Eagles

5 Minutes with Roob: Kenjon Barner back with his 'wide range of musicality'

5 Minutes with Roob: Kenjon Barner back with his 'wide range of musicality'

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles return specialist and running back Kenjon Barner:

Roob: We’re here with Eagles return specialist and running back Kenjon Barner. Welcome back to Philadelphia.

Barner: Thank you, thank you.

Roob: I've got to ask you. You were on the street without a job until the Eagles called you. You handled that really well and you had a really positive attitude after the Chargers let you go. What was that period of time like for you?

Barner: I said it before and I will say it again. God has a plan for your life, I trust that, and I wholeheartedly believe in that. When I got released, the next day I was out having fun on the lake with my friends and enjoying time with my family. Just patiently waiting because God has a plan and just trusting in that.

Roob: Now since you have been back you have been returning punts. I think you are fourth in the NFL in punt return average. What is the key on those returns for you? Is it vision, is it instinct?

Barner: It is all of the above, man. Trusting in the guys in front of me, not forcing it and letting the game come to you. Being patient and when you see something out there, hit it and be aggressive. Go out there with the mindset of making a play and making it.

Roob: When you look at this group of running backs with LeGarrette (Blount), Wendell (Smallwood), Donnel (Pumphrey), Darren (Sproles) and obviously Jay (Ajayi), as well as Corey (Clement) and you. There are obviously a lot of talented guys here. What is the key to making this thing work? You guys seem very unselfish.

Barner: That’s it. Just staying unselfish. Just knowing what we have within our room and what we have within our team and knowing what our team is about. This team is not a “me” team. It isn’t an individual-based team. We are a team and the true definition of a team, more of a family than anything. So constantly remembering that and reminding each other of that and not counting our reps but making our reps count whenever they come.

Roob: Now the Dallas game you get the first touchdown. It is interesting with all of the running backs you were the guy they started the game with. I guess it is tough on the defense because they don’t know what is going to happen and it must be fun for you guys? What was that like for you to start the game like that? That was a great catch by the way.

Barner: Man, it was a lot of fun. I mean any time you can do that against the Cowboys is a lot of fun and to contribute to a win. It is tough for a defense. I believe it is tough because you don’t know what exactly to game plan for or who to game plan for. Now watching film, guys are obviously going to run this type of play, run that type of play but then we switch things up. So I think it is definitely tough to game plan for our running back group.

Roob: I want to ask you something not football related. I was reading your bio and in everyone’s bio, it says what kind of music they like. Some guys like country, some like hip-hop and some like R&B. You listed among your favorite bands Rascal Flatts, Nickelback and Miguel. Now that is about as diverse as you can get without including some opera in there. Do you like all kinds of music?

Barner: I love music, man, and I always have. My parents listened to a lot of different music growing up. As I got older, I started to venture into alternative music, country music, classical music, musicals and stuff like that. I have a wide range of musicality on my iPod and I love it. Music can take you somewhere and I love music that does that.

Roob: Do you play an instrument?

Barner: Play the piano. I started playing that in college. I was in the band in the sixth grade and I played the bass clarinet but I don’t remember how to play it. I messed around with it a little bit.

Roob: Do you let the guys know you are a Rascal Flatts fan or do you keep that to yourself?

Barner: I let it be known. You get in my car, whoever gets in my car, you will never know what you are going to hear. Everybody here knows I am a country music fan and I love it. I prefer to listen to it over a lot of other brands of music.

Roob: I assume you are a guy that takes things one year at a time. You started in Carolina, you come here and then you are on the street, then you come back here and play well in 2015. Come back here, go to the Chargers, come back here. How important would it be for you to find a home and be here long term? Is that what you are after?

Barner: Obviously that is important. I’ll let tomorrow worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has enough worries of its own. My job is to worry about the things that I can control. Right now, the only thing I can control is the way I play, the way I go out there and perform, and anything outside of that is out of my hands. That is not something I stress myself or concern myself with. That is something this organization has to make a decision about or 31 organizations out there have to. You go out there and do your job and let the chips fall where they may.

Facing misconduct investigation, Panthers owner selling team

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AP Images

Facing misconduct investigation, Panthers owner selling team

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Facing a growing investigation that accuses him of sexual misconduct and using racist language at work, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Sunday that he will sell the NFL team after the season.

The team announced on Twitter that Richardson is selling the team, linking to a five-paragraph letter by the franchise's only owner.

"I believe it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership," Richardson wrote, saying he wouldn't begin discussions until after the season. The Panthers, who lost in the Super Bowl in 2016, are in playoff position again.

"I hope everyone in the organization, both on and off the field, will be firmly focused on one mission: to play and win the Super Bowl," said Richardson, 81.

The NFL awarded Richardson, a former player with the Baltimore Colts, an expansion franchise in 1993, and he has been the team's only owner.

Richardson's letter did not directly address the investigation.

"There has been no greater mission or purpose in my life than to have brought and NFL franchise to Charlotte," Richardson wrote. "The obstacles back then were significant and some even questioned whether or community could or would support professional football. But I always knew that if given the chance the Carolina would rise to the occasion. And you have. The team has become an integral part of the community. The stadium is in its best condition since the day it opened."

Richardson attended the game Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers at Bank of America Stadium and was photographed sitting beside his wife Rosalind in his luxury box.

He did not speak to reporters.

"While I will no longer be the team owner, I will always be the Panthers Number One fan," Richardson's letter said.

The Panthers are tied to Charlotte through June of 2019.

The city of Charlotte and the Panthers reached agreement on improvements for the team's stadium in 2013. The plan called for the city to contribute about $87 million for renovations to Bank of America Stadium in exchange for a six-year deal to keep the Panthers in Charlotte.

The money is less than what the team was seeking for improvements of the stadium, which opened in 1996. Forbes estimates the Panthers worth at $2.3 billion.

Richardson's announcement comes after a Sports Illustrated report that cited unnamed sources who said Richardson made sexually suggestive comments to women and on at least one occasion directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout. The report states that the settlements came with non-disclosure requirements forbidding the parties from discussing the details.

The NFL on Sunday said it has taken over the investigation of allegations of workplace misconduct. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had no comment on the report.

Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said Sunday the team requested the league take over the investigation.

"We thought it would be best for transparency reasons," Drummond told The Associated Press.

The investigation was originally going to be led by the law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, LLP, and overseen by Erskine Bowles, a minority owner with the Panthers.

Drummond said in a release that the Panthers take these allegations very seriously and are committed to a full investigation.

"The entire organization is fully committed to ensuring a safe, comfortable and diverse work environment where all individuals, regardless of sex, race, color, religion, gender, or sexual identity or orientation, are treated fairly and equally," Drummond said.

The Panthers began play in 1995 but have never delivered on Richardson's promise of winning a Super Bowl. They lost after the 2003 and 2015 seasons.

The Panthers are 10-4 entering the final two weeks of the regular season and well positioned for a playoff run.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, like most of the team's players, hadn't read the details of the report that came out just as the Panthers were preparing to play the Green Bay Packers.

Newton said Richardson has served in a "father-like role" for him since his arrival in Carolina seven years ago.

"For me I hope things don't alter my thinking of Mr. Richardson," Newton said. "But I do know that he has given me some things that I will forever be appreciative of."

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said after the game it is important to let the process play out, but vouched for Richardson's character.

"The only thing I can speak on is for what he has been to me as far as I'm concerned," Rivera said. "A lot of you know I had a house fire and he was there for (my wife) Stephanie and I. He was tremendous in supporting us. My brother passed and Mr. Richardson was there and helped me get to the funeral and back. I can't speak to anything other than that."

It has been a whirlwind year for the Panthers organization.

Team president Danny Morrison abruptly resigned in February. Richardson then fired general manager Dave Gettleman on the eve of training camp and replaced him with former general manager Marty Hurney on an interim basis. It was a surprising move considering Carolina made the playoffs three times in four seasons under Gettleman.

Vikings' win means Eagles must wait for homefield advantage

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USA Today Images

Vikings' win means Eagles must wait for homefield advantage

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eric Kendricks had an interception return for a touchdown, Case Keenum passed for 236 yards and two scores, and the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North title with a 34-7 victory over the depleted and disinterested Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

Running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for 37 touches and 242 yards from scrimmage for the Vikings (11-3), who were given quite the reprieve on the schedule a week after their eight-game winning streak ended at Carolina in the last of three consecutive road trips. They were never challenged by a Bengals team missing more than half of its starting defense to injuries and met with a morning report by ESPN that head coach Marvin Lewis will not return next season.

The game went so smoothly that Teddy Bridgewater even made his grand entrance, his first live action in 16 months since a massive knee injury. Bridgewater's first pass was intercepted, a high throw that bounced off McKinnon's hands and into the arms of strong safety Shawn Williams deep in Vikings territory. That set up a short touchdown run by Giovani Bernard to keep the Bengals from being shut out for a second time this year.

Terence Newman also picked off former teammate Andy Dalton, who went just 11 for 22 for 113 yards and three first downs before the Bengals (5-9) turned to backup quarterback A.J. McCarron midway through the fourth quarter after the interception by Williams (see full recap).

Brady, Patriots do it again to Steelers
PITTSBURGH -- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski did it to the Pittsburgh Steelers again.

One questionable decision by Ben Roethlisberger helped.

Brady fed Gronkowski repeatedly to set up Dion Lewis' go-ahead 8-yard touchdown with 56 seconds remaining and Roethlisberger was intercepted in the end zone with 5 seconds left as the New England Patriots rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 on Sunday.

The Patriots (11-3) gained the inside track for homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs by ending Pittsburgh's eight-game winning streak. Brady threw for 298 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Gronkowski, fresh off a one-game suspension, finished with nine receptions for 168 yards, including four on the game-winning drive.

It briefly looked like it wouldn't be enough.

The Steelers (11-3), who played most of the game without injured wide receiver Antonio Brown, appeared to take the lead when Roethlisberger connected with tight end Jesse James for a 10-yard touchdown with 28 seconds to left. The play was overturned on review, with official Tony Corrente saying the ball did not "survive" the completion of the catch (see full recap).

Rams rout Seattle for control of division
SEATTLE -- Todd Gurley rushed for 152 yards and scored four total touchdowns in just 2 quarters, and the Los Angeles Rams moved to the cusp of their first division title since 2003 with a 42-7 thumping of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

The matchup to determine first place in the NFC West was completely one-sided.

Los Angeles (10-4) was dominant, embarrassing Seattle into the worst loss during Pete Carroll's eight seasons in charge.

Taking advantage of field position, the Rams scored on six of seven first-half drives, including a 21-point scoring blitz in the second quarter capped by a 57-yard TD run by Gurley on third-and-20 with less than a minute remaining in the first half to take a 34-0 lead at the break.

Gurley had 144 yards rushing in the first half, twice scoring from the 1. He added a 14-yard TD reception midway through the third quarter for a 40-0 Rams lead and spent the rest of his day watching. The 152 yards rushing were the second-best of his career.

The Rams don't have the division wrapped up, but have a two-game lead with two weeks to play. A win against either Tennessee or San Francisco is enough for their first division title in 14 years (see full recap).

Saints beat Jets for 10th win
NEW ORLEANS -- Mark Ingram ran for two touchdowns and gained 151 yards from scrimmage, including a late 50-yard TD run, and the New Orleans Saints overcame three turnovers to defeat the struggling New York Jets, 31-19 on Sunday.

Michael Thomas became the second NFL player with at least 90 receptions in his first two seasons. He caught nine passes for 93 yards, including a pivotal fourth-quarter touchdown on a short slant for New Orleans (10-4), which retained its tenuous hold on first place in the NFC South heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.

Alvin Kamara turned a short catch into a 10-yard TD in his return from a concussion that knocked him out of the Saints' loss at Atlanta a week earlier.

Bryce Petty made his first start at quarterback this season for the Jets (5-9), who were eliminated from playoff contentions. Petty completed 19 of 39 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice -- once on a tipped pass and once on a long, inconsequential throw as the game ended.

His 2-yard touchdown pass to former Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire cut New Orleans' lead to 24-19 with 1:51 left. But the Jets' onside kick failed and Ingram broke loose for his long score while the Saints were really just trying to run down the clock (see full recap).