Category Archives: Suspensions

29

August

Thomas Hobbes: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

Well here we go again, last year I was completely off and I don’t expect to be much different this year.  I have however thought a lot about the rationale for creating a NFL roster and I came up with these ideas a couple weeks ago, which I’ll try to use as my baseline rules.

Offense – 24 players

Quarterback (2): Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell

Rodgers is obviously a lock and I almost think it’s too late for a backup quarterback switch.  I know some people have been speculating that the Browns will drop the price for Colt McCoy and Thompson will trade for him, but my assumption is that the Brown’s asking price is way too high at the moment (since as far as I can tell no team has been in serious talks with the Browns), and chances are good Thompson will get outbid by some other team if the price does indeed drop into a competitive offer, so I suspect McCoy goes somewhere else and Harrell remains the backup quarterback.

Running Back (5): James Starks, John Kuhn, Cedric Benson, Alex Green, Brandon Saine

I’ve put Starks still as the lead runner, as I think Benson needs more than one good outing to take the pole position in my opinion; but really that might be a moot point if Starks can’t get on the field.  I think Brandon Saine’s spot really depends on the health and performance of Alex Green; if the Packers believe that Green is healthy and productive enough after his ACL injury that he can manage the 3rd down back role by himself (with help from Kuhn), then Saine might be expendable, but personally I think was quietly becoming a very decent pass blocker, which the Packers highly covet.  Kuhn rounds out the group as the sole fullback.

Tight Ends (4): Jermichael Finley, Tom Crabtree, DJ Williams, Ryan Taylor

Nothing really interesting with the tight ends, Finley obviously leads the group, with Crabtree, Williams and Taylor all sort of in a mix for the backup position.  Each has their own strengths, Crabtree and Taylor can operate as a fullback and Williams is capable of playing the “move” tight end or H-back, and all three contribute on special teams.  It will be interesting to see what they do when Andrew Quarless returns (if he does at all, as they may choose to just shut him down for the entire year), my suspicions would be that they add Quarless back by stealing a spot from another position.

29

August

Kris Burke: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

Ted Thompson

This is the face many players are dreading to see this week.

First, a little bit of a disclaimer:

I HATE doing roster predictions.

Why, you may ask? I don’t like pretending I’m smarter than I really am.  Packers GM Ted Thompson has one of the shrewdest minds in the NFL, and I don’t.  If I did, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.

I do not envy Thompson at this time of year, however.  He has done such a masterful job at building a roster that he in a sense backs himself into a corner each training camp and has to make some difficult choices. A third stringer on the Packers is sometimes good enough to be a starter on the other 31 teams, but thanks to the ludicrous depth Thompson has built, they’re stuck on the bench.

Since we’re on the topic, here’s my best guess at what the Packers’ opening day roster will look like:

Quarterback (2)—Rodgers, Harrell

I’m still on the fence as to whether or not the Packers hang on to Graham Harrell or trade for a more experienced backup.  Even if Harrell plays poorly against the Chiefs on Thursday, the Packers may keep him anyway.  If the Browns offer some conditional picks for Colt McCoy, if they even try to trade him, then I could see Thompson pulling the trigger.

Running Back (5)-Benson, Green, Saine, Kuhn, Starks

I wanted to cut Starks, but with no one really standing out to be the sixth wide receiver, Neo remains a Packer though he’s the mostly likely of this group to get cut. Saine remains an interesting prospect once he is healthy and Alex Green keeps progressing.

Wide Receivers (5)-Nelson, Jennings, Driver, Jones, Cobb

No brainer here.  With Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley disappointing in training camp, the once-possible notion of the Packers hanging onto six wide receivers has come and gone.

Tight Ends (4)-Finley, Crabtree, Williams, Taylor

Zzzzzzz…….

Offensive Line (8)-Lang, Sitton, Newhouse, Saturday, Bulaga, Dietrich-Smith, Datko, Wells

Dietrich-Smith remains the heir apparent to Saturday as the center of the future, and Wells has shown versatility like Lang to move around the line and fill in where needed.  Datko has shown just enough as the last spot here came down to him and Barclay, who despite having some versatility, just seemed to be outmuscled by Datko.

12

August

Pros and Cons: Cedric Benson to the Packers

New Packers Running Back Cedric Benson

New Packers Running Back Cedric Benson

It has been reported by several sources that the Cedric Benson is on his way to Green Bay and will be signing with the team in the next day or two. Let’s assume he will sign. What does this mean for the Pack?

The team is getting a player who was drafted the same year as Aaron Rodgers and, in fact, was drafted before Rodgers. He went 4th overall to the Bears. Benson was the last 1st round pick to sign his rookie deal that year. He played in Chicago for 3 seasons and largely underachieved.

In June 2008, Benson was arrested twice in a span of 5 weeks for DUI and released by the Bears. He went on to sign with the Bengals in 2008. He has spent the last 4 seasons with the team and was not re-signed when his contract ended following 2011. Benson has garnered some recent interest from the Packers, Jets and Raiders.

One of the big concerns about Benson are his off-field issues. In addition to the DUI arrests previously mentioned, Benson was also arrested in 2010 and 2011 on assault charges in Texas where he starred as a Longhorn running back at University of Texas. After having met with Benson following the 2 DUI arrests and deciding not to suspend him, Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Benson for 3 games in 2011 following the last assault charge. It was later reduced to 1 game.

It’s clear that Ced has exercised some very questionable judgment in the past and that is not something to be ignored. He turns 30 this December and naturally has a limited shelf life as a running back. Hopefully the more low-key environment in Green Bay along with a strong veteran presence in the locker room can elicit the best that Benson has left.

In his career, Benson has had some issues hanging onto the ball. He has fumbled 19 times in his career, losing 11 of those. During the last 3 years, he fumbled 13 times and losing 7 of those. You may recall his forgettable performance in Super Bowl XLI when he rushed twice for -1 total yards and had a costly fumble before leaving the game with a knee injury. However, Benson has also amassed 3,429 yards over the past 3 seasons and has eclipsed 1,000 yards in each. In terms of total yards, he ranked 12 th in 2011, 13th in 2010, and 8th in 2009, his best statistical season (2nd in yards/game behind Chris Johnson).

9

July

Monday Morning View: Roger Goodell Has Ethical Responsibility in Bounty Suspensions

Roger Goodell

As NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell has a responsibility to act ethically in bounty scandal suspensions.

We’ve all been following this New Orleans Saints bounty scandal for a while now, and although NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell recently upheld the four player suspensions in their appeal, the fight is far from over. The NFLPA has now filed a lawsuit on behalf of Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, and Scott Fujita claiming that Goodell violated the labor agreement in the “investigation and arbitration process.” Jonathan Vilma is currently involved in a separate lawsuit against the NFL.

But I want to back up a little bit. When the news was released that Goodell denied the players’ appeals, he wrote a “public” letter to the players involved that outlined the foundations of his decision. Here is some of the text in case you’ve missed it:

Throughout this entire process, including your appeals, and despite repeated invitations and encouragement to do so, none of you has offered any evidence that would warrant reconsideration of your suspensions. Instead, you elected not to participate meaningfully in the appeal process . . .

Although you claimed to have been ‘wrongfully accused with insufficient evidence,’ your lawyers elected not to ask a single question of the principal investigators, both of whom were present at the hearing (as your lawyers had requested); you elected not to testify or to make any substantive statement, written or oral, in support of your appeal; you elected not to call a single witness to support your appeal; and you elected not to introduce a single exhibit addressing the merits of your appeal. Instead, your lawyers raised a series of jurisdictional and procedural objections that generally ignore the CBA, in particular its provisions governing ‘conduct detrimental’ determinations . . .

In sum, I did not make my determinations here lightly. At every stage, I took seriously my responsibilities under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. I determined the discipline for each of you

(1) only after a long, detailed and professional investigation by NFL Security’s experienced investigators;

(2) only after the results of that investigation were carefully reviewed by an independent expert, former United States Attorney Mary Jo White;

(3) only after I heard the appeals of the Saints’ coaches and staff regarding discipline for their roles in the program;

18

June

Hargrove to Appeal Suspension Today: Agent Rips Into NFL

Green Bay Packers Anthony Hargrove

Hargrove appeals suspension today.

Anthony Hargrove and the three other players suspended in the “BountyGate” scandal will have their appeals heard today by none other than the man who handed them out, Roger Goodell. That is one big bone of contention for the players and their representatives, who previously pushed for an impartial arbitrator but lost that battle.

According to Keven Seifert of ESPN, Hargrove’s agent, Phil Williams, is not the type of loud-mouthed agent who goes spouting off on a regular basis. Yet, he felt so strongly about this case and the “injustice” being layed down on Hargrove that he put his own reputation on the line with a blistering letter questioning the NFL’s honesty and underhanded tactics.

The NFL waited until just days before the appeal hearing to release their “evidence,” in a rather transparent attempt to make it as difficult as possible for the players’ representatives to build an appeals case. While it’s accepted as fact that a bounty program was in place at New Orleans (as it probably was on many other teams), is it fair to single out just four players for punishment when many more participated?

But beyond those types of questions, my main issue with this whole case is how the NFL (and specifically Roger Goodell)  are suing strong-arm tactics and in the process, eliminating any sense of fairness. This would be like a trial judge who imposed a sentence showing up on the judge’s bench when the same “defendant” appeals their case.

The dictionary definition of a czar is an “autocratic ruler exercising great authority or power.” There is no doubt that in the world of football, Roger Goodell has been a “czar” for quite some time. He is quickly approaching the title of despot – a tyrant or oppressor with absolute power.

Perhaps he’s feeling the pressure of this massive concussion suit and is circling the wagons in every way possible. But there’s still no excuse for being that unfair and frankly, I find it distasteful.

(Going off on a tangent, there is a VERY thought-provoking article at the Business Insider on what they see as potential radical changes that may be coming to the sport of football at every level as a result of the concussion issue. A must-read, whether you agree with their conclusions, or not.)

16

May

Former Packers DE Johnny Jolly Gets Early Release From Prison

Johnny Jolly released from prison

Johnny Jolly has been released from prison on "shock" probation.

Johnny Jolly, a former defensive end for the Green Bay Packers, has been released from prison and given 10 years of “shock” probation by a judge in Houston, Texas.  This comes after serving only six months of a six-year sentence for numerous charges related to the controlled substance Codeine.

While I’m no legal expert, “shock” probation is given to first-time offenders who have been “shocked” by their prison experience, which would then hopefully bring about a change. Jolly gets 10 years of shock probation along with 200 hours of community service.

Jolly was originally drafted by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft.  The two years before Jolly was suspended indefinitely by the NFL in 2010, he played in all 32 games and was a key contributor to the defense.

The chances of Jolly ever returning to the NFL or Green Bay are slim to none, but it is always encouraging when a human being makes a genuine change in their life.  Hopefully, this is just the beginning to a new life for Jolly.

 

2

May

Anthony Hargrove Suspended For Half of 2012-13 Season

Anthony Hargrove says he's a Green Bay Packer

Anthony Hargrove will miss the first eight games of the 2012 season.

If the Green Bay Packers were expecting defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove to make an early impact during his inaugural season with the team, they might need to revisit their plans.

Roger Goodell handed out the penalties for four players from the New Orleans Saints for their involvement in “Bountygate” scandal.  Hargrove received the second-harshest punishment of all the Saints’ players (only Jonathan Vilma receiver a harsher punishment).

According to a report from NFL.com, Hargrove has been suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 NFL season.  This is a big hit to the Packers, who likely knew that some type of punishment was coming, but probably couldn’t fathom him missing half the season.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Hargrove and the other suspended Saints’ players are likely to appeal their suspensions.

While Hargrove’s play will be sorely missed by the Packers because of their desperate need for improved defensive line play, the suspension of Hargrove brings an entirely new issue to Green Bay.

The Packers have never been a team to deal with too much drama.  In fact, when drama surrounding the team occurs, Ted Thompson and Co. like to get as far away from it as possible.  This is completely understandable due to how much of a distraction a huge legal battle can distract the rest of the team from focusing on next Sunday’s game.

I don’t think that the Packers will completely wash their hands of Hargrove and simply replace him, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Hargrove spend the majority of the season on the bench after his suspension.  The Packers’ front office could let Hargrove contribute in a backup role, and give him the opportunity to fight for a starting spot come the following offseason.

The good news for the Packers is that they drafted two defensive lineman during the 2012 NFL draft.  Both Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels will now get a great opportunity to get on the field as rookies.  Worthy may even be talented enough to fight for a starting spot opposite Ryan Pickett on the defensive line.

The Hargrove suspension will be one to watch closely in the upcoming weeks, as it isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.