Aug 5, 2022; Canton, OH, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the Centennial Plaza. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Commish: ‘Evidence’ begs longer suspension for Deshaun Watson

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that the “evidence” showing Deshaun Watson’s “predatory behavior” was behind the league’s appeal of a six-game suspension and their push for punishment of at least one year.

Goodell made the comments in Bloomington, Minn., where a special league meeting was held to vote on the sale of the Denver Broncos.

Goodell was asked why the league last week appealed the six-game suspension handed down by former judge and appointed NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.

“We’ve seen the evidence, she was very clear about the evidence, she reinforced the evidence,” Goodell said. “There were multiple violations that were egregious and it was predatory behavior. Those are things that we always felt were important for us to address in a way that’s responsible.”

Robinson wrote that “the NFL carried its burden to prove … that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault.” However, she said the league “is attempting to impose a more dramatic shift in its culture without the benefit of fair notice to — and consistency of consequence for — those in the NFL subject to its policy.”

Goodell tabbed former New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey to hear the league’s appeal. Goodell said Tuesday he had no timetable for a ruling, which will represent a “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

Goodell was also asked about the punishment handed down to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, suspended and fined $1.5 million for “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity.” The Dolphins forfeit a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round selection in 2024.

Ross and the Dolphins were cleared of tanking, per ex-coach Brian Flores’ allegations. Instead, the league found that Ross and his executives were kidding.

“Integrity of the game’s critically important,” Goodell said Tuesday. “I think the finding was very clear on the tampering charges. While tanking clearly did not happen here, I think we all have to understand that our words and our actions have implications, can be interpreted and we have to be careful.”

NFL owners approved the $4.65 billion sale of the Broncos to Walmart heir Rob Walton and the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group.

–Field Level Media

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross enters field before game against Los Angeles Chargers in Miami Gardens, September 29, 2019.  [ALLEN EYESTONE/The Palm Beach Post]

Maimi Dolphins Vs Los Angeles Chargers

Dolphins’ owner suspended, fined $1.5M; team loses draft picks

The NFL on Tuesday suspended and fined Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and stripped the team of two draft picks following a league investigation into tampering and tanking allegations from 2019-22.

A six-month probe led by former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White found the club had “impermissible communications” with Tom Brady on two occasions in an effort to lure the star quarterback to Miami, as well as with the agent for former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

The Dolphins forfeit a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round selection in 2024. Ross was suspended from all activities through Oct. 17 and fined $1.5 million by the league. He was removed indefinitely from all league committees.

“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a news release. “I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”

The investigation concluded that the Dolphins reached out to Brady as far back as 2019 when he was under contract with the rival New England Patriots and that both Ross and Bruce Beal, the team’s vice chairman and limited partner, were involved.

Beal was fined $500,000 and banned from attending any league meeting for the rest of the 2022 season.

The investigation, however, did not find evidence to support the claim of former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores that he was offered money to intentionally lose games to enhance the team’s draft position in 2020.

The report said the team “competed hard to win every game” but acknowledged that Ross made a number of comments that draft position “should take priority over the team’s win-loss record.”

When Flores expressed “his concerns in writing to senior club executives, each of whom assured Coach Flores that everyone, including Mr. Ross, supported him in building a winning culture in Miami,” the comments stopped, the report said.

“Every club is expected to make a good faith effort to win every game,” Goodell said. “The integrity of the game, and public confidence in professional football, demand no less. An owner or senior executive must understand the weight that his or her words carry, and the risk that a comment will be taken seriously and acted upon, even if that is not the intent or expectation. Even if made in jest and not intended to be taken seriously, comments suggesting that draft position is more important than winning can be misunderstood and carry with them an unnecessary potential risk to the integrity of the game.

“The comments made by Mr. Ross did not affect Coach Flores’ commitment to win and the Dolphins competed to win every game. Coach Flores is to be commended for not allowing any comment about the relative importance of draft position to affect his commitment to win throughout the season.”

Ross released a statement saying that although he “strongly disagree(s)” with the findings of tampering, he will accept the punishment. He also said he was pleased to put the tanking allegations to rest.

“The independent investigation cleared our organization of any issues related to tanking and all of Brian Flores’ other allegations. As I have said all along, these allegations were false, malicious and defamatory, and this issue is now put to rest,” Ross said.

“With regard to tampering, I strongly disagree with the conclusions and the punishment. However, I will accept the outcome because the most important thing is that there be no distractions for our team as we begin an exciting and winning season. I will not allow anything to get in the way of that.”

Ross, 82, who made billions in New York real estate, completed the purchase of the Dolphins and their stadium for $1 billion in 2009. In 2021, Forbes valued the team at $3.42 billion.

Flores was fired in January 2022 with two years remaining on his contract, despite leading Miami to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002-03.

Flores and his attorney, Douglas H. Wigdor, both released statements following Tuesday’s league announcement.

“We are certainly disheartened that the investigator, and apparently the Commissioner, excused highly inappropriate comments that go to the heart of the game’s integrity regarding tanking as being in jest especially when there was a letter written by Coach Flores at the time demonstrating the gravity with which these comments were received by Coach Flores,” Wigdor said.

Added Flores, “There is nothing more important when it comes to the game of football itself than the integrity of the game. When the integrity of the game is called into question, fans suffer, and football suffers.”

–Field Level Media

Jun 7, 2022; Thousand Oaks California, USA; Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Bobby Brown III (95) participates in drills during minicamp at Cal Lutheran University. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams DT Bobby Brown III banned 6 games for PED violation

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Bobby Brown III was suspended by the NFL for the first six games of the 2022 season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Brown, 21, remains eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games. He will not be allowed to be on the 53-man roster for the start of the season.

Brown will be able to return to the active roster on Monday, Oct. 17, one day after the Rams’ Week 6 game against the visiting Carolina Panthers. The Rams, who have a bye in Week 7, are not back in action until hosting the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 30.

Brown recorded one tackle while playing in 10 games during his rookie season.

He was selected by the Rams in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M.

–Field Level Media

Browns QB Deshaun Watson is still facing multiple lawsuits in Texas.

Syndication Akron Beacon Journal

Report: NFL could stretch Deshaun Watson decision to 2023

The NFL is expected to decide whether to suspend Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson before the season begins, though there’s a small chance the issue could drag into 2023, The MMQB reported Monday.

According to the report, the NFL has talked with at least half of the 22 women who filed civil suits against Watson last spring, contending he committed sexual improprieties with them during the course of massages.

Watson was questioned last week by two NFL investigators.

Work on the civil cases is expected to be put on hold on July 1 until after the 2022 season. At that point, the NFL could make a decision on a potential suspension or wait until before the 2023 season, which MMQB said was unlikely.

Once the investigators have finished their work, they will give their results to former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson, who can determine the penalty for Watson, per the report.

Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson in any of the cases, and he maintains he did nothing wrong.

But in a pre-trial deposition recently, Watson admitted at least one massage therapist left their session in tears and he sent her an apology, according to attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the women.

Cleveland surrendered significant draft capital that included three first-round picks to acquire Watson in a trade with the Houston Texans on March 18. Cleveland then signed him to a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract.

Watson’s contract was structured in a way that he is scheduled to receive just $1.035 million in base pay in 2022, meaning he’s at risk to be hurt much more financially with a 2023 suspension when he is slated to earn $46 million in base pay.

Watson, 26, did not play in 2021 amid a request for a trade and his legal issues.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) reacts against the Green Bay Packers at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

DeAndre Hopkins ‘confused and shocked’ by positive drug test

Arizona Cardinals star receiver DeAndre Hopkins said he was “confused and shocked” after learning he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Hopkins, 29, released a statement on social media Monday night after receiving a six-game suspension from the NFL for violating the league’s policy on PEDs.

“In my 10-year NFL career, I have never tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs,” he posted on Twitter.

“To learn that my November test came back with trace elements of a banned substance, I was confused and shocked.

“I am very mindful of what I put in my body and have always taken a holistic approach, so I am working with my team to investigate how this could’ve happened. But even as careful as I have been, clearly I wasn’t careful enough. For that, I apologize to Cardinals fans, my teammates, and the entire Cardinals organization. I never want to let my team down.

“I fully intend to get to the bottom of this. As soon as I have more information I will share it.”

According to the league, Hopkins tested positive for a prohibited substance plus a diuretic or masking agent. He will be eligible to participate in training camp and preseason practices and games, and he can return to regular-season competition for the Cardinals’ seventh game of the season.

Hopkins set career lows with 42 catches for 574 yards in his second season with the Cardinals in 2021. He did catch eight touchdown passes.

A three-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, Hopkins missed Arizona’s last four regular season games and the playoff loss due to a knee injury.

He has 789 catches for 10,581 yards and 68 TDs in 136 games (all starts) with the Cardinals and Houston Texans (2013-19), who drafted him 27th overall in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) reacts to a penalty against the Los Angeles Rams at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic

Nfl Los Angeles Rams At Arizona Cardinals

Report: Cards’ DeAndre Hopkins facing 6-game PED suspension

The NFL is set to suspend Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins six games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, ESPN reported Monday.

Hopkins, 29, set career lows with 42 catches for 574 yards in his second season with the Cardinals in 2021. He did catch eight touchdown passes.

A three-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl selection, Hopkins missed Arizona’s last four regular season games and the playoff loss due to a knee injury.

The Cardinals, who lost receiver Christian Kirk to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency, made a draft-day trade last week to acquire Baltimore Ravens wideout Marquise Brown.

Hopkins signed a two-year, $54.5 million contract extension with the Cardinals on Sept. 8, 2020. He carries a cap hit of $17.95 million in 2022 with a dead cap value of $33.8 million, per Spotrac.

He was acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans on March 16, 2020.

Hopkins has 789 catches for 10,581 yards and 68 touchdowns in 136 career games (all starts) with the Cardinals and the Texans (2013-19), who drafted him 27th overall in 2019.

–Field Level Media

Bengals Amani Bledsoe works on defensive drills during training camp on the. practice fields at Paul Brown Stadium Friday, August 6, 2021.

Bengalscampaug6 7

DE Amani Bledsoe given six-game PED suspension to start 2022

Free agent defensive end Amani Bledsoe was suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season on Tuesday.

He was suspended for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy, NFL Network reported.

Bledsoe appeared in five games, starting two, for the Tennessee Titans in 2021. He recorded just one tackle and one pass breakup before the Titans waived him on Nov. 15 and moved him onto the practice squad. He also spent the 2020 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, starting four games in 14 appearances and recording 17 tackles.

It is Bledsoe’s first suspension as an NFL player, but he also lost a year of eligibility in college at Oklahoma for failing a drug test.

–Field Level Media

Aug 20, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Pooka Williams Jr. (36) carries the ball past Washington Football Team defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence (92) during the third quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals RB Pooka Williams suspended 2 games for PEDs

The NFL on Wednesday suspended Cincinnati Bengals running back Pooka Williams two games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The undrafted 22-year-old rookie will be eligible to return for the final week of the regular season.

Williams has spent most of the season on the practice squad, appearing in one game and returning three kickoffs for 52 yards in a Week 13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Williams was an All-Big 12 selection at Kansas, where he rushed for more than 1,000 yards in both 2018 and 2019.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Jimmy Lake signals for his players to go to the locker room following a 26-16 loss against the Oregon Ducks at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Washington fires coach Jimmy Lake

Washington fired head coach Jimmy Lake before the end of his second season at the football program’s helm, Yahoo Sports and The Athletic reported Sunday.

Lake was suspended for one game after a sideline altercation with one of his players, Ruperake Fuavai, on Nov. 6. That game, a 26-16 loss to then-No. 4 Oregon, turned out to be Lake’s last game in charge of the program.

Reports said Lake was terminated without cause and Washington therefore owes him a $9.9 million buyout.

Lake appeared to strike Fuavai in his facemask as a scrum between Washington and Oregon players was subsiding. Lake also was seen on the national television broadcast pushing Fuavai.

“I didn’t strike him. I separated him,” Lake said after the game, but he later posted an apology to social media.

Washington athletic director Jen Cohen said the university investigated the incident and determined that Lake’s actions weren’t “intentional or deliberate,” but still thought his conduct required a suspension.

Lake was a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for six seasons at Washington before being elevated to head coach before the 2020 season. The Huskies went 7-6 under Lake, including 4-5 this season (not counting Saturday’s loss to Arizona State, when Lake was suspended).

–Field Level Media

Dec 15, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Frank Herron (75) sprays himself with water during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NFL suspends Panthers DE Frank Herron 2 game for PEDs

The NFL suspended Carolina Panthers practice squad defensive end Frank Herron two games without pay Saturday for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

He will be eligible to return on Nov. 8, the day after Carolina’s Week 9 game against New England.

Herron, 27, has not appeared in a regular season game this year. He signed a one-year, $850,000 contract with the Panthers in May.

Undrafted out of LSU in 2018, Herron appeared in seven games with the Detroit Lions during the 2019-20 seasons and recorded 11 tackles.

–Field Level Media