Category Archives: National Football League

Patriots 2015 Campaign: Out for Revenge?

By Josh Roeloffs

Before the Patriots preseason opener, Rob Gronkowski was asked, in response to deflategate, if he thinks Tom Brady is “more motivated and focused because of everything that is going on,” and Gronk laughed it off, making the point that Brady is always focused and motivated regardless of what’s going on.

How many times have you seen or heard the headlines, “Patriots Starting Revenge Tour” or “Patriots will be out to get their Revenge?” Obviously a Patriots’ player would have said that they were out for blood this season. The media wouldn’t just make this into an episode of the Road Runner would they?

When you take a closer look, a Patriots’ player has never even mentioned revenge once in an interview. Just like Gronk was practically asked if this would motivate Brady, he replied like it was obvious. It won’t.

Sure! The Patriots may have a little extra motivation, but is it necessary to label a season as a “season of revenge.” Possibly a more engaging story would be how Tom Brady’s start of the season could lead to an MVP and another deep push in the playoffs for his team; or if the Patriots can win another Super Bowl, how it will affect the Patriots’ relationship with the NFL or the fans.

So far this season, the Patriots have been phenomenal. Heading into their bye week, the Patriots are 3-0 and, first in the league in yards per game, second in the league in points per game, first in pass yards per game, and third in the league in interceptions. Already beating the Steelers, Bills, and Jaguars, the Patriots hope to keep this early momentum going.

Coming out of their bye-week, the Patriots will be facing the Cowboys on October 11th. The Patriots will be looking to improve their record to a perfect 4-0 in the first quarter of the regular season.

As the season comes closer to the mid-way mark and closer to a time in which the Patriots can truly make a statement, Tom Brady was asked about the whole situation by NBC sports, he replied by saying, “I need to be tough enough to overcome controversy.” It’s important when playing for a team as popular and publicized at the Patriots to keep composure like Brady mentions.

At the end of the day, the Patriots are heading into week five unbeaten and ready to play some football and compete at a high level in the NFL.

Protecting It’s Players or “Protecting the Shield”

by Nicholas Muhl

“We’ll take a quick break while the trainers tend to the player down.” I have never heard this statement made by football broadcasters more than this National Football League season. As of last week, according to official NFL statistics, 15 percent of NFL players had suffered some type of injury through the first two weeks of the season.

15 percent. That’s 234 players.

If you want to take a look at it another way, NFL teams can have an active roster of 53 players. That means that over four full active NFL rosters had suffered an injury out of 32 total NFL teams. Worse than you thought, right?

This past weekend was highlighted by even more injuries, specifically Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who suffered an MCL sprain and bone bruise to his left knee. He joins starting quarterbacks Drew Brees (Saints), Tony Romo (Cowboys) and Jay Cutler (Bears) on a growing list of high profile NFL players who have suffered serious injuries this season.

A lot of sports media coverage has been highlighting these individual NFL injuries, specifically the quarterbacks ones, but coverage of the overall issue seems to be lacking. A simple google search of “15 percent of NFL players hurt” will provide you with very limited results. Outside and one Bleacher Report article, the only coverage of this issue seems to be on the many low profile sports blogs. ESPN and other major sports media outlets continue to shy away from serious dialogue about the growing injury problem in the NFL. They rather spend most of their time discussing how long players will be out and how it effects our fantasy football lineups.

The NFL continues to damage control as it faces more and more questions about the safety of it’s players and medical care after their careers have ended. According to a report released by Frontline earlier this month,  87 of 91 deceased former NFL players that were included in their study tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The leading cause for CTE is repetitive trauma to the head. This report comes just a few weeks after the trailer of the new movie Concussion, which stars Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu. A doctor who challenged the NFL’s policy’s and medical treatment of players, specifically after retirement, when he discovered CTE in the brains of several NFL players.

Despite new medical research being done everyday and legal action being taken against the NFL, it seems that the major media still is shying away from the issue. Whether its because the NFL is working to repairs its image in cooperation with the media or because major media decides fantasy football and other coverage brings in better ratings, something needs to change. The media needs to begin asking the question, is the NFL and commisioner Roger Goodell truly doing everything in their power to protect it’s players? Or are they more concerned with “protecting the shield.”

Free Agent Frenzy

By Paul Duncan

March 16, 2015

NFL free agency has gotten off to one of the fastest starts in history. Moves have been happening by the hour and it has been hard to keep up with. Thankfully there is Twitter and the race between reporters to get it first and get it right.

On March 10th we had a quarterback swap, a 26 QB retire, Jimmy Graham got traded, and Darrelle Revis went back to the Jets. Some of these events were rumored and others came out of the blue but most of this news was broken on twitter. The one man at the center of all of this is ESPN’s Adam Schefter who has the following and the skills to be considered the king of breaking NFL news.

Many people don’t even consider a rumor to be true until Schefter reports this. But in looking at his tweets he just says he gets them from “sources” while not mentioning who they are. After a quick look into it I discovered that local beat reporters usually report it first and then the big ESPN guys fact check it.

These writers who cover one team for a newspaper, radio, or blog based website. Sometimes these writers get their sources directly from the team like Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News, who broke news about the Scott Chandler release and was one of the first to break the Jerry Hughes signing.

Other reporters like Dustin Fox use personal connections. Dustin Fox and Brian Hartline both went Ohio State so when Hartline signed with the Browns he told Dustin first.  The most direct free agent news has come straight from source, or the player himself.  Andre Johnson was the very first to confirm that he was signing with the Colts via Instagram.

All these different methods of breaking NFL news in addition the frantic pace have made this free agency period one of the most exciting ever, and it’s not even halfway done. Oh and we still have the NFL Draft where rumors really can swirl around. The NFL media help make the NFL’s offseason the most exciting in sports.

The Battle Continues for Dan Snyder

By Kaleb Page

February 26, 2015

For the owner of the Washington professional football team, Dan Snyder, there is a big issue surrounding his long-standing team. The team name has drawn much fire over the past few years and more recently has seen a spike in attention.

The team name as many know is the Washington Redskins. To many (if not all) in the Native American community this term ‘redskin’ is seen as a racial slur. The battle has waged on with not only prominent Native American representatives but also the U.S. government with the owner Snyder.

This past year the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cancelled the Redskins’ trademark with the reasoning being that it may be offensive to Native Americans. This ruling was a big blow to the brand that has been around the NFL for decades. Ultimately making the logo, name, etc. something to be freely marketed upon with no need to recognize the formal organization that is the NFL team.

This past Monday, court papers were filed by lawyers representing the team to fight the original ruling saying that the decision to cancel the trademark violates the first amendment right of free-speech and unfairly singles the team out.

The quote from the lawyers taken by the Associated Press essentially states that the court acted unfairly by picking sides.

“For disfavored treatment based solely on the content of its protected speech, interfering with the ongoing public discourse over the Redskins’ name by choosing sides and cutting of the debate.” – Team Attorneys

I find it interesting that this topic is kind of under the radar right now. I know that it is not football season and with ‘March Madness’ and other sports ramping up it can be lost in the mix. However, this debate and finale ruling could be huge in either direction.

This battle between owner Dan Snyder and the government/Native American community is dragging out and it seems like no end is in sight. Which could be something where we don’t see a final say so or even change for many years down the road.

Since I am neither a Native American or Washington Redskins fan, I don’t have a true stake in the matter. I do see the side of the Native Americans with having the name changed since it is offensive to them and there are thousands of other choices for mascots.

Likewise, I do see the whole side of the team saying the term in this context is not intended to offend. I don’t think you necessarily pick a mascot to be offensive or to be something that you think is an unworthy representative of your team.

Then again it probably easier for me to say since I am not in the shoes of Native Americans that are truly offended by the name. Ultimately even though I don’t have a personal stake in the matter, I do think the name change needs to be made.

Mr. Snyder, make the change…now.

Above I put a more serious debate on the issue of the name, but below this is a video done by The Daily Show with a serious look at the issue while still giving a bit of satire toward the stance of Snyder and the organization.

Media Weighs in on Cleveland Browns Starting Quarterback Position

By Nick Muhl

Late in the fourth quarter of the Cleveland Browns game Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills, starting Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was benched for the rookie Johnny Manziel. The highly awaited move by Browns head coach Mike Pettine was loudly cheered for as Mr. “Money” Manziel stepped on the field. Manziel did lead the Browns on their single touchdown-scoring drive of the day, capped off by a Johnny Manziel rushing touchdown. Following the 26-10 loss, the Browns coach did not make a decision on who the starting quarterback would be the next week for the Browns versus the Indianapolis Colts.

In his past three games, Hoyer has thrown one touchdown and six interceptions. The Browns have lost two of their   last three games. Despite his slow streak in the past three games, Hoyer still has the Browns at a 7-5 record and facing their best chance to win the AFC North and capture a playoff spot in many seasons. However Hoyer still faces losing his starting position to the former Texas A&M heisman trophy winner.

Hoyer had this to say about his starting position on Monday in a post-practice interview, “You don’t get to 7-5 in the NFL just lucking into it,” Hoyer said. “It’s been a lot of hard work, and I think I’ve proven that I’ve gotten us to this point. I feel like I can carry us through the next four games.”

The Cleveland Browns traded up in the first round of this past year’s draft to select Johnny Manziel with the intention of him one day being the starting quarterback for the franchise. However, is the time now? Up until this point Pettine has remained firm in his position that the veteran Hoyer gives the Browns the best chance to win.

There is no denying Johnny Manziel’s popularity, following the NFL draft Manziel remained the number one NFL selling jersey for many months. His level of popularity has already put pressure by the media on the Browns franchise to answer the question, when will Johnny become the starting quarterback for the Browns?

After benching Hoyer this past Sunday, the media pressure has reached an all-time high. According to Washington Post writer Mark Maske, there is no turning back now for the Cleveland Browns franchise,

“The Browns invested plenty of hope in Manziel when they drafted him, and now it should be time to find out whether he can deliver. It’s the way of the NFL. Once a team turns to its young, would-be franchise quarterback, it generally stays with him until he demonstrates whether or not he can play. It would be extremely difficult to go back to Hoyer now.”

The Washington Post wasn’t the only paper to publish articles urging that now is the time for Johnny Manziel to be given the job. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chicago Tribune, ESPN blog writers and many more all weighed in this week on the largest new story in the NFL at the moment. An overwhelming majority appealing to Pettine to give the headline grabbing rookie a chance this week against Andrew Luck.

The Browns franchise has faced many obstacles in its search for its first Super Bowl and a franchise quarterback. Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, and Colt McCoy are just a few high draft picks the Browns have used over the past 15 seasons in hopes of finding a franchise quarterback who could lead them to victory and capture an AFC North title. It remains to be seen if Manziel will be given the chance this week against Indianapolis. 

DEA Stages Surprise Inspections of NFL Locker Rooms

By Nick Muhl

Following a Sunday full of NFL football in mid-November, the sports sections of newspapers nationwide typically highlight the many games with playoff implications. This Monday’s NFL headlines highlighted three surprise DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) raids of NFL lockers rooms, rather than the games themselves.

The three teams tested were the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the San Francisco 49ers. The law enforcement officials for the DEA on site investigated and interviewed all three team doctors and trainers.

John Barr, an ESPN reporter for Outside The Lines, received confirmation from a law enforcement official , that the surprise investigations were linked back to a May 2014 lawsuit that rose concern of the three teams violating the Controlled Substances Act. All three teams fully cooperated with the DEA’s investigation.  According to Sally Jenkins for the Washington Post, the investigation may have had something to do with painkillers and the distribution of them by team physicians outside of their registered practice.

Here is an excerpt from Barr’s article, a statement made by Phil Closuis, one of the attorneys representing retired NFL players in their own lawsuit against the NFL:

“I think it’s great that the DEA is taking this seriously. We alleged back on May 20th that the NFL was issuing these controlled substances and prescription medicines in an illegal manner and nobody has really disputed the factual basis of that claim.”

The fact that many newspapers and other media outlets will lead their NFL coverage with this story is a huge step forward for the NFL and will hopefully improve public relations. It is no hidden fact that the NFL has remained under siege of the media, fans, and others concerning the safety of their athletes and the lawsuits and accusations being made by former NFL players. This investigation is directly related to the NFL changing its enforcement of the safety and health codes it has now put in place in hopes of preventing future lawsuits and keeping the players safe.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy commented on the DEA activities Sunday, “Our teams cooperated with the DEA today and we have no information to indicate that irregularities were found.” While the DEA may have surprised the NFL with its investigation of the three teams on Sunday, the NFL fully cooperated and that shows the NFL is continuing its effort to not only protect its players, but repair the league’s damaged image in the eyes of media outlets, and fans.

Harbaugh’s Comments Highlight Sports Journalism Issue

By Nick Muhl

Following his team’s win versus the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh decided in his post-game speech to take a “shot” against their division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens lost last week to the Steelers in a blowout 43-23, where Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdowns.

That was a tough challenge. We have a team coming off a bye week. You had a team in this room off a very physical Sunday night game. You know what I’m saying? Saw what happened on the other part of that, right? Strike that from the record books, ok? Is that NFL? Are you with us or them? Make sure that doesn‘t get…What I’m about to say doesn‘t get talked about, ok? That team beat us last week, okay? All right? Then they went and got their [a-s] kicked this week. This team was in the same game and went and got the job done this week. That’s who you are. That’s who you are. Congratulations” said Harbaugh shortly before he handed out this week’s game ball.

The video of Harbaugh making the comments has since been deleted from the website it was published and from Youtube, but can still be viewed here:

Harbaugh’s opinion on the Steelers is no surprise. Without a doubt the Head Coach of a winning football team who beat the Steelers earlier in the year, believes that his Raven’s are the superior team to the Steelers. However, there is a bigger issue at hand with Harbaugh’s comments.

As read in the above quote, and clarified by the Raven’s front office on Monday, Harbaugh’s comments were supposed to remain off the record. As mentioned by Dan Carson, sports writer for Bleacher Report, Harbaugh “made a point of asking the CBS camera crew in the Baltimore locker room not to air the footage.” Clearly though, the coaches request was not met by the CBS crew.

This arises a very popular talked about topic in journalism, especially sports journalism, what is “off the record” and does it really exist?

“Off the Record” is a journalism concept that an interviewee, or any person for that matter, can make a comment or answer a question privately to a journalist. It is common belief that the comment, or quote, cannot be published or in this case aired on TV. From my own personal experiences shadowing Tom Archdeacon, sports writer for the Dayton Daily News, “off the record” is merely a journalists tool to gaining more information.

While shadowing Archdeacon, I observed him use the “off the record” tactic to learn information from one player. He would then take the information he just learned and create a new question for a new player to get him to divulge farther into the topic that was once “off the record.”

Every journalist has their own code of journalism ethics they follow. Archdeacon’s use of the “off the record” followed his own code of journalism ethics. He didn’t necessarily publish what was said “off the record” but he did use the information to his advantage. In Harbaugh’s case however, the journalist filming the post-game speech did not have the same code of ethics as Archdeacon.

The harsh truth to realize, especially for those involved with sports who are interviewed often like Harbaugh, “off the record” does not exist. In today’s society anything you say can and will be used against you, especially in journalism. No matter the time of day or who you are talking to, it is important for those in the sports community to realize that they say can be published by the media. While Harbaugh and the Ravens have every right to be upset that the footage was published, in the age of social media and constant flow of information being posted and read online, the Ravens and the sports community as a whole need to come to realize the “free-for-all” game that is sports journalism.