De'joure mercer Defamation Dreasjon reed Indianapolis Intelwars Libel NFL social justice

Police officer cleared in death of black man fights back against NFL’s social justice campaign with lawsuit

An Indianapolis police officer filed a lawsuit against the NFL on Monday, claiming the professional sports league defamed him when highlighting cases of police brutality and systemic racism.

What is the background?

During the 2020 NFL season, players wore helmet decals “to honor victims of systemic racism, victims of police misconduct, and social justice heroes” as part of an NFL campaign called “Inspire Change: Say Their Stories.”

One of the 87 people included in the campaign was Dreasjon Reed, a 21-year-old black man who was shot and killed by Indianapolis police “following a high-speed vehicle pursuit and a foot chase” last May, CNN reported.

The Indianapolis Metro Police Department officer who killed Reed — De’Joure Mercer — was later cleared of all wrongdoing. Special prosecutor Rosemary Khoury announced last December, “This special grand jury returned a ‘No Bill.’ This term means there is insufficient evidence to indict or accuse Officer Dejoure Mercer of a crime.”

What are the details?

Mercer filed a complaint in federal court court accusing the NFL of libel, citing four media creations that allegedly accused Mercer of “police misconduct.”

The truth of the matter is that Mercer committed no misconduct… and was publicly cleared of all alleged wrongdoing. Despite a highly-publicized investigation and other information that clearly exculpated Mercer of all wrongdoing, all of which was publicly available and was in fact possessed by and known to one of the National Football League’s teams, the Indianapolis Colts, the NFLE published several online statements accusing Mercer of police misconduct. As detailed below, the NFLE published its false statements of fact negligently and with a reckless disregard of the truth; the NFLE‘s statements are defamatory per se and have caused Mercer to suffer severe emotional and reputational injury in his personal and professional capacities.

The NFL’s campaign “gives rise to the inference, implication, and imputation that Mercer committed occupational misconduct and even criminal acts during [his encounter] with Reed, similar to that which were inflicted upon George Floyd,” Mercer’s lawyers later write in the complaint. “This inference, implication, and imputation is false because Mercer committed no such acts.”

Meanwhile, an attorney for Mercer, Guy A. Relford, released a statement in which he expressed support for the NFL’s campaign — just not the inclusion of Reed.

“While we support NFL Enterprises’ efforts to address social justice issues, Officer Mercer is taking a stand for the many, many good cops on duty across America,” Relford said, WXIN-TV reported. “He is standing up for his friends and colleagues and sending a message that before you accuse a decorated police officer of misconduct in a national campaign, you had better get your facts straight.”

“De’Joure Mercer is a hero. He tracked down a very dangerous criminal wanted by the police, who was a threat to the citizens of Indianapolis. He put his life on the line and was nearly killed in that effort,” the statement added. “He was completely exonerated after an exhaustive investigation into the death of Mr. Reed. For NFL Enterprises then to suggest he was involved in police or racist misconduct is totally false, defamatory and unacceptable. What happened here has nothing to do with racism.”

Mercer is asking for a jury trial and “substantial compensatory damages.”

The NFL has not yet addressed the lawsuit.

Asian-American Eugene chung Intelwars NFL Racism

NFL coach Eugene Chung claims team said he is ‘not the right minority’ during head coach job interview

Football coach Eugene Chung was a first-round NFL draft pick in 1992 and has a decade of NFL coaching experience under his belt, including one Super Bowl win with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018.

But Chung said Thursday he was recently denied a spot as an NFL head coach because he is “not the right minority.” Chung is a Korean American.

What happened?

Speaking with the Boston Globe, Chung recalled the “absolutely mind-blowing” job interview.

“It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority,'” Chung explained.

Chung said the comment left him frozen — but he decided to push the interviewer on what exactly he meant.

“I was like, ‘Wait a minute. The last time I checked, when I looked in the mirror and brushed my teeth, I was a minority,'” Chung recalled. “So I was like, ‘What do you mean I’m not a minority?'”

The interviewer, however, doubled down and said, “You are not the right minority we’re looking for.”

“That’s when I realized what the narrative was,” Chung explained. “I was blown away, emotionally paralyzed for a split second. I asked myself, ‘Did I hear that correctly?'”

Chung told the Globe the interviewer began to backtrack when confronted further.

“I asked about it, and as soon as the backtracking started, I was like, ‘Oh no, no, no, no, no, you said it. Now that it’s out there, let’s talk about it,'” Chung said. “It was absolutely mind-blowing to me that in 2021, something like that is actually a narrative.”

Chung neither named the interviewer nor identified the team responsible for the racial insult.

Anything else?

“The NFL has attempted to address its lack of diversity, instituting — and updating — the Rooney Rule to mandate that organizations interview at least two minority candidates for head coaching and coordinator openings. The owners also passed a resolution in November that rewards teams for developing minority coaching talent with draft compensation,” the Globe reported.

While the effectiveness of the diversity plan has been questioned, Chung said he does not harbor ill will toward the league.

“I’m not sitting here bashing the league at all, because there are great mentors and there are great coaches that embrace the difference,” Chung told the Globe. “It’s just when the Asians don’t fit the narrative, that’s where my stomach churns a little bit.”

TheBlaze has reached out to the NFL for comment.

Colin Kaepernick Intelwars NFL Racism tim tebow

Outrage erupts over Tim Tebow’s likely NFL return; critics allege racism because Colin Kaepernick not signed

Tim Tebow’s likely return to the NFL has ignited a new controversy after angry fans voiced frustration that Tebow is receiving another shot in the big leagues while Colin Kaepernick remains sidelined.

What are the details?

Multiple reports indicated that Tebow is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the coming days. Tebow, a former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, will play the tight end position.

Tebow, 33, also will reunite with coach Urban Meyer. The pair won two college football national championships while at Florida in 2006 and 2008.

“The #Jaguars are planning to sign QB-turned-TE Tim Tebow to a 1-year deal, per me and @TomPelissero, a deal that could be official in the next week or so. Nothing done yet. But he’ll have a chance to make the team to reunite with his mentor and college head coach Urban Meyer,” NFL reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted.

“Tebow hasn’t played football since the 2015 NFL preseason and has spent the past six years working as a broadcaster on the SEC Network and working on his professional baseball career,” ESPN reported.

What was the reaction?

Fans already angry that Kaepernick has gone many seasons unsigned were predictably angry that Tebow will earn yet another NFL contract despite not having played in the league since 2012.

Among the reactions included claims that Tebow was able to secure a contract because he is white and Kaepernick cannot because he is black.

  • “Tebow – Hasn’t played in the NFL since 2012. Gets another shot.
    Kaepernick – Hasn’t played since 2016. Gets nothing.
    What’s the difference? Can’t seem to put my finger on it…” one person
    said, tweeting side-by-side pictures of Tebow and Kaepernick.
  • “Tim Tebow finding a team and Colin Kaepernick can’t.
    White privilege NFL style.
    Tebow can’t throw, never could, never played TE, and hasn’t played in ..what …8 years?
    Explain it to me like I’m 5,” another person
  • “There’s no way you can tell me that Tim Tebow deserves to be on a team as an unproven tight end who hasn’t played in 9 years more than Colin Kaepernick. There’s just no way that’s gonna make sense,” another person reacted.
  • “::laughs in Colin Kaepernick::,” Jemele Hill said.
  • “Tim Tebow hasn’t played football in 6 years and will be 34 heading into training camp and he just signed with the Jags. From here on out, I don’t ever want to hear another word about how Colin Kaepernick isn’t good enough for another shot in the NFL,” one person said.
  • “Interesting how the same people that are praising Tim Tebow for his values outside of football, see Colin Kaepernick’s values as a distraction,” another person reacted.
  • “But no one will sign Colin Kaepernick because hE hASn’T pLayEd in ForEvER and He woUlD bE a DiSTracTioN,” another person mocked.

Tebow, of course, is not guaranteed a starting spot, nor is he guaranteed a spot on the Jaguar’s 53-man regular season roster. Tebow will have to earn his spot on the team during training camp and preseason games.

Covid vaccine Intelwars NFL

NFL declares key team employees, including coaches, who do not get COVID vaccines will lose access to facilities and players

The NFL announced to teams this week that key employees — except players — will need to get COVID-19 vaccinations if they want to have access to some facilities and work with players. The only exception would be if they can document some sort of medical or religious reason for not getting a shot, Sports Illustrated said Tuesday.

What’s that now?

In a memo to all 32 clubs, first reported by the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, league bigwigs told team executives, presidents, GMs, and head coaches that key employees will need to get a vaccine unless they have what the NFL considers a “bona fide” medical or religious reason for not getting one.

Last month, ESPN reported, the league vowed that no NFL employee would be required to get vaccinated as a condition of employment. Strictly speaking, that is still the case; however, any so-called Tier 1 or Tier 2 employees — e.g. coaches, front-office executives, and medical personnel — who choose not to get vaccinated will find it much more difficult to do their jobs:

Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees (other than players) should be expected to be vaccinated unless they have a bona fide medical or religious ground for not doing so. Any staffer that refuses to be vaccinated without a religious or medical reason will not be eligible for Tier 1 or Tier 2 status and therefore will not be permitted access to the “football only” restricted area and may not work directly or in close proximity with players.

The league also said it would will be looking for ways to make life easier for employees who do get the vaccine.

“[W]e anticipate relaxing various aspects of the Protocols (such as close contact quarantine, restrictions regarding locker room, meetings and cafeteria use and the testing cadence) for vaccinated individuals,” the memo stated.

More from the league diktat:

Educate your employees and communicate to them the work-related benefits of vaccination. Those benefits include not being tested, not being required to wear a tracking device, not being considered high-risk close contact, not being required to quarantine if exposed to Covid-19, and greater flexibility outside the facility. […]

We are actively discussing with the NFLPA a set of protocol changes that would apply to clubs where vaccination levels reach a certain threshold and would give vaccinated individuals significant relief from requirements related to testing, PPE use, physical distancing, travel and other subjects.

The NFL is not currently requiring players to get vaccinated because that falls under collective bargaining, Yahoo! Sports reported, and is currently the subject of negotiation between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

deal Fox News Intelwars naacp NFL Relationship

NAACP asks NFL to ‘rethink its relationship’ with Fox, says Fox News spreads ‘hatred, bigotry, lies and racism’

NAACP President Derrick Johnson penned a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging the league to “rethink its relationship” with Fox Corporation, saying their media agreements “should not be complicit in helping to increase the profits of Fox News” — which Johnson says spreads “hatred, bigotry, lies and racism.”

What are the details?

“We are aware the NFL is currently negotiating carriage agreement renewals with broadcast partners,” Johnson wrote, saying that while the NACCP looks “forward to wide distribution of American’s favorite sports pastime, we have grave concerns about the ancillary implications of the League’s affiliation with Fox.”

He added in bold, highlighted text, “The NFL’s programming should not be sued as a bargaining tool for [Fox Corporation owner] Rupert Murdoch to help fund Fox News’ hatred, bigotry, lies and racism.”

The NAACP president argued, “The NFL, a league where nearly 70 percent of the players are Black, should not be complicit in helping to increase the profits of Fox News, a leading voice in condemning those same players for peaceful demonstrations against systemic racism.”

Johnson also asked for a meeting with NFL leadership to discuss the issue.

Johnson’s letter is dated March 9, and was disclosed by multiple news outlets on Thursday — within hours of the NFL announcing its new long-term distribution agreements with its media partners.

USA Today reported that “The NFL did not immediately return a request for comment,” adding:

The NFL did respond in another way, however. It announced a mega-deal on Thursday afternoon with television partners CBS, Fox, NBC, and ESPN/ABC, also, the league shifted its Thursday night package to Amazon Prime.

It’s another indication of the power of the NFL. It also demonstrated that while the NAACP made a strong statement to the NFL in its letter, in the end, the NFL showed, money is the main driving force in football.

According to The Associated Press, the NFL’s new deals will “nearly double its media revenue to more than $10 billion a season.”

The NFL said in its press release that Fox renewed its agreement to produce its NFC package of Sunday afternoon games, and that it expanded its digital rights.

However, Fox lost its Thursday night NFL coverage to Amazon.

The AP reported:

Amazon has partnered with the league to stream Thursday night games since 2017, but it will take over the entire package from Fox, which has had it since 2018 after CBS and NBC shared the package for two seasons.

Anti-Semitism Intelwars Jewish Julian edelman Kindness Meyers leonard NBA NFL Outreach

Jewish NFL star Julian Edelman reaches out to Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard who yelled anti-Semitic slur, invites him to Shabbat dinner

Jewish NFL star player Julian Edelman reached out on Wednesday to NBA player Meyers Leonard in the wake of revelations the Miami Heat center yelled an anti-Semitic slur during a video game livestream.

What’s the background?

During the Monday livestream, Leonard yelled, “F***in’ cowards, don’t f***in’ snipe with me you f***in’ k*** bitch!” Video of the incident quickly circulated on social media.

Leonard, who plays center for the Miami Heat, released a lengthy statement apologizing for using the slur, claiming he didn’t know what it meant: “I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday. While I don’t know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.”

Leonard, 29, had an endorsement deal with OriginPC, a company that sells gamer computer consoles, and the outfit immediately terminated its relationship with Leonard, saying the center’s slur “does not reflect the values or views of ORIGIN PC.” In addition, the Heat on Tuesday banned Leonard “indefinitely” from the team over his use of the slur.

What did Edelman have to say?

Edelman, a wide receiver with the New England Patriots, posted an open letter to Leonard on Twitter. Edelman’s tone was direct but not accusatory — it’s clear he wants to help Leonard gain understanding in a friendly way, even inviting him to a Shabbat dinner:

Edelman told Leonard he hopes they can meet soon.

“I get the sense that you didn’t use that word out of hate, more out of ignorance,” he wrote. “Most likely, you weren’t trying to hurt anyone or even profile Jews in your comment. That’s what makes it so destructive. When someone intends to be hateful, it’s usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence. Hate is like a virus. Even accidentally, it can rapidly spread.”

Edelman’s post has received over 100,000 likes as of Wednesday afternoon.

Anything else?

ESPN said the 34-year-old Patriots star has become more comfortable speaking out against anti-Semitism in recent years, noting that last year Edelman publicly invited then-Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson to the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., after Jackson’s anti-Semitic social media posts.

The sports network said Edelman and Jackson did have a chance to talk.

“We’ve stayed in touch. I think it was a healthy conversation,” Edelman said. “… I just wanted to not only show that I support my community but also show that I’m here to help people in my league, because we’re all one.”

American Football Baltimore Ravens Bills fans Bills mafia Buffalo bills Charity generosity Good News Intelwars NFL

Bills Mafia generosity amazes after Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson left game with injury

On Saturday, the Buffalo Bills met the Baltimore Ravens in western New York, facing off for their divisional playoff game. In the second half, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was forced to leave the game after sustaining an injury that triggered the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Presented with the fact that the star player of the only team standing in the way of the Buffalo Bills returning to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994 was now out of the game, Bills fans responded by rallying to raise money for Jackson’s favorite charity, “Blessings in a Backpack.” After the game ended, with Buffalo winning 17-3, charitable donations from the “Bills Mafia” came pouring into the organization, which provides food for needy elementary school children across America.

“It started around 11:30 last night, and our donation box just started flooding with donations from Bills fans for Lamar. It’s just been overwhelming — in the best possible way,” Blessings in a Backpack’s Nikki Grizzle told ESPN.

Bills fans posted to social media encouraging others to donate $8 or more to the charity in honor of Jackson, who wears number 8, wishing him a speedy recovery as well.

Grizzle said that as of 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, more than 9,000 people had already donated over $240,000 to the charity. As of Monday morning, donations reportedly grew close to $300,000.

The Baltimore Ravens acknowledged the Bills Mafia for their magnanimity in victory.

Bills fans are earning a reputation for their generous giving. Last November, Bills quarterback Josh Allen learned that his paternal grandmother Patricia Allen had died suddenly, the day before the Bills were set to play against the Seattle Seahawks. Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott gave Allen the opportunity to sit out the game to grieve, but Allen instead elected to keep playing and led the team to a 44-34 victory over Seattle, throwing for 415 yards and three touchdowns.

After Allen’s outstanding performance, the Bills Mafia launched a fundraising campaign for the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, donating in Patricia’s name. Many fans donated in increments of $17, honoring Allen’s jersey number, and since November over $1 million has been donated to the hospital.

Grizzle summarized the charity of the Bills Mafia with a single word.

“Amazing,” she said. “And it just keeps rolling in.”

On Sunday Jan. 24, the Buffalo Bills will play against 2020 Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC Championship and the right to travel to Tampa for Super Bowl LV.

Andrew Cuomo Buffalo bills covid Covid lockdowns Covid restrictions Gov. andrew cuomo Intelwars New York NFL

NY Gov. Cuomo has banned fans from football games all season. Now that the Bills have made the playoffs, he says he wants to go to a game in person.

The Buffalo Bills have had a heckuva season. Under the leadership of their star quarterback, Josh Allen, who has wowed analysts and prognosticators, the Bills cliched the AFC East Division Saturday with a win over the Denver Broncos. With two games to go, the 11-3 Bills have their fans — who haven’t seen their team take the division title since 1995 — in a tizzy, with expectations set pretty high.

But unfortunately for those diehards, they’ve not been able to watch a single game in person.

The reason for that is New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s edict that no one is allowed to attend a football game in person throughout the state of New York. Which means that all home Bills games have been played in an empty stadium — the Giants and Jets both play their games in MetLife Stadium, which is located in New Jersey.

However, now that the Bills are in the playoffs, Cuomo is itching to attend a game — and Albany watchers are wondering if maybe the governor’s wish to fulfill his own desires will prompt him to open the gates to the public.

Cuomo said Sunday that he would like to be at Bills Stadium when the Bills host a playoff game in January.

“I want to attend a Bills game,” he said on a conference call, the New York Post reported. “I’ve attended them in the past.”

Noting the Bills’ dominant performance over the Broncos, the Cuomo continued gushing, “It was a great game, by the way — that was just unbelievable. I mean really incredible. You almost sense the energy and the optimism and the confidence, the way they played, and Josh Allen was just unbelievable.”

The Post did not note whether the governor indicated that traveling across the state from Albany to Buffalo would count as “essential travel.”

Of course, the Cuomo administration still claims to be concerned about crowds and COVID spread — which is why he has continued his controversial and inconsistent dining bans that target New York City.

And it’s not just the stadium crowd Cuomo and his team are worried about, the Post noted. They’re also worried about partying members of the Bills Mafia in the parking lot should fans be allowed to watch games in person.

“The big issue here is tailgate parties,” New York state health commissioner Howard A. Zucker said, the paper reported. More from the Post:

Bills fans are known for wild tailgates before games, which have included people jumping through flaming tables. And fans have been itching to get together to revel in the Bills’ great season. Thousands of raucous fans even greeted the team at the airport early Sunday morning when they returned home from Denver after clinching a playoff berth.

HotAir’s Jazz Shaw asked, “Is Andrew Cuomo going to consider lifting that restriction before the vaccines have been widely distributed just so he can go watch a game? Even worse, would he really have the temerity to ask if he can be allowed to go sit in one of the skyboxes by himself to watch?”

American Flag Anti-conservative dogs Domonique foxworth ESPN Intelwars Josh allen listen NFL

ESPN host blasts American flag-waving, dog-loving fans of NFL quarterback Josh Allen — and gets blasted back as a ‘racist’

ESPN host Domonique Foxworth got a bit sociopolitical the other day, blasting fans of Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen as “people with American flags and dogs and skull and crossbones.”

Foxworth — a former NFL cornerback — uttered his blatant stereotype during a chat with ESPN’s Bomani Jones. According to Western Journal, Foxworth noted that “I am fully aware that I have biases; and my biases are not based on Josh Allen” — and then he proceeded to rip Allen’s fans.

Take a listen:

“It’s based on the people that are defending Josh Allen. I would be 100 percent lying if I said that when Josh does something dumb, a little part of me doesn’t get happy. … It’s because the people who are telling me that Josh is the Second Coming, and Josh is better than everybody are people with American flags and dogs and skull and crossbones. … If you go just take a dip into their tweet history, it’s some really concerning retweets and likes. … It’s not about Josh,” Foxworth said.

Foxworth added that “generally, I’m pro-player, and I’m looking for ways to understand a player’s position and defend a player. But in Josh’s case, it’s not about him. He is the ground on which we are fighting,” Western Journal also noted.

It may come as no surprise that the Bills are one of only six NFL teams with a majority of fans who are Republicans, the outlet added, citing FiveThirtyEight.

How are folks reacting?

It also may come as no surprise that more than a few folks didn’t like Foxworth’s take on Allen’s patriotic, canine-crazy fans:

  • “Damn this has to be the most f***ed up sports take I’ve ever heard,” one Twitter commenter reacted. “Is he insinuating that all Bills fans are racist, or am I reading into this wrong?”
  • “Get that racist douche bag Foxworth off the air,” another user declared. “No place for his comments … Imagine if a white dude said something equally disgusting about [black NFL quarterback] Lamar Jackson? Whitey would have been fired immediately! ESPN SUCKS!”
  • “When do people who are sick of hearing elites badmouth your beliefs stand up?” another commenter asked. “When is it enough? How do people get to say such crazy things and no longer suffer street justice or retaliation? Let’s [not] let them get away with it anymore. Enough is enough.”

Outkick’s Clay Travis wasn’t letting it go, either:

California lockdown covid Covid lockdowns Intelwars NFL san francisco

San Francisco 49ers forced to play home games in Arizona after local officials ban contact sports over COVID fears

The San Francisco 49ers announced that they will be playing their December home games in another state following local officials’ declaration that contact sports are a no-no in the wake of growing COVID concerns.

What happened?

California’s Santa Clara County announced strict new COVID measures Saturday, Yahoo! reported. Included in the county’s orders is a ban on contact sports for the next few weeks — which was bad news for the 49ers, who play their home games not in San Francisco but at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

The new edict sent the NFL team scrambling to find a location for upcoming December home games.

Sports Illustrated reported Monday that the the team had found a new temporary home — it’s a state away and in the home stadium of their NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals.

The Niners reached an agreement with the Cards to play their final 2020 home games at State Farm Stadium in Arizona. San Francisco will play host in Arizona to the Buffalo Bills for a Week 13 matchup Monday and the Washington Football Team (formerly the Redskins) in Week 14, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said.

According to Schefter, Santa Clara County is “basically shutting down football” in the entire area. He noted that the decision came even as NFL officials have repeatedly said “there has been no evidence of transmission on the field of the virus.”

In a statement quoted by ESPN, the 49ers said, “The Cardinals organization, State Farm Stadium and League officials have been supportive and accommodating as we work through the many logistical issues involved in relocating NFL games.”

The Niners will leave San Francisco Wednesday to hold practices and games for the month of December.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury told ESPN, “As far as San Fran goes, that’s obviously a challenging situation for them. I’m glad it worked out that we could host them in a way and allow them to use these facilities, and continue to keep their season going. It’s kind of 2020 in a nutshell, and I’m just glad it all worked out for them.”

The Santa Clara County ban on contact sports is scheduled to expire Dec. 21, but may well be extended beyond that date.

Coronavirus covid COVID-19 Intelwars new orleans saints NFL

NFL hits New Orleans Saints with massive fine, draft penalty for celebrating without face masks

The New Orleans Saints were hit with a massive fine and costly penalty over the weekend for celebrating their recent win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an NFL South division rival, without face coverings.

What are the details?

Following their dominating 38-3 win over the Buccaneers on Nov. 8, Saints players and the team’s coaching staff allegedly celebrated without wearing face masks. In response, league officials have fined the team a whopping $500,000 and revoked a seventh-round draft pick, according to ESPN.

Videos posted to social media showed numerous players and head coach Sean Payton celebrating postgame in their locker room without masks. Those videos circulated online and apparently caught the attention of league officials.

League sources told ESPN reporter Mike Triplett that the Saints’ discipline was directly in response to the team’s non-masked activity in the locker room after the game.

“It was actions in the video with unmasked players in the locker room after the game,” the source said. “The team also had previous violations and was provided ample warning that further actions would result in escalated discipline.”

Why such a harsh penalty?

The Saints are not the first team to be penalized for violating the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol. The New England Patriots, for example, were tagged with a $350,000 fine for not following league rules after quarterback Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19 last month, ESPN reported.

However, the Saints are a repeat offender, leading to the more severe penalty.

In fact, the team has already been hit with one COVID-related penalty. Head coach Sean Payton was hit with a $100,000 fine and the team with a $250,000 fine after Payton was caught without a face covering during a game in September.

Nor are the Saints the first NFL team to receive such a stiff fine levied against them for COVID reasons — that distinction belongs to the Las Vegas Raiders.

From USA Today in early November:

After Raiders right tackle Trent Brown tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, the NFL found video evidence that included several players not wearing masks or face shields and not adhering to social distancing on the sidelines, a person with knowledge of the league’s investigation told USA TODAY Sports under the condition of anonymity. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal details of the probe. The investigation also found that Brown removed the electronic contact tracing device that players and staff members are required to wear as a tool for mitigating spread.

In response, the NFL fined the Raiders $500,000, stripped the franchise of a sixth-round draft pick, and fined head coach Jon Gruden $150,000.

COVID-19 Intelwars Las vegas raiders NFL Pittsburgh steelers

NFL drops COVID hammer on 2 teams: Massive fines, lost draft pick for not following virus rules

The NFL wasn’t playing when it said it was going to implement and enforce more stringent COVID protocols. After sending a first round of fines following Week 2 of the season, the league levied even bigger fines and punishments on two teams this week, according to ESPN.

Not only did the fines total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also one team was stripped a 2021 draft pick.

Who screwed up?

The Las Vegas Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves in hot water this week. The NFL cracked down to the two clubs for violating the league’s increasingly stringent COVID protocols.

In September, Raiders coach Jon Gruden and his team were fined $100,000 and $250,000 respectively for Gruden’s failure to wear a mask on the sidelines during a game against the New Orleans Saints.

Now the team has suffered a new round of fines, and the have been stripped of their sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft, ESPN reported.

Gruden was fined another $150,000, and the club was dinged $500,000. A few players also faces smaller individual fines for violations.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the recent round of fines were based on three main violations:

? Coach Gruden has failed to wear a mask consistently.

Gruden has repeatedly apologized for his lax masking, noting “I’ve had the virus. I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it.

? A number of players attended a large indoor gathering.

The event in question was an event for Raider tight end Darren Waller’s charity, the Waller Foundation on Oct. 5. Multiple players were at the charity event but were massless and mingling with the crowd.

? The team permitted an non-credentialed person into their locker room after a game.

Gruden said during a video news conference, “”I’m just going to say [I’m] very proud of our organization, how we’ve handled this entire protocol and this entire process and I’m not going to comment any further than that. We, as I said last week, I believe we’re on the cutting edge of being the best in servicing players and I’ll leave it at that,” ESPN reported.

The Steelers were fined a total of $350,000, according to a Friday morning EPSN report.

The team was slapped with a $250,000 fine for not wearing masks. And head coach Mike Tomlin was hit with a $100,000 penalty fo falling to wear a mask.

Coronavirus Coronavirus lockdown Intelwars NFL Virust testing

Horowitz: NFL rejects COVID testing regimen that picks up low viral loads. When can we do the same?

Science for me, but not for thee.

We’ve seen this happen throughout the country. One college kid comes down with the sniffles or milder respiratory infection symptoms than what typically goes around the dormitory during a change in weather. The school immediately tests everyone in the school and discovers an “outbreak” of asymptomatic infections. Then they either shut down the institution or turn all the students into jail inmates. However, there is a group of VIPs who get to live by authentic science: the players of the National Football League. Too bad we don’t have top-notch doctors advocating for our children in the same way.

Last month, a bombshell New York Times report showed that as many as 90% of the positive results in some states are infections in name only because they don’t contain enough viral load to make someone sick or infect anyone. The threshold of amplification in these testing labs is evidently set so high – what is called 40 “cycle thresholds” – that they are detecting what are, for all practical purposes, false positives. This would explain why we are seeing a constant panic of record “cases” in certain institutions and parts of the country, but the hospitals are completely empty. Well, the NFL is now able to abide by the real science.

Why is it that we are not seeing the same level of disruption in professional football as we are seeing in the schools and colleges?

Yesterday, my former colleague Jordan Schachtel discovered an interview with the NFL’s chief medical examiner from a month ago that provides us with the answer. In a conference call with the media on August 24, several days before the New York Times had us even discussing a “cycle threshold,” Dr. Allen Sills, the chief medical examiner for the NFL, was onto the fraud of hyper-amplification and was taking action to rectify the problems this process causes for his institution.

“The other thing that we look at is, we want to look at what we call low positives, which means they have a high … we’re looking at something called a cycle threshold and that is how many times the amplification process has to go through before it becomes positive,” said the NFL’s chief medical examiner on the conference call last month.

What are the policy implications?

“If we see a lot of patients that are testing positive with high-cycle threshold, then that’s also a red flag to stop and actually go back and look at our run. And then the other thing that we do is we take swabs of our hood on a fairly frequent basis and actually just swab all of the, around our hood, several times in different places and actually test those. Of course, that should be negative.”

In other words, football players get to follow science before their livelihoods are shut down and they are forced into lockdown for two weeks. They get to throw red flags just like they do out on the playing field. What about our college kids?

We already knew, as early as several weeks ago, that the NFL adjusted its testing policy to minimize false positives. CNN reported, “An initial positive test will continue to be followed by two more tests … But they now can be cleared on the same day if both test results immediately come back negative.”

Isn’t it nice to have the money and clout of the NFL? But what about the rest of us? We can’t obtain follow-up tests to appeal our lockdowns. We can’t investigate the cycle thresholds or whether the lab hoods were already contaminated.

The truth be told, this is one time the NFL actually got it right. What’s interesting is how our government and society recognize the faulty nature of positive tests without symptoms when it actually matters to their bottom line. The FDA sets strict standards for vaccine trials. So, what is the definition of a COVID-19 case for the purpose of Moderna’s vaccine trial? If you look at the protocol (p. 131), it clearly states that a positive test without symptoms does not meet the definition of a case to be used in a vaccine trial.

So, these bogus cases are real enough to serve as the sickness and the excuse to lock us down, but not to test the cure? Garbage in, garbage out.

The effect on children is devastating. My son’s private school in Maryland is shut down because of the existence of supposed cases that would never be known without this “test-demic” and where students and teachers, even the ones with symptoms, are less sick than they are from a flu or strep throat. Colleges have become virtual prisons. Meanwhile, out of nearly 50,000 known cases on a list of dozens of state university systems, there are just two known hospitalizations and zero deaths:

Despite all of the cases, there are now fewer people in ERs with COVID-like illness than at any time all year, according to the CDC.

And remember, those numbers include people who come in with trauma from a car accident or a pregnant woman coming in to deliver a baby but who test positive – with these same faulty tests.

So, the next time a school wants to lock down your child, just tell them he is training for the NFL. After all, they might not respect our national anthem, but at least they respect science … or have the clout to abide by it.

Crime Football Intelwars Joe montana KIDNAPPING NFL

Joe Montana and wife thwart kidnapping of 9-month-old grandchild from their home

A home invader attempted to kidnap the grandchild of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana on Saturday, according to authorities. Montana and his wife were able to stop the home intruder from abducting their 9-month-old grandkid.

The suspect, who police identified as Sodsai Dalzell, allegedly illegally entered Montana’s Malibu house through an unlocked door around 5 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The woman reportedly removed the sleeping infant from a playpen that was located in the living room.

Montana and his wife Jennifer confronted the woman, who was holding the child in her arms, when she attempted to go upstairs with the infant. The couple attempted to “de-escalate the situation” and demanded Dalzell give back the child. After a brief struggle, Jennifer Montana was able to wrestle the child from Dalzell.

“Mr. Montana, and his wife Jennifer, confronted the female, attempted to de-escalate the situation, and asked for the suspect to give back their grandchild,” a statement from the LASD said. “A tussle ensued and Mrs. Montana was able to safely pry the child out of the suspects arms.”

Dalzell fled the home but was quickly arrested nearby because Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were reportedly on the same block for an unrelated matter. Montana flagged down the deputies, and they arrested Dalzell.

“The suspect fled to a nearby house, where she was located and arrested by Malibu/Lost Hills Deputies,” police said.

The woman was reportedly charged with kidnapping and burglary charges.

The Montanas, the home intruder, and the 9-month-old child were unharmed, according to the LASD.

Montana, the former NFL star QB for the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs retired after the 1994 season after winning four Super Bowls, thanked everyone for their support.

“Thank you to everyone who has reached out,” Montana tweeted. “Scary situation, but thankful that everybody is doing well. We appreciate respect for our privacy at this time.”

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NFL levies more than $1 million in fines for violating mask rules: Report

Last week, the NFL
threatened coaches who ignore the league’s mask rules on the sidelines during games.

This week, EPSN
reported, the NFL’s higher-ups followed through on that threat and handed out more than $1 million in fines Monday.

What happened?

After week 1 of the season, NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent sent a
stern memo to every team with a reminder that they are required to follow league edicts on mask-wearing.

“[W]e must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments,” he said.

“The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times,” Vincent continued.

Players — including players who see little to no action — are exempt from the mask requirements.

“Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs,” he warned.

Turns out he was serious about this.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday night that the league fined three head coaches $100,000 each for failing to wear masks during week 2 games Sunday. The three coaches are Seattle’s Pete Carroll, San Franciso’s Kyle Shanahan, and Denver’s Vic Fangio.

And to make sure the message was sent, the NFL also fined each coach’s team an additional $250,000, Schefter said during halftime of the Monday Night Football matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Las Vegas Raiders.

Following that game, at least two more coaches and their teams could be added to NFL’s list of targets. Raiders coach Jon Gruden wore his face mask around his chin during the game, while Saints coach Sean Payton wore his gaiter around his neck.

Gruden apologized after the game, ESPN said, and revealed he had had COVID already:

Following the Raiders’ 34-24 win over the Saints on Monday night, Gruden, who last week said he felt the league’s memo was directed at him, revealed he’d had COVID-19 and apologized for violating the rules.

“I’m doing my best,” Gruden said. “I’ve had the virus. I’m doing my best. I’m very sensitive about it … I’m calling plays. I just wanna communicate in these situations, and if I get fined, I’ll have to pay the fine, but I’m very sensitive about that and I apologize.”

Sean Payton, like Gruden, was seen in week 1 not wearing a mask. And like Gruden, USA Today
reported, Payton has had COVID. In fact, the paper said, he was the “first known NFL figure to test positive.”

Asked about the week 1 mask-wearing hubbub, Payton noted to ESPN’s Suzy Kolber that “as a play caller, you’re allowed to pull it down while you’re calling a play.” To which Kolber quickly added, “but then you need to push it back up.”

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Pittsburgh Steelers player says decision to honor Antwon Rose on helmet came from management, but team says otherwise

The decision by the Pittsburgh Steelers to honor a teen fatally shot by a police officer and allegedly involved in a drive-by shooting appears to have created disruption and controversy.

Two Steelers players have already declared that they will not pay tribute to the Antwon Rose Jr., and now another Pittsburgh player revealed that management decided who the players would honor on their helmet. Previously, the team said that players and coaches were united on the name that would be written on the back of helmets, but it seems that might not have been the case.

During a Zoom call with media on Thursday, Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was asked about the team’s decision to use helmets to deliver social justice signaling. Fitzpatrick said that the decision to honor Rose came from the Steelers’ front office and not players.

“It was made from people upstairs and everything else like that,” Fitzpatrick said in the interview. “Don’t know exactly who. Don’t know exactly how. But we did. We knew that we were going to have somebody on the back of our helmets, and it wasn’t exactly clear on what it was going to be. It was mostly made by everyone upstairs.”

This contradicts what the Steelers said earlier this week about the helmet gesture.

“This year the NFL is allowing players to wear helmet decals to honor victims of systemic racism,” the Steelers website stated on Monday. “Players could select the name of an individual to wear on their helmet and the Steelers players and coaches united as one to wear a single name on the back of their helmets and hats for the entire 2020 season — Antwon Rose Jr.”

When the Steelers played the New York Giants on Monday night, the players had the name “Antwon Rose Jr.” on the back of their helmets. All the Steelers had Rose’s name on their helmets except for Pittsburgh offensive lineman and West Point graduate Alejandro Villanueva. He decided to honor the late Alwyn Cashe, a soldier who saved fellow servicemen and was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal, the third-highest award for valor in combat.

On Thursday, Steelers center and co-captain Maurkice Pouncey announced that he would not be wearing Rose’s name on his helmet this season.

“I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy,” Pouncey said. “I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety.

“Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet,” Pouncey added. “Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is to continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities. Systemic racism issues have occurred in our country for too long, and that needs to stop.”

Rose was reportedly involved in a drive-by shooting in 2018. Then-17-year-old Rose and his friend Zaijuan Hester were pulled over because they were in a vehicle that matched the description of a car that was used in a drive-by shooting that injured two people minutes earlier.

The two teens fled after they were pulled over by East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld. The officer shot Rose three times. Rose died from the gunshot injuries.

Hester pleaded guilty to charges related to the drive-by shooting, and was sentenced to 6 to 22 years in prison. Rosfeld was acquitted by a jury and found not guilty of homicide charges in the death of Rose.

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Pittsburgh Steelers co-captain goes against NFL, will decide who he honors on his helmet

Pittsburgh Steelers center and co-captain Maurkice Pouncey announced that he would decide whose name is on the back of his helmet, not who the Steelers or the NFL tell him to honor. Pouncey is going against the league, which is honoring a victim of a police shooting, who was also reportedly involved in a drive-by shooting.

On Monday, the Steelers announced that every player would wear a helmet decal honoring Antwon Rose Jr.

“This year the NFL is allowing players to wear helmet decals to honor victims of systemic racism,” the Steelers website stated. “Players could select the name of an individual to wear on their helmet and the Steelers players and coaches united as one to wear a single name on the back of their helmets and hats for the entire 2020 season – Antwon Rose Jr.”

“On the night of June 19, 2018, the car Antwon Rose Jr., who is black, was a passenger in was pulled over by the East Pittsburgh Police,” the website reads. “While the driver was being handcuffed on suspicion of being involved in an incident that happened earlier that evening, a frightened Rose fled from the car. The cell phone video a bystander captured showed Rose running, and then you could hear gunshots and see as he was fatally shot in the back three times by a white East Pittsburgh Police Officer.”

The Steelers played the New York Giants on Monday night. The Pittsburgh players, including Pouncey, had the name “Antwon Rose Jr.” on the back of their helmets. On Thursday, Pouncey announced that he regretted wearing the tribute and would not wear Antwon Rose’s name on the back of his helmet for the rest of the season.

“I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy,” said Pouncey, who was named the Steelers’ 2019 nominee as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for “exceptional character and work off the football field.” “I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety.”

“My work with the police, both in Pittsburgh and back home in Florida, is well documented,” the Pittsburgh lineman said. “I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with the police departments, but I also want to make sure they understand I inadvertently supported a cause of which I did not fully comprehend the entire background of the case. I take responsibility for not doing more investigating into something that is sensitive to the community and his family, but it is a lesson learned as it relates to political issues that occur every day in our society.

“Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet,” Pouncey continued. “Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is to continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities. Systemic racism issues have occurred in our country for too long, and that needs to stop.”

“My focus will continue to be on helping the police in our communities, and I will support making any necessary changes to help those efforts,” the statement concluded.

The “whole story” that Pouncey is alluding to is that the Steelers did not mention that Rose was reportedly in a vehicle matching the description of a car that had been involved in a drive-by shooting that happened about 10 minutes before Rose was shot. Rose’s friend, Zaijuan Hester, allegedly fired a gun from the rear passenger side of a gold Chevy Cruz, shooting Thomas Cole Jr. in the abdomen, and hitting William Ross in the leg with shrapnel, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Officer Michael Rosfeld pulled over the vehicle on suspicion of carrying out the drive-by shooting. A witness video of the incident shows Hester and Rose run away from the officer. Rosfeld fired three shots, all of them hit Rose; striking him in the face, elbow, and the back, according to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.

Rose was unarmed at the time of the shooting, according to police. Daniel Wolfe, a scientist with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, said gunshot residue was found on Rose’s hand. But it could have come from Rosfeld’s weapon.

There were two guns on the floor of the car. There was a 9 mm Glock 26 handgun with 16 rounds in the magazine that holds 17 rounds. The other gun was a .40-caliber Glock 22 with a live round in the chamber and an extended magazine with 18 rounds.

Rose had an empty 9 mm ammunition magazine in his pocket, which matched the 9 mm pistol in the car. Shell casings found at the scene of the drive-by shooting matched the .40-caliber Glock 22 pistol, according to police.

Hester, who was 17 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty on March 15, 2019, to charges related to the drive-by shooting, including three counts of aggravated assault and four firearms charges. In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of attempted homicide. Hester was sentenced to 6 to 22 years in prison.

Rosfeld testified that he thought one of the teens had turned and pointed a gun at him. On March 22, Rosfeld was acquitted by a jury and found not guilty of homicide charges in the death of Antwon Rose.

For the past three seasons, Pouncey donated Steelers tickets to the Pittsburgh police so they could take young people from city neighborhoods to football games and enjoy a pregame tailgate party. Pouncey hopes the experience can build trust between young people and police officers.

“I think sometimes the message gets blurred some with some of the incidents,” Pouncey said. “The things we do in the community, and how Pittsburgh is, how involved they are in bringing up the youth and making sure everyone knows they do a lot of great things. To bring up the kids that way is awesome.”

“This gives the kids a chance to see the police beyond the uniform,” Pouncey added. “They are human. They are great people. They have kids and family members too. Just because they wear a badge you shouldn’t look at them a certain way. They are a lot of great people that help with a lot of great causes.”

Pouncey wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to object to honoring Antwon Rose Jr. on their helmet. Fellow Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva paid tribute to Alwyn Cashe, a U.S. Army sergeant who died while serving in Iraq in 2005.

Cashe was in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that hit an improvised explosive device during a patrol in Samarra, Iraq. He exited the vehicle with minor injuries, but when he saw there were injured soldiers in the burning vehicle, he went back to save them.

Cashe helped to rescue all six soldiers from the fiery vehicle and extracted the body of an interpreter killed by the IED. He was able to save the soldiers while under small arms fire. Cashe suffered severe burns on 72% of his body. He succumbed to his injuries and died on Nov. 8, 2005, at the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Texas. Cashe was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

The NFL has said that only pre-approved names could appear on helmets and would be reserved for victims of racial injustice. Cashe was not on the NFL’s pre-approved list.

The mother of Antwon Rose, Michelle Kenney, criticized Villanueva for not wearing her son’s name on his helmet.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers took a team vote. Obviously one person didn’t like the results so they chose to do something different,” Kenney wrote on Facebook. “I have nothing against vets and absolutely appreciate everything that they have done and continue to do for us. But this one person showed us exactly who he is and obviously he didn’t approve of how the vote turned out.”

In July, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt said that he would not be kneeling during the national anthem. “I’m not kneeling for the flag and screw anybody who have [sic] a problem with that,” he said.

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NFL player covers name of police shooting victim on helmet in favor of Army vet killed in Iraq — and shooting victim’s mother is irate

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva is no stranger to controversy.

You might recall almost exactly three years ago when Villanueva — a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan — stood alone on the field for the national anthem while the rest of the team stayed in the locker room.

It was the fall of 2017, and President Donald Trump — barely a year into his first term — was angry at players taking a knee in protest of police brutality against minorities, a movement that began the previous season with then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Prior to Villanueva standing on the field for the national anthem, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said his entire team would stay in the locker room to help them avoid politics. The next day Villanueva said he regretted his gesture because it made the rest of his team look bad.

Now what?

It’s now the fall of 2020, and football players taking a knee for the national anthem seems decidedly mild compared to the strident social justice stances professional athletes, teams, and leagues are taking in the wake of recent minority deaths at the hands of police and the wave of protests that have gripped the country.

In that vein, the NFL has allowed players to wear helmet decals honoring victims of “systemic racism,” CBS Sports reported, adding that the Steelers decided as a team to honor for an entire season police shooting victim Antwon Rose Jr. — a black teenager shot in the back by a white police officer in Pittsburgh in 2018 after he ran from a pulled-over vehicle. The network said the now-former officer was charged with murder, but a jury found him not guilty in March 2019.

But Villanueva had something different in mind.

For the Steelers’ game against the New York Giants on Monday, he covered Rose’s name on the back of his helmet in favor of the name Alwyn Cashe, an Army sergeant who died after trying to rescue soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq in 2005, CBS Sports said.

Tomlin said Tuesday he gave Villanueva permission to break ranks with his teammates and that it was “in line with everything we’ve said about participating in social justice this offseason,” TribLive reported.

“As an organization, and myself as the head coach of the organization, we’re going to support our players however they chose to participate and express themselves, or to not participate or not express themselves, as long as they do so thoughtfully and with class,” Tomlin also said, according to CBS Sports, adding that Villanueva’s choice didn’t warrant an explanation.

Shooting victim’s mom is angry

It appears, however, that Rose’s mother wants an explanation — because she isn’t happy with what Villanueva did.

“The Pittsburgh Steelers took a team vote,” Michelle Kenney wrote on Facebook, according to TribLive. “Obviously, one person didn’t like the results, so they chose to do something different.”

Kenney had praised the team for choosing to place her son’s name on their helmets, saying it “means more to me than anything,” but that feeling appears to be gone.

“I have nothing against vets and absolutely appreciate everything that they have done and continue to do for us,” Kenney also wrote, TribLive said. “But this one person showed us exactly who he is, and obviously he didn’t approve of how the vote turned out.”

Rose’s mother also wrote that she will use what she deemed as “negative press” as motivation to “hold the Pittsburgh Steelers even more accountable,” the outlet reported.

“Yes, I believe in second chances, but as we all know I believe in putting in the work and that’s how I base my collaborations,” Kenney wrote, according to TribLive. “They came to me as a team/organization and I don’t care how good of an individual you are, if you are not a TEAM player, then maybe you are playing for the wrong team.”

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NFL threatens coaches who ignore mask rules on the sidelines

With week 1 of the NFL season nearly in the books (two Monday night games are yet to be played), the league is threatening coaches who fail to comply with newly installed COVID protocols.

What happened?

Before the 2020-21 NFL season began, the league issued COVID protocols requiring everyone with access to each team’s bench area — except players — to wear face coverings at all times. Coaches and staff are allowed to don masks, face shields, or neck gaiters.

After some personnel were seen on television not wearing masks or wearing them improperly, including L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, the league published a warning for all coaches and staff: Comply with the mask requirements or face discipline.

NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent sent a stern memo to every team Monday morning with a reminder that they are required to follow league edicts and state and local government regulations, NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero

Vincent began by praising teams for doing what they could to make the season possible, then quickly shifted to reprimand mode: “[W]e must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments.”

“The NFL-NFLPA Game Day Protocol, which reflects the advice of infectious disease experts, club medical staffs and local and state governmental regulations requires all individuals with bench area access (including coaches and members of the club medical staff) to wear face coverings at all times,” Vincent continued.

Then came the threat — though he never made clear what the consequences would be.

“Failure to adhere to this requirement will result in accountability measures being imposed against offending individuals and/or clubs,” he warned.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter
reported that if disregard for the mask protocol continues, “fines will ensue.”

Speaking of face shields…

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid chose to wear a face shield for his team’s season opener against the Houston Texans on Thursday. Though he did follow protocol during the game, his face covering was a popular point of discussion as the game wore on and his face shield continued to fog up.

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Baltimore Ravens players stand for black national anthem — then take a knee when ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ is played

Many Baltimore Ravens players stood during the playing of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” known as the black national anthem, before Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns — then took a knee when the U.S. national anthem was played, according to Outkick.

The NFL is playing the black national anthem before all of its opening week games as a part of its anti-racism initiatives, which include social justice messaging in the end zones and around the stadiums, as well as pregame presentations.

Playing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” has caused some division among players on different teams, however, as they try to decide whether to stand for both anthems, kneel for both, or remain off the field until the anthems are completed.

The Miami Dolphins announced Thursday that they would be staying in the locker room for both anthems, because they didn’t want to participate in the NFL’s “fluff and empty gestures.”

The Houston Texans did the same before their Thursday night game, with Texans safety Michael Thomas saying they made the decision because they didn’t want to be divisive by protesting one anthem and not the other.

“And today, going out for either anthem — to us, it would’ve been a distraction,” Thomas said according to ESPN. “And we just wanted to, again, make a decision as a team, and we decided it would probably be best if we all stayed in. And that’s the decision we made, and we were just going to go out there and play.”

Regardless of what the NFL’s intentions may have been for including “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” in its pregame ceremonies, it has created a dilemma for some players and supporters who have insisted that kneeling during the national anthem is not a specifically anti-American gesture; that stance becomes harder to defend when players stand for a black national anthem and kneel for the U.S. anthem.

The originator of anthem kneeling, former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, doesn’t approve of any of the league’s social justice efforts. The quarterback-turned-activist referred to it as “propaganda.”

The ratings for the NFL’s season opener were significantly lower than the previous year, and anecdotally, many fans have expressed online that they don’t want to watch the games because of the league’s heavy emphasis on social justice demonstrations.

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Colin Kaepernick is not a fan of the NFL’s social justice pandering, calls it ‘propaganda’

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is now a full-time activist, does not approve of the NFL’s social justice presentations, even though they are a progression of the national anthem kneeling protest he started in 2016.

Kaepernick questioned the league’s sincerity and motives in purporting to care for black lives and racial justice, while Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate, is not on a team roster.

“While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid for fighting for the Black community,” Kaepernick wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league.”

Reid was one of the first players to kneel with Kaepernick during the national anthem when they were teammates on the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. Reid played for the Carolina Panthers in 2019, recording 130 total tackles, 97 solo tackles, and four sacks, playing and starting in all 16 games.

Reid signed a three-year contract extension with the Panthers in February 2019, but was cut in March 2020. Reporting on Reid’s departure indicated that Reid was cut due to the size of his contract. The team also traded quarterback Cam Newton and parted ways with star tight end Greg Olsen.

At the time of his release, Reid did not indicate a belief that there was anything nefarious about the transaction.

“It’s been a pleasure Carolina!” Reid posted the day he was cut. “I enjoyed my time and the support I received from the fans, media, teammates, and staff there will be remembered. Looking forward to furthering my career in another city!”

In his tweet, Kaepernick cites a Deadspin article that claims, without evidence, that Reid is being actively blackballed by owners and the league, who are colluding to keep him unsigned.

Reid was a part of a collusion grievance against the NFL that was launched in 2017 by Kaepernick. The two players settled that grievance for a total of less than $10 million. Due to confidentiality agreements associated with that settlement, we may never know more detail about the situation, and Reid himself may be legally prevented from speaking on it.

Kaepernick has claimed an interest in returning to the NFL, and Nike, which sponsors Kaepernick, has run a #BringBackKap campaign online. However, Kaepernick has not played since 2016, and there is no indication that teams have interest in him, especially after the debacle surrounding his league-arranged tryout last year.

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Gallup: Americans’ opinion of the sports industry has plummeted in the past year

Americans’ opinion of the sports industry has plunged in the past year, according to a recent Gallup poll. Of the 25 U.S. industry sectors examined, only the federal government (-20) and the pharmaceutical industry (-15) had a worse net negative rating than the sports industry (-10). In fact, more people had a very positive or somewhat positive view on pharmaceuticals (34) than the sports industry (30).

A two-week polling sample from August 2019 was compared to a two-week sample in August 2020, and Americans’ opinion of the sports industry declined drastically. There was a drop of 15 points in people who had a very or somewhat positive view of the sports industry, which edged out the travel industry that fell 11 points for the bottom spot.

Based on the recent survey of 1,031 American adults, only 30% of people view the sports industry in a positive light, compared to 40% of Americans who have a negative point of view. In 2019, 45% of Americans held positive feelings for the sports industry and only 25% viewed it negatively.

The nosedive in favorability comes as sports leagues have embraced social justice movements, including Black Lives Matter. The backlash is evident in political bases with positive views from Republicans crashing from +11 in 2019 to -35 in 2020, a devastating 46-point drop. Independents are also shunning sports; going from +26 in 2019 to -10 in 2020, a significant 36-point decrease. Democrats saw a slight decrease from +16 positive rating to a +11 rating.

Non-whites Americans’ positive opinions of the sports industry plummeted from +51 last year to only +16 this year, a 35-point decline. White Americans went from +4 in 2019 to -22 in 2020, a 26-point drop in positive outlook.

“Sports has been acutely affected by the twin events steering news and culture in 2020: the pandemic and the renewed movement for racial justice,” Gallup wrote. “The sports industry’s relationship with fans has been disrupted by the need to shrink its seasons and schedules and play to empty venues as a means of keeping fans and players safe.”

“At the same time, the greater social and political activism of players and, in some cases now, coaching staffs and entire leagues appears to have turned off Americans who disagree with their messages or the way they express them,” the article read. “The net effect at this point has been negative for the industry’s image.”

TV ratings also show fans’ frustrations in sports this year. The NFL suffered a double-digit ratings drop for its season opener that featured an overwhelming amount of social justice activism.

NBA ratings are down 20% during the playoffs. One poll found that 38% of fans are not watching the NBA because it’s “too political.”

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NFL sees double-digit ratings drop for season opener loaded with social justice activism

The NFL’s season-opening game between the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans drew disappointing TV ratings fueling continued questions about whether increased political activism in sports is driving fans away.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings show that 16.4 million people tuned in to the Thursday night primetime game, which is a 16% decrease from the number of people who watched last season’s opener between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

Ratings in professional sports have been down since returning from their coronavirus-related hiatus, despite people being more likely to be stuck at home and having been deprived of sports on TV for months. Some fans have expressed a dislike of overt social justice demonstrations that have taken over in football and basketball.

The NFL featured social justice messages in the end zones, a playing of the black national anthem before the game, and players locking arms before the game as social justice messages were broadcast on the scoreboard. And even those efforts were further politicized by the Texans, who stayed in the locker room while the national anthems were played as a protest against “empty gestures.”

There weren’t many fans at the game due to social distancing for COVID-19, but some of the fans in attendance booed players during a moment of silence before the game, apparently displeased with the social justice presentation.

The NBA playoff ratings during the first round were alarmingly low, down 27% from 2019 and 40% from 2018. The NBA’s social justice displays have been even more ubiquitous than the NFL’s. “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the court in large letters for every game, and players display social justice messages on the back of their jerseys while coaches sport “Racial Justice” badges on their shirts.

A recent Harris Poll found that politics has been a top reason people are turning away from the NBA:

A new Harris Poll backs Trump’s critique of the NBA, with 39% of sports fans saying they are watching fewer games. And the chief reason why? Politics. The longtime polling agency surveyed nearly 2,000 people over the weekend and gave people ten options to choose from on why they are watching less basketball.

“The league has become too political” was the clear choice for the decline, with 38% of respondents. “Boring without fans” captured 28% of the vote while the NBA’s association with China caused 19% of sports fans to turn the dial, another nod to a league Trump labeled a “political organization” last week after players boycotted games in response to a police officer shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The poll found that Republicans were more likely to be turned off by the league’s politics that Democrats.

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Miami Dolphins to stay in locker room during national anthem and black national anthem pregame ceremonies

The Miami Dolphins will stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem and the black national anthem before their 2020 season opener Sunday against the New England Patriots, ESPN reported.

The NFL, attempting to participate in the social and racial justice demonstrations that have escalated over the past four months, will play “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” which is known as the black national anthem, as well as “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Week 1 games.

The Dolphins are opting to not participate in either ceremony, saying they’re not interested in any more “empty gestures” that don’t contribute toward real and lasting change.

“This attempt to unify only creates more divide,” Dolphins players said in a video released Thursday. “So we’ll skip this song and dance, and as a team we’ll stay inside. We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure. Enough, no more fluff and empty gestures. We need owners with influence and pockets bigger than ours to call up officials and flex political power.”

In their video, Dolphins players said they want team owners to use their wealth and political influence to push for legislative change, such as prison and police reform.

Much of the conversation surrounding social justice in the NFL has been hung up on the pregame national anthem. Since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness about police brutality against minorities, players on numerous teams have continued that protest — a demonstration that is divisive among fans, and has turned some away from the league completely.

The Dolphins players feel the emphasis on symbolic gestures during the national anthem has become an obstacle to substantive social justice reform, so they are responding by performing a different, perhaps more dramatic symbolic gesture during the national anthem, and producing a video to announce it ahead of time.

The game is scheduled at 1 p.m. ET in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

During the NFL season opener Thursday night between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, the Chiefs players stood for the anthem, while the Texans stayed in the locker room. When the two teams locked arms on the field as social justice messages were displayed on the scoreboard before kickoff, some fans booed during a moment of silence.

“I didn’t fully understand that,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said of the booing. “There was no flag involved. There was nothing other than two teams coming together to show unity.”