Tag Archives: NFL

The Early Trials of Ben McAdoo

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

It is widely known that players and coaches of New York’s professional sports teams are subject to scrutiny that might not exist for smaller market clubs. If he wasn’t aware of this before, Ben McAdoo, Head Coach of the New York Giants, now certainly understands the magnitude of operating in the epicenter of professional sports.

As the Giants near the midway point of the NFL season, they sport a record of 4-3 which falls a bit short of the hefty expectations that were placed on them heading into the year. This team, which missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in 2015, underwent a massive and expensive rebuild in the off-season. The Giants handed out over $200 million in free agency in an attempt to revamp an atrocious defense that plagued them last year and then followed suit in the 2016 NFL Draft when they selected cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick. However, the changes didn’t just come in terms of players but also with coaching. Following the disappointing 2015 season, two-time Super Bowl winning Head Coach, Tom Coughlin, decided to step down, leading to the eventual promotion of Ben McAdoo from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach for the first time in his career. Obviously there were going to be a few growing pains stemming from the changes  made, but no one could have predicted the problems that would surround the Giants in the first few weeks of the 2016 season. To expect a rookie Head Coach to handle these problems with ease would be an unreasonable assumption.

Odell Beckham Jr., who has shined in his first two seasons with New York, has been a topic of discussion among the media so far this year. While the Giants were able to get off to a 2-0 start to begin the season, disappointment ensued when they relinquished a late lead to the NFC East rival Washington Redskins in a 29-27 loss. Beckham had the camera turned on him for the most part of the game due to the highly anticipated match up between him and CB Josh Norman. Beckham was able to have a very productive day, catching seven passes for a combined 121 yards and drawing multiple penalties. While he was able to do well on the field, what he did off of it was a different story. Following a stalled possession, Beckham took out his frustration on the sideline when he struck a kicking net that responded by bouncing back and hitting the receiver in the face. This humorous highlight was then played on loop in the following week while reporters discussed the player’s struggles to handle his emotions. In their next game against the Vikings, Odell once again had the spotlight on him when he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on a day where nothing went his way. Following these outbursts, Odell released a statement where he was quoted as saying, “I’m not having fun anymore,” when talking about playing football.

Odell seemed to have changed his ways in the next couple weeks where he manged to keep his emotions in check and make fun of his altercation with the kicking net on multiple occasions. But in a game against the Baltimore Ravens, after scoring a game winning touchdown to cap off a career day which included a staggering 222 yards receiving, he cost his team when he removed his helmet on the field leading to an unsportsmanlike penalty. These sideline tantrums have turned into an unnecessary distraction for a team with playoff aspirations and have also put Beckham’s teammates and coaches in a bad spot. McAdoo and the rest of the Giants’ players have voiced their support for the player but emphasized that these kinds of actions will not be tolerated anymore.

The other big dilemma that McAdoo has had to deal with in his first year as Head Coach involved Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown, who was accused of abusing his wife. After the team signed Brown to a two-year $4 million extension in April, the player was suspended for the first game of the season stemming from an investigation conducted by the NFL into his arrest in May of 2015. Although he was never charged in the matter, Brown certainly broke the NFL’s domestic violence policy but somehow only received a one game suspension. This minor penalty does not demonstrate what Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated would be the base-line punishment for any player involved in domestic violence. After the Ray Rice fiasco in 2014, Goodell announced that anyone involved in these kind of cases would receive a minimum six game suspension. But rather than focusing on how the league failed to uphold this policy, New York media looked at McAdoo as having mishandled the entire ordeal and questioned why a player like this was able to stay on the roster.

Things changed when new documents were released last week by the King County Sheriff Office that showed Brown admitting that he had abused his wife, Molly Brown, on multiple occasions. This caused the NFL to re-open their investigation into the case and the New York Giants organization did what they should have done in the first place when they officially cut Brown.

Following the release of Josh Brown, Giants President and Chief Executive Officer, John Mara, admitted that him and the rest of the team’s executives’ actions in accordance to the situation were “misguided.”  He stated that the information that was made available to them never showed any irrefutable evidence that Brown had been guilty of committing this crime but after the release of these new documents they concluded that it was time to part ways with the player.

With all of this said, is it reasonable to place the blame on Ben McAdoo for not handling this situation properly? No, but that is the reality of being in charge of a professional team in the biggest market in sports. As previously stated, the team was never given all the information about Brown’s case and when they finally were, they cut the player. Sadly, even though they did the right thing, they will still be criticized for not doing it soon enough.

Being a rookie Head Coach in the NFL is obviously no simple task, but add in the fact that that McAdoo has had to deal with a variety of sensitive issues while also considering the ferocious nature of NY media, it is almost impossible to operate under the radar. For now it seems like this issues have been put in the past, OBJ is well aware of the fact that he simply cannot continue to act the way he has been and Josh Brown is officially not the Giants responsibility anymore. Although, this doesn’t mean McAdoo can relax yet. He still has the duty of putting a competitive team on the field every Sunday, he has to figure out how to incorporate new formations and plays into an offense that has been exposed as being one-dimensional, and overall he has to be a leader for a team that is currently missing one. So far in 2016, the NFC East has shown it might be the best division in all of football and now that these problems seem to be in the past, the New York Giants can finally just focus on winning games.

 

 

 

 

 

Leicester City: The Greatest Sports Story. Ever.

 

By Nate Flax

As the clock hit the 96th minute of the Tottenham – Chelsea match, the entire soccer world realized that the greatest underdog story in sport history had concluded. After trailing 2-0 at halftime, Chelsea came back to draw with the second place Tottenham Hotspur, thanks to a brilliant 80th minute equalizer by Chelsea’s Eden Hazard. As the final whistle blew to end the heated London Derby, Tottenham’s title hopes were dashed and for the second year in a row, a new Premier League champion was decided at Stamford Bridge. However, this time it wasn’t one of England’s heavyweight contenders, but instead a club that had been written off before the season even started.

Leicester City

Located right in the heart of England, world-famous clubs, always surrounded Leicester with Manchester just to the North and London to the South, but until this year, very few that did not follow the BPL closely even knew a soccer club existed there, even though the team was founded in 1884 (132 years ago). The Leicester City Foxes were simply insignificant, finishing at the bottom of the table the year before and had only received promotion into England’s top league the year before that. They entered the season 5000-1 odds to win the title this year and featured a team that had cost just £80 million to put together (to put in perspective Manchester City spent £80 million on one transfer alone earlier in the year). Billy Beane’s Moneyball scheme wouldn’t stand a chance against this. Other recent previous 5000-1 odds as explained by ESPN’s Paul Carr included 16-year-old Paul Chaplet’s chances at this year’s Masters (where he shot 21 over par and finished dead last) and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chances to make the playoffs with a month left in the season and their record sitting at 14-35. The odds for Elvis Presley being found alive were also 5000-1.

Being written off before the season even started, Leicester really had no chance of failing any expectations given to them, quite frankly because there were no expectations to start with. But that’s when everything clicked. Led by Riyad Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater, Jamie Vardy, and seasoned manager Claudio Ranieri, the Foxes outdid themselves by continuing to be that pesky opponent that just wouldn’t give up even though they seemingly had no business competing with powerhouses like Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea. Yet somehow, with Chelsea holding Tottenham to a draw, Leicester City sat seven points clear on top of the table with just two games to play, making it impossible for anyone to catch them, and crowning them the kings of England. With the third smallest budget in the Premier League, the Foxes became the first team not named Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea in 21 years to win the title, and just the sixth to win out of 48 that have tried since 1992. After a season that proved that money can’t always guarantee a crown, Leicester City concluded the fairy tale of a season that underdogs could previously only dream of.

Reflections on Laremy Tunsil’s Historic Draft Slide

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The 2016 NFL Draft was held this past Thursday night in Chicago and there were some surprises to say the least. A couple of things that may have shocked some fans included linebacker Myles Jack falling out of the first-round, CB Eli Apple being drafted at No. 10 by the New York Giants, and the mind-boggling amount of former Ohio State Buckeyes taken in the first-round. But one thing that took everyone by surprise was how far offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil fell.

                                                                                    Image via http://www.clarionledger.com

A dramatic series of events led to Tunsil falling all the way to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13. This player, who was once seen as the number one overall prospect in the draft, saw his downfall begin moments before the draft. Exactly thirteen minutes before the start of the draft, a video was posted to Laremy’s verified Twitter account that showed the former Ole Miss Rebel smoking what is assumed to be weed from a gas-mask bong. After a couple of minutes the video was taken down and the account was then deactivated. The video may have only been up for a few minutes but the damage was done and once again the power of social media was demonstrated.

Even after Tunsil had been selected by the Dolphins the mayhem continued. After the pick, an image was uploaded to Laremy’s Instagram account that showed text messages supposedly between Ole Miss Assistant Athletic Director John Miller and Tunsil. The conversation consisted of Tunsil seeking money from Miller to pay his mother’s rent and electric bills. Last season at Ole Miss, Laremy served a seven-game suspension stemming from similar accusations where he was found guilty of accepting improper benefits.

When it was all over, Laremy was still drafted in the top twenty but his fall cost him millions of dollars. In an article from ESPN titled Video kept Ravens from drafting Laremy Tunsil with No. 6 overall pick, writer Jamison Hensley discusses how the video impacted the Baltimore Ravens evaluation of Tunsil. The author writes, “The Baltimore Ravens would have taken Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil with the No. 6 overall pick were it not for the gas mask video that surfaced.” Even though he only talks about one team, it is probably fair to say the twelve other teams that passed on the prospect were thinking similarly. In the same article, Hensley writes something that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, “According to Schefter, Tunsil lost $7 million by falling seven spots in the draft.” Not only did this social media blunder tarnish the player’s image, but it also caused him to lose a lot of money.

It was very hard to watch this young man’s life just unravel right in front of us on one of the biggest stages in professional sports. But this is just the latest case of athletes suffering at the hands of social media. Recently it has been reported that the Dolphins believe Tunsil’s former financial adviser is who hacked into these accounts and posted the image and video. During the draft, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden gave his opinion on the issue, “We live in a glass house these days. … There’s a lot of money and people’s futures at stake. I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt Tunsil. Hopefully it’s a learning experience for him. He’s gotta clean this up if he wants to play in this league.” With this statement, Gruden echoes mine and surely many others opinions.

Following the draft, Laremy Tunsil admitted to the media that he had in fact taken money from an Ole Miss coach and that the screenshots were real. It is unclear whether the NCAA had already been aware of these actions since they had already suspended the player last season for the same reason. Now that Tunsil had admitted such a thing to an audience of millions, the NCAA will surely continue their investigation with the university.

This event is one of the most publicized examples of an athlete being punished for things that had been posted to their social media accounts. Obviously it is unfortunate for Tunsil to fall all the way to No. 13, but he is saying all the right things starting with accepting full responsibility for his actions. The player has a bright future ahead of him in the NFL but this will follow him for many years to come. It cannot be emphasized enough how big of a role social media plays in forming a person’s image and it is crucial for athletes as well as regular people to realize how to properly use these platforms. It is my hope that other athletes learn from this and don’t make the same mistake Tunsil did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trouble in Philly: Sam Bradford Wants Out

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The City of Philadelphia has had a tough go with their professional sports teams in recent years. Most notably, the Eagles have consistently under performed despite having elite talent like LeSean McCoy, Demarco Murray and DeSean Jackson at some point over the past four years. The Phillies have quickly plummeted to the bottom of the MLB and how could we forget the 76ers who have been one of the worst teams in NBA history for the past few seasons. The struggles continued when Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford reportedly requested a trade early Monday morning.

                                                                           Image via http://www.philly.com

The former number one overall draft pick is most likely seeking a trade because of the move his current team made a few days ago. Last Thursday the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to send the no. 8, no. 77, and no. 100 picks in this year’s draft along with a first-round pick in 2017 and 2018 second-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to receive the second overall pick in this year’s draft as well as a 2017 fourth-round pick. After the trade was officially completed, Eagles representatives announced that they planned on taking a QB with the second overall pick. It is interesting that Philly decided to trade away so many picks just so they could draft another signal-caller with the second selection. It is only interesting because this past off-season the team signed Bradford to a two-year deal which included $22 million in guaranteed money while also signing former Kansas City quarterback Chase Daniel to a three-year contract where he is guaranteed $12 million.

It is obvious that the Eagles are trying to solidify what is widely seen as the most important position in football and the trade shows just how desperate they were in doing so. Bradford is upset with the move and he has every right to, why would he tolerate being seen as a stop-gap player?

Earlier in the week, reports were that even after the trade, Sam did not wish to be traded and wanted to prove to the organization that he was “the guy.” But now the complete opposite is being said, the next couple days will prove which report is correct. For now we’re going to pretend that Bradford actually does want to be traded. There are a few teams who are in the market for an experienced quarterback. To name a few, the Denver Broncosand San Francisco 49ers.  With the departure of both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, Denver is in dire need of a player who can lead the team. In San Francisco’s case, the organization has not shown the most trust in Colin Kaepernick and might be interested in making a deal.

Even with his reported request for a trade, Eagles management is supporting Bradford. Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman was quoted as saying, “to reiterate our support for Sam Bradford and go back to our statements last week — that Sam is our starting quarterback.” This statement shows that the team is trying to downplay the drama surrounding their quarterback situation, and they are saying the right things.

Even if the former Oklahoma Sooner did request a trade, the media has no room to criticize him. Just like any other player, Bradford wants respect. And if the team does actually use the 2nd pick on a QB, which will most likely be Carson Wentz, why is it wrong for them to plan for the future? The organization is attempting to change the approach they have had the past few seasons, instead of trying to win now, they are figuring out how to win in the future and that means they must have a quarterback who can do that. It would not be the worst idea to take Wentz and let him sit for a couple of seasons allowing him to adjust to a pro style NFL offense. But even if Wentz isn’t thrown into the fire his rookie year, he still has a lot of pressure on him. Philadelphia sacrificed a lot to get this pick and they are counting on Wentz or any other QB they get to make it worth it.

The 2016 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago on April 28th and Eagles faithful as well as media will be waiting patiently to see what their team does. If Philly sticks to their plan and takes a QB, it will take a couple seasons to see who got the best of the trade because now the Cleveland Browns are seen as the clear winners and that is a first.

 

 

Reactions to Tom Coughlin’s resignation

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

As new head coach, Ben McAdoo sits in his office, evaluating the state of the New York Giants organization and Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. prepare for the Pro Bowl later tonight. One man is confined to his couch getting ready to watch his former superstars perform, Tom Coughlin.

After 12 years as the head guy in New York, on Jan. 4, Tom Coughlin decided to step down from the position. Coughlin leaves with an overall record of 102-90 and two Super Bowl rings while also having had the opportunity to coach multiple elite players such as Michael Strahan, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham. During his tenure as Head Coach, something fans could always count on from the team was that the players were going to run out of that tunnel and play as hard as they could for Tom. It was hard to say that was true the past three years. Maybe that is what led to his resignation, or was it that the team had not made the playoffs since 2011? Or was his age becoming an issue? At 69 years old, Coughlin was the oldest coach in football. Any one of these reasons could have been the deciding factor for him to move on from the New York Football Giants.

At first it wasn’t clear whether Coughlin had stepped down under his own power, or the Giants had actually let him go, but out of respect told him he could tell the media he was resigning. Adam Schefter of ESPN cleared the air when he said Coughlin, “decided to step down before Giants asked if he wanted to stay.” Most New York media outlets running stories about Coughlin chose to describe the resignation as him stepping down or moving on from the organization; its easy to see the amount of respect that not only the fans have but also the media because instead of saying he resigned or was forced out they chose to use softer words to describe it.

During this past season, especially towards the end, there were pretty much two points of view on Tom Coughlin and his future with the Giants among fans and the media. One was that it was time to start fresh, after four years of missing the playoffs and having a losing record three of those years, most people were ready for a change. Many media sources wrote about Coughlin in negative but respectful ways, citing his multiple failed attempts at going for it on fourth down rather than kicking the field goal and more notably about how Coughlin didn’t remove Odell Beckham Jr. from the game when he and Carolina Panthers cornerback, Josh Norman, had multiple altercations during the game including trash talk, shoving and pushing, and even throwing punches at each other. The other view people had on the Tom Coughlin issue was that fans should stay loyal and the Giants organization should keep offering him one-year deals until he was ready to call it quits. Some people might have felt this way because of the two Super Bowls he brought to New York or because he brought the Giants back to elite status. The thing that may have swayed many loyal fans into having the first point of view was probably when the Giants were absolutely dismantled on Monday Night Football by the Minnesota Vikings, losing 49-17. When the team was pushing for the playoffs and playing in a huge Monday night game, they came out just flat and no one seemed like they wanted to be there or even cared about the outcome. With those circumstances, the team should have come out and played with a fire under them, but instead they rolled over and allowed the Vikings to do whatever they wanted.

All of the wins and losses, Super Bowls, and division titles are now just a thing of the past. All we can do now is look back at Tom Coughlin’s legacy with the Giants and it’s probably a safe bet to say that most people will remember him in a very positive way. He goes down as one of the best coaches in New York Giants’ history and we will all miss seeing him and his rosy cheeks on the sideline every Sunday.

Media Reacts: NFL’s First Month in 6 Years With No Arrests

by Nicholas Muhl

The first month of the 2015 NFL regular season ended this past weekend. The end of September also marked the first month in 6 years that no NFL player has been arrested.

According to Reuters reporter Mike Rosenberg, the NFL has averaged “an arrest per week” since 2009. Rosenberg also reported that this is the first time in 15 years “the NFL went a calendar month during the season without an arrest.” The league has already had 33 total arrests in 2015, most recently San Fransisco 49ers Linebacker Ahmad Brooks who was charged with sexual battery at the end of August.

Alexandra Sifferlin reported the news for TIME and included a link in his article to USA Today’s NFL arrest archive. The archive contains a complete, descriptive account of a total of 805 NFL player arrests records dating back 15 years to January 24, 2000 when Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith was arrested for allegedly beating and choking his wife. It seems paradoxical that 15 years later we continue to see so many similar headlines. Katie Link and Christian Bryant of the Ventura County Star posed this question about the news of an arrest-free month, “should we view this ‘achievement’ as pathetic, or impressive?” On the other hand, the Dispatch Times referred to it as a “mind-blowing milestone.”  

Since 2009 the NFL has been subject to many media and criminal investigations regarding their many player arrests. Most notably is former New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez who was convicted of murder in April. Hernandez and other high profile players like former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, San Francisco’s Ray MacDonald, Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice, and Viking’s Adrian Peterson have made national headlines and brought up many social issues outside of the sport of football; including rape culture, drug use, animal cruelty, and alcohol and drug abuse. 

The criminal history and violent backgrounds behind many NFL players is not an issue the media has shied away from reporting. However, it is important to note that news of the NFL’s arrest-free month quickly spread on social media, sports blogs and major media conglomerates. This differs from the issue of injuries which I detailed in my article last week, “Protecting the player’s or Protecting the Shield”. Approximately 15 percent of players in the league have experienced an injury this season. While on an individual level this has been heavily reported, injuries and their increasing totals have been a largely avoided issue. However, media and the league did not shy away from making sure (quite literally) that everyone knows it went through an arrest-free month. The NFL and it’s PR department have attempted to put some distance between itself and both the injury and conduct issues the league faces, and will jump at any opportunity they can to make the league look better as it and commissioner Roger Goodell continue to face extreme criticism for the way the league is currently being run. It remains to be seen whether real change is progressing in the league or if this month was merrily a statistical anomaly that further proves the major conduct issues the NFL faces.

Aaron Hernandez Sentenced to Life in Prison

By Ellen Chlumecky

April 20, 2015

In the NFL, sometimes crime and domestic violence isn’t exactly solved with the utmost justice. These victims and their families of the lack of justice feel cheated, upset, and permanently scarred whether a small incident or large. However, this might be one of the exceptions. Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was found guilty on Wednesday, April 15th, of first-degree murder in a late-night shooting and was sentence to life in prison. Hernandez was a player who used to hold a $40 million contract and an aspiring career ahead of him. Now all of that is gone because of his tremendous mistake.

Hernandez was announced guilty in the killing of Odin Lloyd. Odin Lloyd was a 27-year-old landscaper and semipro football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée. Lloyd was shot six times in the middle of the night on June 17, 2013. He was shot in a deserted industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough. The police accused Hernandez because they found the key of the car that Hernandez had rented in Lloyd’s pocket. The Patriots cut the player who was considered one of the biggest and best up and coming tight ends currently in the NFL. Prosecutors have suggested that Lloyd was killed because he might have known too much about Hernandez’s alleged involvement in a deadly 2012 drive-by shooting in Boston.

He was convicted with a mandatory sentence of life without parole and it automatically triggered an appeal to Massachusetts’ highest court. He was also found guilty on firearms and ammunition charges. The jury deliberated for 36 hours over seven days before rendering its verdict. About 135 witnesses were called to the stand during the nine-week trial. Hernandez was ordered to serve his life sentence at MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole, Massachusetts.

The District Attorney Thomas Quinn made a point to mention that the fact that Hernandez was a professional athlete meant nothing at the end of the day. Even though the Patriots removed Hernandez from the Patriots they declined to comment on the verdict of his sentence. Brandon Spikes and David Nelson, former teammates of Hernandez, tweeted about the verdict and were surprised at the decision. Spikes made a comment about the justice system, while Nelson mentioned how that wasn’t the person he knew.

Mayor Ken Cocakyne was one of the main people speaking about the sympathy he felt towards the Lloyd family. He stated that it was unfortunate that this had to be someone who young children looked up to and that he crashed their dreams. He stated that no matter who you are, you still have to live within the law and respect others. While I agree, hopefully this type of action can be taken with all crimes committed in the NFL.