoid suspension for this season, if the team doesn't punish them itself, Steelers officials are likely to ask more than a few questions to their top two tailbacks about the incident.
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Thu Aug 21 08:12am EDT
All those little flags you see covering NFL preseason fields? You can blame the Seattle Seahawks for that, say Jerry Jones and DeAngelo Hall.
The Dallas Cowboys owner has seen the rash of penalties in the preseason — eight of the 19 penalties called against his team have been defensive holding calls — and has a good idea what the genesis of it has been.
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"A team like Seattle, who basically played a style that would risk a holding penalty as opposed to not having an aggressive defender back there," Jones said, per Fox Sports Southwest. "That got a lot of complaints, and you're seeing it [called] during the preseason."
Jones' son, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones, serves on the competition committee, so Jerry has some pretty good insight on this. (We might also remind Jones that his team has to go to Seattle in Week 6, and there might be a mention or two of this quote prior to that one.)
But Jones isn't the only one who says the Seahawks' aggressive style of play, which held opponents to an average of 172 passing yards per game and collected 28 interceptions last season, is the source for these mad flag-throwing zebras.
Hall, the Redskins corner who is among a number of Twitter combatants of Seahawks corner Richard Sherman, essentially echoed what Jones said about the Seahawks' style.
In the Super Bowl, the world got to see not only how talented the Seahawks are defensively but also — as Jones and Hall claim — how physical they are, and in their eyes how it goes beyond the letter of the law.
Oh, and another check of the schedule shows that one week before Jones and the Cowboys roll into Seattle, Hall and the Redskins will be hosting the Seahawks. Just an inkling: The Seahawks love the fact that teams are trying to cut them down and blame them for their method of success. Nothing like a little motivation heading into a title-defense season.
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Wed Aug 20 08:18pm EDT
Well, at least there are no concerns about lack of chemistry in the Pittsburgh Steelers' running backs meeting room.
Top two tailbacks Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were hanging out together after hours on Wednesday. A little bonding experience. The only problem was they had 20 grams of marijuana when they were pulled over by police, according to CBS Pittsburgh columnist Colin Dunlap. The backs were charged with possession of marijuana and as a bonus, Bell was charged with a DUI. An unidentified female with the two was also charged, Dunlap said.
That's not good. Though, given the appeals process if commissioner Roger Goodell wants to punish Bell and Blount, it's unlikely it would affect either for the 2014 season.
Blount has been in trouble before. In college at Oregon, he was suspended for most of the 2009 season after punching a Boise State player after a game. Despite being very talented, he went undrafted in 2010. Bell was the team's second-round pick a year ago and was looking to build off a solid rookie season as the Steelers' starter, with Blount signed from New England this offseason to be a powerful No. 2 option.
The Steelers usually don't take kindly to off-field issues, so it will be interesting to see if they take any action against their top two backs.
Related Steelers coverage:
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Wed Aug 20 06:25pm EDT
Cheerleaders across the NFL have begun filing suits against their teams and in some cases the NFL, charging an array of offenses including improper working conditions and below-minimum wage payment. Now the NFL has responded to a suit filed by two Oakland Raiderettes cheerleaders, and is declining responsibility for any claims.
The NFL's reasoning follows provisions that prohibit players from bringing antitrust provisions against their teams. The NFL, its attorneys argued in an Alameda County Superior Court filing, is "immune from all state Labor Code provisions," and this is a matter between the team and the Raiderettes alone.
"The NFL is not a party to, and has no authority to enforce the Raiderette Agreement," the NFL's attorneys wrote. "The NFL simply does not belong in this case."
The NFL is not disputing the facts of the case. However, attorneys argued, the NFL cannot be subject to a variety of different state labor codes, since it operates in so many different states. Sports leagues present a "unique" entity, the attorneys contended, and to subject the NFL to a variety of differing and possibly contradictory state legislation would "disrupt and have a significant impact on the whole league fabric, not just on the state's one or two teams."
Naturally, the plaintiffs' attorney termed that strategy a "legal absurdity" with "no logical limit." "If what they say is true, then no employee of any club team is afforded protections," said Drexel Bradshaw of San Francisco's Bradshaw & Associates, which is representing two of the cheerleaders bringing the suit. "That means anyone who is not a player - coaches, custodian, secretaries, groundskeepers, no one would be treated as a legitimate employee."
"Every employee of the Raiders is entitled to all appropriate protections under California law," countered Debra Fischer, one of the NFL's attorneys, in an email to NBC Bay Area. "The assumption of the plaintiffs' lawyer is that if they cannot successfully sue the NFL, then non-player team employees don't have such protections. Of course they do, from the team. The team is their employer, not the NFL."
There are two different suits involving Raiderettes, claiming that the cheerleaders worked in an environment where they needed to change in public and were subject to groping from inebriated fans. The cheerleaders were paid $125 a game, with no additional compensation. However, as of this season cheerleaders are paid $9 an hour, California's minimum wage, for all hours they work.
Wed Aug 20 04:59pm EDT
Jim Kelly's battle with cancer has been difficult but uplifting, with the Hall of Fame quarterback staying strong in his fight with support from former teammates, family, friends and fans at every step.
Wednesday brought a great bit of news: A follow-up exam on Tuesday showed no signs of sinus cancer, which Kelly had been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments for. According to the Associated Press, Dr. Peter Costantinosaid in a statement that treatments have "completely eliminated" any pain Kelly was experiencing and Kelly's level of function has "essentially returned to normal." Kelly had surgery to remove cancer from his jaw in June of 2013, but the cancer had spread to his sinus.
Jill Kelly, Jim's wife, said on Instagram that it's positive news but further tests are being done to make sure no more treatments are necessary.
"We have come away from our checkup visit in NYC encouraged and hopeful," Jill Kelly said on Instagram. "Preliminary scan results have necessitated the need for biopsies to be done in order to confirm what we hope to be true...that the cancer has been eradicated. We will not know the outcome until this procedure is completed. And so... We continue to PRAY, rejoice, live...wait and trust GOD who holds ALL things together. God, who is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End and every moment in between. In the midst of it all, I know He's got this. Thank you for praying! Thank you for holding us up during this time. We are so grateful for you! #prayersforjk #kellytough"
Kelly made an inspirational appearance at the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies, getting plenty of cheers from the many Bills fans who came to see receiver Andre Reed go into the Hall. Kelly also threw a pass to Reed when his old receiver's speech was done, which was a tremendous moment.
The outpouring of support that weekend showed how many people have been following Kelly's story and hoping for a full recovery. Wednesday brought some great news on that front.
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Wed Aug 20 04:05pm EDT
Fans aren't the only ones itching for the NFL season to get started. NFL players are starting to buck up, and it's high time to get them pointed at opposing teams. Otherwise, you have what happened Wednesday at Bills practice.
Bills center Eric Wood and undrafted rookie DE Bryan Johnson came to blows during a goal-line drill on Wednesday morning. And this was no ordinary melee; this one included pretty much the entire team, and ended with Wood threatening to kill a rookie. All in a day's work.
Here's the account of the incident from the Buffalo News:
Running back Fred Jackson had slithered into the end zone. The play was over, but the battle was not.
Before the fight could be broken up, tight end Scott Chandler had taken Johnson to the ground. Chandler's helmet also was torn off. An incensed Wood marched toward Johnson and yelled, "I'll f------ kill you!"
Video of the fight, taken from a monitor, is below:
Here's another angle, with some NSFW language, of Johnson (no. 67) stalking away from the fray:
Bills defensive end Jerry Evans was heard gloating about how three weeks in pads does strange things to a man. Bills head coach Doug Marrone was not as thrilled:
"It's not part of the game," he said. "Therefore, I don't want to speak about it. It hurts the integrity of our game the more we talk about it. That's how I feel about fighting."
Yeah, time to get the games rolling.
Wed Aug 20 03:28pm EDT
The Atlanta Falcons are the stars of this year's HBO show "Hard Knocks." The Atlanta Falcons are trying to rebuild their image into that of a tough, competent, playoff-capable team. HBO also features a show with flying dragons. It's up to you to decide how those three sentences fit together.
• Hope you weren't eating tacos when this episode started, because we begin inside Marquis Spruill's leg. He's getting reconstructive surgery done, and it's delicious. Combine this with Sam Baker's injury at the end of the episode, and you're looking at the actual human cost of football. This is where "Hard Knocks" stands head-and-shoulderpads above any other reality show; this is both true pain and these guys' livelihoods. There's no life off the island to go back to; the football field IS the island.
• We've settled into the groove of "Hard Knocks" now. The players and coaches are accustomed to the cameras, and we're starting to see which individuals are the most worthy of our attention. Top of the list: D-line coach Bryan Cox, who was an absolute lunatic in a Dolphins uniform and is only marginally more restrained with a clipboard. In the most quotable scene of the episode, Cox explains the age differential between his daughter (age 30) and himself (46) thusly: "I told y'all I started [interpersonal relations] when I was 10." (Related tip: do not ever, under any circumstances, Instagram-friend the daughter of your possibly insane coach, as one rookie did this week.)
• Last week featured Coach Mike Smith trying out some profanity; this week we had quarterback Matt Ryan having a go at throwing some f-bombs around. And while people like Cox can manipulate the f-word like a pitcher throwing fastballs, with complete control and authority, in the hands of a nice guy like Ryan it's like a little kid lifting a huge bag of dog food. He can handle it, barely, but man, is it awkward to watch. Ryan also trots out a Dad joke involving old men and pussy willows. We like Ryan an awful lot, but it's not because of his hard-edged street cred.
• There's some fun as the receivers go bowling, and we see that Harry Douglas apparently favors a bounce pass when bowling. Also, Roddy White cannot catch a dropped dollar bill. This seems like an ominous omen heading into the season.
• Houston's J.J. Watt enters the show like a Greek god and immediately shows Jake Matthews that the NFL is even tougher and more impossible than you'd believe. Matthews is a 6'5", 300-pound monster, and yet Watt has no trouble throwing him around. Matthews may one day be a top-flight NFL player, but he's going to have to crawl through a river of filth to get to that point.
• Watt's appearance precedes the Falcons' preseason game against the Texans, in which we get to see how our favorite reality-show players perform as football players. The answer? Not so great. Worst of all is poor backup QB TJ Yates, who completes some sweet passes to Houston. Problem is, he doesn't play for Houston anymore. Yates may have just thrown himself out of a job, and he knows it.
• We'll close with William Moore's freestylin'. Ladies and gentlemen, "Strong Safety."
See you next week.
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Posted Jun 21 2012