There has always been a push within the game of football to find ever more rare and unknown players. The 1940s brought an effort to permit black players into the league; as bizarre as that seems now, it wasn't that long ago in real terms, and teams like the LA Rams led the way. The AFL All-Star game was moved in January, 1965 because the original city's hotels (New Orleans) wouldn't allow black players to stay or eat at the players' hotel there. Modern experience tells us that scouting traditionally black schools changed the game. By the 1950s there were teams like the Cleveland Browns who were also scouting the smaller schools and bring in big name players from them.
Now, the NFL is increasingly looking at players from Canada. Danny Watkins moved from British Columbia to Oroville, California, to take part in the firefighter's academy at Butte College, planning a career in that brave profession. Now Watkins is a former 2011 first-round pick out of Baylor who's starting and playing well for the Philadelphia Eagles. Philip Blake, a guard/center for the Denver Broncos, was one of four players from Canada selected in last month's draft. Boise State's Tyrone Crawford (Dallas Cowboys) is a defensive tackle (6-4, 275), as is the 318 lb Akiem Hicks (New Orleans Saints); both went in the third round. The 6-5, 290 lb DE Christo Bilukidi (Georgia State) went to Oakland in the sixth round.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! In a surprising development, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) has found that ex-NFL players actually live longer than the normal US male population, with fewer deaths caused by cancer and heart disease.
However, the Niosh study of 3,439 former players oddly found that defensive linemen were felled by heart disease at a much higher rate than players at other positions. The research did not account for cognitive and mental health issues, but Niosh says it is now studying those causes of death as well.
Meanwhile, the war of words between ex-players over whether they'd allow their sons to play football continues on many fronts. Kurt Warner responded to the vitriolic comments from dimwits Merril Hoge and Amani Toomer by pwning them, and old friend Trevor Pryce, who played at Michigan with Toomer, called Amani's words "probably the most idiotic thing I've ever heard."
Florence, originally drafted by the Chargers in 2003, was cut by the Bills on Friday after three seasons with the team. Reports out of San Diego that day indicated the Chargers were interested in bringing the 31-year-old corner back to his original team, although there have been no reports since of a visit.
Former Broncos DT Ryan McBean settles suit, signs with Ravens
Before signing a one-year contract Monday with the Baltimore Ravens, former Broncos defensive tackle Ryan McBean settled his lawsuit complaint against the NFL. In exchange for dropping his lawsuit, the NFL reduced his suspension from six to three games, according to two sources familiar with case.
Williams is continuing with his legal fight against the NFL.
D.J. must think he can do better than getting his suspension cut to three games; we can hope that is Denver's worst case scenario.
Mike Florio says the league's willingness to compromise with McBean points to the flaws in the NFL's discipline system and its insistence upon using in-house arbitration.
Updated 2:28 pm ET
Good Morning, Broncos fans! At surface, the timing of Denver's firing of Brian Xanders may be a bit puzzling to some, or an indication that John Elway was unhappy with the job Xanders did with the recent draft.
But as the always astute Andrew Mason notes, there was no better time - not a season ago, not months ago. By letting Xanders stick around for a year and a half post-McDaniels, Elway gave the X-Man a chance to prove his worth, also buying time for John to himself to ease his way into running the organization. And by keeping Brian for the draft, the Duke avoided a repeat of the glaring error McDaniels made when he axed Jim and Jeff Goodman just two months prior to the 2009 Draft, wasting months and months of work. (Oddly, Mike Klis says McDaniels held off on major changes for a year, but the firing of the Goodmans and concurrent elevation of Xanders to GM stand clearly as evidence to the contrary.)
From the cynic's perspective, this also theoretically buys Elway another draft in the public's eye. If 2012 goes less swimmingly than the Peyton Manning-fueled anticipation would suggest, what are the chances that Jim Saccomano & Co. trumpet the 2013 offseason as the first one free of McDaniels and Xanders's input? In reality, #7 was likely running the show last weekend anyway, and the departure of Xanders was a mere formality at this point. But again - there is no hiding the fact that it's Elways show now.
The Broncos have fired Brian Xanders after four years with the organization and three seasons as their general manager. Although the story by Mike Klis portrays the decision as a mutual parting of ways, it doesn't take much reading between the lines - or of the DP's Breaking News email titled, Broncos fire GM Brian Xanders after three years in Denver - to discern that the choice was all John Elway's.
Xanders was originally hired by Mike Shanahan in 2008 as assistant GM before being elevated to the GM position following the hiring of Josh McDaniels. McDaniels and Xanders teamed up on a slew of controversial personnel moves, including the trade departures of Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler, and Peyton Hillis, the drafting of Knowshon Moreno, Robert Ayers, Alphonso Smith, Richard Quinn, Tim Tebow, Zane Beadles, and J.D. Walton, and the acquisitions of Laurence Maroney, Jarvis Green, and LeKevin Smith, among others.
Former New Orleans Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove submitted a signed declaration to the NFL in April detailing how he was instructed to lie to the NFL by current and former Saints assistant coaches Joe Vitt and Gregg Williams in 2010 about the team’s bounty program.
Hargrove said Williams then said he was going to deny the existence of any bounty system, and that both Williams and Vitt instructed Hargrove to do the same. Williams also said: “Those [expletives at the NFL] have been trying to get me for years” and if all the Saints “stay on the same page, this will blow over.”
Ravens sign NT Ryan McBean
The Baltimore Ravens announced they have signed nose tackle Ryan McBean, who has been suspended six games by the NFL for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
The Broncos removed McBean’s $1.272 million restricted free-agent tender last month after they signed Justin Bannan. McBean, 28, started 21 games the past three seasons for the Broncos. He had a career-high four sacks last year.
Although McBean did have his best year as a Bronco in 2011, it's the lowlights that will define his legacy in Denver:
Rookies Get Their Numbers
95: DE Derek Wolfe; 6: QB Brock Osweiler; 34: RB Ronnie Hillman; 47: CB Omar Bolden; 64: OL Philip Blake; 70: DL Malik Jackson; 59: Danny Trevathan; 8: WR Gerell Robinson; 19: WR Eric Page; 38: S Duke Ihenacho; 45: CB Coryell Judie; 46: LS Aaron Brewer; 48: LB Elliot Coffey; 49: LB Jerry Franklin; 57: LB Steven Johnson; 60: OL Mike Remmers; 62: OL Austin Wuebbels; 69: OL Wayne Tribue; 77: DL Jamie Blatnick; 86: TE Anthony Miller
In addition to the rookies choosing their numbers, tight end Jacob Tamme will wear 84, with tight end Cornelius Ingram switching to No. 82. Cornerback Tracy Porter will now wear No. 21, defensive lineman Jeremy Beal switched to 79 and defensive lineman Sealver Siliga will wear No. 98.
Brock Osweiler will be the first player to wear #6 since Jay Cutler.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! As Mike Freeman details, HOF guard Joe DeLamielleure joined Kurt Warner and Troy Aikman as prominent ex-players to question the future of the NFL and express a reluctance to allow family members to play the sport. Said DeLamiellere to a San Diego radio station:
I have five grandsons. I have told my daughters from day one, those boys are not playing football. Now the oldest is eleven. There is no way. Not until they clean it up. They are trying to clean it up. But not until they take care of the guys who helped build this game, would I consider letting my children or grandchildren play.
We have sub-poverty pensions. [The NFL] does not want to give the guys livable pensions. Give them health care, so they can go to a private doctor without jumping through hoops with the NFL and the NFL union.