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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Drew Brees says Colin Kaepernick should be in NFL, Jim Harbaugh says he's a starter

Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent and it's unclear when or if he'll get another opportunity to play in the NFL. Depending on who you ask, Kaepernick's current situation results from his decision to kneel during the national anthem last season, his way of protesting social injustice. Or, more simply, it's because Kaepernick isn't the player he once was.
On Monday, Drew Brees, during an appearance with CBS Sports Radio's "Tiki and Tierney Show," was asked if Kaepernick had been black-balled by the league.  "It's hard to know what's going on behind the scenes," the Saints quarterback said. "Unless you're somebody on the inner circle, I don't think you would really know exactly what's going on. Has he received offers from other people? I don't know. Has he turned down opportunities? I don't know. So I think for most people, you sit back and say, 'Oh, he hasn't been chosen by a team, and this is why.' It's easy to sit back and speculate that, but do any of us really know if he's been extended an offer or if he's turned down offers? I certainly don't."
And Brees was clear about whether Kaepernick should be in the NFL.
"Well, yeah, if he can help the team win, then why not? I guess you could call him a controversial figure, just because there's obviously a lot to talk about when somebody brings up his name," he said. "I think immediately people want to point to the fact that he knelt during the national anthem or didn't recognize it that that's the reason he's not being signed to a team right now. I'm not sure about that.
"I think at the end of the day, there's been a lot of players over the last five years, 10 years, that you could say, OK, there was some type of controversy surrounding that player, and yet, they still were on a team. There was somebody out there that felt like this person can help us win football games, and so I'm going to sign this player. So again, the scenarios and the circumstances are different for every team."
Brees is exactly right; if Kaepernick were coming off the season that, say, Tom Brady had -- and wasn't the guy who split time with Blaine Gabbert on a two-win team -- he'd be gainfully employed. Put another way: for us, the primary reason Kaepernick is still looking for work has everything to do with the state of his game and little to do with how or what he chooses to protest.
Meanwhile, the man who got the most out of Kaepernick in San Francisco, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh who is now the coach at the University of Michigan, said Monday that not only does he consider Kaepernick a starting NFL quarterback, he expects him to win championships.
"I do believe that [he's an NFL starter], yes," Harbaugh told "The Rich Eisen Show" on Monday, via NFL.com. "He's still in his 20s and has been very successful at the NFL level as a starting quarterback. My record is well-documented that I think he will win championships before his career is finished."
Kaepernick, who played for the 49ers from 2011-2016, began last season on the bench behind Gabbert, but was reinserted into the starting lineup in mid-October. When it was over, he had started 11 games, completed 59.2 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed 69 times for 468 yards and two scores. But according to Football Outsiders' metrics, Kaepernick ranked 30th among all quarterbacks, just ahead of Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brock Osweiler and Jared Goff.
The Seahawks looked to be Kaepernick's best chance at finding an NFL home but last week the team instead decided to sign Austin Davis to serve as Russell Wilson's backup.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The NFL Machine Has Finally Beaten Colin Kaepernick


This week, the Seahawks signed Austin Davis to back up Russell Wilson. I don’t need to tell you that Austin Davis is a shitty quarterback. He didn’t play a single snap in 2016, and in 2015 he started two games for Cleveland and promptly committed five turnovers. In terms of statistics, physical attributes, and professional accomplishments, Austin Davis is indisputably worse at quarterbacking than Colin Kaepernick, with whom the Seahawks briefly flirted and who passed for a respectable 4:1 TD:INT ratio last season on one of the NFL’s worst teams, doing so despite the supposed weight-loss issues that are still brought up when discussing Kap’s inability to get a job.
Now, when Pete Carroll was asked about Kaepernick, he did his characteristic gushing, because that’s what Pete Carroll does. Pete Carroll acts like a human Labrador in public and like Frank Underwood when the cameras go off. So of course he declared that Kaepernick was good enough to be a starting quarterback, causing a great deal of confusion among pundits who openly wondered why a team wouldn’t want an extra starting-caliber quarterback on its roster. But it’s clear to me that Carroll was either lying (i.e. he doesn’t really think Kap is a starting-caliber quarterback), or committed the sin of omission (i.e. he thinks Kap is talented but not worth the fuss, and he hopes some other team decides to make him their problem).
Frankly, it doesn’t matter either way. All that matters is that Seattle, despite being one of the more progressive franchises in football, decided that Austin fucking Davis was a better fit for them than a guy who once was a few botched playcalls away from winning the Super Bowl, a game in which his offense racked up 468 yards despite Colin Kaepernick starting out the season as a—you guessed it—backup QB.
This fits with the rest of the league’s behavior toward Kaepernick over the offseason. You already know that NFL teams have already gone out of their way to employ a string of horrendous quarterbacks while Kap has been left out on the curb with his dick in his hand. Josh McCown—who was somehow WORSE statistically for Cleveland last year than Austin Davis was the year prior—is currently entrenched as the Jets’ starting quarterback. And you already know how many writers out there are willing to push out excuse after excuse as to why Kaepernick has been shunned. Just today, the MMQB’s Andy Benoit put on his best Albert Breer mask and tweeted out this:

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

U.S. finally has a soccer star in Christian Pulisic


Meet Christian Pulisic: the 18-year-old phenom who could be the superstar that U.S. soccer needs. USA TODAY Sports
DENVER – When you’ve been chatting with Christian Pulisic for a little while his shyness drops, he warms up and is good company, and amid the laughs and good humor and anecdotes it is easy to forget just how young he is.
He’s 18, this 5-8 speedster from Hershey, Pa., who has fit seamlessly into the top level of European soccer with German giant Borussia Dortmund. He’s two decades younger than United States goalkeeper Tim Howard and young enough to be head coach Bruce Arena’s grandson.
Yet with the next World Cup 53 weeks away the national team finds itself with the delightful reality that its brightest prospect might already be its best player, unfazed by the opportunities and possibilities that lay in wait for him.
“The biggest thing my dad taught me was to play without fear,” Pulisic says of his father, Mark, a former professional indoor soccer player. “I have done that my whole career and if I continue to do that then he just tells me the sky is the limit. Only I can control how good I can be, he tells me that all the time.”
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Exciting as Pulisic’s upside is for the ever-increasing troop that follows the game in this country, it is not something the player himself says he thinks much about. For him soccer is a lot more fun to play than to talk about, and in a quiet room in downtown Denver on Monday the conversation flows easiest when it doesn’t solely revolve around the beautiful game.
Pulisic has more on his mind just now than World Cup qualifiers on Thursday against Trinidad and Tobago here and Sunday amid the boisterous and sweltering confines of Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.
Such as tacos, which are tough to find in Germany. And Netflix, where he might get through an entire season of Prison Break in a week or two.
“I am going to go hang out with my friends and do what any kid does,” Pulisic says, looking ahead to next week, when 10 months of toil for Dortmund and the U.S. comes to an end. “I am going to go home and sit in my room and my living room and relax with my family. Eat some good food. Enjoy myself.”

Filled with 'True love'

Yet don’t think for a moment that there will be anything less than the teenager’s typical full throttle approach as Arena’s Americans enter a critical phase of World Cup qualification. After four of 10 final round games the U.S. is in fourth spot in the CONCACAF region, which will send three teams to Russia next summer and a fourth into a playoff.
The U.S.’ 2014 World Cup campaign does not seem long ago, but as Clint Dempsey scored in under a minute and John Brooks headed the winner to give the Americans a winning start to that tournament against Ghana, Pulisic was just a 15-year-old with big dreams.
“I was in my cousin’s basement with the whole family,” he remembers. “We were decked out in U.S. gear and I was just so excited to watch and I was going crazy. I remember how much it meant to me, being an American. Watching that, I obviously had (ambitions) to play for the national team. And now I am here it still feels amazing.”
Indeed, whether parked on a couch or trying to unlock opposing defenses, Pulisic’s most impassioned moments seem to come in that period between The Star-Spangled Banner’s opening bars and the shrill of the final whistle. Against Honduras in San Jose this year, he produced a spectacular performance in a 6-0 victory, while not hesitating to loudly berate the officials for a pair of poor missed calls.
Away from the field he is neither noisy nor demonstrative, and teammates such as Geoff Cameron — who loves to torment Pulisic with practical jokes but has become a close friend — say that the youngster’s laid-back personality has helped him assimilate.
However, it is not hard to read Pulisic’s emotions and while he has a touch of teenage reserve, you can tell a lot about what matters to him by reading the look on his face.
He’d much rather discuss the magic of Dortmund as a city and a club than its tactical formula and lights up when describing the feeling of being surrounded by the most colorful and perhaps most passionate fans in Europe.
“You have to go,” he tells friends back in Hershey, 3,895 miles away from Dortmund. “Even if it is just once in your life.”
When asked about an April 11 bomb attack on the Dortmund team bus he reflects maturely about the city, whose mantra of “Echte liebe” – True love – has become a personal catchphrase.
“It just has to do with the whole city and how passionate our fans are,” he says. “True love, it just really shows everything about the club and how much football means to them, and how much they mean to us.”
Many youngsters in soccer leave their hometown and their homeland in search of a soccer dream and scarcely look back, becoming a product of their new surroundings. Pulisic does speak fluent German, with a Dortmund regional accent, but remains a proud Pennsylvanian and has taken steps to remain part of the social fabric back home.
“Obviously it is difficult with the life I have to live and where I am at,” he says. “It makes things tough but I stay in touch with all my friends from home and I just like to feel like a normal kid and talk to them like anyone else would. Hershey is very special to me, obviously being the sweetest place on earth, the chocolate factory and everything. It is a pretty small town and you basically know everyone that’s from there.”
It is the place he went back to for prom in 2016, an event that he looked set to miss when it conflicted with a U.S. call-up. Instead, it turned into perhaps the granddaddy of all prom experiences, a 36-hour whirlwind that went like this: national team training, car to airfield, private jet, race to home, put on tux, turn up fashionably but not obnoxiously late, have one heck of a good time with old buddies, stay the night, fly back to Kansas City, score first international goal in a 4-0 victory over Bolivia.
In the year since he has had other dates, with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in the Champions League, Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the Copa America semifinal.
Like he always hoped for.
“Obviously you don’t know it is going to happen,” Pulisic says, pausing to sign a stack of trading cards for Panini, a collectibles company with whom he has an exclusive autograph and memorabilia deal. “But I always had this confidence inside me that told me I could do it because I know how hard I work. If you put in the work for it you can really accomplish anything. That is always how I have looked at it.”

Playing with no fear

From the outside it is easy to wonder how Pulisic makes sense of it all, how he comes to terms with all the paradoxes that have surrounded him.
The Dortmund resident and German speaker who remains as American as they come. The small and slight attacker who throws himself around fearlessly like a heavyweight.
The kid who collected trading cards and now has his face plastered on thousands of them, including a limited edition one that recently sold for $3,500, more than the worth of all the baseball cards he still has stashed in Hershey.
"I have been collecting cards of my favorite athletes for years," he says. "To see my own face on a card is pretty crazy."
Yet it doesn’t take long with Pulisic to see that his extraordinary young life is only unusual when it comes to soccer, and that the normal parts mean perhaps even more to him than whatever accolades he finds on the field.
When soccer is gone one day the affection for home and friends and simple pleasures will remain, which is probably why there is no fear of the unknown.
“Being without fear means going out, whoever you are playing against, and trying to make an impact on the game and changing the game,” he says. “Having fun with it and not being afraid, not of any player or any team.”
Or of any situation, however quickly it comes upon him.

Cardinals, Patriots open mandatory minicamp today

 

The next three days of work isn't voluntary for players of two NFL teams.
The Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots open their mandatory minicamp today, which runs through June 8.
All teams may hold one mandatory minicamp for veteran players in Phase Three of offseason workouts, per the collective bargaining agreement. No live contact is permitted during Phase Three, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed.
All players currently under contract are required to attend minicamp or could be subject to fines at the team's discretion (franchise tagged players who have not signed their tender are not under contract and therefore not subject to fines). Per the CBA, unexcused failure to report to or unexcused departure from mandatory offseason minicamp can result in daily fines, totaling $80,405 for missing all three days -- $13,400 for missing the first day and escalating fines each day absent.
The 30 other NFL clubs will hold their mandatory minicamps next week.
Today, the Cards and Pats own the show.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

World Cup future of Argentina, Lionel Messi now in hands of new coach Jorge Sampaoli

There's a new man in charge of the Argentina men's national team. The Argentina soccer federation formally introduced Jorge Sampaoli on Thursday as the team's new coach, replacing Edgardo Bauza who was let go in April after a poor run of results.

A passionate, 57-year-old Argentine, Sampaoli was most recently the coach of Sevilla, leaving the club earlier this month after the Spanish club and the national team reached an agreement to let him out of his contract. He has also coached Chile and club Universidad de Chile, having tremendous success at both, including guiding the nation to its first ever Copa America title in 2015, with a penalty-kick shootout win over his birth country.
Sitting in fifth place in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying standings, which is worth a spot in the qualifying playoff, Argentina has a plenty of work to do. With four matches remaining, the team is in a good spot to finish in the top five but will likely finish higher if it plays up to its talent. The team is also boosted by the return of Lionel Messi. His four-match suspension for verbally abusing an official was dropped earlier last month, meaning he is eligible for the next qualifiers in August and September.
But before the qualifiers, Sampaoli's squad has two friendly matches in June: against Brazil in Melbourne on June 9 and at Singapore on June 13.

More news click here

Friday, 2 June 2017

Ezekiel Elliott phone records turned over to NFL

The NFL Players Association and representatives for Ezekiel Elliott last week turned over phone records and other documents to the NFL as the league continues its investigation into allegations Elliott assaulted his girlfriend last year, a source with knowledge of the communications between the sides told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.
The information was shared in an effort for both sides to work toward a conclusion in the matter, Garafolo added.
USA Today's Tom Pelissero first reported the development.
NFL investigators interviewed the Dallas Cowboys running back in October as part of the league's ongoing probe into allegations he assaulted his girlfriend last summer.
Elliott's now ex-girlfriend told police in July that Elliott abused her on five separate occasions from July 17 through July 22, 2016, according to the Columbus (Ohio) City Attorney's Office. In September, prosecutors announced they would not charge Elliott. However, he remains subject to the NFL's personal conduct policy.
"After reviewing the totality of the evidence, the City Attorney's Office, Prosecutor Division is declining to approve criminal charges in this matter for any of the 5 alleged incidents," the Columbus City Attorney's Office wrote in a statement. "This is primarily due to conflicting and inconsistent information across all incidents resulting in concern regarding the sufficiency of the evidence to support the filing of criminal charges."
Elliott, 21, has denied the accusations made by his former girlfriend. He is entering his second NFL season with the Cowboys.

NFL schedules click here

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Andrew Hawkins found time in his NFL schedule to get a master's degree

Andrew Hawkins had a long and winding road to get to the NFL.
Hawkins, a 5-foot-7 slot receiver, went undrafted out of Toledo in 2008. He tried out for the Browns in training camp, didn't make the team and wound up sitting out the 2008 season. Hawkins came back to football the following year, only he did so with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. While under contract, he competed in Michael Irvin's reality show "Fourth and Long" in an attempt to win a roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys. He finished as the runner-up and ultimately spent two years with the Alouttes.
In early 2011, Hawkins finally made his way back to the NFL. He signed a contract with the then-St. Louis Rams in January and worked with the team through the offseason program. Early in training camp, though, Hawkins was cut. That same day, the Bengals claimed him off waivers, and Hawkins has stuck in the league ever since.
Given his circuitous path, one might think that the NFL was the only thing ever on Hawkins' mind once he made it to the league. But that's not true. Hawkins made time in his schedule to go to graduate school at Columbia University, where he has now earned a master's degree in sports management.
He graduated Monday with a 4.0 GPA.