Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

In today’s NFL, is being gay okay?

Report: Most NFL players would have no problem with an openly gay teammate
sports.yahoo.com

If football isn’t the ultimate masculine/gladiator sport, it’s certainly right up there. As a result of that factor, not to mention the perceived group-think of the locker room, meeting room, and huddle, and supposed “caveman” mentality some believe it takes to play the game, there are some who would tell you that no openly gay player would be able to survive (literally or figuratively) in the NFL. But in a recent series of interviews with current and former NFL players, OutSports.com found that the perception is not reality. If the small group interviewed represent the majority, attitudes have definitely come around about any NFL player who would choose to come out…

...That tolerance goes back further than you think. Vince Lombardi, seen as the ultimate authority figure, and championed as a pillar of supposed “clean-cut” values for generations of football fans, had an openly gay brother, and often told his players that anyone who had a problem with the concept of homosexuality could not play for him. It was the same as any other kind of bias to the coach—and in an era where he had to wait far longer than he should have for a head coaching job because of his Italian heritage, Lombardi despised prejudice of any kind…

...Perhaps the most encouraging part of the interview was the take of those players just coming into the league—OutSports spoke with rookies Trent Richardson, Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin, Coby Fleener, Nick Foles, LaMichael James, and T.J. Graham. To a man, the players who will comprise the future of the league didn’t have a problem with the concept—and many wondered why it was a big deal at all.

File this under: Things I didn't know about Vince Lombardi.  

The real test, of course, for all of this stated tolerance will come out (pun totally intended) when a current NFL player says he's openly gay.  It's likely the issue will divide the locker room internally--even if only a little.  There are simply too many players like David Tyree out there.  Publicly, the team and the league will support openly gay players.  Legally, they'll have little choice.  And the public backlash they'd receive for not doing so would be more intense than Tebowmania x 10.

Never forget that sports is often simply a reflection of the culture upon which it was built.  As American culture and attitudes change (or don't), so do its sports, arts, and entertainment.  Art often sets the pace, while sports, like a set of economic indicators, often tags behind.

It's obvious, no matter your personal views, where the trend is going, however.  In another decade, it won't even be an issue.

Please, Oakland

Raiders add Ivy League QB
www.ibabuzz.com

The Raiders have signed free-agent quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballer Tuesday. Newhall-Caballero was a two-time All-Ivy League selection during his collegiate career at Brown.

There ought to be a rule against donning the Silver and Black if you've attended an Ivy League institution, you've scored at least a 22 on your ACT, or simply graduated in the top half of your high-school class.

The next battle?  Knee pads

Report: NFLPA would fight against pad proposal
www.nfl.com

A source told Marvez that the league has not provided proof to the NFLPA that the pads would have any effect on player safety, though the union has asked for it.

Marvez reported that another possible issue…is that players will resist being forced to wear leg padding out of vanity or concern that the padding will negatively affect their ability to perform—even if the intended goal of requiring pads is to keep the player on the football field.

“Guys want to feel as sleek as possible,” NFLPA President Domonique Foxworth told FOXSports.com last year. “Anything that inhibits that makes them feel it’s slowing them down or getting in their way. Some guys have never played with those pads. It’s difficult for them to wrap their heads around it mentally.”

It's not clear how wearing knee pads will help with player safety, although one assumes they won't hurt.

Let's be honest, though.  The NFL has a lot of legal reasons to demonstrate they really care about player safety at the moment.  If this includes forcing players to wear more padding, they are going to do it.  

The biggest holdouts, of course, will be the corners and wide receivers.  Like a group of hot chicks going out on the town, if they don't feel just right in their clothes, they may not come to the party.

You, too, can speculate on Manning’s arm strength after one practice!

Peyton Manning’s Broncos passing debut (Video)
photos.denverpost.com

Peyton Manning is taking charge of the offense already, decked out in the Broncos jersey for the first time Monday morning at the start of a three-day mini-camp for the Denver Broncos.


 

I'll give him an "8," Dick.  He's got a decent beat, and his footwork is something I think I can dance to.

A surprise in the D.J. Williams DUI trial

Mistrial declared in Broncos linebacker DJ Williams' DUI trial
www.denverpost.com

A mistake during jury selection has resulted in a mistrial in the DUI case against Denver Broncos linebacker Genos “DJ” Williams. Defense attorney Harvey Steinberg motioned for mistrial this afternoon in Denver County Court, arguing that he should have been allowed to challenge three jurors during selection this morning but was allowed to strike only two. The judge agreed. A new trial has been set for Aug. 15.

Prosecutors say Williams, 29, was drunk Nov. 12, 2010 when he was stopped near Ninth Avenue and Broadway in Denver for driving without headlights turned on.

Earlier today, Steinberg quizzed potential jurors on their feelings toward the Denver Broncos and professional athletes. “Some people think athletes get treated too well,” he said. “What if I told you it’s the opposite? That everyone in the system is afraid they’ll be accused of giving athletes special treatment?” Steinberg also told jurors that no blood alcohol test will be admitted as evidence. Two police officers are expected to testify about the 2010 stop on the prosecution’s behalf.

Oh, Harv. You're so cute and cuddly when you bring out the conspiracies like that.

The good news for Harv and his client? In this great country of ours, you're presumed sober until proven intoxicated and without the ability to operate a moving vehicle at high rates of speed.

The bad news?  The NFL says Williams' urine sample is still not human.  And that freaks me out.

Broncos and Wolfe come to terms

Broncos agree to $5.2 million deal with top pick Derek Wolfe
www.denverpost.com

Derek Wolfe, the first player the Broncos selected in the NFL draft last month, has agreed to terms with the team on a four-year, $5.2 million contract.  A defensive tackle from Cincinnati, Wolfe was selected with the No. 36 overall pick in the second round. He did not participate in the Broncos organized team activity (OTA) workout Monday because rules say his college class must complete graduation first. Wolfe played his college ball at the University of Cincinnati, which doesn’t graduate its 2012 class until June 9.

That means Wolfe will miss all three of the Broncos’ OTA sessions.

The power of the new CBA continues to pay dividends, at least for the teams.  These new rookie contracts--aside from being much less expensive--really cut down the signing period by a country mile.

What to make of the three practices Wolfe will miss?  Absolutely nothing.  It's three days in which he won't pull a hamstring.

I'll save my Pulp Fiction and Duran Duran references for another day, but I am willing to point out that the Chiefs wear red, and Matt Cassel looks a lot like Little Red Riding Hood.

Another reason to appreciate the Oakland Raiders

Deep thoughts, cheap shots & bon mots ...
www.sfgate.com

The Raiders’ new regime gets its first test with linebacker Rolando McClain, recently sentenced to 180 days in jail. If Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen are serious about building with character, they’ll ease McClain out of the Raiders’ mix, making an eloquent statement: “That’s not how we roll.”

Hey kids, remember that time when the Broncos were thinking about drafting Rolando McClain at #11 in the 2010 Draft?

Me, too. Thankfully, the Oakland Raiders took that decision out of Josh McDaniels's hands and took McClain at #8.

The debate at the time was whether McClain's Crohn's Disease (did he have it or didn't he?) would affect him on the field.  As it turns out, there were bigger concerns, like McClain's penchant for discharging firearms.

Don't count on Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen purging McClain from the Raiders just yet, however.  McClain is only 23, and although he's been pretty average so far in his career, they're not about to divest themselves of the only decent linebacker they've got, unless you count Aaron Turmeric Curry as a viable option.

No matter how the Raiders play this one, you can bet on one thing: it's good for the Denver Broncos.

Broncos and Ryan Clady talking extension

Broncos, Ryan Clady begin to address contract extension
www.denverpost.com

The Broncos have opened contract-extension talks with Ryan Clady, according to several NFL sources.

The left tackle is in the final year of his deal that will pay him $3.5 million in 2012. The franchise tag for left tackles this season was $9.4 million.

While the Broncos and Clady’s agent are talking, it may be a while before the two sides are close to an agreement.

This move by the Broncos is a prudent one.  While Clady isn't the Hall of Famer he appeared in his first season, he's probably among the top ten left tackles in the league today.  And, as Klis notes, Clady entered the league as a dominant pass blocker.  He's much more adept at run blocking now. 

Like shutdown cornerbacks, left tackles don't grow on trees.   If Clady can stay off the basketball court, this move is a no brainer.

Who’s gonna smoke some weed tonight? Your favorite NFL player, that’s who

Brown: At least 50 percent of NFL players smoke pot
www.nfl.com

Lomas Brown, now an ESPN analyst, claims at least 50 percent of NFL players likely smoke marijuana, according to a report in the Detroit News. “I just don’t think you’ll be able to curb this,” Brown told the newspaper. In Brown’s eyes, this is actually an improvement. Brown claims up to 90 percent of players league-wide smoked marijuana when he began his career with the Lions in 1985.  It falls in line with some recent findings:

• Four out of 10 draft-eligible prospects from the 2012 class failed at least one school-administered drug test for marijuana; two in 10 failed multiple times, per a CBS Sports report from April.

• “About 70 percent” of prospects at the combine admitted to using marijuana, per an ESPN report.

• A 2009 report by the NCAA stated 26.7 percent of all football players admitted using marijuana over the past 12 months, the highest number of any athlete group they surveyed.

You'd think the boys down at the league office would realize the opportunity that sits in front of them.  If they can shift attention away from concussions and to purging of the deadly evil that is The Chronic out of our national pastime, they might just buy themselves a few years from public scorn over players' pensions, too.

Check yourself, Roger Goodell, before you wreck yourself.  Or better yet, get out your bong and groove to one of the better pot-smoking songs you'll ever find right here and now:

Del Rio: Top 10 or bust

New Broncos Coordinator Jack Del Rio says Denver Expects to have a Top-10 Defense
sportsradiointerviews.com

“...We’ve established high expectations, we expect to be a top-10, if not better, defense. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get there but that’s what our goals are…”

“...the areas we were good at last year we want to build on. Getting off on third down was a strength of this defense for sure. But at the end of the day, it was 24th in points allowed, 20th in yards allowed, and those aren’t numbers that we’re looking for. So we gotta do some work up front, making sure that we can keep people from running it down our throats a little bit. We gave up too many explosive plays in the run and the pass game…”

It's good to have goals.  All the great ones do.  Kobayashi didn't eat 337 hot wings at Wing Bowl 20 without concrete and measurable objectives (he was shooting for 300; he messed around and got a triple double).

Jack Del Rio doesn't know jack about eating hot wings. But he does know great defense.  The top 10 sounds like a good place to start to us.