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President Donald Trump asks NFL players for pardon recommendations

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President Donald Trump asks NFL players for pardon recommendations

President Donald Trump has long been at odds with NFL players over protests during the national anthem, but on Friday expressed the desire to listen. 

One of the main reasons some NFL players have been protesting is the topic of criminal justice reform, a topic that’s also very important to Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Earlier this week, when Jenkins used posters to illustrate his point that people hadn’t been listening, several of his statistics were based on the idea of criminal justice reform (see story).

Trump acknowledged this one reason for protests Friday morning. 

“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” Trump said. “And I understand that. And I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated — friends of theirs or people that they know about — and I’m going to take a look at those applications. And if I find, and my committee finds that they are unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out (of prison).”

Before saying he’d listen to suggestions for folks to be pardoned, Trump again said those players weren’t “proud enough” to stand for the anthem. This comes just a few days after the Eagles’ White House visit, when Trump, in part, cited differing viewpoints on protests during the national anthem. 

And he again Friday mentioned players shouldn’t be in the locker room during the anthem, a solution offered by the NFL’s new national anthem policy. This time, the president tried to offer a solution of his own. 

We’ll see if he follows through. 

Former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes already has a name in mind. His brother, who is serving a 324-month sentence for a weed-relation offense. 

On Friday, Trump also said he was looking into possibly pardoning late boxer Muhammad Ali, whose attorney pointed out that a pardon wasn’t needed. 

Still, the sentiment was seemingly there and the president at least acknowledged a reason some NFL players have been protesting. 

When asked if he’d invite players to the White House for a roundtable chat, the president said he doesn’t have to do that. 

“You know, I don’t have to do that,” Trump said. “I’m not looking to grandstand.  We’ve got enough grandstanders in this town.

“I’m just saying, for the leagues, if they have people — if the players, if the athletes have friends of theirs or people that they know about that have been unfairly treated by the system, let me know.”

Now, pardoning a few people is a drop in the bucket when we’re talking about criminal justice reform. The president also didn’t address systemic and racial oppression, another huge part of the players’ protests. 

And folks who are in jail either wrongly or are serving too harsh of penalties don’t begin to complete the list of things players feel is wrong with the system. But it’s at least a nice gesture. It would be an even nicer gesture if the president follows through.

Eagles release veterans Orlando Scandrick and Akeem Spence

Eagles release veterans Orlando Scandrick and Akeem Spence

The Eagles on Monday released two more veteran defensive players who had been playing major roles. 

Last week, they cut linebacker Zach Brown the day after the loss to the Vikings. 

This week, the Eagles cut veteran CB Orlando Scandrick and veteran DT Akeem Spence the day after their 37-10 loss to the Cowboys. Both were added to the roster during September following injuries and both played a lot on Sunday night. 

The Eagles on Monday also brought back DT Anthony Rush from the Raiders’ practice squad. Rush was with the Eagles during training camp. They are also signing DT Albert Huggins from Houston's practice squad. 

While Scandrick, 32, certainly didn’t play well against the Cowboys, he did start and played 51 percent (36 snaps) of their defensive snaps. 

Spence, 27, played 47 snaps against the Cowboys on Sunday. 

And this comes a week after Brown was cut the day after he played 58 snaps against the Vikings. 

After two back-to-back blowout losses, the Eagles are not hesitating to send messages and get rid of dead weight. 

Still, it’s not a great sign that the Eagles have cut three veteran defensive players the day after blowout losses in consecutive weeks. It’s an even worse sign that they were all playing a significant roles. 

The Scandrick move is curious because it’s not like the Eagles are flush with cornerback talent. Now, their two corners with the most experience at the nickel corner spot are Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones. 

Jones on Sunday was healthy but the Eagles played Craig James ahead of him, which was the plan, according to Doug Pederson. Jones, the former second-round pick, has struggled mightily this season. And Maddox is still in the concussion protocol from a friendly fire hit from Andrew Sendejo in the Green Bay game on Sept. 26. That injury is what led to the Eagles’ signing Scandrick in the first place. So the fact that they were willing to release Scandrick before Maddox is back is strange. 

Last year’s nickel cornerback, Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot), could be nearing a return from IR, but he still won’t be eligible to return until Week 9 against Chicago. That doesn’t help this week against Buffalo. 

The highlight of Scandrick’s short stint in Philadelphia was his performance against the Jets and Luke Falk back on Oct. 6. In his first game off his couch, Scandrick had two sacks, two forced fumbles and returned one of them 44 yards for a touchdown. Now, it seems like he’ll be a mere footnote from this season. 

The timing of the Spence move is interesting too. Hassan Ridgeway suffered what sounds like a serious ankle injury against the Cowboys and the Eagles are really light at defensive tackle, especially because Tim Jernigan (foot) is still out. Without Spence, they’re down to Fletcher Cox and Rush, whom the Eagles just signed on Monday.  

You can add Scandrick and Spence to the long list of veteran acquisitions who didn’t work out for Howie Roseman in the last couple of years. The Band-Aids aren’t working. 

 

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Howard Eskin outing Alshon Jeffery led to bizarre press conference moment with Doug Pederson

Howard Eskin outing Alshon Jeffery led to bizarre press conference moment with Doug Pederson

Signs of dysfunction in the Philadelphia Eagles locker room began to show late last week when ESPN’s Josina Anderson quoted an anonymous Eagles player criticizing Carson Wentz and the Birds' offense.

Head coach Doug Pederson wasn’t thrilled about it when asked prior to the Dallas Cowboys game, then the team went out and played a total dud. 

A new page in the drama was written this morning when WIP’s Howard Eskin reported on the air that he knew the identity of the anonymous player — Alshon Jeffrey.

Not only did Eskin name Alshon, he also called him “foolish and stupid.” Eskin also criticized Anderson, “She’ll bait a guy and then the guy gets trapped into saying things and he says them.”

Here’s the full quote as transcribed by Crossing Broad:

Eskin: Yeah why not. Alshon Jeffery.

Cataldi: It is?

Eskin: Yes. The thing is, here’s why he’s foolish and stupid – He knows that she’s not out to have his back. The problem is, as a reporter, I’ve seen her do this. She’ll bait a guy and then the guy gets trapped into saying things and he says them. It’s just foolish and stupid. We all understand it’s not productive. But what benefit was there to say that? And the reality is, why would he worry about a defensive player (Jalen Ramsey) not being traded for? And when he talks about checking down, sometimes the back you check down to is blocked. Or he’s blocking and then can’t get off the block. That’s one of your checkdowns. So the whole thing was just stupid. But it’s not being productive for somebody like that.

This is interesting in part because Alshon denied being the source last week, Josina defended her source from Eskin — “He has zero knowledge of who I spoke to. #Zero” —  and also because Eskin appears on the Eagles radio broadcasts on game days, travels on the team plane, and even received his own Super Bowl ring. So the Inquirer’s Eagles beat writer Jeff McLane took all of that info to Pederson’s press conference on Monday, which led to a fascinating exchange.

“There was a report that Alshon Jeffrey was the anonymous player who was giving quotes to ESPN," McLane began. "Is that true? And also, the person who reported it doesn’t technically work for the Eagles but he’s on the sideline with the Eagles, he flies [on the Eagles plane], he wears a Super Bowl ring given to him by the Eagles. Are we to assume just because he reported it, that the Eagles want it out there?”

Pederson appeared somewhat dumbfounded but didn’t “want to go there.”

“That has nothing to do with the Buffalo Bills or the Dallas Cowboys," Pederson said.

So pretty much a non-answer. But the interesting exchanges didn’t stop there.

Once the press conference ended, Eskin had some choice words for McLane who reportedly took the high road and avoided a confrontation, according to people in the room.

So maybe Alshon was the anonymous player, maybe not. It'll be curious to see how Alshon responds to the latest reports here. He had some unusually high praise for Carson Wentz in the locker room following the game last night.

"I still believe in each and every one of the guys in here," Jeffery said. "Carson is our guy. Everybody on our team, we’re together. On offense, Carson, O-line, me, Nelson, receivers, the skill group, we all have to be held accountable. I mean, that was unacceptable. That was embarrassing today.”

All we know for sure is there is plenty of drama surrounding the Eagles these days. That never bodes well.

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