Nov 7, 2020;  Los Angeles CA, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards walks off the field after the game against the Southern California Trojans  at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Arizona State 28-27.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Evidence backs up allegations of recruiting violations at Arizona State

Evidence that could prove the Arizona State football program committed multiple recruiting violations includes a track record of plane tickets purchased for players’ travel to the Phoenix area, Yahoo Sports reported Thursday.

The report detailed the contents of a dossier of documents that an informant sent to officials at both the university and NCAA on May 31. One document lists numerous allegations of recruiting violations, along with the names of 10 Sun Devils staff members to investigate and 13 prospects who were on campus during the NCAA’s mandated COVID-19 dead period between last spring and June 1, 2021.

Head coach Herm Edwards is among those alleged to have broken the rules, and is purportedly shown in a photograph showing a recruit around the weight room in February, though the identities of the individuals in the photo couldn’t be verified immediately.

Yahoo Sports said “multiple former staff members” have agreed to cooperate with the NCAA in its investigation into the Sun Devils.

The dossier includes screen shots of emails allegedly sent by Regina Jackson, the mother of quarterback Jayden Daniels, to assistant coaches that detail the airline itineraries for three recruits from Florida and their chaperones for a trip to Arizona State. The airfare totaled more than $1,100, and the documentation shows that Jackson paid for the trips on her credit card, per Yahoo Sports.

Daniels is not accused of any wrongdoing.

His mother, in conversations with Yahoo Sports, denied paying for the recruits’ travel. She said she received a notice in March that her Google email account had been “compromised” and she canceled her credit card after learning flights had been charged to it.

“It’s unfortunate,” Jackson said. “My credit card company notified me of the charges and they sent me a new card. They charged everything back because they realized it wasn’t me.”

She added she does no recruiting on behalf of the university.

Other allegations in the dossier include a meeting in a “private office” between Edwards and two assistant coaches. That player signed with Arizona State.

Also highlighted in the Yahoo Sports report is the existence of a group text chat between almost a dozen staff members who “communicated regularly on group text about the allegedly illicit activities in the program,” adding “it was used as a real-time exclamation of the disbelief of what was happening in the program” and what they were able to do.

Arizona State finished 2-2 in the 2020 season amid cancellations due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Sun Devils program and virus issues with some of their Pac-12 opponents.

The school hired Edwards before the 2018 season, and the former NFL head coach has a 17-13 record with the Sun Devils.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2019; Latrobe, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin reacts during drills at training camp at Saint Vincent College. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

NFL nixes Steelers’ training camp plan; team to train in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Steelers will hold their training camp at Heinz Field and their training complex after the NFL nixed their plan for an offsite location.

The team traditionally holds camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., but the NFL rejected the team’s COVID-19 plan.

“We were prepared to safely host Training Camp on campus with fans, but unfortunately our plan was not approved due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols,” Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said Thursday.

“We will now have training camp, which is slated to begin in late July, split between Heinz Field and the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. Once our practice schedule is finalized, we will announce plans to host fans at Heinz Field for a select number of practices.”

The Steelers held training camp at the college from 1967 until 2020, when the pandemic kept teams at home for camp. Lauten said the team intends to return to Latrobe in 2022.

“We are disappointed in the NFL’s and NFLPA’s decision regarding training camp, as one of our favorite annual traditions is welcoming the Steelers and their fans to campus,” said Father Paul Taylor, O.S.B., the Saint Vincent College president, in a statement released Thursday. “The Steelers are an important part of the Saint Vincent community, and we look forward to welcoming the team and fans back next summer. As they begin the 2021 season, we pray for the health and safety of the entire organization and Steelers fans around the world, as well as an end to this pandemic.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Columbia, MO, USA; A general view of a Tennessee Volunteers helmet during the second half against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee boots freshman QB Kaidon Salter

Tennessee dismissed freshman quarterback Kaidon Salter from the team after his second off-field incident.

“Kaidon Salter has been dismissed from our football program,” Tennessee said in a statement issued Thursday. “We wish Kaidon and his family all the best in his future endeavors.”

Out of Cedar Hill, Texas, Salter was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2021 and ranked as the No. 18 QB in the nation by the 247Sports composite.

Salter was arrested by campus police in Knoxville for simple possession of marijuana on Saturday, just three weeks after returning to the Volunteers from a previous suspension.

Four Tennessee players — Martavius French, Isaac Washington, Aaron Willis and Salter — were suspended in March. On March 9, French, Washington, Willis and a 17-year-old (not identified due to his age) were arrested on charges of simple possession and drug paraphernalia.

Salter issued a public apology on social media following that incident.

“I just want to take this opportunity to apologize to my team, my coaches the Vol fans & my parents for my negative choices I know my choices disappointed many but my end goal is to eliminate my distractions get on the field & earn my respect back #gottoKEEPmypopsPROUD #levelup,” he wrote on Twitter on April 6.

Salter was competing to be the starter for Tennessee this season under new coach Josh Heupel. Returning quarterbacks Harrison Bailey and Brian Maurer, as well as transfer Hendon Hooker, are on the spring roster.

–Field Level Media

Jun 8, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) works out during mini camp at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady on Bucs’ repeat: ‘Reality is, everything is very different’

Tom Brady understands the energetic narrative around the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the aftermath of winning the Lombardi Trophy, the Buccaneers brought most of the roster back to make a run at a repeat championship.

“The assumption comes from the belief that it’ll just be exactly like it was last year. I think that’s what you’ve got to not fall into,” Brady said on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.” “The reality is everything is very different. It’s way too competitive. A lot of the games we won last year were very razor-thin margins. One or two plays makes the difference in every game.”

He continued: “We’re not finished products. … We’ve got to improve the things we did well and build on a lot of things we didn’t do well.”

Brady is recovering from offseason knee surgery and played with what offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich labeled a “significant” knee injury.

Brady will turn 44 during training camp and credits a competitive group of teammates for keeping his focus on his own improvement.

“It’s hard to walk away from something that you still feel like you can do and you want to do,” Brady said. “So it’s not about proving it to others what you can do, it’s more about proving it to yourself. And I still feel like even though I’ll be 44 this year, I still have a chance to still prove it to myself that I can still do it at 44, because I really worked to a point where I can still do it at this age.”

The Buccaneers retained Brady’s full complement of skill-position players and signed running back Giovani Bernard to join a group that already included Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones.

–Field Level Media

Dec 21, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) smiles as he leaves the field during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Players can opt out of 2021 season, face July 2 deadline

NFL players can voluntarily opt out of the 2021 season but will receive compensation only if they are deemed to be at higher risk for COVID-19.

The players have until July 2 to inform their teams of their decision.

Players ruled a high risk for COVID will receive a stipend of $350,000. Players who choose to opt out of the season but aren’t in the high-risk category are entitled to no compensation.

That’s a change from 2020, when players were paid $150,000 if they opted out without meeting requirements to be considered at high risk.

Last season, 67 total players opted out, including Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower and New York Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley.

In 2020, an NFL player was considered to be a high risk if he had a history of at least one of about 10 medical conditions that included cancer, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure or pulmonary fibrosis.

At the same time, vaccinated players are being cleared to essentially return to normal routines at team facilities.

Comparatively, a player who opts to play in 2021 but not receive the vaccine must wear a mask at the team facility and practice in a segregated group away from those who’ve been vaccinated. They’ll also be subject to a five-day isolation period if exposed to a positive COVID-19 case, whereas vaccinated players face no isolation.

However, those vaccinated players could be subject to testing as part of contact tracing.

There have been documented cases of vaccinated players and coaches in Major League Baseball testing positive for COVID-19.

In those cases, vaccinated NFL players would still receive per-game roster bonuses if a positive test caused that player to miss a regular-season game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; The Atlanta Falcons logo is shown with a camouflage ribbon on a goalpost as the Atlanta Falcons running backs pray together before their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Former GMs Phil Emery, Ruston Webster earn promotions with Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons announced several front office changes on Wednesday, and two of the biggest names in their announcement should be familiar to longtime NFL fans.

Former general managers Phil Emery and Ruston Webster have been promoted to senior personnel executives after previously serving in scouting roles.

Emery was a GM with the Chicago Bears from 2012-14 after getting his start with the Bears in 1998. He served as Falcons director of scouting from 2004-08 in a previous stint in Atlanta, but had been a national scout for the team since 2016.

Webster was at one point the GM of the Tennessee Titans, and after a four-year stint there he joined the Falcons as a national scout in 2016. He is a 33-year veteran of NFL personnel departments, spending 18 seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Other announcements made by the Falcons include former regional and area scouts Michael Ross and Tokunbo Abanikanda will serve as national scouts, Steve Sabo will be pro director, and Joel Collier, Dante Fargnoli, Shepley Heard, Rob Kisiel and Benjamin Martinez will all fill various scouting roles.

“We’ve had great conversations about opportunities and growth, and I’m looking forward to our team flourishing in new and deserved roles while adding to our already strong team,” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot told the team website.

–Field Level Media

David Goldman, of NFL properties, left, and Alan Reitano drape a banner with the new Tennessee Oilers logo over a table before it is unveiled in Nashville June 12, 1997. The banner was placed over the table after it fell down from the wall. The Oilers will use the new logo during their inaugural season in Tennessee this year.

Houston Oilers

Report: Ex-Oilers CB Patrick Allen dies at 59

Former Houston Oilers starting cornerback Patrick Allen died Tuesday at age 59, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Per the report, the longtime starter passed away in his hometown of Seattle. No cause of death is yet known, as his family members are reportedly awaiting final results from the coroner’s office.

Allen played seven seasons with the Oilers after being selected in the fourth round of the 1984 NFL Draft out of Utah State. He earned the starting job at right cornerback in his second season, and started for five seasons paired mostly with Cris Dishman at the back end of Houston’s noted “House of Pain” defense.

In his seven seasons, he recorded seven interceptions and five fumble recoveries in 106 games (72 starts). The Oilers reached the postseason in each of his final four seasons (1987-90).

Anthony Allen, Patrick’s brother, also played in the NFL as a wide receiver in the late 1980s for five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Washington and the San Diego Chargers.

–Field Level Media

Feb 26, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer speaks during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: NFL putting its scouting combine out for bid

The NFL’s scouting combine, traditionally an annual staple in Indianapolis, will be put up for bid by other cities, starting in 2023, according to multiple reports.

That’s not an insignificant change, as Indianapolis has hosted the event — which allows teams to scout top NFL draft prospects in one centralized location — every year since 1987. That said, the event is fresh off a change in ‘21 due to COVID-19, as this year teams were only able to do medical evaluations, not test performance.

The selections for 2023-28 will be open to bid from all 32 NFL teams, as the league has done with Super Bowls and recently the NFL draft. Indianapolis is expected to enter the bidding aggressively after failing to negotiate a long-term re-up.

“As the event has grown, so has the city physically,” vice president of Visit Indy Chris Gahl told the Indianapolis Business Journal. “This is an event that we have proudly hosted and helped grow along the way, and one we want to viciously protect keeping in Indy beyond 2022. In working with the Colts and local Combine team, Indy will put in another competitive bid to keep this annual event safe and sound in our city.”

Per the Indianapolis Business Journal, the local economic impact for the city in 2019 was $8.4 million, with an additional estimated $10 million in media exposure.

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; A general view of Allegiant Stadium before a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Las Vegas Raiders. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2022 NFL league year to open March 16

The 2022 NFL league year will begin March 16 at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

Clubs and agents received the early portion of the NFL 2022 calendar on Wednesday. NFL Network revealed the key dates it said were agreed to by the league and the NFL Players Association:
–Franchise/transition player designation period, Feb. 22-March 8 (4 p.m. ET)
–2021 league year ends, March 16 (3:59 p.m. ET)
–2022 league year begins, March 16 (4 p.m. ET)
–Start of offseason workout for teams with new head coaches, April 4; for all other teams, April 18
–Last day of restricted free-agent signing period, April 22
–Last day to match restricted free agent offer sheets, April 27
–NFL draft, April 28-30.

The 2022 NFL Draft will be held in Las Vegas.

It was scheduled to be in the city in 2020, but the in-person draft was scrapped in favor of a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Washington running back Derrius Guice before the 2019 Peach Bowl college football playoff semifinal game between the LSU Tigers and the Oklahoma Sooners at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Charges dismissed against RB Derrius Guice after settlement

Misdemeanor domestic violence charges were dropped Wednesday against free-agent running back Derrius Guice after he and the alleged victim reached a settlement.

A judge in Loudoun County (Va.) Circuit Court signed off on the agreement. Under Virginia law, a judge can dismiss some misdemeanor charges if the victim says adequate compensation — either in the form of money or an apology — has been received.

Guice was arrested Aug. 7, 2020, and charged with one felony count of strangulation, three counts of assault and battery, and one count of destruction of property. The Washington Football Team released him hours after his arrest.

Prosecutors dropped the felony charge earlier, and Guice, 24, walked away with no criminal charges in the case.

After the hearing, the woman involved with Guice and an attorney for the running back issued a joint statement but didn’t reveal settlement terms.

“They have both worked hard toward a resolution of their relationship and appreciate the input and consideration of the Commonwealth,” the statement read.

It is unclear whether Guice will attempt a return to the NFL.

Washington selected Guice in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. A projected first-round pick after three productive seasons at LSU, Guice saw his draft stock fall after team executives questioned his maturity and attitude and also worried about reports of off-field incidents in college.

With Washington, Guice played in just five games. He missed his rookie season after sustaining a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in a preseason game, and his 2019 campaign was interrupted because of a torn meniscus.

In his NFL career, he carried the ball 42 times for 245 yards and two touchdowns. He added 79 yards and a touchdown on seven receptions.

In April, following an investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct in the athletic department, LSU announced it was wiping out Guice’s records.

The school also banned Guice from future involvement with the Tigers in light of numerous allegations of sexual assault or misconduct during his time at LSU, 2015-17.

Guice played in 35 games for the Tigers, compiling 3,074 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns as well as three receiving TDs. He ran for 1,387 yards as a sophomore in 2016 and 1,251 yards the following season. On Nov. 24, 2016, he ran for a school-record 285 yards and four touchdowns on 37 carries in a win at Texas A&M.

In March, former LSU tennis player Abby Owens told a Louisiana Senate select committee that Guice raped her in 2016. At least one other woman made the same allegation to LSU officials, USA Today reported in November.

–Field Level Media