The last player out of the shower in the visitors’ locker room was Greg Hardy, red-eyed and indignant a good 45 minutes after the Cowboys’ 27-20 loss to the Giants.
Still dripping wet in front of his locker, the combustible defensive end turned to face a group of reporters and proceeded to cut off every question with the same sharp, dismissive response: “No comment. Next question.” There was a brief pause after six such exchanges, and that was his cue to end the interview with the most insincere of salutations.
“Thank you guys for coming,” Hardy said. “I appreciate you all very much.”
This is the player who moments earlier had been described by owner Jerry Jones as “one of the real leaders on the team,” which hardly makes any sense. Is a real leader someone who misses the first four games, having been suspended by the NFL for a domestic violence incident in which he assaulted his ex-girlfriend and threw her on a futon covered with semi-automatic rifles? Is a real leader someone who inserts himself into the special-teams huddle on the field, yelling and pushing around coaches and teammates after the Giants score a 100-yard touchdown on a kickoff?
“That’s the kind of thing that inspires a football team,” Jones said of Hardy’s outburst, though it never had that effect. Hardy’s antics continued on the sideline, where he got into a heated exchange with injured receiver Dez Bryant. A few minutes later, the special-teams unit committed another miscue, muffing a punt that sealed the win for the Giants. Jones later admitted that he hadn’t actually seen Hardy’s fit.
This sequence of events pretty much sums up where the 2015 Cowboys are at after seven weeks: They’ve lost control of their season, and with two of their biggest leaders sidelined by injuries, no one seems to have any answers.
Given his history of violence, and his arrogance for appearing in a recent rap video with strippers and talking about having “guns blazing” in his return to the football field, Hardy has no reservoir of goodwill. One video of Sunday’s on-field scuffle appears to show Hardy aggressively slapping at the clipboard in special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia’s hand, prompting the coach to push back and a scuffle to ensue.
Hardy got in the coach’s face, and then had to be steered to the sideline by teammates. Acceptable behavior? The makeup of a leader?
Safety Danny McCray, who was in the special-teams huddle, hesitated before answering.
“Uh, I guess we’ll have to figure that out on Wednesday,” he said. “See what Coach Rich says about it.”
Trying to hold their season together, the Cowboys can’t bear any more questions.
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Dolphins tussled in a rugby-style scrum when practice began Wednesday, with younger players encircled by veterans and challenged to fight their way out of the pack.
”It was just something I thought up,” interim coach Dan Campbell said.
Since replacing Joe Philbin 2 1/2 weeks ago, Campbell has stressed the need to be more physical and aggressive. His lobbying paid off Sunday with a 38-10 win at Tennessee, which the Dolphins (2-3) trumpet as a turnaround in their season.
But for defensive end Olivier Vernon, the pedal-to-the-metal approach comes with a cost: He said he was fined by the NFL for a late, low hit that injured Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Vernon planned to appeal and declined to say how much he was fined. He hit the rookie quarterback’s left knee and drew criticism from Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, who said it appeared Vernon was trying to hurt Mariota.
”It was nothing that was intentional,” Vernon said. ”Obviously quarterbacks are defenseless when they’re passing the ball. That’s a given. If that was my intent, I should have gotten fined the max.”
Mariota sprained his MCL but didn’t miss a snap. He finished the game with a brace on his knee.
Vernon apologized after the game to Mariota, who said he didn’t consider the hit malicious. On the play, Vernon drew the first of two penalties he received for roughing the passer.
Campbell didn’t view those infractions as negative repercussions from his mandate to be more aggressive.
”We’re just trying to play football,” he said. ”It’s no different than anybody else.”
And the new head coach offered support for Vernon.
”I just told him I know he’s not a dirty player,” Campbell said. ”He’s trying to get to the quarterback.”
The Dolphins did – they had six sacks after totaling one in the first four games. Cameron Wakehad his first four sacks of the season and was chosen AFC defensive player of the week, while Vernon added his first sack of the year.
Miami also outrushed an opponent for the first time this year, 180-63, and would happily settle for the same thing Sunday against Houston.
Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who has played 20 games against Miami, noted the transformation under Campbell.
”The Dolphins got back to doing what they do best – running the ball,” Wilfork said. ”Last week everybody got a sneak peek at what they really are. They are a ground-and-pound team. They’re tough. They’re physical. As you can see, their coach got them fired up to play, and they responded. We’re going to get their best.”
Campbell, noting the Dolphins’ history of inconsistency, is doing what he can to ensure Wilfork’s correct. The coach has shortened practices but added more contact.
The scrum at the start of Wednesday’s workout was the latest wrinkle, with flailing arms and elbows making it look like a playground free-for-all.
”It’s fun. They were just messing around with each other,” said Campbell, a former NFL tight end. ”When you have the young guys in the middle and they have to find a way to get outside the circle, it kind of gets everybody fired up a little bit. It just created a little bit of energy.”
Sunday Morning QB: Tom Brady’s dad wants Patriots to run up score vs. Colts for Deflategate
Tom Brady and his father Tom Sr. are best friends. Tom Sr. often says what you figure Tom is thinking.
All last week, the Patriots quarterback was asked about getting revenge on the Colts on Sunday night in Indianapolis in the Deflategate Bowl. The Colts were the whistleblowers when they accused the Patriots of letting air out of the footballs in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 18. It led to Roger Goodell suspending Brady for four games, a ruling that was overturned in court.
Brady was politically correct in his answers last week about getting back at the Colts. He wouldn’t bite. He never came close to saying the Patriots want to run up the score, even though no score will be big enough for Bill Belichick.
One question at Brady’s news conference Wednesday:
Q: Isn’t there any human part of you that wants it a little extra this week?
Brady: I’m a human. There’s no doubt. I’m definitely human.
Forget that. Brady is so incredibly competitive and at times vindictive going after players who have bad-mouthed him and the Patriots that he surely wants to humiliate the Colts and break the NFL single-game record for points set in Washington’s 72-42 victory over the Giants in 1966. He just won’t say it.
So, I called Tom Sr.
They are so close that Tom Sr. told me in my recently released book “Brady vs. Manning” that he went to a psychologist in 1995 for eight weeks of counseling to help him deal with being separated from his son after Tom decided to attend Michigan rather than Cal-Berkeley, which is just 35 miles across the San Francisco Bay from the family home in San Mateo.
There is no doubt how Tom Sr. wants things to play out Sunday night.
“The main thing I want is to see them win. As long as they have one point more than the Colts, I’m fine,” Brady Sr. said. “That being said, I’d like to see them put 60 points on the board, and love to see Tom throw for 500 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s me dreaming. That kind of comes from me.”
The eight months of Deflategate were difficult on Brady’s family. It’s not easy to hear your son called a liar and cheater and have his legacy questioned when you believe he did nothing wrong.
Tom swore to this father than he didn’t order the footballs deflated and that he had no knowledge of how they got deflated. He told the same thing to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is like his second father. If Brady or the Patriots were involved and they admitted it right away to Goodell, then Kraft could have certainly tried to minimize the damage. But Brady didn’t give him that opening.
The league then turned a possible misdemeanor into a federal case with the issue ending up in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in August. It still has the potential of winding up in the Supreme Court.
The Patriots are undefeated, just like they were for an entire season in 2007 when they played a Spygate revenge game every week. They are not good enough to make it through 16-0, but their offense is hard to stop. “This week is no different than any other week,” Brady Sr. said. “I want to put 60 points on the board every game.”
Of course, that’s not realistic. But Brady Sr., who follows the game closely, knows the Colts are a “little more vulnerable” than they’ve been in past years, even though in the last three meetings, including two playoff games, Indy has been helpless on defense as the Patriots have outscored them 130-49 and rushed for 657 yards.
In the second half of the title game in January, after the deflated footballs were pumped up full of PSIs, Brady was 12-of-14 for 131 yards and two TDs and no INTs. The Patriots outscored the Colts, 28-0. In the first half, playing with deflated footballs, he was 11-for-21 for 95 yards with one TD and one INT and the Patriots led 17-7.
Brady is off to a red-hot start with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in New England’s 4-0 start. The Colts have the No. 28 overall defense and the No. 28 pass defense.
“I don’t have any inside information that, ‘Yeah, we’re going to pick them apart,’” Tom Sr. said. “Tommy never says that. He always says, ‘We’re going to win.’”
Belichick never shows any mercy. Brady has no compassion on the field. The Colts are in trouble.
RIGHT KIND OF FINES
The NFL must have a strict uniform code or you could imagine what some of these knuckleheads would come out wearing on the field. Even so, Goodell needs to tell his uniform police to lighten up. Last week, Cam Heyward, the Steelers’ defensive end, was fined $5,787 for a uniform violation for wearing his father’s name on his eye black. “Iron” was under his right eye and “Head,” was under his left. Ironhead Heyward, a former NFL running back, died from bone cancer at the age of 39 in 2006 when his son was 17. Heyward tweeted, “Got fined for honoring my Dad who bravely fought cancer on my eye black. #Nevergiveup #CancerSucks.”
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and while players are wearing shoes and towels with pink in them, Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams wanted to take it a step further and wear pink accessories all season. His mother died in 2004 from breast cancer. The league said no. “I just think there’s a lot of other things we can worry about,” Heyward said. “Guys want to do right by the league. They don’t want to upset anybody. I do it to honor somebody, DeAngelo does it to honor somebody. And it shouldn’t be taken to offend anybody. We’re not trying to gain publicity by it. We grew up in this game loving it, and to be a part of it, it’s a blessing. But I want to honor people I’ve grown close to for it.”
When Johnny Unitas died in 2002, Peyton Manning wanted to honor him by wearing black high top cleats, which were Unitas’ trademark. Because as a team the Colts wore white shoes, Manning was told he would be fined $25,000 for wearing black. Manning backed off, not because of the money, but because but he didn’t want to bring anything negative to Unitas’ name. In a 2013 game against the Giants, when Brandon Marshall was with the Bears, he was fined $10,000 for wearing green shoes to bring attention to Mental Health Awareness Week.
The NFL doesn’t want players becoming billboards, although the league and its network partners have a sponsor for everything. But in the cases of Heyward, Williams, Manning and Marshall, it’s not like they were endorsing a product. The league should concentrate on cracking down on what’s really important: Make sure the players have their jerseys tucked in.
D IS FOR DENVER
The Broncos are 5-0 because of their defense. Manning is struggling. Denver defeated the Ravens in the first week and the Raiders last week without an offensive touchdown. Manning has six TDs, seven INTs and 1,234 yards passing. His 77.3 QB rating is 30th in the league, ahead of only Ryan Tannehill, Colin Kaepernick and Matthew Stafford. Manning has thrown an interception in every game — it’s the first time he’s thrown an interception in five straight games since 2007. … Signing players from other teams to huge deals is risky and so far the Dolphins are not getting the return on their investment in Ndamukong Suh, who signed a six-year, $114 million deal, including $60 million guaranteed. Suh has 10 tackles, no sacks, the Dolphins are 1-3 and head coach Joe Philbin and defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle already have been fired. “Let’s be fair,” said Mike Tannenbaum, the Dolphins executive VP of football operations. “We signed him to a six-year contract, so we’re four games into a six-year contract. He hasn’t played as well as we hoped, we haven’t played as well as we hoped. I think we have to give it a grade of incomplete.” Tannenbaum is defending his investment. For that kind of money, Suh should be getting an A-plus.
The topsy-turvy NFL career of Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel took another turn on Friday when the ABC news affiliate in Cleveland reported he was involved in a domestic argument earlier this week, and alcohol was involved.
Manziel, the second-year Browns quarterback, was involved in an argument with his girlfriend from Texas Christian University, Coleen Crowley, newsnet5.com reported. The incident started at 6 p.m. on Monday, according to the report. According to the police report, Crowley accused him of pushing her head into a car window. According to the police report both Manziel, who spent about 10 weeks in rehab this offseason, and Crowley were drinking but not charged. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Manziel told police he had two drinks, and his girlfriend was impaired.
The newsnet5.com story, citing the police report, said a witness called police after Manziel’s white Nissan used the shoulder to pass her at a high speed. The couple was arguing and Crowley attempted to exit the vehicle while they were on the road. This is from newsnet5.com:
In the report, Crowley told police Manziel pushed her head into a window. She wanted her cell phone because she was concerned about her safety and said she just wanted to return to Texas.
The report stated police did see an abrasion on Crowley’s arm but later determined that the abrasion was from Manziel’s attempt to keep her from getting out of the vehicle while it was on the road.
On Friday evening, Manziel tweeted an explanation:
Colleen and I got into a dumb public argument on the way home Monday afternoon. It probably looked more interesting than it was and…
“J & I are good. I appreciate the people who stopped to check on us and call the police, I could see how it may have looked. Anytime anyone sees a guy and a girl arguing on the side of a road they should definitely stop, you never know what that could be. Fortunately it was just an argument, it was private, and we are all good!”
The report is troubling in a few ways. Manziel spent time in rehab this offseason for an unspecified reason, and he has asked that the circumstances surrounding that stay in rehab remain private. Manziel’s partying before this year has been often discussed on social media. He was released from rehab in April.
“We were aware of the situation,” Farmer said in the statement. “It is a matter that we take seriously and have expressed our concerns to Johnny directly. Those conversations will remain private and we will refrain from further comment at this time.”
“I owe private apologies to a lot of people that I disappointed but a very public one to the Browns organization and the fans that I let down. I take full responsibility for my actions and it’s my intention to work very hard to regain everyone’s trust and respect.
“I understand that will take time and will only happen through what I do and not what I say.”
Manziel got a chance to start in Week 2 because of an injury to starter Josh McCown, and led the Browns to a win. Many thought Manziel should have been given a chance to start for Cleveland going forward, but the Browns stuck with McCown. But Manziel’s NFL future looked much brighter than it had for months.
After this latest incident, it appears again that Manziel might have to start building up trust again in the Browns organization.