When Tom Brady decides to tuck and run there’s nothing fast about it. So why would his appeal hearing be any different?
If you haven’t turned on a TV in a couple months, the Patriots quarterback was suspended four games after a three-month investigation revealed he was “at least generally aware” of violations related to underinflated footballs (not to shamelessly self-promote, but I did write an article on this topic not too long ago). Attorney Ted Wells reported his findings in a 243-page document that very few people read because Game of Thrones was happening.
Anyway, the golden boy traveled to NFL headquarters in New York Tuesday to plead his case to Roger Goodell. Dressed to the nine and cheesing for the cameras, Touchdown Tom didn’t lack for confidence heading into his big meeting. The NFL moved the hearing to the basement because there were so many people in attendance (reports say close to 40). One of them was Wells, who was available to answer questions from either side. After a grueling 10-hour session, the meeting finally wrapped up around 8:30 p.m. Now it’s up to the NFL’s heavily scrutinized commissioner to decide Brady’s fate.
So how did Tom Terrific perform? It depends who you ask.
Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter Brady gave an “A+ performance” and was his own “greatest ally.” PFT’s Mike Florio heard something different. According to his sources, Brady “simply reiterated his denial” and didn’t come off as “entirely credible.”
Glad we got that cleared up.
Goodell’s verdict is anyone’s guess, but there’s one thing we can be sure of: he won’t be sharing it with us anytime soon. Cowboys DE Greg Hardy had his suspension appeal heard on May 28. Still crickets.
If Brady can’t get his suspension reduced, he could take the case to federal court like Adrian Peterson did a few months ago. Peterson’s appeal was successful but in general, ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson said “judges are reluctant to second-guess arbitrators.”
For a player of average caliber, the lengthy appeals process might not be worth the effort. But Brady proved he’s worth every penny by having another brilliant offseason. Last year’s Super Bowl MVP completed 108 of 150 passes (72 percent) during team drills with only one interception. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo threw seven picks during New England’s offseason program.
Peyton Could Have Been a Texan
The Broncos almost traded Peyton Manning.
Okay, maybe “almost” isn’t the right word. Sports Radio 610 in Houston confirmed the Broncos and Texans had “very preliminary” talks about Manning before he accepted a $4 million pay cut. The Broncos probably wanted something outrageous for Manning (cue the clip of Dr. Evil holding the world ransom for $100 billion) but the fact that Denver even entertained the idea has to have Peyton rattled.
With Peyton getting fewer reps than usual at minicamp, the Broncos are taking a long look at professional clipboard-holder-turned-quarterback Brock Osweiler. The 24-year-old’s contract is up at the end of the year. Mike Klis of the Denver Post said the Broncos initially asked Manning to take a $10 million pay cut, another sign that Peyton’s relationship with GM John Elway may not be as hunky-dory as we all thought.
The Broncos wear orange but all I see are red flags. Manning carries significant risk in fantasy this season. Red zone favorite Julius Thomas is gone and the offense is expected to funnel through third-year running back C.J. Anderson. Not to mention Manning turned 39 in March and is coming off a torn quad muscle.
Manning’s current ADP on Yahoo is 34.4. Buyer beware.
Goodbye Quarterback, Hello Wide Receiver
Getting cut by three teams in a year isn’t bad luck. It’s the NFL sending you a message. For Terrelle Pryor the message was quite clear: evolve or die.
After failing to impress at Bengals minicamp, Pryor finally threw in the towel at quarterback (no pun intended). For most players, that would be the end of the line. For an athletic freak like Pryor, it’s just the beginning.
Pryor announced he’s switching to wide receiver, a move he probably should have made ages ago considering his huge 6’5” frame and 4.4 speed. The 26-year-old caught three passes at Ohio State and one with the Raiders so he does have a little experience catching passes.
That’s probably enough to fill two lines on a resume but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. The Browns certainly fall under the “beggars can’t be choosers” category. With Josh Gordon (suspended) and Jordan Cameron (signed with Miami) both gone, Cleveland will open the year with a powerhouse receiving corps of Andrew Hawkins, Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe.
Grab a jersey, Terrelle. You’re hired.
Pryor doesn’t have to look far for inspiration. The final touchdown of the Super Bowl last season was caught by Julian Edelman, a college quarterback who successfully transitioned to wideout in the pros.
Of course, the quarterback situation in Cleveland is so bleak it may not matter. Josh McCown is coming off a brutal year in Tampa and Johnny Manziel still hasn’t proven he can run an NFL offense. So much for being glass half-full.
AFC Quick Hits: Stevan Ridley’s recovery from ACL surgery is going about as fast as Tom Brady’s appeals process. There’s a very real chance the Jets running back will begin the year on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list … With Ridley sidelined, Bilal Powell is expected to open the season as New York’s No. 2 running back behind starter Chris Ivory. Former Ram Zac Stacy is a distant third on the depth chart … Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News said Matt Cassel was “easily the worst-looking quarterback” at minicamp and OTAs. E.J Manuel and Tyrod Taylor are Buffalo’s other options at QB, which means LeSean McCoy might get 400 carries this year … Speaking of Bills running backs, veteran Fred Jackson isn’t sure if he’ll make it through training camp. “We’ll see what happens with me getting cut or not," said Jackson. "I’ll go out and do whatever I can to make sure that doesn’t happen.” F-Jax led Buffalo with 525 rushing yards last season … Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin will compete in the long jump this weekend at the USA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. He’s hoping to qualify for the World Championships in Beijing later this summer … Rob Gronkowski admitted on Jimmy Kimmel he hasn’t read a book since ninth grade, but he’s no dummy. The Pro Bowl tight end said he hasn’t spent a cent of his football earnings, instead relying on endorsement money to pay his bills … Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald recently called James White a “carbon copy” of Shane Vereen. No wonder the Pats let Vereen walk in free agency … Foxboro Country Club is showing their support for Tom Brady by putting a No. 12 flag on every hole. That must be pretty confusing … The Denver Post’s Troy Renck said “the window closed” on Montee Ball last season. Sounds like the Broncos are going to ride or die with C.J. Anderson … Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard are having a spirited battle for Cincinnati’s left cornerback position. Kirkpatrick appears to have the inside track after closing last season with three picks in his last three games … The Allen Robinson hype machine continues to grow. ESPN’s Mike DiRocco called the receiver “the most impressive offensive player” at Jaguars minicamp. Robinson was on pace for 876 yards last season before suffering a broken foot in Week 10 … Browns DC Jim O’Neil is giving Barkevious Mingo some tough love. He said the third-year linebacker will have to “earn playing time” this season … Joe Flacco seems to be a fan of second-year slot receiver Jeremy Butler. The Ravens QB said Butler was “incredible” at last week’s minicamp … ESPN Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky suspects rookie David Cobb will lead the team in rushing attempts this season. That doesn’t say much for Bishop Sankey … The Titans still haven’t signed No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota. The two sides have been haggling over offset contract language … The NFL suspended former Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw one game for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The 29-year-old is currently unsigned.
NFC Quick Hits: Though he hasn’t signed his franchise tender yet, Dez Bryant was present at last week’s minicamp and even shared a hug with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He also appeared at a photo shoot for Sunday Night Football. I discussed Bryant’s contract situation in greater detail in last week’s Bump and Run … Terrance Williams injured his elbow on the last day of minicamp. Cowboys wide receivers coach Derek Dooley didn’t sound overly concerned. “Hopefully he’ll be OK, and we’ll see him in five weeks.” … Morris Claiborne checked in at 172 pounds at last week’s minicamp. That means he’s lost at least 20 pounds since his knee surgery … The Rams gave themselves an out with Todd Gurley by only guaranteeing the first two years of his contract. The University of Georgia star is coming off ACL surgery and may not be ready for the Rams’ season opener against Seattle on September 13 … The Falcons are expected to start Devonta Freeman at running back over rookie Tevin Coleman. Atlanta averaged the ninth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL last season … Mike Evans trained with Randy Moss in North Carolina this offseason. The Buccaneers receiver tied Odell Beckham for the most rookie touchdowns last season with 12 … Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews mostly lined up in the slot during minicamp and OTAs. Riley Cooper and Josh Huff played on the outside … NJ.com’s Eliot Shor-Parks believes Tim Tebow has a good chance to make the Eagles’ roster because he “doesn’t turn the ball over” and can “make plays with his legs.” If Tebow makes the team, it would likely be at the expense of Matt Barkley … The NFL is investigating a 2013 video that allegedly shows Junior Galette assaulting at least two people. Galette missed Saints minicamp last week because of a torn pectoral muscle … Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson both made cameos on the premiere of HBO’s new series Ballers starring Dwayne Johnson. Free agent Steven Jackson also made an appearance, claiming he had just spent $265,000 on a pet elephant.