Παρασκευή 3 Ιανουαρίου 2020

Redskins' Dan Snyder Promises New Culture With Ron Rivera as Coach

January 03, 2020 at 03:50AM

Dan Snyder believes Ron Rivera is the man who can shift the culture in Washington and help the team return to its winning ways.

ASHBURN, Va. – Ron Rivera's tenure as Washington Redskins head coach promises to bring major changes at least from his immediate predecessor, Jay Gruden. Whether he can build the consistent winning team that has eluded Dan Snyder in two decades as owner remains to be seen.

Snyder, who rarely speaks publicly, introduced Rivera on Thursday and said his new coach will have unique authority.

''What the Redskins have needed is a culture change,'' Snyder said at Rivera's introductory news conference. ''Someone that can bring a winning culture to our organization. That starts and ends with our head coach.''

Snyder spoke for 1 minute, 40 seconds, and did not take questions - a reminder that the Redskins under his ownership remain in many ways an atypical NFL franchise.

During his brief remarks, Snyder lauded Rivera, who will turn 58 on Jan. 7, as a proven winner. He pointed out that Rivera, in nearly nine seasons as coach of the Carolina Panthers, was a two-time Coach of the Year and led the team to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance in the 2015 season.

In speaking with people who knew Rivera, Snyder said several words were mentioned: ''Integrity, honesty, knowledge, grit, determination. It's all about winning. Ron Rivera knows how to win as a player, as a coach. ...

''One thing that's very, very important. We're going to have one voice, and only one voice alone. That's the coach's.''

How exactly Washington's football operations will be managed isn't clear, but this isn't the first time Snyder has brought in an established head coach and given him broad authority to shape the franchise. Joe Gibbs, who came out of retirement for a second stint as Washington's coach in the 2000s, and Mike Shanahan, who coached the team from 2010-13, were given power not just to coach the team but to build the roster. Neither finished with a winning record.

Washington's record since Snyder bought the team in 1999 is 142-193-1, and its only playoff victory was in 2005 under Gibbs.

Snyder did not say whether Bruce Allen, who was fired as team president on Monday after 10 years with the Redskins, would be replaced.

Rivera was fired by Carolina on Dec. 3, two days after the Panthers lost to the Redskins.

''This team got me unemployed. We're good now,'' Rivera joked.

He wasn't eager for time off from coaching. Snyder contacted Rivera's agent three days after his dismissal, and they began a series of phone calls and meetings that led to him replacing interim coach Bill Callahan, who isn't continuing with the team. Snyder fired Gruden after Washington lost its first five games this year.

Rivera accepted the Washington job without interviewing for other open NFL positions.

''It's not about the money,'' he said. ''If it was about the money, if I wanted the money, I'd still be out there, trying to pit a couple of teams against each other. I took this job for one simple reason, because Dan Snyder came to my with a very interesting perspective.

''For weeks, he's explored the reasons why some teams win and some don't. He told me the common factor in that transitional success of teams like the Patriots, the Seahawks and the Chiefs and some of the other ones is the decision to take it and make it a coach-centered approach. Not an owner-centered approach or a team president or a GM.''

Rivera liked what Snyder said, but added one crucial element.

''I'd he honored,'' Rivera said. ''But under one condition: It had to be a player-centered culture.''

He emphasized his military background and said discipline was vital: ''It isn't taught. It's lived.''

''Do it the way we teach you. Do it the way we ask. If you do it that way, the success will be yours,'' Rivera added. ''Do it our way. Do it the right way, and if we fail, it's on me. OK, it will be on me, the head coach.''

Over the past few weeks, Rivera said he watched six Redskins games, and feels he has a good grasp of the team's personnel. He's encouraged by the potential of quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a first-round draft pick who just finished his rookie season.

''I think he can become a franchise-style quarterback,'' Rivera said.

Rivera didn't commit to retaining offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell. He's beginning the interview process and has received permission from teams to talk with coaches.

Jack Del Rio, the former head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, was named defensive coordinator earlier Thursday. He attended the news conference along with several players including veteran running back Adrian Peterson, who is eager to continue his career under Rivera.

''Everything I've heard about coach Ron has been nothing but phenomenal and amazing,'' Peterson said. ''I'm just excited to get started with him.''

The Redskins are coming off a 3-13 season, but Rivera believes they can become a contender quickly.

''I told him I didn't want to go through a five-year rebuilding process,'' Rivera said. ''I just don't have the patience, and from what I've read, neither does he, so we understand that.''

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Colts GM Chris Ballard on Jacoby Brissett: 'The Jury Is Still Out'

January 03, 2020 at 03:27AM

Colts GM Chris Ballard was non-committal about QB Jacoby Brissett's long-term future with the team on Thursday.

Addressing the media during a season-ending news conference on Thursday, Colts GM Chris Ballard was non-committal about QB Jacoby Brissett's long-term future with the team. 

"The jury is still out," Ballard said. "That's why we did the short-term deal with Jacoby. One, to give us some security that we had a player we knew we liked and could go forward with. But also, two, to give us time to figure out if he is the guy or not.

"Jacoby did a lot of good things. He also did some things that I think he would tell you he needs to get better at. But it's a constant evaluation."

Brissett was elevated into the starter's role following

Andrew Luck's sudden retirement from the NFL in late August. Upon Luck's announcement, Ballard said then that the franchise had complete confidence in the former seventh-round pick to lead the team. 

Two days after Luck's retirement, Brissett stepped in front of his teammates, telling them, according to Sports Illustrated's Greg Bishop, that he realized that number 12 was a special person, that many of them had come to Indy just to play with Luck and that he made their championship expectations realistic.

 “I’m not going to be 12,” Brissett said. “But listen, I’m playing. Either you like it, or you don’t, but it’s nothing for y’all to freak out about.”

Just days after that, Brissett inked a two-year, $30 million extension, with $20 million guaranteed at signing. He was otherwise entering the final year of his rookie deal, with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.

The Colts' 2019 season (7-9) featured a number of highs and a number of lows. Brissett threw 14 touchdown passes and only three interceptions through the first seven games of the season, including wins over playoff teams Houston, Tennessee and Kansas City. But he threw only four more touchdowns and had three interceptions in the final eight games he played in while dealing with a sprained MCL. Additionally, he missed one game due to injury. 

"It's almost like the tale of two seasons," Ballard said. "At one point, the world is talking about him as an MVP. And then the next moment, they're talking about wanting to run the kid out of town. I mean, it's never as good as it seems and never as bad as it seems."

Brissett's short-term extension provides the team with some options in the future if he does continue to struggle. Ballard, however, reiterated that Brissett, 27, is still young and developing. 

"I'll say this: Right now, yes, Jacoby is our starting quarterback," he said.

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Breaking Down Domingo Germán's 81-Game Suspension for Domestic Violence

January 03, 2020 at 01:55AM

Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán will miss the first 63 games of the 2020 season for violating MLB's domestic violence policy.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Thursday

suspended New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo Germán 81 games for violating the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Germán’s suspension is the fourth longest in MLB history for domestic violence. Only José Torres (100 games) Odúbel Herrera (85 games) and Héctor Olivera (82 games)—all of whom, unlike Germán, were charged with crimes—received lengthier suspensions.

Germán, 27, will be eligible to return to the Yankees after only 63 games in the 2020 regular season. The 18-game discrepancy between that and the 81-game penalty reflects the fact that Germán earned the baseball equivalent of “time served” during the 2019 regular season and playoffs. MLB placed him on administrative (paid) leave on Sept. 19, causing him to miss the final nine games of the regular season and the Yankees’ nine postseason games. Pursuant to the joint policy, administrative leave placement ensures that a player who is accused of serious misconduct is separated from his team while MLB investigates. At the same time, placement doesn’t represent a finding by MLB that the player is guilty—a point consistent with the fact that the player continues to be paid his salary. Now that Germán has been suspended, he will need to repay the Yankees the salary he earned while he was on administrative leave.

The incident which led to Germán’s punishment remains undisclosed by all relevant parties, including MLB, the Yankees and Germán himself. There are uncorroborated reports that he hit or slapped his girlfriend in a public setting in Yonkers, New York, an alleged incident that occurred after Germán attended a charity gala hosted by his teammate, CC Sabathia. There is speculation that an MLB official witnessed the incident, but there is no indication that a police report was filed or that law enforcement formally investigated.

The lack of an accompanying criminal investigation placed no constraint on Manfred’s authority. The policy supplies him with considerable latitude to determine whether a player engaged in domestic violence. Domestic violence is an expansively defined term and can constitute physical violence, stalking or threats. To that end, the policy defines domestic violence as inclusive of “physical or sexual violence, emotional and/or psychological intimidation, verbal violence, stalking, economic control, harassment, physical intimidation, or injury.” The policy also authorizes a suspension for a single, one-time incident of abusive behavior. Furthermore, Manfred, as commissioner, has total discretion to determine an appropriate suspension—there are no limits or even recommended figures.

Germán has a collectively bargained right to appeal the suspension. An appeal would be heard by a three-person arbitration panel. MLB and MLBPA would each select one panelist. The league and union would then jointly select the third panelist. The panel would assess if Manfred possessed “just cause”—meaning sufficient certainty in light of known facts, witness statements and available precedent—to (1) conclude that Germán violated the policy and (2) decide that Germán deserved a suspension for as long as 81 games.

Interestingly, Germán will not appeal the suspension. As part of his acceptance of responsibility, Germán has also agreed to undergo counseling and make a donation to Sanctuary for Families, a New York City-based non-profit organization dedicated to aiding victims of domestic violence.

Why would Germán not appeal? There are several possible reasons.

First, Germán might genuinely acknowledge that he violated the policy. He might also regard the 81-game suspension as appropriate for his transgression. Germán agreeing to both undergo counseling and make a donation to a charity for domestic violence victims are suggestive of a desire on his part to become a better person and partner.

A second possibility would be more transactional: the 81 games could reflect a negotiated number between Germán (and family), his representatives, MLBPA and MLB. MLB might have threatened to impose a lengthier suspension if Germán had refused to accept responsibility and, essentially, plead guilty. Under the policy, Manfred had all the discretion and thus all the leverage. It was his, and only his, choice whether to suspend Germán and if so, for how long. The fact that Germán was neither charged with a crime (let alone convicted of one) nor sued are as meaningful or as irrelevant as Manfred sees fit. Germán also knew that Manfred hasn’t hesitated to impose very long suspensions for domestic violence. All of those factors placed Germán in a disadvantageous position to threaten an appeal.

Third, it’s possible that MLB has agreed to keep confidential its investigative findings—which likely include interviews with Germán, his girlfriend and other witnesses—so long as Germán agreed to accept responsibility. This lack of public disclosure is potentially beneficial to Germán and his girlfriend on at least a few levels.

Perhaps most importantly, and as astutely observed by Lindsey Adler of The Athletic, victims of domestic violence have reasons to seek confidentiality and privacy. “Consider how you'd feel if you were a victim,” Adler notes on Twitter, “and your story was made public because of some expectation of obligation.”

In addition, public disclosure of the incident’s details could attract the attention of law enforcement, motivate them to investigate and, potentially, charge Germán with crimes. Also, the public becoming aware of the incident’s details would likely damage Germán’s reputation with fans and sponsors, and also with (to the extent they aren’t aware of what took place) his teammates and coaches.

The MLBPA is a relevant party in this discussion. The union, which has a right to file an appeal with or without Germán’s consent, might have concerns that a player has been suspended for a half-season for an incident that played out entirely outside of the legal system. Germán’s suspension will be precedent going forward and could lead to lengthier suspensions for other players accused of domestic violence. At the same time, MLBPA agreed to bestow this discretion to Manfred in the CBA. The current CBA will expire on Dec. 1, 2021 at 11:59 pm ET. It’s possible the union might demand more constraints on the commissioner’s power to discipline in the next CBA.

Michael McCann is SI’s Legal Analyst. He is also an attorney and Director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law.

Polamalu, Wayne, Lynch Highlight List of 15 NFL Hall of Fame Finalists

January 03, 2020 at 01:49AM

The NFL's modern-era player finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2020 were announced Thursday evening.

The NFL's modern-era player finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2020 were announced Thursday evening. Safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Reggie Wayne highlight the list of first timers included on the list, while safety and current 49ers GM John Lynch is among the notable returners.

The 15 finalists will be considered for election to the Hall of Fame when the Hall’s Selection Committee meets in Miami the day before Super Bowl LIV. The full committee will elect five modern-era players, who must receive a minimum positive vote of 80% from the committee.

The NFL's full class of recipients will be introduced during NFL Honors, the league's two-hour awards special to air nationally on the eve of the game.

The finalists are as followed: 

  • Troy PolamaluSafety – 2003-2014 Pittsburgh Steelers, (First finalist appearance) — Polamalu was First-Team All-Pro four times and Second-Team twice. The eight-time Pro Bowler was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, helping Pittsburgh reach seven postseasons and two Super Bowls during his tenure. 
  • Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver – 2001-2014 Indianapolis Colts (1) — Wayne retired as the NFL's second all-time leading receiver in the postseason, and at one point in his career, made six Pro Bowls in a seven-year span. He helped the Colts reach the playoffs every year but two during his career, catching 100 passes in a season four different times. 
  • John Lynch, Safety – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos (7) — Drafted in the third round of the 1993 NFL draft, Lynch helped Tampa Bay's defense become one of the best in the NFL. He was voted to nine Pro Bowls, earning First-Team All-Pro honors three straight years (1999-2001) while helping the Buccaneers win their first Super Bowl title in 2002. 
  • ·Steve Atwater, Safety – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets (3) — At one point in his career, Atwater made eight Pro Bowls in a nine-year span. Noted for his hard-hitting and strong tackling, the Broncos' safety started in four AFC Championship games and three Super Bowls, helping Denver defeat Green Bay in Super Bowl XXXII and Atlanta in Super Bowl XXXIII.
  • Tony Boselli, Tackle – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars (4) — Boselli was voted to five straight Pro Bowls and was First-Team All-Pro for three straight seasons before suffering a severe shoulder injury that ultimately ended his career.
  • Isaac Bruce, Wide Receiver – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers (4) — Bruce was voted to four Pro Bowls, finishing his career with 12 seasons of 50 or more catches and eight seasons with 1,000 yards. At the time he retired, he finished his career with the second-most receiving yards in NFL history.

  • LeRoy Butler, Safety – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers (1) — Butler made four Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro four times as well. He started at strong safety for three straight NFL Championship game appearances for the Packers and had seven tackles and one sack in Green Bay's Super Bowl XXXI win. 
  • Torry Holt, Wide Receiver – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars (6) — Holt was voted to seven Pro Bowls throughout his career, leading the Rams in receptions for seven straight seasons between 2002 and 2008.
  • Steve Hutchinson, Guard – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans (3) — Hutchinson emerged as one of football's best guards, being named All-Pro six times and making seven consecutive Pro Bowls. He was twice chosen as NFL Alumni Offensive Lineman of the Year. 

  • Alan Faneca, Guard – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals (5) — Missing just one game in his career, Faneca was named First-Team All-Pro six times and Second Team twice. He was selected to nine straight Pro Bowls, blocking for nine 1,000-yard rushers.

  • Edgerrin James, Running Back – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks (4) — James captured the NFL's rushing titles during his first two seasons, winning the NFL's Rookie of the Year award in 1999. He was selected to four Pro Bowls and made All-Pro three times. 
  • Sam Mills, Linebacker – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers (1) — Mills played three seasons in the USFL before the league folded and he joined the Saints. He earned his first Pro Bowl nod in his second season and was selected as an All-Pro three times throughout his career.

  • Richard Seymour, Defensive End/Defensive Tackle – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders (2) — A key member of the Patriots' defense that won six straight titles throughout the 2000s, Seymour played in four Super Bowls with New England. He was voted to seven Pro Bowls and selected All-Pro five times. 
  • Zach Thomas, Linebacker – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys (1) — Thomas made an immediate and constant impact on the Dolphins, winning AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1996. He was First-Team All-Pro five times and voted to seven Pro Bowls, making 168 starts on Miami's defense, the most-ever by a Dolphins defensive player. 

  • Bryant Young, Defensive Tackle – 1994-2007 San Francisco 49ers (1) — Young was voted to four Pro Bowls throughout his NFL career, earning NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1999. He was First-Team All-Pro twice, amassing 89.5 sacks throughout his decade-plus career. 

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