Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

With less than a minute remaining in today’s United Football League game, the Arlington Renegades led the DC Defenders 28-18. But the Defenders managed to win, thanks to a rule that exists in the UFL but has been rejected by the NFL.

That rule is the onside kick alternative, which allows teams to follow a scoring play not with a kickoff, but by taking the ball at their own 28-yard line, facing fourth-and-12.

For the Defenders, they first scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to cut their deficit to 28-26. Then on fourth-and-12 from their own 28 they picked up the first down to keep the ball. The Defenders quickly marched into field goal range from there and kicked the game-winner as time expired.

It’s the second consecutive week that a team in the UFL has used the fourth-and-12 rule to mount a successful comeback, and it makes the ends of games more exciting. In the NFL, onside kicks have become almost impossible to recover, which makes comebacks harder. The UFL alternative is a rule that promotes fan-friendly football with more fantastic finishes.

The NFL has considered various alternatives to the onside kick, including a fourth-and-20 option that was voted down this year but so far hasn’t adopted one. Perhaps seeing it work well in a spring league could convince the NFL to adopt it as well, just as the NFL has adopted the kickoff rule previously seen in the XFL. Spring football should be a laboratory for innovative rule changes, and we’re seeing in the UFL that the onside kick alternative is a rule change worth adopting.

The death of O.J. Simpson has sparked very different reactions in some circles, despite the fact that he killed Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in 1994.

An item from Tim Graham of paints the contrast in jaw-dropping terms.

The Buffalo Bills did nothing to commemorate Simpson’s passing. The Pro Football Hall of Fame, in addition to issuing a lengthy statement that didn’t mention his murders, actually lowered its flag to half staff in honor of Simpson.

The Hall of Fame is a bit of an odd place, frankly. There doesn’t seem to be anyone who can make big decisions without running it by a committee where it would die until well after the moment for action passes. And the Hall of Fame’s convictions seemed to be rooted not in principles but in policies that remain rigid and inflexible, until they suddenly change for no apparent reason.

Dan Pompei of wrote an item regarding the likelihood that Simpson’s bust will remain in Canton. At this point, why wouldn’t it? If they didn’t melt it down after the murders in 1994 or the civil judgment of wrongful death that followed the inexplicable acquittal or the felony conviction that put him behind bars for nearly nine years in Nevada, there’s no reason for Simpson to be removed simply because he’s no longer alive.

Back when Simpson should have been unshrined from the Hall of Fame, nothing happened because the vibe was, basically, “Well, the bylaws don’t allow for removing anyone, so that’s that.”

If Simpson would have actually been convicted of murder, would he have been ejected? At best, there would have been a group formed to study the matter and it possibly would have gotten bogged down with politics and technicalities and concerns regarding precedent and nothing would have happened and then the world would have moved on.

The Hall of Fame usually becomes motivated to act when the topic relates to the possibility of finding a way to add busts, not remove them. Ultimately, it’s a museum that hopes to make enough money to survive and that counts on the one weekend per year in which Canton becomes the center of the NFL universe. Unless and until new Hall of Famers would pull a T.O. and refuse to show up for the festivities over the presence of someone like Simpson in the Hall of Fame, nothing will change.

The inertia of the Hall of Fame is unique to the football industry. There are 24 members of the Board of Trustees, along with an 11-person advisory board. No one can (or will) make big, sweeping, important decisions on a timely basis.

When Simpson died, no one was in place to stop the usual process of issuing a statement and dropping the flag to half staff that activates when any Hall of Famer dies. In Buffalo, in contrast, someone knew to short-circuit the usual procedure of honoring a member of the team’s Wall of Fame.

Graham’s article includes a quote given years ago by Hall of Famer Ron Yary, who played with Simpson at USC: “The thought of taking a knife and plunging it into another person that you love and care about — or even that you’re angry with — takes a hell of a lot. Even in war, to kill a person with a knife is intimate. I don’t know if there’s a harder way to kill someone. You have to be out of your mind to commit a crime like that.”

Will Simpson’s passing spark Yary or other Hall of Famers to speak out, publicly or privately, about Simpson’s ongoing presence in the Hall of Fame? Will any of the NFL owners who are on the Board of Trustees say something? Will Commissioner Roger Goodell, who also is on the Board of Trustees, spark the effort to right a wrong from three decades ago?

It’s unpopular and, in the opinion of some, unseemly to raise an issue like this following Simpson’s death. The fact, however, that the Hall of Fame did nothing when it should have makes an occasion like this a fair time to delve into the question of why the Hall of Fame so badly failed, and whether that failure can still be rectified.

Don’t count on anything happening. It’s not the Hall of Fame’s way. Even if Yary or Deion Sanders or Goodell someone else with real influence argues that Simpson should finally be ejected, the Hall of Fame’s “it was like that when I got here” approach to delicate issues will once again allow it to run out the clock without having to do something that might make someone uncomfortable.

It’s been a little more than a week since the Bills traded wide receiver Stefon Diggs to the Texans in a move that threw left tackle Dion Dawkins for a loop.

During an appearance on The Jim Rome Show, Dawkins said the news of the Diggs trade hit him like a “haymaker” because of the kind of impact that the wideout had while he was in Buffalo. While the trade dealt Dawkins a blow, it has not left him questioning the team’s direction.

Dawkins said that he thinks the Bills “know what they’re doing” and that “anything is possible” for a team that still has Josh Allen as their quarterback.

“When you’ve got a team of guys that lead with good hearts, good athleticism, good football, and when we put that helmet and them pads on and that jersey and it says Bills, that window is always open,” Dawkins said. “It’s always open. Like it could be a little bit more, but nah, it’s open. And it’ll always be open. And as long as Josh is at quarterback, that’s what I can talk for.”

There were plenty of changes in Buffalo this offseason before the Diggs trade and the sum total of the moves feels like the start of a new chapter in Buffalo. If it proves to be a more successful one, players like Allen and Dawkins will likely be among the leading reasons.

If you’re planning on buying the Father of Mine ebook today, don’t.

As of Monday, the price temporarily plummets to 99 cents.

Consider it a tax day and/or pre-draft and/or one-year anniversary of book release promotion. Regardless, as of Monday it will be only 99 cents for the 400-page ebook.

It’s a one-week promotion. On Monday, April 22, the price returns to $3.99, which is also quite a bargain.

Click here for the Amazon page. At 8:00 a.m. ET on Monday, the price will drop to 99 cents.

Father of Mine is a novel about the mob. It’s set in 1973. It’s inspired by the real-life crew that ran the town where I grew up — Wheeling, West Virginia. My dad was a bookie in that group, so I saw and heard plenty of things during my formative years. I’ve learned a lot more since then. It was all used as the basis and background for a completely fictional story.

It has been well reviewed, to my surprise. It has been well received, to my amazement. A sequel is coming, hopefully later this year.

If you want the print edition, it’s $14.99. Mainly because I can’t make it any cheaper than that, apparently because of the paper and whatnot.

You can also peruse Playmakers, a collection of essays about the past 20 years in the NFL, published by Hachette’s PublicAffairs in 2022. Or you can get On Our Way Home, a Christmas/ghost story. But only Father of Mine will be 99 cents for one week, starting Monday.

More are coming (whether you want them or not), including a cautionary tale about how gambling and the mob might eventually infiltrate pro football. If it hasn’t already. There’s other stuff, including a western and a murder mystery.

I started writing four years ago because the things I write here quickly become irrelevant, if they’re ever relevant in the first place. Today’s news means nothing by tomorrow. Tomorrow’s news means nothing by the next day. It’s rewarding to write something that potentially will have meaning and relevance and entertainment value for more than a day. If anyone reads it.

If you’ve been reading PFT, you apparently don’t hate the writing. You might not hate Father of Mine. At 99 cents, it’s a minimal risk to find out whether that’s the case.

Ninety-nine cents. Starting Monday. Lasting for a week. 99 cents.

Former Steelers receiver Hines Ward, the MVP of Super Bowl XL, will continue his coaching career in a new place.

Ward will become the receivers coach at Arizona State, according to Pete Thamel of

Most recently, Ward served as head coach of the San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL. He was not retained following the merger of the XFL and USFL into the UFL.

Ward’s retirement began with a broadcasting stint at NBC. He then worked for CNN.

In 2017, he entered coaching, as an intern with the Steelers. He then spent two years as an offensive assistant with the Jets and one year as receivers coach at Florida Atlantic before heading to the XFL.

Former Patriots receiver and Patriots assistant coach Troy Brown was also a candidate for the Arizona State job.

Agents love to make contracts seem to be worth more than they are. Those who don’t warp and twist reality are the rare exception.

The end result is that the numbers commonly circulated when it comes to the value of specific deals are much higher than they actually are.

While it’s a dynamic that applies to every position, the receiver position currently has the most glaring examples of contracts which aren’t what they seem to be — especially at the supposed top of the market.

Let’s start with Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill. $30 million per year! False.

Beyond the new money/old money fiction that is commonly used to pump up contract value, Hill’s contract has a phony-baloney final year that pays out $45 million. It deftly pushes the new-money average to $30 million.

The truth is that Hill’s extension has a new-money average of $25 million per year. The more accurate truth is that, when he was traded to Miami, he signed a four-year deal worth $23.8 million per year.

And $23.8 million is a far cry from $30 million.

Next on the highest-paid receiver list is Davante Adams of the Raiders. $28 million per year! Also false.

His contract has a bogus back end of $72.5 million over two years, which deliberately drives up the average. His contract is, in reality, a three-year, $67.5 million deal. The real average is $22.5 million per year.

Then there’s Rams receiver Cooper Kupp. His post-Super Bowl MVP contract paid him $26.7 million per year! Annnnnd false.

It’s a five-year deal worth $21.97 million per year.

The list goes on and on. Eagles receiver A.J. Brown, $25 million per year? Nope. $20.8 million.

Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf, $24 million annually? More like $19 million.

49ers receiver Deebo Samuel, $23.85 million per year? Make that $18.9 million.

Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin, $23.2 million? Try $17.78 million.

The three newest deals, done in the last month, fall far closer to truthful and accurate on their face.

Colts receiver Michael Pittman traded in the franchise tag for a three-year, $70 million deal. That’s a real $23.3 million average and a return to the open market by 2027.

Titans receiver Calvin Ridley signed for $92 million over four years. It’s a solid $23 million per year. (The Titans can get out after two years, but Ridley will make $24 million per year through 2025.)

The best deal of them all might be the revised contract signed by Texans receiver Stefon Diggs. He’ll get $22.5 million this year plus a ticket to the open market in 2025. None of the other receivers on this list are due to become free agents next year, although some of them (specifically Adams) could be cut before the new league year in March.

Keep these numbers in mind as the next wave of receivers jockey for their next contracts, from Justin Jefferson of the Vikings to Ja’Marr Chase of the Bengals to Tee Higgins of the Bengals (who is subject to the franchise tag) to Brandon Aiyuk of the 49ers and beyond.

The simple reality is that no receiver is currently making even $24 million per year when the contract is valued from the moment the contract is signed. Will some receivers soon be making more than that? Jefferson and Chase absolutely should.

Joe Burrow continues to taunt the NFL regarding its stance on taunting.

During the AFC Championship, when Ravens receiver Zay Flowers blatantly taunted a Chiefs defender following a key catch, Burrow posted on X: “Let the guys taunt.”

Appearing on the podcast co-hosted by a player whose team benefited from that call, Burrow elaborated on his stance.

“Yea, I’m pro taunting,” Burrow said on the New Heights podcast with Travis and Jason Kelce, via Olivia Ray of WLWT. “We’re all grown adults that work really hard at what we do. And sometimes we’d like to show it. I’m not gonna get my feelings hurt if somebody sacks me and taunts me, like, you made a play. I get it. Like good for you.”

He’s not wrong, but his mindset is far from universal. Plenty of players get pissed when another player taunts them after a big play. The league’s goal in restricting taunting is to ensure that there won’t be a pissed-off opponent who’s lurking later in the game, waiting for the chance to deliver a clean, legal, and wholly unnecessary hit that will potentially get a guy injured. Likewise, the league doesn’t want taunting to be met with more taunting and to eventually spark a helmet-swinging fight.

The problem is that the officials have stopped calling it the way they did when it was a “point of emphasis” in 2021. Before the Flowers flag, which came after blatant taunting, guys were getting away with less severe taunts that nevertheless would have drawn a flag when the officials were constantly looking for it.

The 2021 point of emphasis on taunting followed a 2014 point of emphasis on taunting. Which further proves that the term “point of emphasis” is a fancy way of saying to the officials, “We’ve noticed you’re not doing your job the way we’d like you to do your job. Please do your job better.”

Regardless of Burrow’s opinion, the league doesn’t share it because most players don’t share his disposition. If every player on the wrong end of taunting reacted by saying, “Good for you, Jack,” there would be no rule against it.

The last time Andrew Luck left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in 2019, he was showered with boos from fans who had just learned that he was retiring after playing seven professional seasons.

It was a warmer reception for Luck on Friday night in his first public appearance in the city since stepping away from the game. Luck was at the Colts’ facility for a cancer fundraiser organized by former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and he called Indianapolis “a massive part of the fabric of who I am and where life has gone and highs and the lows and everything in between.”

Luck said he feels love from the city and reflected on his time leading the team to four playoff appearances and an AFC title game.

“We were not perfect,” Luck said, via Stephen Holder of “I know I was not perfect. All of us wished we’d had multiple Super Bowls and done things and sort of vanquished some of those enemies that we didn’t quite ever get to. But I could probably speak for all the other guys, and I know I could speak for myself again — it wasn’t perfect, but we tried our best. We tried our hardest, and I hope we gave folks something to cheer about and something to be proud of. And I do get the sense that we [did].”

Luck went to Stanford and has moved back to that area to go to graduate school, but has also found a desire to “reintegrate” football into his life as a volunteer coach at Palo Alto High School. He said he “feels like it’s my turn to give back into this game” that gave him a lot before the toll of injuries became too much for him to bear.

Broncos coach Sean Payton will find his quarterback of the future in Oregon’s Bo Nix, if the betting odds on the 2024 NFL draft are to be believed.

The Broncos are listed as -120 favorites to be the team that drafts Nix, via FanDuel. They’re far and away the betting favorites to be the team to take Nix.

The Raiders and Giants have the next-best odds to draft Nix, both at +700, followed by the Vikings at +950, Saints at +1500 and Seahawks at +1600.

The question is how high Nix will go. The Broncos own the 12th overall pick, which could be the spot to grab him. But the Vikings also need a quarterback and draft at 11th, while other teams may be willing to move into the Top 10 if they want Nix and think they need to get ahead of the Vikings and Broncos to draft him.

The NFL, however, does not project Nix as one of the Top 15-20 picks, which is why he wasn’t invited to attend the draft. So Nix’s draft status is a bit of a mystery, even as the people putting their money behind their opinions think he’s going to Denver.

San Francisco wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk has done what NFL players often do when they’re not happy with their teams: He unfollowed his team on Instagram.

Aiyuk, who wants a new contract, is no longer following the 49ers’ official account.

As he heads into the fifth and final season of his rookie contract, Aiyuk has made no secret that he wants a long-term contract extension that would put him among the NFL’s highest-paid wide receivers. A couple weeks ago, Aiyuk said he’s trying to get what he deserves and questioned whether the 49ers see the value in everything he provides.

There have been rumors that Aiyuk could be traded, although 49ers General Manager John Lynch responded to questions about those rumors by saying he wants to keep Aiyuk around for a long time.

Asked specifically about rumors Aiyuk could be traded to Pittsburgh, Lynch answered, “I promise you, nothing’s going on there.”

If he plays out the final year of his rookie contract, Aiyuk will make $14.1 million this year and then either get franchise tagged or become a free agent in March of 2025. Aiyuk would prefer to get a big deal now from the 49ers — or from some other team that’s willing to trade for him and pay him.