By: Jess Dempsey
First there was SpyGate. Now comes something worse – BountyGate. Worse because it involved a ‘pay for performance’ scheme that rewarded New Orleans Saints defensemen when they injured a player from an opposing team.
The NFL is confirming that between 22 and 27 players and at least one assistant coach for the Saints had a bounty pool of up to $50,000 during the last three seasons to ‘reward’ players who inflicted injuries on opposing team’s players. Two of the players with the highest ‘bounty’ rewards were Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. There were varying amounts depending on the injury – knockouts being worth $1,500 and cart-offs worth $1,000 with payments doubling and tripling during the playoffs.
According to the league, the bounty program was administered by Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, with the express knowledge (and therefore implied consent) of head coach Sean Payton.
Williams apparently had a similar system while working for the Washington Redskins as their defensive coordinator. Former Redskin Matt Bowen said in a column for the Chicago Tribune on Friday that he didn’t regret taking part in the bounty program because it was the team’s way “to extra-motivate.”
Former Bills safety Coy Wire told The Buffalo News that Williams also promoted the bounty program while he coached at Buffalo, telling the paper that there was “financial compensation” for inflicting injuries on opposing teams’ players. “[Hurting an opponent] was commended and encouraged” he went on to say.
Tom Benson, owner of the Saints, was apparently aware of the bounty program and ordered team general manager Mickey Loomis to halt it, which he failed to do. Sean Payton, a coach who is often revered for his sportsmanship and class, also failed to stop the program despite first-hand knowledge of its existence. This does not bode well for the reputation of the New Orleans Saints administration.
Damien Woody tweeted:
@damienwoody: This ‘bounty’ program happens all around the league…not surprising
@damienwoody: The bigger question w/ this ‘bounty’ issue is…..WHO SNITCHED?!?!
Those who are quick to dismiss the pay-for injury bounty program would do well to remember their stance on the Patriots’ involvement in SpyGate. Many sources confirmed that multiple teams in the NFL taped the signals of other teams without their knowledge, but the Patriots were just the first to ‘get caught.’ While against NFL league rules, SpyGate did not involve willful and malicious injury to other human beings for a small payday.
ProFootballChick has learned that the Redskins will now be investigated for their bounty programs as well. Commissioner Roger Goodell sent the following memo to the league’s owners:
As you know, league rules have long prohibited payment of non-contract bonuses — often referred to as “bounties.” These payments are prohibited whether offered generally, or in the context of a particular game or a player’s performance against a particular team. Such payments are contrary to rules relating to player contracts and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and present a serious threat to the integrity of the game.
A particularly damaging form of bounty payment involves targeting an opposing player and offering payments for acts directed against that player.
Our office will shortly issue a press release based on the attached confidential report setting forth the key findings of a lengthy investigation into allegations that players on the New Orleans Saints violated the bounty rule during the 2009-11 seasons, and did so with the knowledge and assistance of certain members of the coaching staff.
These allegations first arose during the playoffs following the 2009 season. Despite a prompt response, NFL Security could not substantiate the allegations, in part because players declined to provide any information. During the latter part of the 2011 season, we received additional information that led us to reopen the investigation.
Over the past three months, our staff has reviewed some 18,000 documents and conducted multiple interviews. The findings in the accompanying documents are corroborated by multiple independent sources.
The investigation established that Saints defensive players regularly contributed cash into a pool, from which players received cash payments for certain achievements, including interceptions, fumble recoveries, etc. But players also received cash payments for “knock-outs” and “cart-offs” — plays on which an opposing player was forced to leave the game. These cash awards were in the $1,000 to $1,500 range. Funds were also occasionally contributed by at least one assistant coach.
This conduct obviously has no place in our game and I intend to take all steps necessary to make sure that it stops immediately. Each owner should promptly review this matter with his coaching staff to make sure that this or any related impermissible activity is not taking place at his club.
Throughout this process, we have received the full cooperation of Saints owner Tom Benson. There is no information suggesting that club ownership knew of or approved these actions.
I will hold further proceedings before imposing discipline and will, of course, advise all clubs of any disciplinary action. We will discuss this matter at the upcoming Annual Meeting.
Any club with questions may contact Jeff Pash or me.
BY: Jess Dempsey
All year, NFL “analysts”, and I use the term lightly because they often give their opinions and truly aren’t analyzing much, have been referring to the New England Patriots defense with a slew of less-than-flattering adjectives (“terrible”, “untalented”, and “slow” being among those). But, when it has really mattered, last week against the Broncos, and this week versus the Ravens, the Patriot’s defense showed up, and they showed up in a big way.
Integral, key plays by linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Sterling Moore helped prevent a win for the Baltimore Ravens. Spikes intercepted Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco to turn the momentum back to the Patriots in the fourth quarter. Although Brady would negate that play with an interception of his own, Spikes’ interception lit up the crowd and took precious time off the clock. Another key play maker for the Patriots was Sterling Moore. Moore stripped Baltimore receiver Lee Evans of the ball in the end zone at the last second, preventing what most in the stadium thought was a sure touchdown. The entire place erupted in cheers for the backup cornerback from SMU.
” It was just a split-second decision and I’m glad it worked out,” Moore said. “We do that drill everyday in practice, but it was the first time I had to use it in a game, and I just took what I learned from practice into the game.”
You can’t talk about the Patriots’ defense without giving major props to tackle Vince Wilfork, who earned shouts of “MVP! MVP!” as his smiling face was shown on the Jumbotron at Gillette Stadium after the win. Wilfork had six tackles, three for a loss, including a key play with little more than three minutes remaining in the third quarter where he dropped Ray Rice for a three-yard loss.
Wilfork said that despite what many said, he “never lost faith in [our] defense.”
Some will say that Cundiff lost it for the Ravens, missing a 32-yard field goal at the end that would have sent the game into overtime. But, without such a stellar showing by the Patriots’ defense, the Ravens wouldn’t even have needed a field goal because they would have been 7-14 points ahead.
Bottom Line: The Patriots defense is an athletic, talented crew, and if they play in the Super Bowl like they’ve played the last two games, they will present quite a problem to Eli Manning and the red-hot Giants.
Pro Football Chick will be reporting LIVE from Indianapolis at the Super Bowl. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JessDempNFL to get updates!
By: Jessica Dempsey
Who is Victor Cruz? Besides an adept salsa dancer, as we found out after his 44-yard reception for a touchdown in the Giants’ win over the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, Cruz is a former UMass Minuteman who may be the saving grace of the Giants’ season. Prior to this season, Cruz was an overlooked bench rider, but this season has been an integral part of the Giants, playing in all 16 games, receiving 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. In the Giants’ last stand Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, Cruz caught 6 passes for 178 yards and scored one touchdown that helped the Giants toward their 31-14 victory, clinching the NFC East title and a coveted spot in the playoffs.
Coach Tom Coughlin said that his new star started to show his brilliance once given an opportunity to play:
“He was willing and had the ability and put himself in positions where he could take full advantage – he just started to grow and develop … [multiple times Cruz has] given us a spark or put us in a position to win games – it is truly amazing.”
What’s even more incredible is, like many outstanding players these days, Victor Cruz did not play his college ball at Ohio State or Florida or Texas. He played at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the Minutemen, a Division 1 team that, starting in 2012, will play in the Mid-American Conference, becoming bowl eligible in 2013. Despite not starting a game until his junior year, he finished his career at UMass with 131 catches for nearly 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, ranking him 4th all-time in receptions at UMass. Cruz went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft, but was later signed by the New York Giants. Good move, blue.
At the start of the 2010 preseason, Cruz garnered media attention by catching 6 passes for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns in a game against the New York Jets. At the end of the preseason, he led the NFL with 297 receiving yards. A hamstring injury would put him on the IR for the remainder of the season. Fans were left wanting more, having had a small taste of what the young wide receiver could accomplish.
Unlike Cam Newton, who was followed throughout his college career and into the NFL, Victor Cruz’s path is more like that of New England Patriots’ underdog success story Danny Woodhead. Skilled, but relatively unnoticed until given a chance – and it appears we have only scratched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Cruz’s skills.
What role do you think Cruz will play in the Giants’ quest for another Super Bowl ring?
By: Jess Dempsey
Christian. Religious. NFL. If we were playing word association, you’d probably be thinking about Tim Tebow (QB – Broncos) right now. And although the Broncos fourth-quarter miracle-maker quarterback is probably the most outspoken about his faith, you would be hard pressed to watch an NFL game where at least one player does not point to the sky or take a knee after a touchdown to thank God. Christianity is very well represented in the National Football League. What gives? Is the profession conducive to inspiring faith among players? Do players convert each other in the locker room? Is it the abundance of NFL players that hail from the Bible Belt? Or, is God himself rewarding faith with success? I suppose how you answer that question would depend on your own personal beliefs. But, you have to think – why are there so many Christians in the NFL?
Statistics about religion in the NFL are hard to come by. I don’t know every player to call them up and ask about their faith, and many players choose to keep such matters private. Understandable, but for the purposes of this article, then, we’ll have to rely on the players who are outspoken about their religious preferences. You know about Tim Tebow. There’s also Ray Lewis, star linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, who was featured on the cover of a 2006 issue of Sports Illustrated in a story about his Christian faith. Retired Quarterback Kurt Warner (Rams, Giants, Cardinals) was and is an outspoken evangelical Christian. Former corner and return specialist Deion Sanders is another well-known name who counts Jesus as his personal savior. Drew Brees, who only recently broke Dan Marino’s NFL single-season passing record, is also a devout Christian. One player who constantly, it seems, tweets about God and his faith is Cardinals wide receiver Chansi Stuckey. On his Twitter account, Stuckey describes himself as a Christ Ambassador first, Arizona Cardinal second. Matt Hasslebeck (Titans) and Chad Ochocinco (Patriots) also voice their faith via social media outlets. Beloved former Coach and current analyst (and all-around nice guy) Tony Dungy is very outspoken about his faith. As is Steelers star Troy Polamalu. There are hundreds more. Take the time to follow your favorite athlete on Facebook and Twitter, and pay attention to their posts. Most are thanking God after a great game (and praying after a loss.)
There are some who criticize the proud displays of faith, especially those performed on the football field. While a Heisman-winning Quarterback at Florida, Tebow frequently had white Bible verses etched into his eye black. In 2010, a rule known informally as the “Tebow Rule” was instituted by the NCAA that prohibited messages on eye paint. While messages on eye black have been banned by the NFL for a long time, it reasons that unless the display of faith is violent, perverse, offensive or otherwise undermines the sportsmanlike candor or play desired by the NFL, expressions of faith should be allowed in the league. This applies to not only Christians, but Buddhists, Muslims and those of other faiths as well.
Back to our friend Tim Tebow. What he may lack in finesse, he surely makes up for in leadership ability. His coaches love him, his teammates love him, and work harder for him – and the fans, well – his jersey sales speak volumes. The expression of faith should not add to, nor take away from, a player’s talent, integrity and leadership. Do people love Tebow because of his faith? Well, some may. But suffice it to say, most people who love Tebow, love his heart. If that heart is influenced by faith in God, who is to have a problem with that?
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By: Jessica Dempsey
The NFL Blackout Rule, which has been in effect since 1973 is decidedly anti-fan, and despite the rule’s intentions to drive fans into the stadiums and generate revenue, recent research conducted by Yale Professor Subrata Sen has concluded that television viewership actually dwarfs all other sources of team revenue. Meaning, the rule is no longer accomplishing its original goals.
Professor Sen and co-author William Putsis estimated the rule’s effect on individual revenues in their paper “Should NFL Blackouts Be Banned?” which was published in Applied Economics. The NFL Blackout Rule bars the local broadcast of games that aren’t sold out at least 72 hours prior to game time, leaving many teams’ fans in the dark.
“This is an outdated rule…that affects fans of teams like Tampa Bay and Cincinnati…but the Blackout Rule hasn’t gotten fans to buy more tickets,” argues ProFootballChick contributor Darran Davis.
In fact, in tough economic times, with ticket prices soaring, the policy does nothing but leave a bad taste in many fans’ mouths. Within the last month, legislation has been proposed and a petition filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking to reverse the rule.
Professor Sen, who has studied the economic implications of NFL blackouts, states that “when [the rule] was imposed in the 1970s, its rationale was supported by the fact that non-television revenue contributed more than two-thirds of each team’s revenue.”
But, as stated in the beginning of this article, that is no longer the case. In the paper, authors Sen and Putsis calculated that blackouts increase a team’s game-day revenues by approximately $400,000 on average. However, by estimating the cost per television viewer and the intrinsic value that consumers place on being able to view the game on television, they found that the value to fans watching the game on television is much higher than the revenue gained from the imposition of blackouts.
NFL fan Sean Davey questions the rule, saying:
“It comes down to ticket prices and the cost of bringing people to games. Why spend $400 plus on tickets, in addition to parking, food and beverages, when you can watch the game from home or at a bar – especially if the team is not producing on the field? You would think that the league would want to eliminate the Blackout Rule as it would promote the team to the local market – and may even lead to selling some extra tickets. Those who are already at the stadium aren’t going to leave because the team is now on local television. They are at the game because they enjoy the experience, but not all fans have the ability (physical, monetary or otherwise) to attend games …”
This rule essentially denies fans who are unable (for whatever reason) to attend games in person the ability to cheer for their team. Loyalty should be rewarded, not punished. In the end, these teams may be losing fans, which, in the long run, will cost them a lot more than $400,000. However, as fan Jess Millward stated, “In markets where blackouts occur, they can’t give away tickets!” This is true, and as Millward accurately noted, in Florida, the Bucs are secondary to the Gators, in an environment that favors college football over the NFL.
Wherever you stand on the issue, what is clear to everyone is that the rule is certainly antiquated in the digital age and will hopefully be reversed by the FCC soon.
Article by Jess Dempsey
Although it has recently been explained to me that the derogatory term “pink hats” has come to describe any fair-weather sports fan, it originally described the women who I like to call Brady Blondes, who wear pink sports paraphernalia to look “like, so totally cute!” while knowing nothing and caring not about the game. I must add a disclaimer that pink is my favorite color, so this post is not an attack on the color or those who like wearing sports paraphernalia that is pink. Also, notice that it’s not just the knowing nothing that counts. Every sports fan has to start somewhere, and not all of us are lucky enough to have a mother obsessed with NFL football (Hi, Mom) and a Dad who kept WEEI on during entire car rides to hear the Red Sox games (Hi, Dad).
Those who are genuinely eager to learn about a sport but have no knowledge of the sport are not included in this term. I am talking about the girls who know who Tom Brady is only because “he’s like OMG so hot and married to Gisele.” I call them the Brady Blondes, as they generally wear a #12 jersey to games (because none of them could name another play if they tried). Although now, I am seeing more and more #83 jerseys popping up. (Wes just has those dreamy blue eyes, doesn’t he?)
Some may argue that they fill seats so that’s all that matters. I would counter against that argument strongly. If you don’t like something, don’t care to engage in it or learn about it, why pay money to sit around looking bored and making an “ugh” face for several hours – inevitably making the game LESS enjoyable for the true fans around you?
I absolutely hate golf. Not mini-golf, but real golf. I think it’s boring and I can’t understand how people who watch it derive some sort of enjoyment from it. I may try to play a round at some point in my life, but it probably won’t become a regular thing. Due to all the aforementioned reasons, I don’t talk about, write about, watch, or pretend to know about, golf. I respect people who do, I just don’t.
Life is short enough as it is, so why spend any time pretending to like something you don’t like? It baffles me. I have a dear friend whose name shall remain private, who absolutely hates football. Hates. And that’s fine. But the minute she dates a guy who likes football, suddenly she’s trawling ESPN every day for things to impress him with. The thing is, people can spot a fake. And not being true to yourself will always come back to bite you in the ass. Want to impress someone who likes football? Know nothing about it yourself? A simple, “Oh, I don’t follow football, and am not sure I like it. But I am interested in the business side of women’s sports apparel (or something like that)” will do.
Bottom line: pink hats, stop being fake. You make it hard for the rest of us ladies who are actually real fans to get any sort of respect.
After the San Francisco 49ers dealt the Detroit Lions their first loss on the season, 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh trotted happily over to Lions Coach Jim Schwartz for the traditional coaches’ handshake and gave him a strong grip and spirited pat on the back. Then we see Schwartz turn around with fire in his eyes and chase after Harbaugh, bumping Harbaugh’s shoulder with his. As a growing number of players from both sides rally around their coaches, we see Schwartz continue to follow Harbaugh.
Schwartz refuses any culpability in the incident, saying:
“I went to congratulate Coach Harbaugh and got shoved out of the way,” Schwartz said. “And then I didn’t expect an obscenity at that point, so it was a surprise to me at the end of the game.”
I’ve seen the video several times, and don’t clearly see an obscenity being mouthed by Harbaugh. Regardless, it seems that Schwartz was already upset by his team’s first loss of the season and Harbaugh’s overzealous contact threw him into a fit. But that is no excuse for Schwartz’s behavior. This is a passionate game, and Schwartz should know that as his overreactions on the sideline this season have been plentiful – cursing at players and referees alike. Hypocritical much? Perhaps.
What should be mentioned is Harbaugh’s statement after the game. He said, simply:
“That is totally on me,” Harbaugh said. “I shook his hand too hard. I really went in, and it was a strong, kind of a slap-grab handshake.”
A classy statement to be sure, but no expletive or overzealous pat could warrant Schwartz’s inappropriate reaction. Being an NFL coach, you need to behave with a certain measure of integrity and class, which may in some instances require ignoring barbs and insults. Because, as the leader of your team, you set a very powerful example. What does it say to the Lions that their Coach could not maintain his composure in this situation?
We may have more information tomorrow from the league about whether an investigation will occur or if the coaches will face any fines.
Carson Palmer traded to the Raiders for two first round draft picks
Brandon Lloyd to the Rams for 5th or 6th round draft pick
Jon Lester say's the Red Sox only drank beer and ate fried chicken in the clubhouse once a month
Jets crush the Dolphins on Monday Night Football 24-6
Jim Scwarts, Jim Hardbaugh not fined after confrontation
Al Davis, legendary NFL owner, commissioner and deal-maker, passed away last week. The tributes to the stoic pro football mainstay have flooded into ESPN, Fox Sports and many blogs. But we have also heard about the not-so-nice side of Al Davis. As a man who “demanded excellence” from players and personnel, he did not seem to demand the same from himself as the Raiders had merely merely a handful of winning seasons in the last 20 years. The team’s facilities were also among the worst in the NFL.
What good can be said about Al Davis? Well, for one, he was an innovator who had a great eye for scouting up-and-coming talent like Jim Plunkett, who Davis scooped up after the San Francisco 49ers released him in 1977. Most importantly, in my view, he was color-blind in his hiring practices during a time when most NFL owners were rich old white men who thought diversity belonged only belonged on the field. Davis hired the first Latino and African-American coaches, and first female CEO in the National Football League.
But as loyal as he was to his team, he could also turn on you in the blink of an eye. An old curmudgeon, Davis often berated players and members of the press for no specific reason – he had a cantankerous personality and was quick-tempered. Bill Belichick shows more joy and emotion than did Al Davis.
Despite misgivings about him, we should remember the contributions he made to the game, and the league as a whole. After all, he played an interesting role in the AFL-NFL merger – an absolutely fascinating story if you have the time.
On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders beat the Houston Texans 25-20 in an emotional victory that rang true to Davis’ famous demand, “Win, baby win.”
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Braylon Edwards and New England Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco set twitter ablaze yesterday when they both made controversial tweets.
Ochocinco got riled up by several Boston fans who tweeted barbs to the celebrity football player about his recent play (or lack thereof). Ocho lost his cool and replied with profanity-laced tweets to the fans. If you can’t handle criticism with class, especially in a city like Boston, where fans are extremely vocal and brash, then you should not be on social networking sites. People in the public eye are especially susceptible to criticism, and if you play professional sports, making an obscene amount of money each year, you can (and should) expect that fans barely scraping by with their 9 to 5 job are going to razz you for disappointing performance. It’s not just a Boston thing, it’s a sports fan thing. You’re paid well, we expect you to earn that paycheck. That being said, I think Ocho is very talented – and as such he is a role model. Thankfully, he deleted those tweets minutes after posting them.
Braylon Edwards (@OfficialBraylon) tweeted last night, “You can’t be a fat chick and wear a skin tight dress. I almost lost my dinner.” Well, Braylon, if “fat chicks” shouldn’t be able to wear tight dresses, NFL players who are arrested for DWI and who are STILL currently on probation as a result of the incident should not be allowed to play. If that was the case, you’d be benched, sir. Also, your team, the San Francisco 49ers, is doing very well this year, but don’t let that go to your head. You still cannot get away with insulting women. How did your Mama raise you?
If the NFL isn’t careful, it’s going to become known as a league that allows idiots who shoot themselves, run dog fighting rings and drive under the influence to play and earn ridiculous salaries. I am not an advocate of many regulations, but I think implementing a league-wide code of conduct would do well to discourage bad behavior. You violate the rules or get arrested, you’re out. Have a blast living on $30,000 a year. News outlets should not hire these players either. In a world where us regular folk have to deal with consequences every day, it would be nice to know that athletes are held to a high standard as well.
Also a message to Braylon Edwards:
Your stats thus far this season: 4 receptions, 48 yards, 0 touchdowns.
Methinks you should spend more time at practice and with your playbook and less time commenting on women you may see out. Your stats make 49ers fans unable to eat their dinners.
The Chicago Cubs have reportedly agreed with Theo Epstein on a 5 year close to $20 Million Dollar Deal for Theo to become the new President of the Cubs.
The Boston Globe has released an article written by Bob Hohler which digs into the problems with the Red Sox ownership, atmosphere in the club house and accuses certain players of being careless to the team.
"The indifference of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey in a time of crisis can be seen in what team sources say became their habit of drinking beer, eating fast-food fried chicken, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games while their teammates tried to salvage a once-promising season."
Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have mentioned that players may start their own league if NBA Lock Out wipes out the 2011-2012 NBA Season.
Tigers win game three 5-2 against the Rangers on Tuesday and now trail 2-1 in the Best of 7 ALCS.
Game 4 is this afternoon at 4:15pm
The Cardinals and Brewers are knotted up at 1-1 in the NLCS, Game 4 is tonight at 8:05 PM.
The New York Jets have traded WR Derrik Mason to the Houston Texans for an undisclosed 3rd Round Draft Pick
Looking for a fun Read Check out Jessica Dempsey's article about the Come Back Kids, The Detroit Lions! Click Read More for Article!