Michael Bennett kneels during national anthem; Justin Britt gives support

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett knelt during the national anthem for the second time this preseason Friday night in Seattle. This time Bennett had some support. Seahawks C Justin Britt stood during the anthem, but put his hand on Bennett’s shoulder.

The scene was similar to what we saw in Philadelphia on Thursday night with the Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long. Jenkins stood with his fist held high, and Long put a hand on his back as a show of support.

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James Harrison on kneeling during national anthem: ‘That’s up to the individual’

It’s official! Steelers LB James Harrison never wrote the following tweet:

Harrison told THE MMQB that the tweet was fake. Here is how Harrison really feels about players kneeling during the national anthem:

“That’s up to the individual. If they feel like that’s something they want to do, that’s their right,” Harrison told THE MMQB.

Harrison talks social media:

“I mean, I guess it speaks to the gullibility of people,” Harrison says. “Just because you read something on social media doesn’t make it true. If you were to do that and believe everything that you hear or see, written or there, the world would be in a real bad place. And we’re already in a tough place now,” Harrison said.

There you have it!

 

Jermichael Finley on players kneeling during anthem: ‘It’s not really in their heart’

Former Packers TE Jermichael Finley has interesting take on players kneeling during the national anthem in the NFL. This past weekend, we saw Seahawks DE Michael Bennett and Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch kneel during the national anthem. Last season, we saw free agent QB Colin Kaepernick  and others kneel during the anthem.

Finley is not convinced that it’s real. He feels Kaepernick, Bennett, and Lynch are kneeling for other reasons.

Here is what he told TMZ Sports:

“I think it’s more marketing. It’s not really in their heart that they really want to do that. Once again, I think it’s selfish reasons, I really do,” Finley said.

Finley explains why the players are being selfish: 

“It’s the NFL and guys do have a platform for positive reasons. As you can see, Kaepernick can’t find a job for that reason,” Finley said. “I think go out and play football and do what you’re supposed to do. And not worry about the worldly things that’s going on.” 

Like Michael Vick, Finley wants Kaepernick to do something with his hair:

“He’s wearing an afro puff. Come on man, cut that off your head, or braid it up or something. I just think being in the game and all the things I did. It was a marketing tool. I was on this platform where I could use my name, my face, to get out there,” Finley said. “Then, when hot topics come across, I want to jump on it. It’s a marketing tool; it’s going to keep you relevant, it’s going to keep you hot.”

Furthermore, Finley thinks that athletes should get with politicians to make change.

Very interesting take. You agree with Finley?

Ezekiel Elliott’s father: ‘My son’s legal team is ready to fight’

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott seems ready for a fight, according to his father. Elliott’s dad copied a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about Elliott’s appeal, and said this in a tweet on Monday morning:

Elliott, who was suspended by the NFL for six games for an alleged domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend in Columbus, OH, is expected to appeal the suspension.

The 22-year-old Elliott was not arrested or charged with a crime in this incident. However, according to the NFL’s investigation, Elliott violated the league’s personal conduct policy.

The NFL investigated Elliott for over a year, and came down with their ruling on Friday.

At this point, Elliott is expected to return Week 8 against the Redskins.

 

Marshawn Lynch sits during the National Anthem

Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch might be following in the footsteps of free agent QB Colin Kaepernick. Lynch sat during the national anthem before the Raiders played the Cardinals in preseason action on Saturday night.

Lynch suited up, but did not play against Arizona.

You wonder what the backlash will be against Lynch.  Many feel Kaepernick has not been signed because he knelt during the national anthem all last season.

Kurt Warner on Elliott’s suspension: ‘It’s a big blow for the Cowboys’

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott was suspended six games by the NFL on Friday, for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Elliott is expected to appeal the suspension. Elliott, 22, was investigated by the league for an alleged domestic violence incident in 2016 with his ex-girlfriend Tiffany Thompson.  Elliott has not been arrested or charged with domestic violence in that incident.

Obviously, this could have a huge impact on the Cowboys in 2017. While they do have a top-flight offensive line, Dallas will have a hard time replacing a guy with Elliott’s ability, and production.

Hall of Famer Kurt Warner believes Elliott’s suspension will impact the Cowboys’ season:

“I don’t know how it can’t. You got the leading rusher in the league last year,” Warner told TMZ Sports. “A guy who is a rookie, and only going to get better, so you have to believe it’s going to affect them big picture wise. Six games and I know they have some tough games to start the season, so it’s a big blow for the Cowboys.”

In the first six games, Dallas plays two playoff teams from 2016 (Giants, Packers), two teams that could make the playoffs in 2017(@ Broncos @ Cardinals), and two teams that were awful last season (Rams, @ 49ers). The schedule is tough, but manageable. They could be 4-2, 3-3 at worse without Zeke. 

Elliott’s suspension hurts, but the Cowboys should be good enough to survive. 

EZEKIEL ELLIOTT SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY FOR SIX GAMES

Here is the official statement from the NFL:

Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys was notified today by the NFL that he will be suspended without pay for the team’s first six 2017 regular-season games for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.

Over the course of the last year, the league conducted an extensive investigation. League investigators interviewed more than a dozen witnesses, including Ms. Tiffany Thompson, who had alleged multiple instances of physical violence in July 2016, and Mr. Elliott. The league also consulted with medical experts. League investigators examined all available evidence, including photographic and digital evidence, thousands of text messages and other records of electronic communications.

Pursuant to the Personal Conduct Policy, Commissioner Goodell sought the views of four external advisors (see below) to assist him in evaluating potential violations. These experts range in experience from law enforcement, judicial and public service, and other specialized subject areas.

The advisors participated in a meeting on June 26, 2017 in New York City with Elliott, who was represented by his legal team and the NFL Players Association. The group also reviewed the league’s investigative reports and materials, the expert medical reports, and multiple NFL Players Association submissions on Elliott’s behalf.

In a letter to Elliott advising him of the decision, Todd Jones, the NFL’s Special Counsel for Conduct, said these advisors “were of the view that there is substantial and persuasive evidence supporting a finding that [Elliott] engaged in physical violence against Ms. Thompson on multiple occasions during the week of July 16, 2016.”

After reviewing the record, and having considered the views of the independent advisors, the commissioner determined that the credible evidence established that Elliott engaged in conduct that violated NFL policy.

Elliott may appeal this decision within three days. If he does not appeal, Elliott’s suspension will begin September 2, the day of final roster reductions for NFL teams. He is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. Elliott will be eligible to return to the team’s active roster on Monday, October 23following the Cowboys’ Sunday, October 22 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

 

NFL to hire 24 full-time referees

The NFL will hire up to 24 full-time game officials from among the current 124-person roster of officials, the NFL and NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) jointly announced today.

The NFL and NFLRA agreed to experiment with full-time officials as part of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.  The decision to hire up to 24 such officials for 2017 is a collaborative initiative intended to promote the common goal of enhancing all aspects of NFL officiating –  scouting, training and mentoring, better understanding of current game trends, game preparation, and increased input on rules relating to player safety and game administration.

“We believe this is a great development for NFL officiating overall and ultimately the quality of our game,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT.  “We share a common goal, which is to make our game as great as it can possibly be, and look forward to working together on this new effort.”

“NFL officials are always looking to improve, and we believe that additional time, particularly in the offseason, will be positive,” said NFLRA Executive Director SCOTT GREEN.  “We’re looking forward to working together with the league on this effort.”

The program will permit current officials who wish to transition to a full-time role the opportunity to apply. The full-time officials that are hired – between 21 and 24 – will play an important role in enhancing communication and the flow of information to and from on-field officials, NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating ALBERTO RIVERON and the league’s officiating supervisors.

The implementation throughout the 2017 season will provide the NFL Officiating Department, in consultation with the NFLRA, the opportunity to identify the most effective ways to utilize the off-field time for full-time game officials throughout the calendar year.

Full-time officials will be hired at each of the seven officiating positions and may serve on each of the 17 officiating crews. They will work collaboratively with their assigned crews, the league officiating staff and the NFL’s football-related committees during the offseason.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis takes medical leave of absence

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis will take a leave of absence to focus on a “minor” health issue, the Bengals announced today.  According to the NFL Network’s Stacey Dales, Lewis is dealing with a blood clot in his ankle.

Lewis could be back later in the week, according to the team.

Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons will lead the team until Lewis is able to return. 

The 58-year-old Lewis has coached the Bengals for the past 14 years. Lewis has led Cincinnati to the playoffs for five straight years, and seven times in total. However, Lewis has not been able to win a playoff game for the Bengals. 

Lewis is the all-time winningest coach in Bengals history.