22

February

Cory’s Corner: It’s time for Roger Goodell to get tough

Since Sept. 2013, there have been 17 NFL arrests, and four in 2014 already.

Since Sept. 2013, there have been 17 NFL arrests, and four in 2014 already.

Apparently Roger Goodell is going have shine up his sheriff’s badge.

Off the field, the NFL is getting out-of-control as players with more money than ever before, exert their ego and entitlement on others.

In 2014, which is less then two months old mind you, there have already been four arrests. Add in the Dolphins’ locker room environment, and the recent Ray Rice altercation with his fiancé and Goodell has his hands full.

But that’s not even the worse of it. Former NFL player Darren Sharper was charged with seven rape and drug counts involving four women.

Goodell’s fairytale has suddenly drifted off the tracks. You have players that are getting rich in an instant, oftentimes more money than they’ve ever dreamed of, and then watching as these same athletes commit blatant crimes.

Goodell can talk about more rookie town hall meetings where Herm Edwards gets in front of an overhead projector and talks about how to fill your life off-the-field positively. He can talk about workshops to help curb substance abuse, which are usually the jumping off point to physical violence.

But the time for talk is over. Goodell now needs to get tough and make those players understand how important playing for that NFL shield is. And the quickest way for Goodell to get it in their heads is in through their bank account.

The things that Richie Incognito did would get entire human resources staffs fired. If Incognito did those kinds of things in the real world, he would be at odds to find a job let alone another professional football one.

Rice still hasn’t been charged but at no point is it OK for a man to hit a woman. Period. The video of him dragging out his fiancé because he knocked her out is not only shocking but it’s also very sad. He never thought for an instant what the ramifications of hitting a woman might lead to. At the very least he needs to be suspended, some are saying he should be kicked out of the NFL. Even if his fiancé elects not to press charges, Rice should still be punished by Goodell.

9

November

Cory’s Corner: Goodell needs to make an example of Incognito

Miami Dolphins appeared in this PSA before games that ran on the scoreboard reminding fans to be civilized.

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito appeared in this PSA that ran on the Sun Life Stadium scoreboard before games reminding fans to be civilized. He was also on the team’s leadership council.

First it was Michael Vick. Then along came Riley Cooper. Now we have Richie Incognito.

I know Roger Goodell has been labeled as a sheriff in the wild, wild west to some for his way of doling out punishments.

But apparently, he needs to go in a few notches on his law belt.

When the Michael Vick dog fighting case came about in 2007, it was arguably one of the most abhorrent things a player has ever done off the field. He served 21 months in jail for his role in a five-year dog fighting ring. Vick was able to get a starting job back but his public persona has been severly dented.

Then along came Riley Cooper. The loudmouth Eagles receiver who threw N-bombs at a Kenny Chesney concert was rightly vilified for putting the country back 50-60 years. Players  from around the league, which is predominantly African American, still haven’t been able to forgive a guy that spouted off and despite apologizing until he was blue in the face, Cooper could potentially still harbor those feelings deep inside.

And now we’ve got Incognito. Labeling him as a bully is a disservice to bullies. He is a calculated emotional killer that preys on the weak. Judging from the texts and voicemails where he called Jonathan Martin racial epithets and even mentioned that he would kill him, Incognito is worse than the first two guys. I mean, Incognito forced Martin to chip in $15,000 to finance a trip to Las Vegas – a trip that Martin wasn’t even attending. So, in addition to making your fellow offensive lineman’s life a living hell thanks to a verbal assault, you’ve entered into the world of extortion.

The problem is, since the NFL is a macho sport based upon brute strength, most people just shrug their shoulders when they see this type of thing. Many Dolphins players really didn’t notice anything because the meat and potatoes of what was going on they didn’t see or hear. Incognito called out Martin in the locker room but it wasn’t anything that people wouldn’t consider out of the norm for locker room chatter.

13

September

Packers News: Matthews fined $15,000 for hit on Kaepernick

Clay Matthews admitted that his hit on Kaepernick "wasn't very smart," and he's been fined $15,000.

Clay Matthews admitted that his hit on Kaepernick “wasn’t very smart,” and he’s been fined $15,000.

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has been fined $15,000 for his hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in last Sunday’s season opener, according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

Following Matthews’ hit on Kaepernick near the sideline, chaos ensued after the whistle, prompting 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to open his mouth.

“I could see two punches thrown to Joe’s head,” Harbaugh said, according to the USA Today. “Well, one punch and one open slap.”

But Harbaugh didn’t stop there. He corrected himself and threw a jab of his own in Matthews’ direction.

“If you’re going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap,” Harbaugh said. “That young man works very hard on being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.”

If Matthews is going to take advice from anyone, it likely wouldn’t be Harbaugh who once fractured his hand in a fist fight with quarterback-turned broadcaster Jim Kelly. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy brought up Harbaugh’s comments in team meetings, while Matthews offered a short yet strong response to the 49ers controversial coach.

“I’m an awesome player, not a dirty player,” Matthews said, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

According to beat writer Tyler Dunne, Matthews reluctantly responded to the Harbaugh question after several attempts to move on to questions regarding the next game. But nonetheless, his answer was awesome. In a league polluted with “coach speak” in which athletes talk a lot but say very little, it’s refreshing to hear a high-profile athlete answer in a bold, Thad Castle-type manner.

Note: Comparing the Green Bay Packers to the Blue Mountain State Goats is foolish. Almost as foolish as calling Clay Matthews a dirty player.

Matthews, himself, admitted that he was wrong to hit Kaepernick as the quarterback neared the out of bounds line.

“It wasn’t a very smart play,” Matthews said, per the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “I had already committed to hitting the quarterback, and I guess I should have figured he was going to step out of bounds.”

Nonetheless, Matthews’ reputation is certainly in much better shape that that of, say, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was fined $100,000 for his low block on Vikings center John Sullivan. But as Breer tweeted, comparing Matthews to Suh is apples-to-oranges…or apples-to-giraffes.

31

August

Cory’s Corner: NFL injuries cannot be stopped

Everyone applauded the NFL this week when it handed down $765 million for concussion-related injuries.

It’s great that the NFL has owned up to the nearly 4

B.J. Raji had to be carted off last October at Indianapolis with an ankle injury.

B.J. Raji had to be carted off last October at Indianapolis with an ankle injury.

,500 claims that have been hanging around every time more and more information was found about how these types of injuries continue to keep brains in a thick fog following a career.

And now the NFL is trying to curtail injuries to players’ knees. Let’s not forget knee injuries were an understandable by-product of policing hits to the head. The target area for the defense went south and it was only a matter of time before knees started to shatter, tear and split.

But when will NFL no longer resemble itself?

There’s a reason why mothers sob uncontrollably when their son is lying motionless on the turf. There’s a reason why players make impromptu prayer huddles following a lengthy injury delay that usually ends with the injured player leaving on a stretcher with a neck brace.

Everyone knows the risks involved with football. An offensive or defensive lineman can be pushed the wrong way and tear his ACL. Skill players rip up their hamstrings because their quads are too muscular or they simply do inadequate stretching.

Mike McCarthy made this preseason a war on injuries. He didn’t want to address medical issues until games started counting. With Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Bryan Bulaga, DaJuan Harris and others became sidelined it seemed like he failed.

Problem is, it’s a losing battle. Unless you’re willing to bubble wrap the players or turn America’s most popular sport, which was worth $35 billion as of September 2012, into a product that people no longer resemble. That’s more money than the GDP of 80 countries by the way.

As much as some people want the NFL to get a safety facelift, Roger Goodell just cannot do it. And the reason is simple: he is printing money.

There aren’t a lot of sports that would force the president to alter his State of the Union Address, or force churches to change their worship schedule.

This preseason has been one of the worst in terms of injuries. Key guys like Michael Crabtree, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, EJ Manuel, Kevin Kolb, Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz, Dustin Keller, La’Veon Bell and Wes Welker among others have experienced some sort of injury this preseason.

26

September

September 24, 2012: The Day The NFL Died

RIP NFL: 1921-2012

My friends, we gather today to mourn the passing of a close friend.

It was a friend that many almost considered a big brother.  It was a close friend of millions of people in multiple countries around the world.   While it was a product of the United States, it transcended nationality.  It truly was a universal language.

Of course, it had its flaws.  Nothing and no one on this earth is perfect.  We accepted those flaws and figured that those in charge of its caretaking would always keep its best interests at heart when trying to fix those flaws as well as any other urgent need that would arise.

Sadly, around four weeks ago, many of us saw trouble ahead for our dear National Football League.  The regular officials were locked out by the league under the leadership of Commissioner Roger Goodell.  We were told a deal would be coming and that the replacement officials would not be used more than a couple of weeks.

So the games went on and we as fans continued to watch.   As the young season progressed, warning signs began to emerge. Players were taking blows to the head and defenders were not being flagged for it, despite the NFL allegedly cracking down on such hits.  Holding and blatant pass interference ignored, giving quarterbacks a kicking ball, forgetting which teams are playing (“Holding, number 93 red”), awarding extra yardage and timeouts….the list goes on.

Finally, this past Monday night the fatal blow came and personally it hurt more than any of the other botched calls because it cost my beloved Green Bay Packers a game.  M.D. Jennings clearly had the ball on the final Hail Mary and Golden Tate only had one arm on it after throwing Sam Shields to the ground in yet another blatant pass interference non-call.

Chaos ensued as one official signaled for a touchdown and the other signaled a touchback.  The subsequent review somehow confirmed the ruling.  The official in the booth was a full time NFL employee and he got it wrong, probably to save his league more embarrassment.  It’s a shame.

Commissioner Goodell has always said he puts the integrity of the NFL above all else.  He said it last year when the players were locked out and he repeated the same thing this year with the referee lockout.  You know what defines someone as insane? Repeating a lie or fantasy so much that the person becomes convinced that it is real.

25

September

Packers-Seahawks: Replacement refs take NFL to all-time low

"Touchback," signals one. "Touchdown," signals the other. Apparently.

“Touchback,” signals one. “Touchdown,” signals the other. Apparently.

There’s nothing funny about it. The NFL’s replacement officials have officially cost a team a win that they rightfully earned.

“It was awful. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Aaron Rodgers was dumbfounded following the Packers’ 14-12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night football. While the Packers quarterback and head coach were able to keep their composure at the postgame press conference, fellow NFL players and fans of the sport reacted differently.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King called the game “one of the great disgraces in NFL history.”

The play in question was, of course, the last play of the game. As Seattle faced a fourth-and-ten on the Packers’ 24 yard-line, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson kept the play alive with his legs and fired the ball towards the endzone.

Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate pushed Packers cornerback Sam Shields to the ground, but the ball hit safety M.D. Jennings right between the numbers. Jennings cradled the ball to his chest, while Tate tried to wrestle the ball from him.

But nonetheless, two officials walked over towards Jennings and Tate, who are wrestling for possession of the ball. One official waves his arms, suggesting the pass was intercepted and the game was over. The other official, who ignored Tate’s “Shields shove,” rushes to the scrum and signals “Touchdown.”

The play was reviewed, and the call stood as called. Touchdown.

Seahawks win.

The pass was clearly intercepted by Jennings. At one point during the fight for possession, Tate’s right arm is completely off the ball while Jennings maintains possession throughout. In reality, Tate had more possession of Jennings than he did of the, you know, football.

The NFL rule book states the procedure in which a simultaneous catch should be handled, “If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.”

The latter part of the rule clearly suggests that Jennings should have been granted the interception. He gains control, before Tate fights for possession. So, there you have it. By NFL rules, Jennings intercepted the pass, and the Packers won the game.

24

July

Shocked Johnny Jolly Sits, Waits, Hopes for NFL Reinstatement

Johnny Jolly hopes for NFL Reinstatement

Johnny Jolly – Deserving of Another Chance?

It’s been two years since Johnny Jolly last played in the NFL. After multiple drug possession arrests and convictions as he fought a codeine addiction, Jolly sat in a jail cell last November facing another 6 years in prison. Having received some breaks from the judicial system previously, Jolly would receive what will hopefully prove to be the biggest break of his life.

In May, Jolly asked for and was granted “shock probation” by a Houston judge. Shock probation can be granted to first-time prison attendees who can convince the judge that they’s been sufficiently “shocked” or “scared straight.” Jolly was re-sentenced to ten years probation and released.

Soon after, in early June, Jolly applied to the NFL for reinstatement and has heard nothing since. Of course NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been busy dealing with some other minor distractions, namely Bountygate and the concussion lawsuits. But if Jolly wishes to have a chance to play this season, whether with the Packers (who still hold his rights) or another team, he needs to get into a training camp sooner rather than later.

For his part, Jolly talks of being eight months sober and how he has finally taken the steps to evaluate his life and find the right group of people to help him.  A cynic might say that we’ve heard this kind of talk before, but has his stay in prison coated those words with a new layer of truth?

I’ve been as skeptical as anyone, and truly believed his time in the NFL was going to be and should be over. Period. Jolly’s ONLY priority should be in repairing his life, I have said many times. Of course, I didn’t envision him getting out of jail in less than a year.

At this point in his life’s saga, he probably needs the Packers as much as anything for the support system his teammates, coaches and the organization can provide. Jolly has praised the Packers organization for their continued support, and it’s obvious they care about Jolly as a person. Andrew Brandt, former Packers executive has intimated that what happened to Jolly upsets him so much because Jolly is a good person, not some low-life scum that deserves to be in prison.