Willis adds motivational speaker to his game


Willis adds motivational speaker to his game

There are a lot of comparisons to be made between Baltimore Ravens veteran middle linebacker Ray Lewis and the 49ers' Patrick Willis.Lewis earned trips to 12 Pro Bowls in his first 15 seasons and has two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards on his resume.Willis has made the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. And, this year, he has led a dominating 49ers defense and is a strong candidate for the honor of the league's top defensive player.But one comparison that had not been made prior to this season is in the area of motivational speaking. Lewis has long been the Ravens player who gets his teammates fired up with an impassioned pregame talk.And this season Willis is letting more than just his actions do the talking.

For several weeks, Willis has offered inspirational words to his teammates after pregame warmups. Willis said several players took turns talking to the team early in the season before it became a regular gig for Willis."Anybody on our team is capable of doing that," Willis said. "They just let me get up there and say what I wanted to say. . . . A lot of times, it's just spur of the moment, what I'm feeling. I'm not the type of person to sit at home and think about the best thing to say. What I feel is what I give."Lewis' availability for Thursday's game is in question due to a foot injury. He missed last week's Ravens game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and he has been limited in practice this week.

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'


Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

NEW YORK — The NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand during the national anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings that altering the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “spoke at length” to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs “believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important part of our policy and the game. It’s important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that.”

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

“There was a fair amount of conversation and I think our clubs see it the same way. I can’t deal with hypotheticals,” Goodell said.

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

“Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride,” he said, adding the NFL is “not afraid of tough conversations.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

“We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“I understand the way they feel about these issues,” Goodell said Wednesday. “We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players.”

Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem


Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is again criticizing the NFL over players kneeling during the national anthem.

Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that the “NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem.”

He adds: “Total disrespect for our great country!”

Trump appeared to be responding to the NFL annual fall meeting on Tuesday. The league invited players and representatives from their union to discuss social issues.

The topic of the national anthem was not discussed at length. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said owners did not ask players to commit to standing during the anthem.

Trump has suggested the owners should “fire” any players who knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”