Giants tight end Daniel Fells has had five surgeries in the hopes of saving his foot. Plus thoughts on the Sarah Thomas overreaction, a couple veterans coming out of the woodwork, and the time Washington GM Bruce Allen threatened to sue every NFL owner  

By Emily Kaplan
October 14, 2015

1) I think I’m sending my best wishes to Giants tight end Daniel Fells, who is battling a scary MRSA infection that could end his career. He’s already had five surgeries as doctors try to save his foot from needing to be amputated. Much is still murky about the case, but it is believed the staph infection was triggered by a cortisone shot Fells had in his ankle. The Giants appear to be offering their full support, but I can’t help but wonder how frustrated and worried his family must be as he fights a totally unpredictable ailment.

2) I don’t think the NFL is facing a health crisis with MRSA, but I am curious to see how the league responds, considering they recently implemented new protocols after three Buccaneers became infected in 2013. One of those Bucs, kicker Lawrence Tynes, is currently suing the franchise for $20 million. Drew Lawrence wrote about his plight last April, which I encourage everyone to read.

3) I think I was a bit irked that many in the media—including the analysts in ESPN’s postgame show—instantly pointed out that it was Sarah Thomas (gasp, a woman!) who was the line judge determining if Le’Veon Bell crossed the goal line at the end of the Steelers-Chargers game on Monday night. While I don’t think any of the commentary had ill-intentions, the fact that a female was highlighted for simply doing her job shows that we still have a long way to go before gender isn’t an issue in this sport.

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4) I think my biggest disappointment about Detroit is that we might not get to see DeAndre Levy, who might be shut down for the season after aggravating a hip injury on Sunday that kept him out of the first four games. I thought the Lions’ defense could thrive in a post-Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley world because coordinator Teryl Austin is a master at mixing personnel to fit players’ strengths and making in-game adjustments. However, losing his most versatile and creative weapons in Levy is too much to overcome, even for one of the league’s most talented coaches.

5) I think adding Dwight Freeney to bolster the pass rush following Alex Okafor’s calf injury makes perfect sense for the Cardinals, and I’m excited to see how much production the 35-year-old Freeney still has. Though the move makes sense for Arizona, I wonder why the Ravens didn’t poach the free-agent veteran two or three weeks ago as insurance after Terrell Suggs went down.

6) I think we have a problem if Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams is appearing in NFL-sponsored commercials for breast cancer, but the league won’t honor his request to wear pink all season to honor his mother, who passed away from the disease in 2014. Because, after all, that would mean Williams has the audacity to disrespect the game with a uniform violation.

7) I think the NFL needs to re-evaluate its policies on what players can and cannot wear, and allow for reasonable exceptions. Another example was brought up earlier this season by Bears tight end Martellus Bennett. Hear the man out: ”I’m just pissed off at the NFL. They get mad because my cleats are too black, but they’re perfect for my feet. And I feel like they’re supposed to protect the players, and I have a certain shoe that feels the best with my foot—I’ve had foot problems over the last two years.”

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8) I think we should all marvel at how 35-year-old Antonio Gates can return from suspension, after not working with his teammates for four weeks, and instantly slip into his usual role, connecting with Philip Rivers for two touchdowns. We should also savor the moment because as he finishes out his contract, this could be his last year in San Diego, and the NFL.

9) I think I am excited to read Mike Freeman’s new book, Two Minute Warning: How Concussions, Crime and Controversy Could Kill the NFL (and What the League Can Do to Survive). In an excerpt published on Bleacher Report, Freeman tells an anecdote of how, in 2012, Washington general manager Bruce Allen threatened to sue every owner in the NFL. Tell me you are not intrigued: “Owners and executives, sitting just several feet from one another, began texting each other, incredulous at what they were witnessing. In some of the texts, Allen was facetiously called Clarence Darrow, the legendary litigator known for his bombastic courtroom speeches.”

10) I think this is tangentially related to the NFL, but important enough to share. When I recently went to Cape Cod to do a story on Mike Sherman, he told me what I believe is the best proposal for paying college athletes. Why not set up an account for star players, such as Leonard Fournette, and fund it based on a percentage of the money that the schools make off their likenesses? The players will then receive the money when they earn their degree, or after a three-year waiting period following their final snap, whichever comes first.

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