Category: NFL

‘Madden NFL 20’ Cover Star Patrick Mahomes Is Officially a Very Big Deal

After an MVP season, the Steph Curry of the NFL earned the prestigious honor of being the face of the ultra-popular video game. We talked to the Chiefs QB about his ascent from slept-on college recruit to football superstar.

The football version of a music video shoot is going down in a cavernous studio that’s starting to get warmer than the temperature outside. It’s a picture-perfect day in the middle of April in Hollywood. Meanwhile, inside, it’s dark and a little stuffy as the director barks out orders over the booming beats of a playlist featuring Billboard Hot 100 hits from Gucci Mane and Offset, among others. After at least an hour of capturing the signature movements and mannerisms of the best young quarterback in the NFL, a production crew of almost two dozen still has another hour to go before they’ve logged every shot on their list.

That’s because Patrick Mahomes—decked out in his full Kansas City Chiefs uniform as he stands in front of a gigantic screen flashing blindingly sharp red and yellow graphics—has a lot of signature moves. He’s asked to flex and fake scream for the camera after he pretends to throw a bomb for a touchdown. Between takes, he bops to 21 Savage. Next up, Mahomes darts across the studio like he’s on the run and throws across his body to a PA playing receiver. Stylists and hangers-on move to the other side of the studio so they aren’t blown up by a pass the PA can’t handle from Mahomes’ rifle of a right arm. After that, he tosses some of those preposterously accurate sidearm passes the NFL hasn’t seen on the regular since Brett Favre’s Green Bay heyday. The only thing the production squad seemingly fails to document is one of his absurd, improvised left-handed throws.

Mahomes spends half a day at Line Studios doing take after take, because capturing his uncanny improvisational skills with cameras only a few feet away ain’t easy. The director, acting like a coach, asks Mahomes to give him more energy.

“That was 50 percent. I need 75 percent on this one,” he says.

“I got you,” Mahomes replies.

More energy, more angles, more takes until the right shot is captured. It’s important they nail it because what they get on film here will be seen by millions tuning into the NFL Draft. That’s when Mahomes will be anointed as a very big deal among a specific segment of football fans.

READ MORE: https://www.complex.com/sports/2019/04/madden-nfl-20-cover-star-patrick-mahomes-is-officially-a-very-big-deal

Colin Kaepernick’s N.F.L. Collusion Case Can Continue, Arbitrator Rules

In a major blow to the N.F.L., Colin Kaepernick achieved a preliminary but important win in his case accusing the league of colluding to keep him off the field because of the player protests during the national anthem that he instigated.

The ruling, essentially granting a full hearing on the dispute, keeps alive a case that the N.F.L. desperately wanted to go away. The league is preparing for a new season beginning next week and is still grappling with how to defuse the smoldering debate over players who demonstrate during the national anthem to protest racism, police brutality and social injustice.

In a ruling this week that was disclosed Thursday, the arbitrator, Stephen B. Burbank, who was appointed by the league and the N.F.L. Players Association, said lawyers for Kaepernick had unearthed enough information in the past year for the case to proceed to a full hearing. After months of depositions — including those given by some of the most powerful owners in the league — as well as document searches, the lawyers will be able to question league officials, owners and others in a trial-like format.

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The decision was revealed by Mark Geragos, Kaepernick’s lawyer.

Although the number of players who kneel has varied — and dwindled over the course of last season — since Kaepernick first did so in 2016, during a wave of police shootings of African-American men, the issue continues to divide fans, vex owners. It has also inspired persistent tweets from President Trump, whose calls for players who kneel to be fired has put pressure on owners, many of whom support him.

Kaepernick, once one of the league’s best quarterbacks, has been out of work since March 2017, when he became a free agent before the San Francisco 49ers could release him. As a parade of lesser quarterbacks, at least statistically, found work, he filed a grievance asserting that the league’s owners had conspired to keep him out because of his protests.

The N.F.L., which had asked the arbitrator to dismiss the case for lack of evidence, declined to comment. It cannot appeal the arbitrator’s decision to move to a full hearing, but it can appeal a final ruling.

A hearing could begin by the end of the year, though the two sides could settle the case before then. Kaepernick is seeking damages equal to what he would have earned if he were still playing in the league.

The case has attracted so much attention, experts said, that it would have been difficult for Burbank to dismiss it.

4 wide receivers destined to surprise in fantasy football

fantasy sleepersWide receiver may be the deepest position in all of fantasy football. Though there are many many quality options you’ll still want to know who is set up to surprise and who is set up to stun. The four players below are all currently outside the top 30 wide receivers according to average draft position. These four are also talented players who happen to be in situations where their production can take a giant step forward.

Corey DavisTennessee Titans

Hitting on a rookie wide receiver is extremely difficult. Davis likely found himself on sleeper lists this time last year, but injuries cost him valuable game time, and he never eclipsed 100 yards receiving nor did he find the end zone in 2017.

So what has changed? For starters, the Titans brought in Matt LaFleur to overhaul the offense. If he brings some of that magic that helped the Los Angeles Rams this entire offense could take a giant leap forward. LaFleur has coached under both Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. Two current head coaches known for innovation and getting the most out of their quarterbacks. Tennessee also did next to nothing to beef up their receiving corps. Rishard Matthews is a fantasy asset, but Davis is the better talent and should be the Titan’s premiere weapon through the air. Taywan Taylor is an interesting late-round pick, but a risky play. With a fully healthy offseason and an improved situation, look for Davis to breakout and possibly finish in the top 30 at his position.

John RossCincinnati Bengals

John Ross is more of a deep sleeper (currently going undrafted). Ross was one of the most hyped rookies last year, but injuries limited him to two games with no receptions. The 2018 season figures to be a much more productive year for the speedster and perhaps one where he becomes a weekly fantasy play.

The Bengals’ passing attack is still pretty much just A.J. Green. Brandon LaFell is a 31 year-old wide-out with talent, but there’s nothing special about his game. Tyler Boyd is entering his third year, scattering 73 receptions and three touchdowns across 28 games. Cincinnati needs a legit threat at receiver opposite of Green. Ross does have elite speed, but his route tree is diverse and he can be used more as an offensive weapon (a la Tyreek Hill). Should Ross take advantage of his opportunities you could have a WR3 with phenomenal upside for the price of the final pick in the draft.

Mike WilliamsLos Angeles Chargers

One of the best ways to find a sleeper in fantasy football is to investigate the best offenses (or who we think are the best offenses) and look at changing roles or suddenly available targets. Hunter Henry’s injury not only opens the door for an Antonio Gates revival, but also a Mike Williams breakout.

Williams’ rookie season was easy to miss. Injuries kept him off the field and when he was healthy enough to play he wasn’t effective. The former 1st round pick now has an opportunity to go through a full training camp and his main competition is Tyrell Williams, a solid if unspectacular talent who has struggled with consistency. Mike Williams’ currently going as WR50, but he has the tools and situation to finish in the top 30 at his position if he can put it together on the field this season.

Marquise GoodwinSan Francisco 49ers

It’s easy to fall in love with speed, but versatility is what keeps you on the field. Goodwin’s speed has never been an issue. Like many speed merchants he is often written off as a one-trick pony, but Goodwin showed some depth in his game last season.

The arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo should raise all boats in the Bay. Pierre Garçon is still around, but he missed Garoppolo’s run due to injury — a time where Goodwin built valuable chemistry with the new starting quarterback, topping 90 receiving yards three times in the final five weeks. Kyle Shanahan now has a QB that can execute his offense and he obviously likes Goodwin’s talent. Goodwin just needs to stay healthy to take advantage of an improved offense.

Richard Sherman Writes About Why It Was Wrong for the Eagles to Release DeSean Jackson

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Even though DeSean Jackson signed a new deal with the Washington Redskins last night,Richard Sherman is not ready to move on and forget the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles released him late last week because of his alleged “gang ties.” Early this morning, Sherman published a new column for The MMQB that offers his take on the Eagles parting ways with D-Jax. And because the Seattle Seahawks cornerback actually grew up with the speedy wide receiver and understands what it’s like to grow up in a rough neighborhood, he was able to offer a pretty unique perspective on why the Eagles shouldn’t have cut Jackson.

“I look at those words—gang ties—and I think about all the players I’ve met in the NFL and all of us who come from inner-city neighborhoods like mine in Los Angeles, and I wonder how many of us could honestly say we’re not friends with guys doing the wrong things,” he writes. “I can’t.”

Sherman also says that if Jackson had been playing for, say, the Seahawks instead of the Eagles, he wouldn’t have been released last week because of his “gang ties.”

“Sorry, but I was born in this dirt,” he writes. “NFL teams understand that. The Seattle Seahawks get it. The Philadelphia Eagles apparently do not.”

To read what else Sherman had to say, go here. Now that Jackson is with a new team, the whole “Is DeSean Jackson really in a gang?!” story is likely going to fade. But it’s important to hear what a guy like Sherman has to say about it. Because it won’t be the last time that a pro athlete is accused of having ties to a gang.

RELATED: Twitter Can’t Believe the Eagles Signed Riley Cooper to a New Contract This Offseason But Released DeSean Jackson Today

NFL Releases Report Detailing Richie Incognitos Racist Homophobic Abuse

Well it looks as though the last shoe has dropped in the Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin locker room saga.  A few weeks ago, text messages were released that detailed the strange relationship between Incognito and Martin. From mutual name calling, to talks of prostitutes and drugs, it would seem that Martin and his teammate were just friends going at each other.  But apparently those texts were only the tip of the iceberg and a small part of a bigger issue.Image

Martin repeatedly complained to his parents about the harassment he was receiving from not only Incognito, but also from his other offensive linemen teammates, Mike Pouncey and John Jerry, both of whom are black.  The taunting involved everything from homophobic slurs, to being called the “n” word as well as other racial epithets.  After the NFL report was released, Incognito couldn’t take the pressure of being taunted via Twitter, basically getting a taste of his own medicine, and deleted his account.

Fantasy Football Week 8 Dark Horse Sleeper: Christian Ponder

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Related: 2013 Fantasy Football: Flint Michigan Megabowl’s Thurman Murmans Week Seven Results The quarterback carousel will apparently continue for the Minnesota Vikings, as Josh Freeman is reportedly dealing with a concussion after his dismal debut against the New York Giants on Monday night. Christian Ponder is now expected to start in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers after starting the first three games of the season, suffering a rib injury and losing his job to Matt Cassel and then Freeman. Fantasy football owners that even had him on a roster surely dropped Ponder like a bad habit after his injury, but is he a viable option for Week 8? Ponder missed Minnesota’s playoff loss to the Packers last January with an arm injury, but he performed well against them at home in the regular season finale, going 16-for-28 for 234 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. It’s worth mentioning he had one of his worst games of 2012 at Lambeau Field against Green Bay (12-for-25 for 119 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions), but Sunday night’s game is a home. The Packers enter Week 8 allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (17.8 per game, ESPN scoring) and that would be worse if not for facing Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns in Week 7 and allowing just 149 passing yards and one touchdown. Ponder may not be a significantly better player than Weeden, but he at least has some positive history against Green Bay at home. With six teams on a bye this week, some fantasy owners may find themselves thin at quarterback with Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco idle. Ponder should not be considered as a strict bye week fill-in for Luck or Rivers, but those that are searching for a QB2 in deep two-quarterback leagues could consider him as a plug-and-play for Week 8.

Read more at http://www.rantsports.com/fantasy/2013/10/23/fantasy-football-week-8-dark-horse-sleeper-christian-ponder/?HUbsWvWwfFZEeJCm.99

Related: 2013 Fantasy Football: Flint Michigan Megabowl’s Thurman Murmans Week Seven Results

The quarterback carousel will apparently continue for the Minnesota Vikings, as Josh Freeman is reportedly dealing with a concussion after his dismal debut against the New York Giants on Monday night. Christian Ponder is now expected to start in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers after starting the first three games of the season, suffering a rib injury and losing his job to Matt Cassel and then Freeman.

Fantasy football owners that even had him on a roster surely dropped Ponder like a bad habit after his injury, but is he a viable option for Week 8?

Ponder missed Minnesota’s playoff loss to the Packers last January with an arm injury, but he performed well against them at home in the regular season finale, going 16-for-28 for 234 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. It’s worth mentioning he had one of his worst games of 2012 at Lambeau Field against Green Bay (12-for-25 for 119 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions), but Sunday night’s game is a home.

The Packers enter Week 8 allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (17.8 per game, ESPN scoring) and that would be worse if not for facing Brandon Weeden of the Cleveland Browns in Week 7 and allowing just 149 passing yards and one touchdown. Ponder may not be a significantly better player than Weeden, but he at least has some positive history against Green Bay at home.

With six teams on a bye this week, some fantasy owners may find themselves thin at quarterback with Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco idle. Ponder should not be considered as a strict bye week fill-in for Luck or Rivers, but those that are searching for a QB2 in deep two-quarterback leagues could consider him as a plug-and-play for Week 8.

Read more at http://www.rantsports.com/fantasy/2013/10/23/fantasy-football-week-8-dark-horse-sleeper-christian-ponder/?HUbsWvWwfFZEeJCm.99

The Second Coming of RG3

Everyone was crying. RG3 himself got it started, lying there in his hospital bed, totally immobile. Then his fiancée, Rebecca, and his mom welled up. Jackie never wanted her only son to play football in the first place, not really—what mother wants her son to play football?—but she relented when the 11-year-old pinkie-promised her he wouldn’t get hurt. And now this. Finally, even the quarterback’s military father, Robert Griffin Jr., the retired sergeant, the Iraq vet, “the guy who never cries,” according to his son—not even RG2 could choke back the tears. It was January 9, 2013, three days after Griffin’s historic rookie season ended with a nasty twist of his right knee in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and minutes after Griffin had woken up from surgery in Florida, opening his eyes to a real-life nightmare. His blown-out right knee was bandaged, but so was his healthy left one. That meant Dr. Andrews—James Andrews, one of the most celebrated orthopedic surgeons in America, the same guy who rebuilt Adrian Peterson’s miracle knee a year earlier—had needed to take a tendon graft from the left knee in order to repair the right. Two shredded ligaments, the LCL and ACL. Major reconstructive surgery. Seven to nine months of rehab. Minimum. A jumble of thoughts swirled and drifted into his foggy consciousness—flashbacks to the play that knocked him out, fears about whether he’d be ready for next season—and for once in his short and blessed life, Robert Griffin III just couldn’t deal. He didn’t feel like talking to the nurse, who hadn’t noticed that he’d come to. “So instead of trying to cope with that at the moment,” he recalls now, “I just went back to sleep.” ImageWhen he woke a short while later, he felt ready. Or at least readier. As his parents stood over his bed, Griffin apologized. “After I tore my ACL in college, I told them I would never do that to them again,” he says, referring to the 2009 ACL surgery—same knee—that cost him most of his sophomore season at Baylor. “So when I woke up this time, I said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I knew the kind of pain it was going to put them through, especially my mom. I’m the baby. I’m the only son. She doesn’t want to see her baby boy get hurt.”

Dr. Andrews joined them and reported that the procedure had gone well. When the conversation turned to rehab—specifically, When can I start?—Griffin had an idea: “Hey, when’s our first game?”