Capitals

Goodell: Dialogue 'constant' with substance abuse

201212121758647213773-p2.jpeg

Goodell: Dialogue 'constant' with substance abuse

IRVING, Texas (AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with the director of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers the night before Wednesday's owners meetings in the Dallas area, where a Cowboys player was charged with intoxication manslaughter in a weekend crash that killed a teammate.

Goodell also spoke Tuesday with players union boss DeMaurice Smith over issues of drinking and driving.

The commissioner said those meetings would have happened even without the death of Dallas practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, who was killed when police say Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was speeding and flipped his vehicle early Saturday in Irving.

``It's a constant dialogue,'' Goodell said.

Brown died exactly a week after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend before driving to the team complex and shooting himself in front of his coach and general manager. Both deaths were the day before games.

The deaths were the latest difficulties in a year that included the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal and a lengthy labor negotiation with the game officials that led to three weeks of increasingly chaotic games involving replacements.

``Anything that brings a negative light, whether it's bounties or whether it's the tragic circumstances we've seen over the last two weeks, that's not good stuff for the league,'' Goodell said. ``We have to work hard to make sure we avoid those situations and represent the NFL the way our fans expect us to do it.''

Goodell said the NFL wants to increase the penalties for first and second offenses in drunken driving cases, and Brown's death has brought new scrutiny to a safe ride program. The union says the program works, but one player representative, Jacksonville's Rashean Mathis, has said players don't use it because they're concerned about confidentiality.

``If somebody has a better idea, they need to tell us,'' Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn said.

---

HERE'S THE KICKER: Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay says the NFL's competition committee will consider the idea of eliminating kickoffs this offseason.

It remains to be seen whether those discussions will be any more productive than they were when the league moved kickoffs up to the 35-yard line before the 2011 season.

``We just moved the kickoff 5 yards to reduce kickoff returns, but it was because we really couldn't come up with a better way where we knew we could move the needle on the injury number and on the concussion number,'' said McKay, the committee's chairman. ``That doesn't mean somebody won't have a more creative way to deal with it in the evolution of it.''

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano already has one. He has suggested giving the team that normally would kick off the option of punting from its 30 or going for a first down on fourth-and-15. Goodell has called Schiano's idea ``interesting.''

While he coached at Rutgers, Schiano witnessed one of his players, Eric LeGrand, get paralyzed on a kickoff in 2010.

McKay said the increase in touchbacks under the new rule would be secondary to safety concerns.

``I have no question that when get to the offseason that idea will be fully vetted,'' McKay said. ``When we talk about the kickoff play, one thing we try to do a good job of as a membership is letting the data and the tape, meaning the way the game is played, drive the decision as opposed to the emotion of the moment.''

---

QUICK HITS: The league is combining NFL Charities and the NFL Youth Football Fund into one entity called the NFL Foundation. The league named Cowboys executive Charlotte Jones Anderson its chairwoman. Anderson is the daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and runs the team's charitable arm. ... Goodell said the league would spend the next few months exploring playoff expansion to 14 or 16 teams. Currently, 12 teams make the playoffs - eight division champions and two wild cards in each conference. ... Owners got a demonstration of new thigh pads that will be mandatory again next season. The NFL quit mandating thigh pads in 1995 because players complained about the quality were resisting their use. The league estimates only 30 percent of today's players wear thigh pads.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

---

Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter athttps://twitter.com/lschuylerd

Quick Links

What's next for Barry Trotz?

capture_trotz.png
USA TODAY Sports

What's next for Barry Trotz?

Barry Trotz is no longer the head coach of the Washington Capitals and, after resigning, he is officially free to pursue other opportunities. So what's next for the now former Capitals head coach?

For those who believe Trotz will simply retire, that seems unlikely. Trotz is only 55 years old. Plus, general manager Brian MacLellan indicated the main issue in the contract negotiations between him and Trotz was term. If Trotz was, in fact, seeking a five-year contract, that doesn't sound like someone who is ready to walk away from the game.

There is only one head coaching vacancy left in the NHL, that of the New York Islanders. New President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello cleaned house after getting hired and fired both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight earlier in June. Now, suddenly, there is a Stanley Cup-winning coach on the market.

While it certainly makes sense for the Islanders to pursue Trotz, there's one big reason why Trotz, or anyone, would likely be hesitant to accept the job on Long Island and that is John Tavares.

New York's franchise player is a pending free agent and, until his contract situation is resolved, convincing anyone to take the head coaching job with the Islanders is a tough sell. If the Islanders re-sign Tavares, improve the defense and bring in a dependable starting goalie, then there is no reason to think they cannot be a playoff team.

But those are a lot of "ifs" and Tavares is a big one. If he goes, suddenly the situation on Long Island is much different. Tavares' decision could be the difference between the Islanders being a playoff team or getting a high lottery pick.

For Trotz to walk away from a team that just won the Stanley Cup to go to a New York team that may or may not have its best player back next season does not make a lot of sense.

But just because there may be only one head coaching vacancy open doesn't mean Trotz does not have any options.

The 2017-18 season saw no head coaching changes made during the season for the first time since the league expanded in 1967. Chances are jobs will begin to open up during the season especially if those teams believe they can land a Cup-winning coach as a replacement.

If you're Trotz, you just won a Stanley Cup. There is no reason to rush into another opportunity. Trotz will instantly be near or at the top of every wish list for teams in need of a head coach.

Don't just assume that Trotz will be on Long Island to start the 2018-19 season just because it is the only opportunity currently available. He can wait for the perfect opportunity to come to him.

MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE:

Quick Links

Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

usatsi_9975642.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

With word out that Kawhi Leonard wants a trade from the Spurs, teams are lining up with offers to San Antonio and one of the NBA’s best teams has reportedly already made a call.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs about a potential Leonard trade, according to Cleveland.com. Terry Pluto wrote on Sunday that multiple teams have done the same. That is to expected, of course, as Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He's a two-time defensive player of the year and he's only 26.

Let's look at Cleveland as a potential destination. It should first be noted that it's questionable whether they have enough to land a player of Leonard's caliber. They have the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but it may take a lot more than that to get Leonard.

They also have Kevin Love, who is an All-Star still in his prime. But if they gave him up, they would then need to seek more help to surround Leonard and LeBron James, if James decides to stay. Though James and Leonard are both top-five players in the NBA, they still likely wouldn't be able to beat the Warriors unless they had another running mate. Those two plus Love and then you're talking.

Whether the Cavs have the goods to land Leonard or not, it's no wonder why they are trying for him. Getting Leonard, a two-time All-NBA selection, would likely be enough to retain James, the best player in the game. If James were to look around the league for a top-shelf running mate, he would be hard-pressed to find one better than Leonard.

That is assuming Leonard is healthy, of course. He did miss all but nine games this past season with a quadriceps injury. That injury was central in a saga of discord between him and the team. Until he hits the court again, Leonard offers no guarantees. Still, he may be worth the risk for Cleveland, as the alternative is potentially seeing James walk. 

If the Cavs got Leonard, that would probably solidify their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if they lost Love in the process. Leonard is better than Love and they would arguably have the two best players in the East. They may not have enough to beat the Warriors, but that would likely give them the edge over the young teams like Boston and Philly that have been nipping at their heels.

Sending Leonard to the Cavs would get him out of the Western Conference and that might be enticing to the Spurs. If they send him to the Lakers, his reported preferred destination, that could come back to bite them much more often than it would if he was traded to the East. Though putting him in Cleveland would form another very good team, they wouldn't affect the Spurs directly but for two regular season games, unless they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs haven't indicated they will actually trade Leonard, but it does seem to be heading in that direction. It sounds like Cleveland will at the very least give it a shot. 

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!