January 2017 - Football Wiretap

Steelers Want To Keep Antonio Brown Long-Term

Jan 31, 2017 5:11 PM

The Pittsburgh Steelers would like to keep Antonio Brown long-term.

“Antonio is a good guy, a good person,” Art Rooney II said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I enjoy him as a personal relationship, and I think he’s somebody that his teammates like to have him on the team. He’s a hard worker, so he’s another player we’re hoping to address his contract and have him here for the long term.”

Brown has one more season on his current deal.

Josh Alper/Pro Football Talk

Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers, Misc Rumor

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NFL Continues To Sanitize Super Bowl Transcripts

Jan 31, 2017 2:32 PM

Reporters asked members of the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons a number of questions about Donald Trump and Roger Goodell during Monday's media availability.

But the NFL excluded those references from transcripts they released.

Reporters were certainly curious, given the nation’s political climate and the controversy over the suspension of Tom Brady for four games as a result of the “Deflategate” scandal, in which the league said he conspired to manipulate footballs to his advantage in a conference championship game two years ago.

Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ owner, Robert K. Kraft, also happen to be friends of the president, whose actions, including his temporary ban on refugees and restrictions on immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries, have been highly controversial.

Of the transcripts provided for the interviews with 26 of the Patriots players and coaches, the word “Trump” does not appear in any of them, and the word “president” appears only in reference to team presidents, despite reporters’ having asked about them. The word “Goodell” appears once.

Brady was asked about Trump three times and Goodell four times, and he sidestepped the questions each time.

“I’m not talking politics at all,” Brady said after being asked about his relationship with the president. When asked why, he added, “I just want to focus on the positive aspects of this game and my teammates and the reasons why we’re here.”

A spokesman for the N.F.L., Brian McCarthy, said the transcripts of the one-hour media sessions, which are typically compiled by public-relations staff from the teams involved, were not intended to be a complete account of the interviews. 

The league has sanitized its Super Bowl transcripts in past years, too. Two years ago, for instance, the league’s transcript of interviews with the Seattle Seahawks’ outspoken cornerback, Richard Sherman, did not include his answers to questions about Kraft or about Goodell and his handling of the domestic violence case involving the Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.

Benjamin Hoffman, Ken Belson/New York Times

Tags: Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots

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Report Questions NFL's Commitment To New Domestic Violence Policy

Jan 31, 2017 11:50 AM

The NFL appears to have enforced its “baseline” six-game suspension against just two of 18 players publicly linked to domestic violence allegations since Roger Goodell announced the new policy in 2014.

Of the two NFL players known to have actually received six-game suspensions linked to abuse claims since August 2014, one was already a free agent and the other was former Lions offensive lineman Rodney Austin. 

“The NFL is definitely inconsistent,” says Austin, who was found guilty on domestic violence charges after a fight with his girlfriend, though Austin disputes her account of events. Austin believes the NFL's investigation into Ezekiel Elliott remained conveniently incomplete through the playoffs.

“They want to protect their investments. They want to protect their stars who are either coming into or are in the prime of their career. Zeke is out there playing and I’m not.”

 

For the seven players known to have been suspended after domestic violence-related allegations since late August 2014, it has taken an average of 11 months from the time of allegation to a public NFL conclusion. In some cases, the league's independent inquiries have taken longer to conclude than associated criminal proceedings.

Outsiders skeptical of the NFL’s commitment to the new policy since it was announced have continued to demand answers and question the credibility of the league’s leadership on domestic violence.

Helen A. Drew, a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law who has studied the NFL’s policies extensively, says the Rice backlash “should have been the wake-up call of a lifetime.” She continued:

"Your credibility to your fanbase and employees is suspect if you aren’t transparent. Whether rightly or wrongly, people are going to question what is going on behind the scenes. If you’re doing what you say you do, why don’t we see it?"

“For the suspensions we have seen, we’ve seen less than six games, too,” says Daniel Werly, a sports attorney who has represented professional players and leagues. “We don’t know why the NFL is doing that—the application of the new policy has been almost nonexistent.”

“We are supposed to believe those investigative reports are totally objective,” says Roger Abrams, a law professor at Northeastern University. “I can’t believe that’s the case. Who makes the ultimate decision? Roger Goodell is not neutral on domestic violence. He runs a $13-billion-a-year business.”

Mary Pilon/Bleacher Report

Tags: Suspension

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Goldman Sachs Considering Exit From Raiders' Vegas Deal

Jan 31, 2017 11:24 AM

Goldman Sachs is re-evaluating its relationship with the Oakland Raiders' planned deal in Las Vegas following the withdraw of Sheldon Adelson from the project.

Adelson had previously committed $650 million to get the $1.9 billion project completed but announced the removal of his stake in a statement Monday.

Adelson has a longstanding business relationship with Goldman Sachs.

A source told ESPN's Darren Rovell that the Raiders' relocation application to the NFL filed on Jan. 19 also did not include Adelson.

Goldman Sachs had been in line to help underwrite Raiders owner Mark Davis' financial commitment, but with the financial giant now re-evaluating its position and Adelson's withdrawal, the entire deal could be in danger.

With the Raiders franchise being the largest financial chip in Davis' portfolio, the inclusion of Goldman Sachs would be relied upon to carry out a deal. 

Any relocation to Las Vegas must be approved by 24 of the 32 NFL team owners. A vote is expected during league meetings in March in Phoenix.

Ramona Shelburne/ESPN

Tags: Oakland Raiders, Legal

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Matt Ryan Sought Out Advice From Peyton And Eli Manning

Jan 31, 2017 8:42 AM

Matt Ryan said he spoke with Peyton Manning last week about how to prepare for Super Bowl week.

"It's one of those things -- trust what you do and trust your process," Ryan said of Manning's advice. "Handle some of the things that you need to handle that go along with this game early. Get that stuff out of the way. And I've certainly done that."

Ryan also revealed having a text message exchange with Eli Manning, who defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.

"Obviously, I've gotten to know Eli throughout the years," Ryan said. "He's a great guy. You know I think his advice was, 'You guys know yourselves and you know what you do.' At the end of the day, that's probably the best advice you can get is to trust what we do and trust our process and who we are and how we do things.

"I think we'll be ready to go."

Vaughn McClure/ESPN

Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Misc Rumor

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Reporter Accidentally Takes Kyle Shanahan's Playbook

Jan 31, 2017 8:37 AM

After Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl media night session on Monday, the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator had his backpack accidentally taken by a reporter.

"I'm stressed out right now," Shanahan said. "Somebody took my bag, and it had everything in it."

The backpack contained a copy of the Falcons' Super Bowl playbook, Super Bowl tickets and other personal effects. It was missing for approximately 45 minutes before the mystery was solved.

USA Today writer and ESPN contributor Jarrett Bell discovered that San Francisco Examiner columnist Art Spander had mistakenly picked up Shanahan's bag instead of his own.

Dan Graziano/ESPN

Tags: Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Misc Rumor

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GNC Claims NFL Rejected Super Bowl Commercial

Jan 31, 2017 8:32 AM

An executive with GNC says the NFL told him on Monday that the commercial spot the company had prepared for Super Bowl LI will not run on Fox's broadcast Sunday.

Jeff Hennion, GNC's executive vice president and chief marketing and e-commerce officer, said Fox first told him Monday that the 30-second ad, which has a market rate of $5 million, could not run because the company sells products that contain two of the 162 substances banned by the NFL -- synephrine and DHEA.

"We have told the network it may not air in Super Bowl or any NFL programming," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "This is consistent with our policies that prohibit the advertising of supplements."

Hennion said he was told the NFL didn't like the GNC logo -- which was used in the spot and is in the form of a pill bottle -- because the league was concerned the logo, when shown quickly on television, could be mistaken for GMC, the automaker.

Darren Rovell/ESPN

Tags: Misc Rumor

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Adelson Family Withdraws From Raiders' Stadium In Vegas

Jan 30, 2017 9:02 PM

The family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson have withdrawn as investors in a proposed $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed football stadium intended to bring the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to Southern Nevada.

In a statement issued late Monday, Adelson said his family “will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”

Adelson said he was surprised by the Raiders’ submission of a proposed lease agreement to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority on Thursday, noting that it has “sent shock waves through our community.”

“It was certainly shocking to the Adelson family,” the statement said. “We were not only excluded from the proposed agreement, we weren’t even aware of its existence.”

The Raiders have widely been expected to announce plans to relocate to Las Vegas during this offseason, though they would remain in Oakland until the stadium is built.

“It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family,” Adelson’s statement said. “So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”

Adelson said “while this is not the result my family was hoping for, I am very appreciative of the countless people who have given considerable time and energy to this process, especially so many of our elected officials who have made this a top priority for Southern Nevada.”

Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal

Tags: Oakland Raiders, Legal

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Agent: Devonta Freeman Should Be Paid Like Elite RB

Jan 30, 2017 8:35 PM

Devonta Freeman's agent says her client should be paid "like the elite back he is."

Agent Kristin Campbell, in an interview with NFL.com, said she will press the Falcons to sign Freeman to a contract extension this offseason.

"It's time for the Falcons to pay him like the elite back he is," Campbell told NFL.com, which published a report on the interview Monday. "I expect them to make him a priority this offseason, as he's been an integral part of the dynamic offense that has gotten them to the Super Bowl."

Freeman has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the past two seasons. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season in 2016, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and scoring 13 touchdowns.

ESPN

Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Misc Rumor

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Chris Ballard Will Retain Chuck Pagano For 2017

Jan 30, 2017 12:22 PM

Chris Ballard will retain Chuck Pagano in 2017 as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts before reevaluating him for the 2018 season.

While Jim Irsay announced Jan. 21 that Pagano would return next season, there was some belief that Ballard would choose to dismiss Pagano and hire his own coach. 

The former Kansas City Chiefs director of football operations is replacing Ryan Grigson, who was fired after the Colts had consecutive 8-8 seasons and missed the playoffs.

The Colts will have more than $50 million in salary-cap space during free agency to build around Andrew Luck.

Adam Schefter/ESPN

Tags: Indianapolis Colts, Misc Rumor

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Rex Ryan To Join ESPN's Super Bowl Coverage
Sports Business Daily reports that CBS, Fox and NFL Network also reached out to Rex Ryan to serve as an analyst following his firing in December.

ESPN

Alex Smith Feels 'Sense Of Urgency' From Andy Reid
After another playoff loss, Alex Smith says he feels a "sense of urgency" from Andy Reid as the Chiefs try to take the next step in the postseason.

Josh Alper/Pro Football Talk

Colts Hire Chris Ballard As General Manager
Chris Ballard joined the Chiefs as director of player personnel in 2013 and was later promoted to director of football operations.

Mike Wells/ESPN

49ers Name John Lynch New GM
The 49ers have hired FOX analyst John Lynch to be their general manager.

ESPN

49ers Expected To Hire George Paton Or Terry McDonough As GM
Vikings assistant G.M. George Paton and Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough were the two men to meet with the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan.

Matt Maiocco/Comcast

Dimitroff Has Implemented Some 'Patriot Way' Elements With Falcons
Thomas Dimitroff was the Patriots' director of college scouting (2003-2007).

Vaughn McClure/ESPN

Jets To Hire John Morton As Offensive Coordinator
John Morton has 13 years of NFL coaching experience.

Adam Schefter/ESPN

Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald Continue To Consider Retirement
Larry Fitzgerald is due to make $11 million in 2017, while Carson Palmer is set to make $17.5 million in salary and bonuses.

Ian Rapoport/NFL.com

Martavis Bryant Applies For Reinstatement
In recent months, Martavis Bryant underwent NFL-administered treatment while training and coaching local high school football in Henderson, Nevada.

Vaughn McClure/ESPN

Hamilton Cast Members To Sing America The Beautiful At Super Bowl
Several cast members of Hamilton will sing America The Beautiful at the Super Bowl.

RealGM Staff Report

Super Bowl Ad Sales Have Slowed This Year
Advertising executives blame increasing competition and risk, a heftier price tag, decreasing returns and NFL's own woes.

Tanya Dua/Digiday

Packers To Be More Aggressive In Free Agency
Aaron Rodgers has pressed Green Bay's front office to to go all-in, emphasizing the "need to reload" for 2017.

Chris Wesseling/NFL

Jets Believe Darrelle Revis Capable Of Playing Safety
Dennard Wilson, hired as defensive backs coach for the Jets just last week, said he believes Darrelle Revis is more than capable of making the move from cornerback to safety.

Kevin Patra/NFL

Chiefs Want To Use Tyreek Hill More Often In 2017
Tyreek Hill scored 12 touchdowns as a rookie and the Chiefs want even more next season.

Zac Jackson/Pro Football Talk

GM: Seahawks Weren't Hiding Richard Sherman's Knee Injury
John Schneider says the Seahawks weren't acting maliciously when they failed to list Richard Sherman's knee injury on the injury report during the second half of the season.

Sheil Kapadia/ESPN

Kyle Shanahan: Patriots Have Best Defense Falcons Have Seen
Kyle Shanahan built the NFL's top-scoring offense in Atlanta this season, but says the Super Bowl will bring a challenge unlike the Falcons have seen.

Vaughn McClure/ESPN

Packers Will Keep Ty Montgomery At RB
The Packers will continue to play Ty Montgomery at running back and he'll change his number from No. 88.

Rob Demovsky/ESPN

Jadeveon Clowney Undergoes Minor Knee Surgery
Jadeveon Clowney's surgery was just to clean up the knee and he will not miss any time during the offseason.

Sarah Barshop/ESPN

Odell Beckham Jr. Hates Losing, Has Learned From Packers' Game
Odell Beckham Jr. punched a hole in a wall outside the visiting locker room at Lambeau Field.

Jenna Laine/ESPN

Kirk Cousins Willing To Play On Franchise Tag Again
Kirk Cousins' franchise tag this season would increase to approximately $23.94 million.

James Walker/ESPN