Monday, April 16, 2018

What is the NFL teaching women and minorities about their place in the sport?

As the 2018 offseason workouts begin one face is sadly familiar in its absence from any team's roster.

Free agent QB Colin Kaepernick has yet to find a home with any team in the league since 2016. While Kaepernick has gone on to off-field recognition for his social justice work including winning GQ Man of the Year and donating more than $1 million from his charity, the league has found themselves at odds with his stance against social injustice.

Now this offseason his former teammate, Eric Reid finds himself blackballed from the league as well. Bengals recently had a meeting with Reid where team owner Mike Brown did little more than inform Reid that his team will not allow its players to protest during the National Anthem. The team neither signed him nor even worked him out.

Meanwhile the Seahawks recently postponed a planned meeting with Colin Kaepernick after asking the young star to clarify his stance on the anthem protest moving forward. The team informed him they would meet with him at a later date once he knew his plans. This is the same team that last season brought Kaepernick in for a workout and informed him that they wouldn't sign him because he deserved to be a starter in the league.

The message the league is sending is loud and clear that standing up against social injustice and discrimination will not be tolerated a clear signal to both players and their African American fans.

At the same time, what message is the league sending to their female fans?

49ers linebacker Reuben Foster has been charged with multiple domestic violence and weapons charges after an incident involving his then girlfriend in February. The team and the league have yet to merit out any punishment to Foster for the incident.

The league's lax discipline on domestic violence is not a new phenomenon. While the Bengals admonished Reid for his social justice stance, the team didn't fail to draft running back Joe Mixon last season despite video evidence of him punching a woman in the face while in college.

Former Giants kicker Josh Brown only faced additional suspension after the league received backlash for only suspending him one game after Brown openly admitted to assaulting his wife.

Former NFL linebacker turned MMA fighter Greg Hardy was given a second chance in the league despite a brutal assault against a former girlfriend. While his second chance fizzled out in Dallas, the fact he was given another opportunity speaks volumes.

Most troubling of all, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was accused of multiple incidents of domestic violence against his wife but never faced any disciplinary action from the team or the league despite multiple protective orders and reports. His wife eventually filed for divorce in 2015.

While owners and the league have been debating how to handle the National Anthem and players that want to continue to demonstrate, the league has not been as quick to address the uneven discipline dolled out for those who commit violence against women. This is a massive issue for a league who has spent years and large sums of money to bring in more female viewers with initiatives and even clothing lines geared specifically to female fans. However, their lack of a consistent message against domestic violence and the perpetrators who commit it stand in stark contrast to the message they are trying to convey. This message is even further corrupted when African Americans see the league as vehemently opposed to players protesting social inequality but unwilling to take a hard line stance against domestic violence.

If a player can be blackballed for standing up to social issues, what is stopping the NFL from doing the same to those who commit violence against women? For now the league is sending a clear message that domestic violence is acceptable but being socially conscious and taking a stance is not.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Round 2 and 3 2017 NFL Draft

Round 2

33. Green Bay Packers- Kevin King CB Washington
34. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Seahawks)- Cam Robinson OT Alabama
35. Seattle Seahawks (from Jaguars)- Malik McDowell DT Michigan State
36. Arizona Cardinals (from Bears)- Budda Baker Safety Washington
37. Buffalo Bills (from Rams)- Zay Jones WR East Carolina
38. Los Angeles Chargers- Forrest Lamp Guard Western Kentucky
39. New York Jets- Marcus May Safety Florida
40.  Carolina Panthers- Curtis Samuel RB Ohio State
41. Minnesota Vikings (from Bengals)- Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
42. New Orleans Saints- Marcus Williams Safety Utah
43. Philadelphia Eagles- Sidney Jones CB Washington
44. Los Angeles Rams- Gerald Everett TE South Alabama
45. Chicago Bears- Adam Shaheen TE Ashland
46. Indianapolis Colts- Quincy Wilson CB Florida
47. Baltimore Ravens- Tyus Bowser LB Houston
48. Cincinnati Bengals- Joe Mixon RB Oklahoma
49. Washington Redskins- Ryan Anderson LB Alabama
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Justin Evans Safety Texas AM
51. Denver Broncos- DeMarcus Walker DE Florida State
52. Cleveland Browns- DeShone Kizer QB Notre Dame
53. Detroit Lions- Teez Tabor Cornerback Florida
54. Miami Dolphins- Raekwon McMillan LB Ohio State
55. New York Giants- Dalvin Tomlinson DT Alabama
56. Oakland Raiders- Obi Melifonwu Safety UConn
57. Houston Texans- Zach Cunningham LB Vanderbilt
58. Seattle Seahawks- Ethan Pocic Center LSU
59. Kansas City Chiefs- Tanoh Kpassagnon DE Villanova 
60. Dallas Cowboys- Chidobe Awuzie CB Colorado
61. Green Bay Packers- Josh Jones Safety NC State
62. Pittsburgh Steelers- JuJu Smith Schuster WR USC
63. Buffalo Bills- Dion Dawkins OT Temple
64. Carolina Panthers- Taylor Moton OT Western Michigan

Round 3

65. Cleveland Browns- Larry Ogubjobi DT Charlton
66. San Francisco 49ers- Ahkello Witherspoon CB Colorado
67. New Orleans Saints- Alvin Kamara RB Tennessee
68. Jacksonville Jaguars- Dawuane Smoot DE Illinois
69. Los Angeles Rams- Cooper Kupp WR Eastern Washington
70. Minnesota Vikings- Pat Elflein Center Ohio State
71. Los Angeles Chargers- Dan Feeney Guard Indiana
72. Tennessee Titans- Taywan Taylor WR Western Kentucky
73. Cincinnati Bengals- Jordan Willis Kansas State
74. Baltimore Ravens- Chris Wormley DE Michigan
75. Atlanta Falcons- Duke Riley LB LSU
76. New Orleans Saints- Alex Anzalone LB Florida
77. Carolina Panthers- Daeshon Hall Texas AM
78. Baltimore Ravens- Tim Williams LB Alabama
79. New York Jets-ArDarius Stewart WR Alabama
80. Indianapolis Colts- Tarell Bashan DE Ohio
81. Washington Redskins- Fabian Moreau CB UCLA
82. Denver Broncos- Carlos Henderson WR Louisiana Tech
83. New England Patriots- Derek Rivers DE Youngstown State
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Chris Godwin WR Penn State
85. New England Patriots (from Lions)- Antonio Garcia OT Troy
86. Kansas City Chiefs (from Viking)- Kareem Hunt RB Toledo
87. New York Giants- Davis Webb QB California
88. Oakland Raiders- Eddie Vanderdoes DT UCLA
89. Houston Texans- D'Onta Foreman RB Texas
90. Seattle Seahawks-Shaquill Griffin CB UCF
91. Los Angeles Rams- John Johnson Safety Boston College
92. Dallas Cowboys- Jourdan Lewis CB Michigan
93. Green Bay Packers- Montravius Adams DT Auburn
94. Pittsburgh Steelers- Cameron Sutton CB Tennessee
95. Seattle Seahawks- Delano Hill Safety Michigan
96. Detroit Lions- Kenny Golladay WR Northern Illinois
97. Miami Dolphins- Cordrea Tankersley CB Clemson
98. Arizona Cardinals- Chad Williams WR Grambling
99. Philadelphia Eagles- Rasul Douglas CB West Virginia
100. Tennessee Titans- Jonnu Smith TE Florida International
101. Denver Broncos- Brendan Langley CB Lamar
102. Seattle Seahawks- Nazair Jones DT UNC
103. New Orleans Saints- Trey Hendrickson DE Florida Atlantic
104. San Francisco 49ers- CJ Beathard QB Iowa
105. Pittsburgh Steelers- James Conner RB Pittsburgh
106. Seattle Seahawks- Amara Darboh WR Michigan
107. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Kendell Beckwith LB LSU

Thursday, April 27, 2017

First Round 2017 NFL Draft

Here are the draft picks from the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft:

1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett DE Texas AM
2. Chicago Bears (from 49ers)- Mitchell Trubisky QB UNC
3. San Francisco 49ers (from Bears)- Solomon Thomas DE Stanford
4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette RB LSU
5. Tennessee Titans- Corey Davis WR Western Michigan
6. New York Jets- Jamal Adams Safety LSU
7. Los Angeles Chargers- Mike Williams WR Clemson
8. Carolina Panthers- Christian McCaffrey RB Stanford 
9. Cincinnati Bengals- John Ross WR Washington 
10. Kansas City Chiefs (from Bills)-  Patrick Mahomes II QB Texas Tech
11. New Orleans Saints- Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
12. Houston Texans (from Browns)- DeShaun Watson QB Clemson 
13. Arizona Cardinals- Haason Reddick LB Temple
14. Philadelphia Eagles- Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
15. Indianapolis Colts- Malik Hooker Safety Ohio State
16. Baltimore Ravens- Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama 
17. Washington Redskins- Jonathan Allen DE Alabama 
18. Tennessee Titans- Adoree Jackson CB USC
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- OJ Howard TE Alabama 
20. Denver Broncos- Garrett Bolles OT Utah
21. Detroit Lions- Jarrad Davis LB Florida 
22. Miami Dolphins- Charles Harris DE Missouri 
23. New York Giants- Evan Engram TE Ole Miss
24. Oakland Raiders- Gareon Conley CB Ohio State
25. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)- Jabrill Peppers Safety Michigan
26. Atlanta Falcons (from Seahawks)-  Takkarist McKinley DE UCLA
27. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs)- Tre'Davious White CB LSU
28. Dallas Cowboys- Taco Charlton DE Michigan 
29. Cleveland Browns (from Packers)- David Njoku TE Miami
30. Pittsburgh Steelers- T.J. Watt LB Wisconsin 
31. San Francisco 49ers (from Seahawks)- Reuben Foster LB Alabama 
32. New Orleans Saints- Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

How the draft is hurting some free agents

Every year as the end of free agency winds down and the clock starts to tick towards the draft, several high profile free agents will find themselves without a new team. This is the case again this year with free agents like Adrian Peterson and Jay Cutler not finding new homes.

Part of this may stem from what people may perceive will be the asking price of such high profile free agents. Adrian Peterson has been the starting running back for the Vikings for nine seasons though in recent years has gone through off-field issues and injury. For his career he has rushed for 11,747 yards and 82 touchdowns, but turned 32 on March 21 which in running back terms is considered old. The Vikings did not exercise the option to retain Peterson this season and the veteran back has been a free agent ever since. Peterson recently quelled rumors of an asking price of $8-$10 million and stated he only wished to play for a contender. Despite meeting with teams like the Patriots, no team has yet to sign him.

Jay Cutler has been a starting quarterback in the NFL since the end of the 2006 season. The 33-year-old has played for both the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears in that time. Cutler has been known to be a gunslinger, being at times flashy and brilliant and atrocious and unpredictable. For his career 32,467 yards, 208 passing touchdowns, nine rushing touchdowns but also 146 interceptions. Injuries have mounted over the last few seasons and his often blase attitude gives the impression of a quarterback who doesn't lack the conviction to win the big game. The Bears released Cutler on the first day of free agency and no team has so much as hinted at signing him.

The problem with both of these players isn't just their high profile careers and age, but also the timing. With the 2017 NFL Draft fast approaching, many teams are in a wait and see mode. Players left in free agency limbo are likely to stay that way until after the draft. Not because of their lack of skill but because a younger prospect is easier to develop than an established veteran. While Peterson is likely to find a home shortly after the draft, Cutler's future is uncertain at best. There is a chance he will retire. There is a chance that a quarterback hungry team like the Texans will make a move to acquire him. There is a chance he will remain unsigned until an injury sidelines a starting quarterback sometime later in the season. Whatever the case, neither Peterson nor Cutler are likely to be signed as a starter for any team. Given their ages and injury history both will likely find a home as a backup with limited numbers next season.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Let's call this Kaepernick situation what it is..blacklisting

As the weeks of the offseason drag on and numerous quarterbacks find their way to new teams in the backup or starter role, one quarterback has remained noticeably absent from any free agent signings, Colin Kaepernick. While speculation remains on where Jay Cutler will end up or if he'll just retire, the rumblings on Kaepernick remain stedfast that no team is interested in his services.

How far removed we are from the young sensation who wowed the NFL back in 2012 and 2013. Jim Harbaugh took a chance starting Kaep after Alex Smith went down with a concussion. Kaepernick would lead the team all the way to the Super Bowl that year. The following season he lead the team to the NFC Championship where the team lost to the Seahawks. When the team struggled in 2014, Harbaugh was fired and Kaepernick lost his biggest supporter and ally. Halfway through the next season he would also lose his starting job. He requested to be traded before the 2016 season, a request that was denied by the 49ers, and regained his starting job in week six of the 2016 season. On March 3, 2017, Kaepernick opted out of his contract to become a free agent.

During the 2016 season, Kaepernick began to silently protest by sitting during the National Anthem. His reasoning was simple, why should he stand to celebrate a country that routinely disenfranchises people of color? This silent protest did not go unnoticed and received severe and critical backlash across the league and the media. Several unnamed team executives expressed displeasure and outrage at Kaepernick's bold assertion. Many made it clear that Kaepernick would not be welcome to play on their team. So now with Kaep being a free agent, no team has made the move to sign him. Not one. Even teams in desperate need of a quality starter or even backup have avoided contacting him.

So begins the spin job of the league. Reports surfacing that Kaepernick wants more than $9-$10 million to play for a team despite other reports claiming this assertion is false. Multiple reports that Kaepernick is unsigned because he is not a good quarterback and even reports that Kaepernick was not a good teammate despite winning the Len Eshmont Award for courage in 2016 as voted on by his teammates. At every turn even sport pundit and every football analyst has given their reasons revealed to them by unnamed sources and executives to why Kaepernick remains unsigned. Even President Trump had something to say, claiming he was the reason for Kaep's unemployment.

Not one reporter, pundit, analyst, writer, etc. have claimed to have spoken to Kaepernick directly to hear what he has actually wanted in compensation on incentives to play for another team. Not a single article names Kaepernick as their souce for their assertions. All claim to have sources "inside the league", but none with the player himself. This poses a problem since the same claims were made about running back Adrian Peterson until Peterson himself took to Instagram and dispelled all rumors of him requesting $8 million to play for a team next year.

But all of these stories aside, let's be clear that Kaepernick's protest has gotten him blacklisted by the league. This would not be the first time a prominent professional athlete has found himself being punished for being vocal in his protest of an unjust system. Muhammad Ali was once banned from boxing for three years and had his title stripped because of his protest against the Vietnam War. Though later lauded as a national hero, Ali was seen at the time as a troublemaker. America does not take kindly to those who draw attention to their inequities and injustices in particular towards people of color. Getting blacklisted and called a distraction to your sport is not a new strategy.

Whatever nonsense you believe, some facts are evident. Kaepernick has a passer rating of 88.9 and a 4-2 playoff record for his NFL career. This despite 3 regime and offensive scheme changes. His protest aside, Kaepernick has had some struggles with injury that affected his accuracy and his weight, but not his ability to efficiently and effectively manage and win games even when surrounded by a poor offense and ineffective coaching. If given a chance, Kaepernick could be a solid backup for any team in the league.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Super Bowl Prediction

Atlanta Falcons (12-5) vs New England Patriots (15-2)

Falcons come in on a six game winning streak. The offense ranked first in points per game in 2016 scoring an average of 33.8 points. This came behind the strong play of QB Matt Ryan who had a passer rating of 117.1 with 38 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Wide receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu put on stellar performances combining for 10 touchdowns during the season. Add to this the potent rushing attack behind running backs Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman who combined for 19 touchdowns during the season. While the defense finished ranked 15th against the run, they made marked improvement through the final six games of the season.

Patriots come in off an eight game winning streak. The offense ranked third in points per game and fourth in yards per game. QB Tom Brady finished 2016 with a passer rating of 112.2 completing 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The team has been able to overcome the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski with outstanding performances from wide receivers Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan. Running back LeGarrette Blount rushed for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2016. The defense finished 2016 ranked first in scoring defense and third in rushing yards allowed per game.

These two teams are pretty evenly matched on offense which means the game will come down to turnovers and the power of the defense to stop the scoring. Patriots lead the series matchup 7-6 and will get their fifth Super Bowl win on Sunday. Prediction: Patriots

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How the Rooney Rule has helped bring record number of minority head coaches for 2017

The Rooney Rule is a NFL policy that requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. The rule is named after Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the league's diversity committee. It was created as a reaction to the 2002 firings of head coaches Tony Dungy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dennis Green of the Minnesota Vikings. The rule has seen an increase of minority hires from six percent prior to its inception to 22 percent. The rule was expanded in 2009 to include front office executives including general managers.

2017 will see a record number of minority head coaches leading NFL teams. This year eight teams will have a minority head coach. Marvin Lewis with the Cincinnati Bengals, Todd Bowles with the New York Jets, Mike Tomlin with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jim Caldwell with the Detroit Lions, Hue Jackson with the Cleveland Browns and Ron Rivera with the Carolina Panthers will be joined by Anthony Lynn with the Los Angeles Chargers and Vance Joseph of the Denver Broncos.

On top of the eight head coaches are the six African American general managers- Doug Whaley with the Buffalo Bills, Rick Smith with the Houston Texans, Jerry Reese with the New York Giants, Reggie McKenzie with the Oakland Raiders, Ozzie Newsome with the Baltimore Ravens and Chris Grier with the Miami Dolphins.

While this is a record number, the fact is that minority hires are still severely lacking and diversity in ownership is nearly nonexistent. While two-thirds of NFL players are African American, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is the only minority to be the owner of a NFL franchise and since the Rooney Rule does not apply to ownership, this fact is likely to remain unchanged. Eight head coaches and six general managers may be minorities, the remaining 24 head coaches and 26 general managers still remain white. The league is also more likely to give white head coaches second chances even when minority head coaches have better winning percentages than their white counterparts.While we can applaud the efforts the league has made to improve diversity in the coaching ranks, the NFL has a long way to go to reflect the faces of its players and viewers and give equal opportunity to minorities.