Redskins

NFLPA cites 1996 bounty program allowed by NFL

NFLPA cites 1996 bounty program allowed by NFL

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The NFL Players Association filed papers in federal court pointing out that the NFL permitted a 1996 incentive program for big hits funded by then-Green Bay defensive lineman Reggie White.

In papers filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, the union questioned why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should now be able to suspend former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita for offering then-New Orleans teammates rewards for big plays during the 2009 season.

The filing cited media reports about White's ``smash-for-cash'' program that paid $500 for big plays, including big hits.

The reports, now nearly 16 years old, include players from other teams discussing similar pools climbing into the thousands of dollars. In one report by ESPN, Troy Vincent, then a defensive back with Philadelphia, discusses a similar player-funded incentive program run by Eagles players.

Vincent now works for the NFL as a vice president overseeing player engagement.

In the reports, an NFL spokesman is quoted as saying the incentive programs are permitted as long as players use their own money and the amounts players pledge are not exorbitant.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday night that the league would defer comment to its own forthcoming arguments in court.

The NFLPA seized upon the NFL's 1996 stance particularly as it related to Fujita, who Goodell suspended this for one game this season even though he said he could not verify that Fujita participated in the bounty program the league says the Saints ran for three seasons from 2009-11. Goodell said Fujita, now with Cleveland, was still guilty of violating NFL rules by offering his own incentives for big plays and also, as a team leader, by failing to try to stop to the cash-for-hits program overseen by then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

The union said that while the NFL's player safety goals may have evolved since 1996, it is unfair to punish players for behavior it previously permitted without formally spelling out that such behavior is no longer allowed.

``The fact that the NFL has a different agenda today than it did in 1996 cannot change the unequivocal language of the NFL Constitution & Bylaws, which has never prohibited this type of behavior,'' the union wrote in its legal briefs. ``The Commissioner's attempt to nonetheless suspend and scapegoat Mr. Fujita for conduct - incentivizing undisputed, legitimate plays - never before punished or prohibited by the NFL not only violates the `essence of the (collective bargaining) agreement' but further demonstrates the Commissioner's evident partiality.''

Fujita is one of four players suspended by Goodell in the NFL's bounty probe of the Saints. Saints linebacker Jon Vilma was suspended for the season, Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove for seven games. None of the suspensions are currently in effect because they all have been appealed within the framework of the NFL's labor agreement, and Goodell has set hearings for those appeals this Tuesday in New York.

However, all four players also have asked U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan to throw out Goodell's disciplinary rulings on the grounds that he has demonstrated a bias against the players in his handling the bounty investigation, thereby violating the players' industrial due process rights. The players also have questioned the credibility of the league's evidence in the case or the witnesses upon which the league's investigation relied.

The NFL has said the union agreed that the commissioner would be able to serve as the lone arbitrator for matters deemed detrimental to football and that the evidence in the case is strong enough to support Goodell's rulings.

Still, the players have argued that Goodell should be barred from handling discipline in the bounty probe and that a neutral arbitrator should be appointed, an argument repeated by the union in its latest filing.

``It is only a neutral of unquestioned integrity who can restore public confidence in this process and mitigate the damage which the NFL's handling of `bounty-gate has inflicted upon the game,'' the NFLPA said.

Meanwhile, former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy submitted a sworn declaration stating he ``knew nothing of any alleged `bounty' program'' that the Saints had in place on quarterback Brett Favre when they faced the Vikings in the 2009-10 NFC title game.

Kennedy's declaration states that he had only told teammates that the Saints were hitting Minnesota players ``like there's money on the table,'' which was his way of urging teammates to match New Orleans' intensity.

Kennedy said NFL investigator Joe Hummel called him to ask about a Saints bounty program, and he told Hummel he did not know anything about it.

``Contrary to the League's claims, I did not act as a `whistleblower,''' Kennedy stated.

An NFL memo from the bounty probe has indicated that Kennedy told then-Vikings coach Brad Childress about a Saints bounty on Favre after discussing it with Hargrove, his former teammate in St. Louis.

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Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

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Associated Press

Barry Trotz's departure reminiscent of Joe Gibbs' resignation in 1993

The sudden resignation of Barry Trotz as the coach of the Stanley Cup champion Capitals is the most stunning Washington coaching departure since Joe Gibbs retired from the Redskins about 13 months after the team won its third Super Bowl in a 10-year span. 

In the years leading up to Gibbs’ departure, there were some rumblings that he might leave. As early as 1986, John Madden said that Gibbs was a candidate to burn out of the profession early. During the 1989 season, Gibbs said that he was contemplating retirement, but he retracted his words the next day. In 1990, columnist and TV pregame panelist Will McDonough reported that Gibbs would retire after the season. Retirement rumors popped up again in early 1992, just two days before Super Bowl XXVI. Again, Gibbs denied them. The Redskins easily beat the Bills to claim their third championship in 10 years and there was no apparent reason why such a successful coach would think about leaving. 

Redskins fans had become so used to hearing the Gibbs retirement reports that many just started to tune them out. So on the morning of March 5, 1993, when reports of Gibbs’ resignation as coach started to circulate, many were in a state of denial.

That turned out to be wishful thinking. The fans were given a hard jolt of reality when the team announced a noon press conference. 

There the coach was on TV, as promised, confirming the news. He said it was a family decision. 

“Every year, we get away and talk about it,” Gibbs said. “We always reach the same conclusion. This year, it was different. The boys didn’t encourage me one way or another, but they understood when I told them what I was thinking. I think Pat’s happier than anyone. This isn’t an easy lifestyle for a coach’s wife. The coach is the guy who stands up and hears everyone tell him how great he is. The wife is the one waiting at home alone while the coach is spending every night at the office. 

“I wanted more time with my family. I wanted more time with my sons. I look at this as a window of opportunity with them and I couldn’t let it pass.” 

Although he has been diagnosed with a condition that has caused some pain and some difficulty in sleeping, Gibbs said that health was not a factor in his decision. 

Richie Petitbon, the team’s longtime defensive coordinator, was named the team’s new head coach. It had to be one of the shortest job interviews ever. 

“I get a call from Mr. Cooke who tells me Joe has retired and that he wants me to coach the Redskins,” Petitbon said. “After I picked myself up off the floor, I said yes.” 

After hearing the news, most Redskins fans had to pick themselves up as well.  

Petitbon lasted only one season as the head coach and the other eight head coaches who followed, including Gibbs himself in a four-year second stint, have been unable to get the Redskins back to the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the Caps’ head coaching job is widely expected to go to Todd Reirden, who was Trotz’s top assistant just as Pettitbon was Gibbs’. 

Washington fans hope that the Caps have better fortune with Trotz’s successors. 

More Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents, and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices, they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 


Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 170 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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