Titans Triumph Against Bills in Blowout Win

By Terrance Turner

Tonight — after 16 days — the Tennessee Titans returned to play, on a rare Tuesday night football game. (According to CBS, this is only the second time in 70 years that a game has been played on Tuesday night.) The unusual date came after a series of delays and reschedules. The Titans’ match with the Buffalo Bills had to be postponed twice after an outbreak of COVID-19.

The Tennessean says the reason for the delay was a flurry of positive COVID-19 tests for Titans team members — 20 of them, including 10 players and 10 team personnel. The Titans were forced to close their facility. Later two more tests were positive. But then the outbreak exploded: eight positive tests included five team personnel and three players: defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, long snapper Beau Brinkley and practice squad tight end Tommy Hudson.” The facility was again shut down until the following Saturday. 

The NFL said on Wednesday, Sept. 30 that the Titans-Bills game would be moved to either Monday or Tuesday. That would’ve placed it at around Oct. 6. But another player tested positive on Oct. 1, per the Tennessean, and the next day, two more Titans players — wide receivers Adam Humphries and Cam Batson — tested positive. That brought the total number of infected players since Sept. 24 to eight. The NFL began to investigate the team’s handling of the pandemic. The Titans-Bills game that had been scheduled for Sunday was rescheduled for Tuesday night.

And after all that, the Tennessee Titans shined. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another, and running back Derrick Henry

The team jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw to AJ Brown. But after a Bills TD, Titans running back Derrick Henry scored a rushing touchdown to make it 14-7. Then, on the next drive, he stiff-armed Bills cornerback Josh Norman, knocking him to the ground:

The scores just kept coming for the Titans. Later in the second half, Tannehill dashed into the end zone for the touchdown, making it 21-10. Then, just as the Bills were trying to put together a drive, quarterback Josh Allen was intercepted by Titans corner Malcolm Butler. After the catch, Butler was pursued by a Bills defender, but he somehow got away. Butler spun out of a tackle, stumbled on the turf, put his hand on the field to steady himself, scrambled to his feet, and then took off:

It was a 68-yard return, according to the CBS announcers. It was a crucial play that would mark a turning point in the game. The Titans cashed in on that costly interception when Tannehill hit Jonnu Smith for the touchdown.

In the second half, Derrick Henry helped power the Titans offense. Henry barreled through defenders, sometimes stiff-arming them, to gain yards. CBS announcers pointed out that Henry is hard to tackle, at 6’3 and 250 lbs. The Titans were up 28-16. On the drive, Henry had several rushes, and Tannehill turned on the jets with a 20-yard run.

The Titans got to 1st and goal. Henry ran in for the TD, his second of the night. Titans player Derek Long knocked out the ball on a Bills punt return. Titans got the ball and decided to go for broke. Tannehill ran sideways and tossed the ball to Jonnu Smith for the touchdown! Call goes under review; commentators were conflicted on a “really close” call. Did Tannehill go over the line of scrimmage? Would the touchdown count?

“After review, the ruling on the field stands,” the ref announced. “Touchdown.”

Jonnu Smith added another touchdown later in the fourth quarter to seal the win. The Titans won in a blowout, 42-16, to remain undefeated.

Seahawks Win Thriller to Stay Unbeaten

By Terrance Turner

In an unbelievable game, the Seattle Seahawks launched a dramatic last-second comeback drive to win their match against the Minnesota Vikings. On 4th down and 10, the Seahawks scored a touchdown to win the game, 27-26. They remain undefeated at 5-0.

The Vikings led by 13-0 in the game’s first half. But Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and the ‘Hawks fought back. They narrowed the lead and then took it. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks led the Vikings 21-19. But just when it looked like Wilson was mounting a game-winning drive, he threw a crucial interception to Vikings player Eric Wilson.

The Vikings later scored to make it 26-21. But there was 1:27 left. Wilson powered the team down the field in just under a minute. But the drive temporarily stalled near the goal line. Inside 10 yards, Wilson misfired again and again, overthrowing on one pass and throwing an incomplete pass on 3rd and 10. Finally, it was fourth down, with only 15 seconds left — just enough time to Wilson to attempt a last-ditch comeback attempt. He did, with a miraculous touchdown pass to receiver D.K. Metcalf.

After Lifeless Start, Chiefs’ Offense Explodes to Stun Patriots

By Terrance Turner

It was 6-3 for the entire first half of tonight’s game. The Kansas City Chiefs had two field goals. The New England Patriots had one.

No big plays. No long passes. No touchdowns.

Neither offense showed any signs of life as the third quarter began. The Patriots punted at the start of the third quarter. Then the Chiefs had to punt after an incomplete pass by Mahomes. A seven-minute drive by the Patriots took them all the way to the twelve-yard line. Then RB Rex Burkhead rushed for seven yards to the 5-yard-line. But then, Patriots QB Brian Hoyer was sacked by Chiefs player Taco Charlton. Hoyer fumbled the ball; Kansas City recovered. (Hoyer was later replaced by quarterback Jarrett Stidham.)

This low-score, lackluster offense continued through the third quarter. But then — with just 49 seconds left in the quarter — something happened. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes launched a pass to tight end Travis Kelce, who turned the play into a 45-yard pitch-and-catch. Then, just minutes later, Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill scored by skirting the edge of the field. Hill disappeared inside a sea of blue Patriots jerseys, scampering down the sideline for the touchdown.

It was now 13-3 — the score at the end of Super Bowl 53, which the Patriots won. The Patriots responded tonight with a touchdown of their own. But it was the Chiefs who would prevail. Mahomes threw another touchdown – this time to wide receiver Mecole Hardman. A left-field interception sealed the Chiefs’ win. Stidham tried a pass to veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman. The ball bounced off of Edelman’s hands and into the hands of safety Tyrann Mathieu. He ran it all the way into the end zone for the touchdown.

Follwing the touchdown, the Patriots regained possession and tried to mount a scoring drive. But after two short rushing plays, Stidham was intercepted by Chiefs’ Rashad Fenton, who returned it for 31 yards, according to MSN. That pick effectively ended the game. The Chiefs rolled over the Patriots, 26-10.

The Chiefs are now the first team in NFL history to start 4-0 in four consecutive seasons. Tonight was their 13th straight win (counting the postseason and Super Bowl). Tonight was also Travis Kelce’s birthday. Kelce will celebrate his 31st birthday with a win. He’s also breathing some rarefied air: the Chiefs are one of only six undefeated teams in the NFL.

Texans Fire Bill O’Brien After 0-4 Start

By Terrance Turner

The Houston Texans have fired head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien.

“On behalf of my family and our entire organization, I want to sincerely thank Bill O’Brien and his family for their impact on our franchise,” Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair said in a statement. “Bill’s leadership moved our organization forward as he guided us to four AFC South division championships, 52 wins and multiple playoff appearances during his tenure.” (Those 52 wins, however, were accompanied by 48 losses.)

The move comes after a dispiriting 0-4 start by the Texans. After a (predictable) loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and another loss to the Baltimore Ravens the next week, the Texans lost again to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. Hopes were high for yesterday’s match against the Minnesota Vikings, but those hopes were dashed, too.

On paper, it should’ve been a winnable game: both teams were 0-3. But Minnesota scored first, with a rushing touchdown by running back Dalvin Cook. After a kick return later, the Vikings caused a fumble by the Texans and cashed in with a field goal. After another Cook TD, it was 17-6 at the half. The Texans scored a touchdown via wide receiver Will Fuller and then nabbed a field goal. But the Vikings responded with another TD courtesy of receiver Adam Thielen. Then they hit the end zone again, courtesy of running back Alex Mattison,. Texans WR Kenny Stills scored late, and the Texans tried to rally with a last-minute drive. But upon review, WR Will Fuller’s touchdown catch was overturned. The Texans lost, 31-23.

The Houston Texans are now 0-4, at the bottom of their division (the AFC South). Their playoff chances are practically nil. According to ESPN, only one team — the 1992 Chargers — made the playoffs after an 0-4 start. Frustration on the part of Texans fans and players was widespread after yesterday’s loss.

Defensive end J.J. Watt echoed the thoughts of many with his comments in a press conference yesterday. “We obviously have to do something different,” Watt said. “We are 0-4. Whatever we’re doing is not working. Something needs to change. Something needs to be different.”

What had to change is the leadership — which has come under fire before.

O’Brien’s firing comes after an 0-4 start, but it also comes after years of head-scratching decisions. In 2017, O’Brien traded 2014 No.1 pick Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks. (He’s now defensive end for the Tennessee Titans, who are undefeated.) That same year, O’Brien also traded Duane Brown — regarded as one of the best offensive tackles in the game — to the Seahawks. Star safety Tyrann Mathieu left the team in 2019 to sign a contract with the Chiefs — who are now Super Bowl champions.

But the final straw for many fans came this year. After a stunning comeback against the Buffalo Bills, the Texans were up 24-0 against the Chiefs. But after the first quarter, they suffered an epic collapse: the Chiefs outscored the 51-7 in the rest of the game to win, 51-31.

And then, O’Brien lost the support of many Texans fans — and caused an uproar among football fans — by trading away DeAndre Hopkins. Widely regarded as a top-tier NFL receiver, Hopkins had collected 31 touchdowns during his last three seasons. O’Brien traded him for RB David Johnson and some draft picks. The reaction was swift and merciless.

“My first instinct when I saw the terms of this trade was to worry whether Hopkins had lost a limb. My second instinct was to give the Texans side of this deal the same grade safety Tyrann Mathieu awarded his former team. This is a jaw-dropping, mind-bending, inexplicable trade for O’Brien, whose bizarre run as Texans general manager is going to be the subject of a 30 for 30 documentary one day,” wrote ESPN’s Bill Barnwell. Bleacher Report writer Bill Tanier lambasted O’Brien.

“Bill O’Brien is a staggeringly terrible general manager. He’s also an awful head coach, as illustrated by his many suspect decisions as the Texans blew a 24-point lead to lose 51-31 to the Chiefs in the AFC divisional round (among other examples in big games),” Tanier wrote. For the Texans, this trade is so bad that it has substrata of badness: Johnson is a damaged-goods running back who lost his starting job last year and is three full years removed from his last productive season.”

Surprise! Patrick Mahomes Has Big News (UPDATED)

By Terrance Turner

On Feb. 2, quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl win in 50 years. On July 6, he signed the most lucrative sports deal in history: a 10-year, $450 million deal worth up to $503 million. On Sept. 1, Mahomes received his Super Bowl ring at Arrowhead Stadium and proposed to longtime girlfriend Brittany Matthews. And now, just four weeks later, Mahomes is adding yet another highlight to an unforgettable year.

Mahomes and Matthews are expecting!

Matthews shared the announcement on social media this afternoon. The surprising news came via a picture of her and Mahomes, with a sonogram of their unborn baby. The two have been together for over eight years; they began dating in high school, when Mahomes was a sophomore and Matthews a junior.

The news comes just hours after Mahomes and the Chiefs stunned the Baltimore Ravens with a bravura performance. On last night’s highly anticipated “Monday Night Football” match, Mahomes scored the team’s first points with a six-yard touchdown run. Then he tossed a 5-yard shovel pass to fullback Anthony Sherman and a dazzling 20-yard TD to receiver Tyreek Hill. But the game’s highlight was arguably Mahomes’ jaw-dropping 49-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mecole Hardman. (He later threw in a two-yard TD courtesy of offensive tackle Eric Fisher.)

But it was his 13-yard pass to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce that put Mahomes over the edge. According to ESPN, it took just 34 games for Mahomes to break the record set by quarterback Kurt Warner. Last night, Mahomes became the fastest quarterback to reach 10,000 passing yards.

And now, he’s about to become a father.

“Being able to kind of grow up and have these dreams of having a family and playing in the NFL […] it’s really cool,” said Mahomes on Wednesday. During the virtual call with reporters, Mahomes was apparently asked which of his teammates could look after his child. “As far as like an uncle? I would say like Matt Moore, or someone like that, that’s responsible. I can’t let Trav or anybody do it. You never know what would happen,” Mahomes said, smiling.

UPDATE (Oct. 19): Mahomes may not trust Kelce to babysit, but he certainly trusts him on the field. On their match with the Bills Monday night, Mahomes found Kelce for two touchdowns in the first half. One of them was a diving catch that put the Chiefs ahead 7-3 in the first quarter. The other came in the second quarter, with the Chiefs down 10-7. Mahomes threw a dart to Kelce in the end zone, making it 14-10. The team added another TD courtesy of Darrel Williams in the third quarter, then tacked on two field goals to win 26-17.

UPDATE (Oct. 21): Mahomes and Matthews are expecting a baby girl! Matthews announced the news on Twitter today via video. Mahomes shared the video on his profile, adding the hashtag #GirlDad:

Chiefs and Texans Unite on NFL Season Opener

By Terrance Turner

Tonight, the NFL season began with a highly anticipated match. The Super Bowl-defending Kansas City Chiefs played against the Houston Texans — but not before a major statement. The national anthem was performed by Chloe and Halle, who wore T-shirts that honored George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — both Black people slain by police this year.

After the anthem, Alicia Keys’ version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (informally known as “the black national anthem” played at Arrowhead Stadium. The Texans remained in the locker room for both anthems, then emerged for an unusual display. After they came on the field, both teams locked arms in a show of unity; in the center were Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Remarkably, fans (who only filled 22% of the stadium) began booing.

There were many opinions about this development:

Another distressing development: the absence of intros. Despite being a Thursday night game, tonight’s contest happened on NBC, which typically airs “Sunday Night Football”. Tonight’s match unfolded much like a typical Sunday night contest, with SNF commentators Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. But the very thing that made “Sunday Night Football” different from every other broadcast — the player introductions, where each player appears on the screen to state his name and the college he went to — were gone. Michaels explained the disappearance of the intros by saying that “we couldn’t get into [training] camps to do them.”

Do players not have smartphones? Are they not able to record their introductions on the field before (or after) the game? Are they not allowed to be filmed in the locker room? Can the players not record intros during the Zoom press conferences while they answer questions? Many observers lamented their absence during tonight’s broadcast:

OK. Back to the game.

The first touchdown of the NFL season came courtesy of running back David Johnson, who rushed into the end zone early to put the Texans up 7-0. Johnson temporarily silenced the deafening chatter of fans who objected to the trade that brought him to the Texans and sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. But it would be the last time the Texans held the lead.

The Chiefs responded almost immediately, with a successful 11-play drive. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce, tying the game. Then the Chiefs gained the lead when Mahomes found Sammy Watkins in the end zone. A field goal by their kicker Harrison Butker put the Chiefs up 17-7 at the half.

In the third quarter, we saw further dominance by rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. (He replaces Chiefs RB Damien Williams, who opted out this season due to concerns about COVID-19. His mother has cancer.) Edwards-Helaire made his debut with a sensational performance, running for 136 yards. His 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter padded the Chiefs’ lead. Then Chiefs rookie L’Jarius Sneed picked off Watson’s pass near the end of the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Mahomes’ interception was negated by a pass interference call against the Texans. Saved by the flag, Mahomes threw a dart to wide receiver Tyreek Hill. That gave the Chiefs a commanding 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Texans managed to make things more respectable: Watson himself rushed in for a touchdown, then later found Texans tight end Jordan Akins for another score. But that would be the end of the scores for the Houston Texans. The Chiefs sealed their fate when Butker drilled another field goal to give them the win: 34-20.

“There’s a lot to fix,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said after the Texans’ loss. “It’s only one game. We have to improve pretty quickly. But it’s only one game . We have to get back to work pretty soon and fix these things.” They play the Ravens on Sept. 20.

PATRICK MAHOMES IS ENGAGED

By Terrance Turner

Tonight, Patrick Mahomes was presented with the Super Bowl ring that he earned in such memorable fashion on Feb. 2nd:

According to ESPN, the Super Bowl ring contains 234 diamonds and the player’s name in gold, along with his jersey number in diamonds. But tonight, Mahomes presented longtime girlfriend Brittany Lynne Matthews with a diamond ring of her own. Matthews alerted her followers of the news via Instagram Stories:

The proposal apparently happened after the Super Bowl ring ceremony at Arrowhead Stadium, according to Today. Mahomes, 24, and Matthews, 25, are high school sweethearts. According to the Kansas City Star, they started dating at Whitehouse High School in Texas, when Mahomes was a sophomore and Matthews a junior. (Mahomes is from Tyler, Texas.) When their relationship began, Mahomes was still a safety on the football team. He would eventually become a standout on the football and basketball teams, becoming a star quarterback while Matthews played on the soccer team.

Matthews went on to play at the University of Texas at Tyler and later signed to play professionally in Iceland. Meanwhile, Mahomes attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, and later became a superstar QB for the Kansas City Chiefs. After a series of come-from-behind victories in the playoffs, Mahomes led the Chiefs to a stunning fourth-quarter comeback in this year’s Super Bowl. Powered by two touchdowns by running back Damien Williams, the Chiefs racked up 21 points in six minutes to win, 31-20. Now, after a record-breaking contract extension, Mahomes has added yet another milestone to an unforgettable year.

Patrick Mahomes Signs Largest Sports Contract in History

Image
Patrick Mahomes beams in this file photo released today. (Photo via Twitter @Chiefs)

By Terrance Turner

It should come as no surprise that the Kansas City Chiefs have signed quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a contract extension. But the details of the arrangement are nothing short of astonishing. Per numerous sources (including NFL reporter Ian Rapoport), Mahomes’ 10-year extension is worth $503 million — making it the largest contract in the history of sports.

According to Rapoport, this is the first time that an NFL player has been the highest-paid in sports. His NFL Network colleague Tom Pelissero added that Mahomes’ deal comes with a $10 million signing bonus and a “roster bonus” that grows to $49.4 million by 2027. Pelissero added that Mahomes could earn up to $103 million by next March.

The Chiefs added 10 years to what was already a two-year contract for Mahomes, ensuring that he will remain a Chief through at least 2031. Accordingly, Mahomes tweeted “Here to stay”, alongside a highlight video with captions by Mahomes. “Chiefs Kingdom, you’ve been with me since the beginning,” he wrote. “You helped us overcome adversity to become Super Bowl champs. And we’re staying together…for a long time. We’re building a dynasty.”

Mahomes, 24, has racked up 76 touchdowns and only 18 interceptions in three seasons as a Chief. After being named 2018 NFL MVP, he overcame a frightening midseason injury (a dislocated kneecap) and not only survived the 2019 season but helped power the Chiefs to a 12-4 record. Then he and the Chiefs battled other AFC standouts in the postseason. They overcame three straight double-digit deficits in the playoffs. After stunning the Texans in a come-from-behind win, they rallied to beat the Titans in the AFC Championship. (It was the first AFC Championship Game since 2010 not to include Tom Brady.)

You may recall that in February, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in rather memorable fashion. Down 20-10 with only six minutes left, Mahomes rallied and led the team to score 21 unanswered points — including two touchdowns by running back Damien Williams. Mahomes, who is biracial, is only the third black quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. His performance earned him the honor of being named Super Bowl MVP.

“This is a significant moment for our franchise and for the Chiefs Kingdom,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Since he joined the Chiefs just a few years ago, Patrick has developed into one of the most prolific athletes in all of sports. With his dynamic play and infectious personality, he is one of the most recognized and beloved figures to put on the Chiefs uniform. He’s an extraordinary leader and a credit to the Kansas City community, and I’m delighted that he will be a member of the Chiefs for many years to come.”

One of Mahomes’ teammates put it more bluntly. Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu voiced approval of the deal. “The young man deserve it all,” Mathieu wrote on Twitter. “One of the best I’ve been around. One of the greats.” Mathieu previously played for the Houston Texans, whose quarterback Deshaun Watson may be in line for a payday of his own. Texans superstar defensive end J.J. Watt tagged Watson in a playful tweet today:

UPDATE: Mahomes is apparently making some money moves as the start of the season approaches. Today, news broke that Mahones is now a part owner of the Kansas City Royals. The baseball team is located in the very city for which he won the Super Bowl. That fact wasn’t lost on the quarterback. “I’m honored to become a part owner of the Kansas City Royals,” said Patrick Mahomes. “I love this city and the people of this great town. This opportunity allows me to deepen my roots in this community, which is something I’m excited to do.”

After signing the largest-ever sports contract in history, Mahomes has made history again. This deal makes Patrick Mahomes the youngest sports owner ever. NFL Insider Ian Rapoport reported the record-breaking development earlier thiis morning:

UPDATE: After the Chiefs went 2-0 in their first two games, Patrick Mahomes was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. After praising Mahomes’ athleticism and vision, author Derek Jeter lauded Mahomes’ commitment to his teammates and coaches. “There is a lot more promise in Patrick Mahomes’ future than just on-field accolades,” Jeter wrote. “He already has started to build a legacy as one of the most impactful athletes of his generation, and I, for one, am excited to see what is next.”

Roger Goodell, Pushed By Black NFL Players, Finally Admits the Truth

Roger Goodell announced a reversal of the NFL's stance on player protests on Friday. (Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

By Terrance Turner

Today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged a truth we know to be self-evident. But that acknowledgement came only belatedly, only after years of blacklisting outspoken black players. Only after quarterback Drew Brees caught fire for clueless comments about player protests. Only after days of large-scale protests broke out in Minneapolis, Denver, Boston, L.A., New York, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and beyond — and after a frankly stunning video from the players.

Yesterday, several black NFL players released a video addressing the racism and police brutality that have led to cities ravaged by protest. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Saints player Michael Thomas, and Giants running back Saquon Barkley appear in the film. So do two of the Kansas City Chiefs: safety Tyrann Mathieu and quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Cleveland Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. join them. They all ask the NFL to condemn racism. To admit its wrongdoing. To listen to its players.

“It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered,” Thomas begins.

“How many times do we have to ask you to listen to your players?” Mathieu asks.

What will it take?” questions Hopkins.

“What if I were George Floyd?” they ask. To hear them pose the question — some one by one, some in unison — is poignant enough. But to witness Mathieu, Hopkins, Zeke, Beckham, Barkley, Mahomes and others say “Black Lives Matter” gave me chills. The end is devastating: Beckham, with palpable emotion in his voice and liquid eyes, ends the video by repeating: “Black Lives Matter.”

The powerful video compelled Roger Goodell to do exactly what the players asked. After the brutal murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, after the blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick from the NFL — and after 10 days of alternately peaceful and violent protests across our shores — Roger Goodell gets it. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a video today condemning racism on behalf of the NFL.

“This has been a difficult time for our country — in particular, black people in this country,” Goodell said. He expressed condolences to the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, both killed by police in recent weeks. He even admitted to wrongfully silencing NFL players.

Here are his remarks, quoted in part by Yahoo! Sports:

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Goodell said. “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.

“We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter. I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League. And the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.”

Roger Goodell: NFL admits ‘we were wrong’ on player protests, says ‘black lives matter’


He’s absolutely right. Without black players, there would be no National Football League. And Roger Goodell knows it. According to a 2017 TIDES study, the NFL is roughly 70% black. And those black players form the backbone of the National Football League. It is their strength, their power, their athleticism, that power the league to earn billions of dollars year after year.

And it is their voices that have been silenced.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew harsh criticism (and the ire of the president) by protesting racism and police brutality in 2016. The sight of Kaepernick quietly kneeling on the sidelines during the national anthem caused heated debate across America. It was clear from the beginning what his reasons were.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. But people apparently misheard him. Somehow it turned into a conversation about “disrespecting” the American flag. That false narrative was amplified by the president, who called on the league to fire players who kneeled. (But when white people stormed the Michigan State Capitol with firearms last month, he cheered the liberation” of America. From stay-home orders that were supposed to protect Americans from coronavirus.)

Somehow, it turned into a conversation about “offending” the military — some of whom supported Kaepernick, by the way. (Nobody talks about the fact that Kaepernick got the idea to kneel from a former Green Beret, according to the New York Times.) After Trump fanned the flames of racial animus, more and more people expressed outrage about the protests. And the NFL caved to the pressure, fining players who took a knee. Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016, despite leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl three years earlier. The NFL didn’t support his peaceful protest. But now, things are different. Maybe.

After George Floyd, 46, was suffocated by then-police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, something changed. The viral video of Chauvin spending eight minutes with his knee on Floyd’s neck was a cultural reset. It exposed the suffering that too many black Americans experience at the hands of the police. Days of protests displayed the raw pain and anger that black people felt after watching Floyd slowly die at the hands of Derek Chauvin.

That pain was intensified when reports surfaced about Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was shot eight times by police in Louisville. Police entered her home using a no-knock warrant, failing to identify themselves. They had the wrong house (!!!), and the suspect had already been arrested. They fired 22 rounds into her apartment anyway, killing Taylor. (Today would’ve been her 27th birthday.)

Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, when he was stalked and then shot to death. Gregory and his son Travis McMichael trailed Arbery in their pickup truck, while William Bryan aided the ambush by trying to block Arbery in. CNN reports that as Arbery tried to run away from his stalkers and ran past Bryan’s vehicle, Bryan hit him with the side of his truck. Then he watched and filmed the McMichaels’ deadly double-team. As Gregory aimed his handgun, Travis shot Arbery at point-blank range, making sure to walk over and call Arbery a “f—king nigger” as he lay dying.

In response to these tragedies, the unrest they caused, and the voices of the players, Goodell caved.

“I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve,” Goodell said.

He can start by giving Colin Kaepernick a call.

Gronk Comes Out of Retirement to Join Brady on Bucs

This is the same face I had when I learned about the trade. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

By Terrance Turner

Last night, former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski appeared on “Watch What Happens Live” (at Home). Host Andy Cohen said rumors were swirling that Gronkowski wanted to join ex-Patriots teammate Tom Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cohen asked Gronkowski if he was considering coming out of retirement to join Brady on the Bucs.

Gronkowski (aka “Gronk” to fans and teammates) responded equivocally. “Andy, you wanna know what’s so great, man? The day that I retired — within 24 hours — there were already rumors that I was coming out of retirement,” Gronk said. “I’m feelin’ good right now; I’m happy where I’m at–“

“You’re done,” Cohen interjected.

“You just never know, man,” Gronk replied.

“Oh, you never know,” Cohen repeated.

“You never know,” Gronk said. “I’m not totally done.”

He isn’t. The next day, NFL reporter Ian Rapoport confirmed a stunning update:

Earlier this afternoon, NFL insider Ian Rapoport tweeted: “Retired #Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski has told New England that he’s interested in playing football again — and would want to do it with the Bucs and Tom Brady. A trade would have to be worked out for this to happen.” Rapoport later added that Brady was interested in such a deal, too. At 3:21 pm, Rapoport confirmed that the Patriots were trading Gronk and a seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for a 4th-round pick.

Gronkowski, 30, played the entirety of his NFL career with the New England Patriots. During the 2011 season, Gronk had 17 touchdown catches — the most ever by a tight end in one season. A Week 13 score was classified as a rushing touchdown, giving him a total of 18 TDs. He became the first (and only) tight end EVER to lead the league in touchdowns. The next season, he tacked on 11 more touchdown receptions, making it his third season in a row with 10 or more TDs. (He would achieve that impressive touchdown feat again in the 2014 and ’15 seasons.)

He won three championships with the New England Patriots in 2015, 2017, and 2019. (He told Cohen that the last match — the 13-3 snoozefest vs. the Rams — was the easiest to win.) It was his 29-yard catch late in Super Bowl LIII that set up the game’s only touchdown (courtesy of teammate Sony Michel). That catch helped him set two more records. His 23 receptions and 297 receiving yards are the most by a tight end in Super Bowl history.

As news broke of the trade, Andy Cohen added another credit to his multi-hyphenate career: