Football Coach Creates Rivalry Game Without Rival's Knowledge: UConn head football coach Bob Diaco has done something that could explode spectacularly in his face. He's commissioned a trophy and declared a "rivalry game" with the University of Central Florida. The Civil Conflict -- named for the American Athletic Conference schools being from the north and south -- pits two schools that only have played twice. Last year's UConn victory was the only Division I win for Diaco's team and UCF's only conference loss. "They don't get to say whether they are our rival or not," he said. "We might not be their rival, but they don't get to say whether they are our rival -- that is for us to decide."
NFL Moves PAT Kicks Back to 15-Yard Line: The NFL changed a crucial rule for the 2015 season. Extra points are no longer going to be automatic: In 2015, instead of kicking an extra point from the two-yard line, teams will be forced to kick from the 15-yard line. And the defending team will be allowed to score two points if it grabs possession of the ball and takes it back the other way. According to Lindsay Jones of USA Today, only two teams voted against the new rule, which is only in effect for the 2015 season.
Kraft Says Patriots Won't Appeal DeflateGate Punishment: New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft said today that he would "accept reluctantly" the NFL's decision to fine the team $1 million and revoke their 2016 first-round draft pick as a result of the investigation of the team's use of allegedly under inflated footballs. "Although I might disagree with what he decided, I do have respect for the commissioner and believe that he is doing what he believes is in the spirit of the best for the whole 32 [teams]," Kraft said
NFL Announces Punishment for Patriots' Deflated Balls: The NFL has issued its punishment for the DeflateGate scandal: Quarterback Tom Brady is suspended four four games, the New England Patriots are fined $1 million and will lose two draft picks (a 2016 first rounder and 2017 fourth rounder). Last year's second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo is expected get the starting nod against the Pittsburgh Steelers when the season gets underway September 10.
NFL Took Millions from U.S. Government to Salute the Troops: When the New York Jets paused to honor soldiers of the New Jersey Army National Guard at home games during the past four years, it was more than a heartfelt salute to the military -- it was also worth a good stack of taxpayer money, records show. The Department of Defense and the Jersey Guard paid the Jets a total of $377,000 from 2011 to 2014 for the salutes and other advertising, according to federal contracts. Overall, the Defense Department has paid 14 NFL teams $5.4 million during that time, of which $5.3 million was paid by the National Guard to 11 teams under similar contracts.
Dallas Cowboys Sign Undrafted Top Draft Prospect La'el Collins: The Dallas Cowboys have signed undrafted free agent La'el Collins, an LSU offensive lineman expected to be a top-15 pick in this year's draft until a story broke that Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police wanted to question him about the April 24 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend and the baby she was carrying, who died on May 1. Police have not called Collins a person of interest or a suspect. The baby's paternity was tested and Collins was not the father. "His situation ended up being a lot clearer this week than it was last week," Bryan Broaddus of DallasCowboys.com told Gannett Louisiana.
LeSean McCoy: Chip Kelly Got Rid of 'All the Good Black Players': LeSean McCoy on his former coach Chip Kelly: "You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That's the truth. There's a reason. ... It's hard to explain with him. But there's a reason he got rid of all the black players -- the good ones -- like that."
NFL Investigator: Patriots Probably Deflated Balls on Purpose: An NFL investigator's report has concluded that it is probable New England Patriots personnel intentionally deflated footballs after they were inspected for the AFC Championship Game and quarterback Tom Brady was generally aware it was happening. "we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules," reads the report by league-appointed attorney Ted Wells. The report implicates locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski and states "it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware" of what they were doing. Here's the full report.
Jameis Winston explains crab legs issue to Jim Harbaugh (Video): We now have an explanation from former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston about the crab leg incident from a Tallahassee, Fla., area Publix last spring.
Ex-NFL Running Back Suspected of Killing Cellmate: Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips is suspected of killing his cellmate in a Central California prison, officials said. Damion Soward, Phillips' cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison, was found lifeless early Saturday and later pronounced dead. A former Nebraska standout drafted sixth overall in 1996 by the St. Louis Rams, Phillips is serving a sentence of more than 31 years after being convicted of twice choking his girlfriend in 2005 in San Diego and later that year of driving his car into three teens after a pickup football game in Los Angeles. Soward, 37, was serving 82 years to life for first-degree murder.
Bill Belichick Offseason Simulator: Jon Bois' latest work of gaming genius.
Tim Tebow Working Year-Round on Throwing Mechanics: Former Major League pitcher Tom House runs a performance center for pitchers and quarterbacks whose past clients include Tom Brady and Drew Brees. This interview with House describes in detail how much Tim Tebow has been doing to develop his quarterback skills in the hopes of returning to the NFL at age 27. "We've been seeing him about three days every week, year-round," House said. "Now, he works besides his time with us, but the time he spends working with us on skills, routes and all of those things works out to about two or two-and-a-half hours per day."
SF 49er rookie Chris Borland retires at age 24 due to worries about his future health from concussions.:
"I feel largely the same, as sharp as I've ever been, for me it's wanting to be proactive," said Borland. "I'm concerned that if you wait till you have symptoms, it's too late. ... There are a lot of unknowns. I can't claim that X will happen. I just want to live a long healthy life, and I don't want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise."
The NFL free-agency period begins with a slew of major moves: Including the New Orleans Saints trading TE Jimmy Graham to Seattle, the Eagles and Rams swapping quarterbacks and...
Bears Receiver Brandon Marshall Traded to Jets: Following the swap to send running back LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia to Buffalo in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso, another NFC offensive star is switching jerseys: Chicago is trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets for not-yet-specified players or picks. Trades can't become finalized until free agency begins Tuesday.
Chargers, Raiders Pursue Shared Stadium in Los Angeles: The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders say they'll share a new $1.7 billion stadium in Los Angeles if they don't get a stadium deal in their current cities. The teams issued this statement: "We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises." Another move-to-LA bid is being explored by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who has a joint venture to build a stadium in Inglewood.
Last Man (or Woman): A game for those not interested in NFL. Or at least the Superbowl result.
NFL Pick 'Em Contest, Final Scoreboard: The results have been tabulated and NerfballPro completes a wire-to-wire victory, winning by one point over Hincandenza and two over NoMich. Picking the 52 points scored in the game exactly earned a one-point bonus for the champ. Tommytrump takes home the coveted Costanza for last place, sunk by a conference championship round in which everything that could go wrong did.
Jerry Rice Should Catch Some Hell for This: Jerry Rice on deflating footballs: "I'm going to be point blank, I feel like it's cheating. Because you have an edge up on your opponent and its unfortunate that it happened. ... I've played in cold weather, I know how hard the football is and you can grip the leather [if deflated] just a little bit better." Jerry Rice on putting Stickum on gloves: "I know this might be a little illegal, guys, but you put a little spray, a little Stickum on them, to make sure that texture is a little sticky." Stickum was outlawed by the NFL in 1981.
DeflateGate Accusations Mean It's Time For Coach and Owner To Be Banned From NFL: In this case, Irsay and Pagano.
Hey, NFL, Let Anyone Commentate the Next Super Bowl: Robert McMillan wants more choices for Super Bowl commentary than the same-old network announcers calling games the same-old way. "What the Super Bowl needs is a YouTube of color commentary," he writes. "We need to trash the boring veneer of impartiality that dulls down today’s NFL broadcasts. Tune into the Seahawks Fan broadcast and hear some real tears at the end of the game. Want to listen to a woman call the game? This is the way that could finally happen. Gamblers’ Super Bowl? No problem. You enjoyed Drunk History? Wait till you try Drunk Super Bowl. Personally, I’d go for a data heavy, FiveThirtyEight-style broadcast: the Databack. Let a thousand flowers bloom in color commentary land. Many will be terrible. But some will be brilliant."
Patriots Win Super Bowl 0x31 After Epic Last-Second Interception: The Seattle Seahawks were one yard away from taking the lead with under 30 seconds left, but New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler jumped a route and intercepted a pass, closing out an epic 28-24 comeback win in Super Bowl 0x31. The Patriots trailed by 10 points in the second half -- the biggest deficit quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belicheck have faced in the Super Bowls they've played -- but they came back to win their fourth Super Bowl in 13 years.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Super Bowl 0x31 Round: The final round of SportsFilter's annual NFL playoffs prediction contest is here. Pick the winner of the game, the spread and 10 bonus categories. Nerfballpro leads by two points and is making a bid to go wire to wire.
Josh Gordon: I Am Not an Addict: Josh Gordon has written an essay on Medium about his suspension. The gist is that he's made mistakes but he's not the substance abuse addict that sports pundits who don't know him have claimed. "I am not someone who deserves to be dissected and analyzed like some tragic example of everything that can possibly go wrong for a professional athlete," he writes. "I am not going to die on account of the troubled state you wrongly believe my life to be in. I am a human being, with feelings and emotions and scars and flaws, just like anyone else. I make mistakes -- I have made a lot of mistakes -- but I am a good person, and I will persevere."
College Football Playoff Pressured to Change Dates: The College Football Playoff is under pressure on two fronts to adjust dates for its semifinals and championship games. ESPN execs are lobbying CFP officials to move next season's semis off New Year's Eve where it competes with countdown shows. The NFL is considering expanded playoffs with one new game on Monday night competing with the CFP championship. CFP executive director Bill Hancock says the games won't move: “We picked Monday night because it was open and it was the best night for our game. We announced that in June 2012. We established that our game was going to be on Monday night for 12 years."
"Give 'em the works, Cubby! We ain't got a minute to lose!": Back before Super Bowl media week was a circus, Dick Schaap conspired with Fred Dryer and Lance Rentzel to turn it into a circus. "We came into the shop as guys from Southern Cal and left as 1920s reporters. Scoops was the ace reporter. Cubby was the cub. I was the mentor; he was the protégé."
Josh Gordon Fails Substance Test, Out for Another Year: The fantastically talented Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has failed a substance test -- this time for alcohol -- and faces a one-year suspension. Gordon failed a marijuana test in college at Baylor, began his NFL career with a two-game substance abuse suspension and was suspended again after driving while impaired during the off season. He led the NFL in receiving yards his rookie season with 1,646, but this new incident puts his entire pro career in jeopardy. Another talented wideout with substance abuse problems, Justin Blackmon, has missed the last 24 games in Jacksonville due to suspension.
Stats Guru: Patriots Hold Onto Ball Far Better Than Any Other Team: Sports quantitative analyst Warren Sharp has found an interesting statistical anomaly involving the New England Patriots: The team has fumbled dramatically fewer times than any other NFL team the past five years, measured in term of fumbles lost per offensive play run: "There is no other team even close to being near to their rate of 187 offensive plays (passes+rushes+sacks) per fumble. The league average is 105 plays/fumble. Most teams are within 21 plays of that number." The Patriots five-year run of non-fumbling is the best five-year run of any NFL team in the last 25 years, raising the question of how the team is able to hold on to the ball so much better than anybody else.
11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports: The NFL inspected the balls used by the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship Game and found that 11 out of 12 were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below NFL rules, NFL sources told ESPN. The balls had been inspected under three hours prior to game time by the referees and were properly inflated, the sources said. No word yet on any potential punishment. One source described the league as "disappointed ... angry ... distraught." Jackie McMullen of ESPN writes that if Belichick was involved, he should be suspended for the Super Bowl.
Patriots crush Colts in the rain: Foul weather didn't slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots as they beat Andrew Luck and the Colts 45-7 (the second worst drubbing in AFC Championship history). This will be the Pats' 8th Super Bowl trip, tying them for the record with the Steelers and the Cowboys; and Brady's and Bill Belichick's 6th, tying them with Mike Lodish (player) and Don Shula (coach).
Seahawks Advance to Super Bowl 0x31 with 16-Point Comeback: Down 16-0 at the half and 19-7 with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 on the first overtime possession with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse. Wilson was terrible until he wasn't, throwing four interceptions before leading one of the greatest comebacks in an NFL playoff game. The Seahawks become the first Super Bowl champ to reach the game the next season since New England in 2005.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Conference Championship Round: Pick the winners and the spread of the NFC Championship and AFC Championship Sunday, along with the top passer, rusher and receiver. The first game is Green Bay at Seattle at 3:05 p.m. Eastern Sunday, followed by Indianapolis at New England at 6:40 p.m.
The Gaming Obsession of the Green Bay Packers:
Which game do the Green Bay Packers obsess over during their down time? Madden 15? Poker? Dominoes? Something a little more...nerdy.
Boy Asks All 32 NFL Teams: Why Should I Be Your Fan?: A 12-year-old boy in Yukon, Oklahoma, wrote to every NFL team in December, asking them a simple question: Why should I be a fan of your team? Cade Pope got one letter back, hand-written by Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, along with a replica helmet signed by the team's All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechley. "We would be honored if our Carolina Panthers became your team," Richardson replied. "We would make you proud by the classy way we would represent you."
Buckeyes Win College Football Playoff: The Ohio State Buckeyes won the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship, defeating Oregon 42-20 at AT&T Field in Arlington, Texas, Monday night.The Buckeyes overcame four turnovers thanks to Ezekiel Elliott (36 carries, 246 yards, four touchdowns), Cardale Jones (16-of-23 passing for 242 yards, a passing TD and a rushing TD) and a defense that swallowed the vaunted Ducks attack, forcing six punts.
Colts Silence Broncos Offense, Make Peyton Manning Look Old: Peyton Manning has his ninth one-and-done in his playoff career after Andrew Luck led the Indianapolis Colts to a 24-13 road victory over the Denver Broncos, putting Indy in its first AFC Championship Game since 2009. Manning went 21-for-40 with only 152 yards, leading to headlines talking about retirement.
Packers Rally Past Cowboys, Who No Longer Love the Refs: The zebras giveth, the zebras taketh away. Trailing 26-21 late in the fourth against the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys thought they had a first-and-goal from the one yard line after Dez Bryant acrobatically caught a fourth-down pass from Tony Romo. But replay officials reversed the call because the ball touched the ground and Bryant briefly lost control of it afterwards. Green Bay didn't give the ball back and advanced to the NFC Championship Game despite quarterback Aaron Rodgers being limited to the pocket due to a calf injury. His bullet to tight end Richard Rodgers completed the team's comeback in the final quarter.
Seahawks Bottle Up Panthers, Look Like Favorites to 'Re-Pete': The Seattle Seahawks turned a 14-10 nailbiter at the half into a 31-17 no doubter, defeating the Carolina Panthers and advancing to the NFC Championship Game. Kam Chancellor sealed the win with a 90-yard pick-six touchdown that followed two incredible non-blocks of a field goal as the first half ended. After leaping the line once to disrupt a kick, Chancellor did it again, foiled only by a penalty for running into the kicker. Under coach Pete Carroll, Seattle is the first defending Super Bowl champion in a decade to win a playoff game the next season.
Patriots Edge Ravens as Belichick Displays Some Trick Mojo: The New England Patriots won a 35-31 AFC Divisional Round classic over the Baltimore Ravens, taking the lead with 5:13 left on a Tom Brady to Brandon LaFell touchdown. That score makes Brady the all-time leader in playoff passing TDs with 46, passing Joe Montana. Patriots coach Bill Belichick reached into his bag of tricks with the Patriots down by 14 in the third, lining up six receivers, having one tell the refs he's ineligible and snapping before the Ravens could figure out who to cover. "It was clearly deception," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who took a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty to call attention to it.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Divisional Round: Pick the winners of each playoff game and the spread, along with four bonus categories. This round begins at 4:35 p.m. Eastern today with Baltimore at New England, followed by Carolina at Seattle tonight, then Dallas at Green Bay and Indianapolis at Denver on Sunday.