NFL players, reform advocates kick off campaign on social justice

What started when NFL players sparked a national discussion on racism and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem will continue this week as current and former players meet with lawmakers and community officials in major cities across the Northeast.

The week concludes Friday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL wideout Anquan Boldin, among others, will participate in a Harvard University summit that will include panel discussions on criminal justice reform and related issues plaguing communities.

In January, the NFL finalized plans to partner with players on social justice issues, announcing a Let’s Listen Together initiative that will publicize the players’ work on social and racial equality. Team owners earmarked $89 million over a seven-year period for the project.

A league official told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that team owners will discuss the social justice platform at next week’s annual league meetings in Orlando, Florida. The official also told Schefter that no vote on a policy change as it pertains to the national anthem is anticipated.

In the last quarter-century, nobody has put real football, by real football people, on the field in the offseason, co-founder and CEO Charlie Ebersol said Tuesday at the Park Hyatt in Manhattan, as a group that included Hall of Famer Bill Polian and former players Justin Tuck, Jared Allen and Troy Polamalu unveiled the project that’s been more than a year in the making. The second thing was, we believe by integrating players into the actual building and the foundation of the experience, that we’re going to build something meaningful and long term.

The league will begin announcing the cities, stadiums and coaches of the teams in April, with rosters largely made up of players cut from the NFL. Ebersol said they focused on cities and markets with the highest levels of fan engagement, both professionally and collegiately. There will be no owners, just one single entity.

Polian, the former NFL executive, is the co-founder of the AAF. Polamalu, the former Steelers Pro Bowler, will serve as the head of player relations and USC senior associate athletic director J.K. McKay — also the general manager of the XFL’s only championship team — will be the head of football operations.

For years I’ve been talking, in the football community, about the fact that there’s a real need for this, Polian said. As a member of the NFL competition committee for a very long period of time, we often talked about, ‘What if?’ What if we had a blank canvas and could invent the game today, what would we do?

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Even Odell Beckham’s mentor is turning on him

Hall of Fame receiver and Odell Beckham’s mentor Cris Carter said he was disgusted with the Giants star on Monday morning, days after a video surfaced of him in bed with a French model, a brown cigarette and a white powder.

It will be interesting to see which players we can potentially line up first for initial visits, general manager Mike Maccagnan said at the scouting combine two weeks ago. Obviously we’ll be very active on the first day in terms of the higher profile guys. I think the one thing I’ve noticed in the NFL this year or in the past years, I should say, is free agency moves very quickly. If you have guys targeted and you have your range how you value them, we’ll be very active.

We may sign a big-ticket guy. We may sign a small-ticket guy. It will be very interesting to see how it plays out. Everybody is well aware we have quite a bit of cap space to work with. There are quite a few players we’re interested in.

The move saves the Giants $1.025 million against the salary cap but money was not the determining factor here. This was a performance-based decision. Wing was last in the NFL in net-average punting at 36.7 yards this past season. His gross average of 44.1 yards was 24th in the league. He helped contribute to the horrific 0-5 start to the season with terrible short punts in losses to the Eagles and Buccaneers.

New general manager Dave Gettleman has a history of valuing specialists. With the Panthers, he selected Harrison Butker in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

The most recent to go is Rodgers-Cromartie, the veteran cornerback, who will not return to complete the fifth and final year of his contract. The Giants asked him to take a significant cut in pay from the $6.48 million salary he was scheduled to receive in 2018. Rodgers-Cromartie balked at that and Sunday his contract was terminated. Suddenly, the locker room is devoid of one of the team’s most popular players, especially to younger defensive backs who came to view him as a super-cool older brother.

Last year, Facebook streamed 20 MLB games one local TV broadcast each Friday night during the regular season.

The deal is worth between $30 million and $35 million according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

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Simms believes that New York Giants are in cat bird seat

The NFL Draft runs through Cleveland again this year, and unfortunately, the Browns still deal with the after-effects of draft mistakes of the past.
What that means for the New York Giants is that the Cleveland Browns cannot get cute. The Browns have outsmarted themselves over and over again. To put things in perspective, the Browns have drafted eight quarterbacks since the G-Men acquired Eli Manning.

Right now, Josh Rosen (UCLA) is the most polished signal-caller, while Josh Allen (Wyoming) has the most natural talent. A third quarterback, Sam Darnold (USC), splits the difference between finished product and talent. He would seem to be the wise choice at No. 1.

Former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms had some pointed thoughts about where that leaves his old team. Simms gave his opinion when he was a guest on Adam Schein’s SiriusXM show on Mad Dog Sports Radio. Per NJ.com:

If you are looking anything into the future, if Josh Allen is sitting there and [Cleveland doesn’t] take him, I would think [the Giants] will get a ransom for Josh Allen. If Cleveland takes Sam Darnold or [Saquon] Barkley, and Josh Allen is sitting there, that will be interesting.

If Giants general manager Dave Gettleman trades the No. 2 pick, that means Barkley gets bypassed. Clearly, that will upset many New York Giants fans, who believe that the Penn State running back is a no-brainerpick.

Look at his film, Mayfield said. He gave up zero sacks last year.

Mayfield laughed off Brown’s 5.86-second 40-yard dash, noting that Brown is never going to run 40 yards in a game. The workout numbers were unimpressive, but Mayfield was very pleased with last year’s sack number of zero.

Bell will make $26.7 million between 2016 and 2017 by virtue of the franchise tag, which contextualizes just how difficult it is for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their star back to find fair value on a long-term deal. If Bell were to sign a deal guaranteeing him $15 million per year, he would make $45 million over three years, nearly $18 million more than what McCoy racked up over the first three years of his extension.

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Joe Mixon wants Sammy Watkins to join Bengals

We’ve seen plenty of players try their hand at recruiting Kirk Cousins over the last couple of months, but Cousins isn’t the only impending free agent in the league that others would like to call their teammate.

Bengals running back Joe Mixon has identified a player he’d like to see come to Cincinnati when the new league year opens next week. Mixon took to Twitter to reach out to wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who is set to hit the open market after the Rams passed on giving him the franchise tag.

Robinson’s program reads like a checklist of criticisms encountered by Bryant during an ongoing streak of 23 consecutive regular-season games without a 100-yard performance.

It’s especially noteworthy that the three-time Pro Bowl selection is working with a route guru after NFL Network analyst Steve Smith highlighted Bryant’s shortcomings in that area prior to a late-November game last season.

One thing that I’ve noticed with top-tier guys, they have a Ph.D. in route running, Smith explained. They can run every route on the route tree. With Dez as he’s becoming older … you have to be able to run all of those routes because your speed, you lose a step a little bit, you’re not as fast as you used to be when you were twentysomething.

Smith clarified that Bryant is typically limited to three routes : a push-off hitch, a jumpball go and a slant.

Find out what team did it and ban them from the Combine, Smith said. The question is inappropriate. Questions along these lines are always inappropriate.

Smith said he doesn’t like the whole way the NFL treats players entering the league, although those players are not yet union members and so there’s only so much he can do for them.

I’ve never been a fan of the Combine, Smith said.

The players themselves are in an awkward situation because if they push back against inappropriate questions, they risk getting labeled a problem, hurting their own draft stock and earning potential. So it’s on the NFL to force teams to knock it off.

Once upon a time, the New York Giants baseball team permanently moved to San Francisco.

Now, the Giants football team would be wise to rent space for its top brass in Los Angeles.

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Internet billionaire makes play for Carolina Panthers

Forbes has valued the Panthers at $2.3 billion and sources confirmed to Page Six that initial bids for the team were due on Monday. We revealed earlier this year that hedge fund billionaire David Tepper made a $2.3 billion play for the Carolina Panthers. Appaloosa Management founder Tepper is also a minority owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, the owners of Station Casinos and Red Rock Resorts, were also considering a Panthers bid, we reported.

It is believed the NFL hopes to approve a deal at a meeting in May in Atlanta.

Richard was hired by the Cowboys to serve as their defensive passing game coordinator after he was fired by the Seahawks after three seasons as the team’s defensive coordinator in January. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is hopeful that the addition of a former Seahawks defensive coach will boost the performance of Dallas’ defensive unit.

I didn’t know him personally, Garrett said of Richard, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. I certainly knew of him. If you look back at the last seven years, do a statistical analysis of who the best defense in the National Football League is, it all points to that team out in the Northwest. Seattle has played great defense over the course of that time.

Obviously Pete Carroll has done an amazing job there with that defensive team, but a lot of other guys have been there Kris has been there from the start. So we have great admiration for how they play defense, how he coaches. Had admiration for him from afar for a long time and anybody who has been around him as a player or a coach spoke highly of him. So when he was available to us we wanted to bring him in and visit with him. Had a great visit.

Before Richard was Seattle’s defensive coordinator, he was the team’s defensive backs coach. He was heavily involved with the progression of Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell and others into highly successful members of the team’s secondary.

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Derrius Guice: If you don’t draft me, I’m going to give your defense hell

LSU running back Derrius Guice has a simple message for NFL teams: If you don’t draft me, I’m going to give your defense hell.

Guice rushed for 3,074 yards and 29 touchdowns on 471 career carries. He played through injuries last season, failing to duplicate his 2016 form.

Gettleman last week at the NFL scouting combine said it is difficult to scout college linebackers because there’s all these bastardized linebackers who do funky things. The way to combat that, he said, is to go back to the basics.

What you have to do when it comes back down to with linebackers, Gettleman said, is [ask]: Is he instinctive? Can he run? Is he instinctive, is he athletic, is he smart and is he tough?

In addition to his history with Beckham, Ogletree has another connection to the Giants: He is the brother-in law of Andrew Adams, a Giants safety he is married to Adams’ sister.

Losing Ogletree, a two-time team captain, evidently was not popular among some Rams players. Todd Gurley, the star running back, took to Twitter to post two pouting emoji faces.

As soon as the Dolphins applied the franchise tag to Jarvis Landry, all signs pointed toward a potential trade for the wide receiver. Sure enough, the team has given Landry permission to seek and facilitate a trade, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports.

Landry’s representatives, though, will have to find a trade partner. He reportedly seeks a four-year, $58 million deal.

The Giants had three of their own offensive linemen on the market: Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and D.J. Fluker. Richburg on Tuesday agreed to a five-year deal with the 49ers. The Giants will tender Brett Jones, a restricted free agent, and he will return as the favorite to start at center.

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