Minnesota State players refuse to practice as coach Todd Hoffner returns: Football players at Minnesota State Mankato refused to practice for their former head coach Wednesday, greeting his reinstatement by an arbitrator by demanding that the interim coach keep the top job.
Maurice Jones-Drew Inks 3-Year Deal with Raiders: After eight seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Maurice Jones-Drew has signed a three-year deal with the Oakland Raiders. Jones-Drew is a three-time Pro Bowler who won the 2011 rushing title with 1,606 yards. He's 12 months shy of 30 and was given the ball 1,808 times by the Jags, raising the question of how much he has left in the tank. "I feel like I have a ton left in the tank," he said.
Ralph Wilson, founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills, dies at 95 : He brought major league sports to Buffalo in 1959, when he joined a group that became known as “The Foolish Club,” eight businessmen led by Texas oilman Lamar Hunt, who founded the American Football League. The initial cost to Wilson was $25,000, and it was considered a risky venture to challenge the established National Football League.
Cowboys Release DeMarcus Ware: The Dallas Cowboys have released linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware after a deal could not be reached to reduce his $12.5 million salary for the upcoming season. The best pass rusher in team history after being drafted in 2005, Ware has a team-record 117 sacks and the seven trips to the Pro Bowl. The move frees up $7.5 million in cap space.
Detroit Lions Owner William Clay Ford Dies: William Clay Ford, who once steered a car from his grandfather Henry Ford's lap but never got the chance to run the family business, died on Sunday at his home in Grosse Pointe, Mich., of pneumonia. He was 88. Ford, who also was the longtime owner of the Detroit Lions football team, represented the automaker's last direct link to the days when the company belonged entirely to the Ford family. Ford bought control of the Lions in 1964 for $6 million, the largest cash price then paid for a sports team. The team has never gone to a Super Bowl.
Rashard Mendenhall Retiring from NFL: Rashard Mendenhall, a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals who is a free agent, has announced his retirement from the NFL at age 26. A column Mendenhall wrote for Huffington Post two weeks ago might have been a clue he was done: "[T]oday is the day that the journey is over and I am fully at peace. Eagerly looking to a new way, which lies ahead."
Ravens' Ray Rice allegedly knocked out fiancee at hotel: Rice and his fiancee, Janay Palmer, were both arrested Saturday morning and charged with simple assault-domestic violence after an argument at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Rice is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 25 at 9 a.m Video
Manziel Would Draft Himself at No. 1: The Houston Texans not taking Heisman-winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel with the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft would be "the worst decision they've ever made," said Heisman-winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. "I'd be in the same division playing against them twice a year. Sorry, but you just turned that chip on my shoulder from a Frito into a Dorito."
Missouri All-American Defensive Lineman Michael Sam Announces He Is Gay: Michael Sam was a first team All American and the SEC defensive player of the year. Sam is projected by some to be a third round pick and would become the first publicly gay NFL player.
1,000 Texts Between Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito: The Big Lead has an enormous collection of texts between Miami Dolphins offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. A highlight: "U good dude?" Incognito asks last March. "Did u get some chick pregnant? I'll help you off her if that's the case." Martin replies, "Lol yeah I'm good man. Ima hold you to that if I ever knock up a chick at tootsies."
St. Louis Rams Owner Buys Land in Los Angeles: St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased 60 acres of parking lot in Los Angeles between the Hollywood Park Racetrack and the Forum, reviving chatter about the NFL returning to town. Hey, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, isn't he just doing this to extort more money from the taxpayers of St. Louis? "Yes, he wants the city and state to make a more competitive offer to keep the Rams. The sides are now $600 million apart on their bid and ask. But Kroenke isn't bluffing, either. He loves LA, and a stadium in that area was already approved for Davis before he moved the Raiders in 1994. This is no joke."
CBS to Air 8 NFL Games on Thursday Night: CBS has reached a deal with the NFL to air eight games on Thursday night in the first half of the season and two late-season Saturday night games. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call the games. CBS, which broadcast its first NFL game in 1956, had the rights to air NFC games from 1970 to 1993 and has owned the AFC rights since 1998.
Seattle Wins Super Bowl 0x30: The Seattle Seahawks annihilated the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl 0x30, the biggest rout in the NFL's championship game in 21 years. How dominating was the Seattle defense? They scored a safety 12 seconds into the game and that lead held up until the final play of the third quarter. A linebacker, Malcolm Smith, was chosen the game's MVP. He returned an interception of a Peyton Manning pass 69 yards for a touchdown shortly before halftime.
Strahan, Brooks lead NFL Hall of Fame class: Michael Strahan and Derrick Brooks led a group of seven players who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Marvin Harrison, however, was not elected. Brooks will enter as a first-ballot HOFer, and punt Ray Guy finally gets in through the veterans' committee.
Lawyer Reveals Martin's Texts to Incognito: The lawyer for Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito has released texts from teammate Jonathan Martin that are as rough as anything Incognito reportedly said to him. The texts show the players swapping insults and threats in what appears to be a joking manner, given that they exchange normal texts afterwards as if nothing had happened. One time Martin responds to Incognito's "f--- you!" by sending a photo that reads, "I will murder your whole f------ family."
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Super Bowl-a-Geddon Edition: Pick the winners of the game and several other categories in the deciding round. The contest winner wins a Chimay Ale gift set (if over 21) or a $30 Amazon gift card (if under).
Pete Carroll: NFL Should Consider Medical Marijuana: Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that the NFL should consider allowing players to be treated with medical marijuana. "I would say that we have to explore and find ways to make our game a better game and take care of our players in whatever way possible," Carroll said at a Super Bowl news conference Monday. "Regardless of what other stigmas might be involved, we have to do this because the world of medicine is doing this."
Richard Sherman, the Man Behind the Mouth: The New York Times profiles Richard Sherman, describing his rise from being a mouthy kid at Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif., to a mouthy scholarship athlete at Stanford to a mouthy NFL player with 20 interceptions since 2011, the most in the league. A story from his days at Dominguez: "At practice, he would aggravate less ambitious teammates by telling them, 'I'm going to love coming back to watch you play at Compton College.' Within days they would be knocking on [Coach] Donerson's door, asking him for academic help. 'All so they could shut Richard's mouth,' Donerson said."
Ex-Agent: Ryan Leaf Blew Chance to Go No. 1: Ryan Leaf intentionally skipped a meeting with Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Mora so he wouldn't be drafted by the team as the No. 1 overall selection in 1998, his former agent Leigh Steinberg claims in a new book. Steinberg didn't think Colts owner Jim Irsay would be dissuaded by the snub, so he gave this advice to his client: "''If you go to the combine,' I told Ryan, 'but fail to show up for a meeting with Mora, that should do it. Jim is a real prideful person who has a tendency to explode. I am not recommending you do this, but if you are desperate to go to San Diego, this is the way.'" The Colts picked Peyton Manning.
Seahawks Edge Niners: Seattle forced three fourth-quarter turnovers and Russell Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on fourth down for the winning points in a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, sending the Seahawks into Super Bowl 0x30 against the Denver Broncos. The Seahawks are an early one-point favorite.
Broncos Overwhelm Patriots: The Denver Broncos carved up the New England Patriots 26-16, with Peyton Manning throwing for 400 yards and two touchdowns, in the AFC Championship Game. Manning advances to his second Super Bowl and first since joining the Broncos as a free agent.
Darren Sharper Arrested in Rape Investigation: Former NFL star defensive back Darren Sharper, of late an analyst for NFL Network, has been arrested on suspicion of rape in Los Angeles. Sharper, 38, played 14 seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. He's been suspended from the TV gig.
Kellen Winslow Flagged for Illegal Use of Hands: When New York Jets tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested for possession of synthetic marijuana in November in his car outside a Target store, a woman who parked next to him told police he was pleasuring himself. Police did not charge him with lewdness. Winslow said through his publicist that he was changing clothes so he wouldn't smell like smoke when he got home.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Championship Games-a-Ganza Edition: Pick the winners of Patriots at Broncos and 49ers at Seahawks along with four other categories. The contest winner for the entire playoffs wins a Chimay Ale gift set (if over 21) or a $30 Amazon gift card (if under).
Broncos Hold Off Chargers: The Denver Broncos narrowly avoided a repeat of last year's playoff debacle, advancing to the AFC championship game with a 24-17 win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. After taking a 17-0 lead into the fourth quarter, Denver saw San Diego pull to within 24-17. Peyton Manning completed 25 of 36 passes for 230 yards and two TDs, ending a three-game postseason skid dating back to 2010.
49ers Smother Panthers: Colin Kaepernick threw one touchdown pass and ran for another score as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers 23-10 to advance to the NFC title game for the third straight season. The 49ers held the Panthers scoreless in the second half of the extremely chippy game. Kaepenick celebrated his rushing touchdown by mocking Cam Newton's touchdown gesture and said after the game that he "'will never forget" being selected 35 spots behind Newton, the 2011 draft's top selection.
Patriots Run Over Colts: LeGarrette Blount scored four touchdowns, including a fourth quarter 73-yard scamper, and Stevan Ridley added two more to carry the New England Patriots to their third straight AFC championship game with a 43-22 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night. Andrew Luck threw four interceptions.
Seahawks Stymie Saints: Marshawn Lynch carried 28 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns and Seattle's defense flustered Drew Brees and New Orleans in a 23-15 victory Saturday in the NFC divisional playoff game. "I don't run to get tackled," Lynch said.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Division Round-a-Go-Go Edition: Pick the winners of Saints at Seahawks, Colts at Patriots, 49ers at Panthers and Chargers at Broncos along with three other categories. The contest winner for the entire playoffs wins a Chimay Ale gift set (if over 21) or a $30 Amazon gift card (if under).
Will Robert Griffin III help or hurt the next Washington Redskins coach?: Previous Washington Redskins coaches only had to deal with one divisive influence at the top of the franchise. Now there are two.
Florida State Wins BCS Championship: The Florida State Seminoles rallied from a 21-3 deficit with a last-second touchdown pass from Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston to defeat the Auburn Tigers 34-31 in the BCS National Championship. The Noles finish the season 14-0 and end a seven-year streak of SEC teams atop college football's highest division.
49ers Edge Packers on Last-Second Field Goal: Phil Dawson, signed by the San Francisco 49ers this season, kicked a 33-yard field goal on the final play Sunday in a 23-20 wild card win over the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is now 3-0 against the Packers, ran for an 11-yard first down on third down to the Packers' 27 with 1:13 left, keeping the final drive alive.
Chargers Upset Bengals, 27-10: San Diego took advantage of Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton's three turnovers in the second half, pulling away to a 27-10 road victory in an AFC wild card game. The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since 1990 when Boomer Esiason was the quarterback and Sam Wyche the head coach.
Saints Edge Eagles on Last-Second Field Goal: Shayne Graham, signed by the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago, kicked a 32-yard field goal on the final play Saturday night in a 26-24 wild card win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The victory is the first road playoff win in the 46-year history of the Saints franchise.
Down 38-10, Colts Beat Chiefs 45-44: Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes after halftime, including a 64-yarder to T.Y. Hilton for the go-ahead score with 4:22 left, to lead the Indianapolis Colts from a four-TD deficit to a 45-44 comeback victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC wild-card game Saturday.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em, Wild-Card-a-Palooza Edition: Pick the winners of Chiefs at Colts, Saints at Eagles, Chargers at Bengals and 49ers at Packers along with three other categories.
Chris Kluwe Knows His NFL Career is Over: Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has written a tell-all for Deadspin about his final season with the team, including allegations that Kluwe's outspoken support for gay marriage caused special-teams coach Mike Priefer to make highly bigoted remarks about gays at player meetings. Priefer, who is reportedly being considered to succeed fired head coach Leslie Frazier, allegedly said, "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows" (via Bender).
Houston Texans Hire Bill O'Brien as Head Coach: Bill O'Brien has been chosen as the Houston Texans' third head coach in franchise history, moving on from the top job at Penn State University after two seasons. O'Brien was an offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots before being hired by the scandal-rocked Nittany Lions. He was 15-9 in that job. The Texans have the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Eagles, Packers Advance to Playoffs: The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 to win the NFC East and advance to the NFL Playoffs. The Cowboys had the ball with a chance for a game-winning drive with 1:49 left, but backup quarterback Kyle Orton threw an interception to cornerback Brandon Boykin. For the third season in a row, Dallas finishes 8-8 and drops a deciding game 17 for the East crown. In another division battle, quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned from injury and led the Green Bay Packers to a 33-28 road win over the Chicago Bears to win the NFC North. Rodgers threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-long for the go-ahead score with 46 seconds left.