On NFL Uniform Violations, Late-Round Draft Steals and Locker Room Nudity
1. I think the NFL ought to limit its uniform fines to individual expressions which blatantly subvert its business interests—such as, say, a player wearing cleats with a visible non-Nike logo. Just instruct existing uniform staff to makes these judgments and create an appeals process. Pretty simple, huh? Because it doesn’t take a public relations expert to see the league’s fight with Cameron Heyward as a lose-lose situation. The Steelers lineman wants to honor his late father and raise cancer awareness this month, so let him. (The league and Heyward reached a compromise on Tuesday.) There’s no sanctity to protect here, no slippery slope. We’re talking about a multi-billion dollar company that profits spectacularly on gambling, alcohol sales and a steady supply of unbroken flesh provided by another multi-billion dollar company with a monopoly on unpaid labor. Get over yourselves.
2. I think Jim Harbaugh’s definition of the word “disrespectful” is somewhat flawed. Asked for comment on the chance he’d consider an NFL job three days after Michigan’s loss to Michigan State, the first-year Wolverines head coach and former 49ers coach had this to say: “I won’t comment on it. It’s disrespectful to the game. I look at it as disrespectful.” I don’t know if Harbaugh would consider an NFL job just a year into his Michigan commitment, but I’m quite certain the good men and women who covered Harbaugh’s teams in San Francisco don’t miss coach's thin skin.
3. I think unless Ben Roethlisberger (MCL) is between 95 and 100% on Sunday, there’s no reason to trot him out against the Chiefs. The Steelers (4-2) have a comfortable lead over Baltimore and Cleveland in the AFC North thanks to Landry Jones’ heroics in a narrow and unexpected win over Arizona. Jones’ success may be short-lived (Kansas City now has tape on the young QB who went 8-of-12 for 168 yards and two touchdowns Sunday), but the Steelers ought to roll the dice on the backup in the interest of having a healthy Roethlisberger vs. the undefeated Bengals in two weeks.
4. I don’t think I buy Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon’s explanation that he had no intention of hurting Titans rookie Marcus Mariota this weekend when Vernon inexplicably dove at Mariota's legs after he’d thrown the ball. Mariota suffered a sprained knee that could keep him out several weeks. In my opinion, Vernon should miss just as much if not more time.
5. I think the best late-round draft steal after six weeks is Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs, whom Minnesota plucked in the fifth round out of Maryland. Diggs, who is listed at 6 feet, caught six passes for 87 yards in his debut earlier this month vs. Denver and followed it up this weekend with seven catches and 129 yards vs. Kansas City, earning lofty comparisons to Antonio Brown from teammate Mike Wallace.
• THE RULES OF DONUT CLUB: On Saturday mornings during the season, a group of Vikings convene in the athletic trainers’ room for a sugary, frosted tradition like no other in the NFL. Here’s the hole story
6. I think a good portion of the blame for Denver’s anemic offense should be attributed to general manager John Elway’s decision to let tight end Julius Thomas sign with Jacksonville without making a competitive offer. Manning was a Thomas believer, and it’s become apparent the 39-year-old quarterback could really use an intermediate passing threat to mask what he’s lost on his fastball.
7. I think I would be surprised to see Tom Brady target Darrelle Revis more than once or twice—only when truly desperate—in Sunday’s afternoon slate vs. the Jets. As Brady says, Revis has “an intimate knowledge of how we do things.” I don’t believe Brady is referring to play calls and hand signals; he’s talking about intuition. Revis has watched so much Patriots football, behind the scenes and as an opponent, it’s likely he can judge route combinations based on personnel groupings, game trends and down and distance.
8. I think if you can get through Ray Lewis’ new book—which contains lines like “we told ourselves nowhere was okay, long as we were headed somewhere”— kudos to you. Deadspin does a fine job breaking down the chapter on the Atlanta killings and the aftermath, in which Lewis faced obstruction of justice charges. Predictably, Lewis spends all of 81 words describing the actual fight that left two men dead.
9. I think if Daily Fantasy goes the way of online poker—and mounting investigations seem to be pushing in that direction—the men who’ve made fortunes on the games can look at one man. DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell shook consumer confidence and opened the door to an avalanche of scrutiny in winning $350,000 on a rival site and accidentally revealing his access to privileged lineup info. The irony of it? A probe led by former U.S. Attorney John Pappalardo determined Haskell couldn’t have used the information to win.
10. I think the “if we were women” argument employed by Andrew Whitworth in his indignation over Bengals players being broadcast nude and semi-nude in the background of an NFL Network locker room interview is somewhat tone deaf considering the many indignities women face in the workplace on a massive scale. I’m with Whitworth, though, when he says reporters shouldn’t be allowed in the locker room while players are dressing. As a reporter, standing around waiting for players to towel off and don underwear has always been the most awkward part of this sports journalism thing.
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