March 2011 - Football Wiretap
Report: Four Ex-Auburn Players Say They Were Paid
Auburn will investigate claims by four former football players, who told HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” they received thousands of dollars while being recruited by or playing for the Tigers. Stanley McClover, Troy Reddick, Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray told HBO for an episode that aired Wednesday night that they received cash payments—in book bags, envelopes and even handshakes. Coach Gene Chizik dismissed the report as “pure garbage.”
Source: Von Miller To Attend Draft
Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller, who is the only rookie plaintiff in the players' antitrust lawsuit against the NFL, has accepted an invitation to attend the draft April 28, according to an Associated Press report. "I'm honored to get an invitation and I plan on being there," Miller said. "It's always been a dream of mine, having my name called and being able to walk across the stage and shake the hand of the commissioner."
Pennington Tears ACL Playing Basketball
Hard-luck QB Chad Pennington tore an ACL in a pickup basketball game and will undergo surgery next week, according to an ESPN.com report. Pennington's agent, Tom Condon, said in a news release Thursday that Pennington will have the operation April 7 and well-known surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform it. The former Jets and Dolphins quarterback is now a free agent.
Moon Defends Cam Newton
Warren Moon, the first African-American QB to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, told CBSSports.com that he believes some of the criticism of Auburn QB Cam Newton is based in racism. "A lot of the criticism he's receiving is unfortunate and racially based," Moon, who is Newton's adviser, told the website.
Source: Giants' O'Hara Has Surgery
Giants center Shaun O'Hara underwent surgery to clean out his left ankle and Achilles this week as scheduled, according to a team source. This is the second procedure O'Hara has undergone this offseason. He had a couple of screws placed in his right foot in January to stabilize a joint so a ligament can heal after he suffered from a Lisfranc injury last season.
BCS Could Kick Out The Fiesta Bowl
The head of the BCS put the Fiesta Bowl on notice Wednesday: "Follow the letter of the law" or lose its place in college football's lucrative championship system, according to an ESPN.com report. BCS officials challenged the Fiesta Bowl to persuade them that extravagant and improper spending behind the firing of longtime president and CEO John Junker will never happen again.
An Interactive Mock Draft
I had the chance to spend some time with an AFC scout recently. Rather than discuss individual players, he agreed to do an alternating-pick mock draft and provide some commentary. Over the course of about 90 minutes at a restaurant just outside Hobby Airport in Houston late last week, we got through two rounds. I took the odd numbered picks, in part so the scout could pick for his own team in the 1st round. Round 1 1. Carolina Panthers: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. Scout’s take: “I’ll tell you what makes them go defense here, they don’t have that pick at the top of (round) two. And no team is gonna blow their first pick on quarterbacks two years in a row, not even with a big change. Not gonna happen.” I still firmly believe Blaine Gabbert is in play, however. 2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. Scout’s take: “Best talent available. Look at that defense and find me one guy besides Elvis (Dumervil) that will still be around after next year. They don’t have one guy besides him. They’ve got to take the best playmaker on defense, and that is Patrick Peterson.” 3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M. Scout’s take: “I would have gone (Da’Quan) Bowers.” Both of us think they will use Cam Newton as a smokescreen/trade bait. 4. Cincinnati Bengals: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. Scout’s take: “I’ll tell you why they take Cam Newton. Mike Brown is no dummy. The second after he takes Cam Newton his phone is gonna ring off the damn hook with people wanting Carson (Palmer). He’s already sold his hardball sh** with Carson. That makes the asking price go up.” I still believe Julio Jones will be the pick. 5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Scout’s take: “No doubt.” Short and sweet. Scout is not a huge fan of Gabbert right now but thinks “he’s as good as Aaron Rodgers when he came out. People forget Rodgers wasn’t close to ready to play back then. Same with this kid.” If he is indeed the pick here, and if he’s on the board he will be with 100% certainty, Gabbert won’t get the luxury of waiting three years like Rodgers. 6. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. Scout’s take: “They have to take him, don’t they? Too good to pass on.” 7. San Francisco 49ers: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina. Scout’s take: “Great natural talent. He reminds me a lot of Willie McGinest.” 8. Tennessee Titans: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois. Scout’s take: I asked him why not Nick Fairley, not as a slight against Liuget but I wondered how the Titans could have Fairley’s college coach on staff and go in another direction at the same position. “He (Tracy Rocker, the aforementioned coach) knows better than anyone that Fairley is gonna wash out quick. He’s already counted all the money he’s gonna make .... he came from out of nowhere for a reason. Liuget’s just as good and he’s got a hunger to him.” 9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, T, USC. Scout’s take: “I like it. Makes sense for Jerry Jones, going with the big program and the great athlete. This kid is gonna be a hoss for a long time.” 10. Washington Redskins: Jake Locker, QB, Washington. Scout’s take: “I’m going with the thinking that (Skins coach Mike) Shanahan was gonna take him #1 last year. Mike’s stubborn enough to still see it, and he’s arrogant enough to think he’s the guy that can make Locker into Steve Young.” 11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. Scout’s take: “I like it for Wade Phillips (new Texans DC) if he moves him to safety. They thought Kareem Jackson couldn’t cover! Wait til they see this kid try to turn and run with Andre Johnson in practice. He’ll be at safety by the end of the first week.” 12. Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Castonzo, T, Boston College. Scout’s take: “People piled on Brett (Favre) but that line in front of him was garbage. Hutch (Steve Hutchinson) is done, McKinnie (Bryant, the incumbent LT) is sliding and he wasn’t all that great to begin with. This kid can play right away at guard or tackle.” 13. Detroit Lions: Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA. Scout’s take: Frequent readers know I’m a Lions lifer, and I admit to reaching for need here. In fact, I was distraught by how the board played out for Detroit here. He reassured me, “Yeah it’s probably a little high for him, but he makes plays. He’s gonna miss some plays too, but he’s a kid that makes sh** happen and they need that. That D-line is so good he can take chances and it ain’t gonna kill ‘em.” 14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. Scout’s take: “Billy (GM Billy Devaney) will take about two seconds before sending this pick up. He is perfect for Sam Bradford. Best over-the-middle receiver since Anquan Boldin, but I like that he can get deep too. 15. Miami Dolphins: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Scout’s take: “I don’t know what to make of his knee. I tell you what though, he’d better look perfect when he works out and he’d better do everything. Leave no doubt about it and there’s no way he falls here. No way in hell.” Scout was not aware if his team was one that failed Bowers medically. 16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. Scout’s take: He debated between Kerrigan and Aldon Smith for several minutes. He ultimately went with Kerrigan because “I trust in him more than I trust in Smith. I know Kerrigan can do something besides rush the passer. I don’t know that Aldon Smith can do that.” 17. New England Patriots (from OAK): JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin.18. San Diego Chargers: Nate Solder, T, Colorado. Scout’s take: “He’s a classic AJ Smith (Chargers GM) pick. He’s got this incredible potential that’s real hard to ignore, and AJ takes him and then he demands his coaches make it happen. Then when it doesn’t work, AJ passes the buck. I dare you to find me one game tape where this kid actually plays like a first round pick. But I can see why so many people like him. He’s huge and he can move.” Somewhere, Marty Schottenheimer smiles when he reads this. 19. New York Giants: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. Scout’s take: “I like what you said there, (quoting me) ‘he’s the best cover man in this draft before the ball is thrown’. I worry about his attitude but you’re right, the kid can flat-out cover. Tom Coughlin will either make him great or he’ll kill him.” 20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State. Scout’s take: “People need to cut with this bullsh** that he doesn’t go hard every play. It’s B-fu**ing-S. They (the OSU coaches) assigned him to do dirty work a lot because he’s damn good at it. I love that he can hold an edge and tie up the tackle if we ask him to do that. Kerrigan can’t do that like him. Aldon Smith, come on now. Bowers can’t even do it like this kid. I’ll take his 8 sacks over (other players’) 11 any day because he brings so much other stuff to the table. But a lot of people don’t see that.” I should point out he went on about Heyward for a good five minutes and these are the choice excerpts and not sequential quotes. 21. Kansas City Chiefs: Cameron Jordan, DE, California. Scout’s take: “I don’t think he’ll fall this far. And I think they’re gonna look at a nose before they take another end. I think they’re gonna take (Jonathan) Baldwin here if they can." 22. Indianapolis Colts: Danny Watkins, G/T, Baylor. Scout’s take: “Perfect fit for them. I think he can play right tackle fine enough, but let me tell you this guy is gonna be a great NFL right guard right away.” 23. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Pouncey, C, Florida. Scout’s take: “I like him better as a guard. He’s doesn’t play as fast as his brother and you need that to be a great center. He’s a better run blocker though, and they need that. I love his legs and feet once he’s engaged, you just can’t stop him from moving you.” 24. New Orleans Saints: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. Scout’s take: “Well he obviously ain’t gonna fall this far, but if you go off how he’s handled everything this is where he belongs (speaking of draft slotting).” 25. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas. Scout’s take: I had to explain why I think Seattle would take him. My rationale: they have a new offensive coordinator (Darrell Bevell) that is used to working with a cocksure gunslinger with off-field maturity issues (Brett Favre). Scout went from being totally against it to seeing my point and thinking it could happen precisely because of why I thought it might. He would still choose Marvin Austin or Adrian Clayborn here. 26. Baltimore Ravens: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh. Scout’s take: “(Ravens GM) Ozzie Newsome isn’t afraid of kids that haven’t grown up quite yet. This kid is a real hoss…they’ve got the environment in place to give him the ass-kicking he needs. Ray Lewis will set him straight and then they’ve got themselves a #1 (wide receiver)." 27. Atlanta Falcons: Justin Houston, DE, Georgia. Scout’s take: “I like him better here (in a 4-3) than out in space in a 30 defense (3-4 front). The thing that makes him a great pass rusher is that he can bull inside or turn it out. You put him standing up, that takes away his bull and he’s not quick enough to live without it.” 28. New England Patriots: Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech. Scout’s take: This evolved into a discussion of Williams vs. Mark Ingram, the presumed #1 RB. He put Williams here because “they have the chain mover already (BenJarvis Green-Ellis). They need the home run hitter and that’s what Williams does. He’s a playmaker and Belichick knows they need those. That’s the luxury of all those picks, they can swing big and not play it safe. Ingram would be the safe pick.” 29. Chicago Bears: Gabe Carimi, T, Wisconsin. Scout’s take: “I don’t think he’s a good fit there. They need guys that can pass protect and he’s a pure run blocker. (Derek) Sherrod is a lot more of what they need.” 30. New York Jets: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa. Scout’s take: “I love him as a 5 (technique, or 3-4 DE). Rex (Ryan, Jets coach) can put him in there on either side and let him go…they need him for the run as much as they do the handful of sacks he’s gonna get.” 31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derek Sherrod, T, Mississippi State. Scout’s take: “(laughs) I think you need to flip this kid and Carimi (my Bears pick). Pittsburgh needs a run blocker as much as they need a pass blocker, and they need a right tackle more than they need a left.” 32. Green Bay Packers: Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri. Scout’s take: “We see him as a tweener. He’s got that great length but he plays small. Everything is full speed. I’ll tell you who he reminds me of with his skinny legs and the way he plays. Aaron Maybin. This kid is bigger and has more on the ball, but I see a lot of comparison there.” To read more click the following link: An Interactive 2011 NFL Draft
Owners Pay $245M Into Players Benefits
NFL teams will complete their contributions toward player benefits on Thursday, bringing the total amount funded by owners for the 2010 season to $245 million. Owners will deposit $177 million with BNY Mellon to complete the funding for the 2010 season. The contributions fund player benefits that include the pension plan, group medical insurance, the disability plan, and the "88" program for retired players with dementia or related conditions. "NFL ownership is proud of the outstanding benefits that NFL players have enjoyed in recent years and the improvements that have been made for retired players," said Carolina Panthers founder and owner Jerry Richardson. "We have more work to do, especially for the retired players, and look forward to further improvements being part of the new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement." In the past 10 years alone, NFL owners have contributed more than $2.7 billion for the funding of the various NFL benefit plans for current and retired players.
McCarthy: Fewer Workouts Won't Reduce Injuries
Packers coach Mike McCarthy doesn't believe that fewer offseason workouts will reduce the number of injuries teams endure. "To me, when you talk about player safety, when you have injuries in training camp, a lot of times it happens to an inexperienced player, a younger player that is not quite sure what to do," McCarthy said. "Because of that, bodies are going to be put in vulnerable positions, and I see vulnerable positions created by a lack of preparation. "I don't see where the fact that less is going to be better. I don't agree with that." McCarthy utilizes Green Bay's offseason program to install his entire system so the focus on training camp can be evaluating players who are competing for jobs. "I don’t know what goes on at the other 31 teams; all I know is those practices are important," McCarthy said. “That time in the classroom is very important because when you have the opportunity to have everything in when you leave at the end of June, when those players go to that rookie symposium (before training camp), those rookies, that football team has seen everything. "I've always thought that way as a coordinator and as a quarterback coach because at the end of the day, that man’s competing for a job on your football team. So I’d want to know what the deal is."
Alabama's Jones, Iowa's Clayborn Will Attend Draft
Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones and Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn have confirmed that they will attend the NFL Draft. Jones told Sirius NFL Radio's Adam Schein Tuesday that standing on stage at Radio City Music Hall would be "a once-in-a-lifetime chance." "I talked to my family and everything so it's just, you know, just to have this opportunity to go there and just have this experience," Jones said. "We decided that we'd love to go there."
Olsen Hopeful Of Long-Term Deal With Bears
Greg Olsen's contract expires after the 2011 season.
Eagles Sending Mikell Mixed Messages
Quintin Mikell appears willing to offer Philadelphia a hometown discount.
Jenkins Unlikely To Remain With Jets
The Jets released Kris Jenkins after the season, but offered him a one-year deal at a reduced salary to return.
Adviser: Bryant Is 'In A Dark Place'
Dez Bryant wants to pay back the more than $900,000 he owes in debts and unpaid loans.
Talib Turns Himself Into Police
Aqib Talib was released after posting a $25,000 bond Wednesday.
Miami's Interest Is In D.J. Williams
The Dolphins appear more interested in tight end D.J. Williams than quarterback Ryan Mallet.
Eagles Great Bednarik Cleared To Leave Hospital
Chuck Bednarik was a member of Philadelphia's last championship team in 1960.
College Football On Sundays?
The Pac-12 could play some games on Sundays this fall if the NFL season is lost due to the lockout.
Players Defend Decision To Disband Union
The NFL's players decertified their union to gain the ability to file antitrust claims against the league.
Gibbs Worried Lockout Will Hurt NFL
Joe Gibbs is worried about the NFL's popularity and prestige.
Felony Warrant Issued For Aqib Talib
Aqib Talib's mother turned herself in on Tuesday for charges stemming from the same incident.
Phil Taylor To Meet With Jets, Broncos
Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor has been visiting a number of teams and will continue to do so over the next few weeks.
NFLPA To Begin Paying Players From Lockout Fund April 15
The maximum amount a single player can receive in $60,000.
Blank: There Will Be Football In 2011
The Falcons were honored on Tuesday for another winning season.
Ochocinco Made A Reserve By Sporting KC
As a member of the reserve team, he will not be given a contract or be paid.
Ainge: 'I Had To Get Help Before I Died'
Jets quarterback Erik Ainge has been sober since July 17.
Bryant Faces Second Lawsuit For $615K
A pair of lawsuits filed against Dez Bryant total just under $1,000,000.
Schaub Organizing Workouts At Rice
Monday would have marked the first day of official offseason workouts if the NFL weren't engaged in a lockout.