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#pounditMonday, March 8, 2021

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Aaron Rodgers calls out California Governor Gavin Newsom

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers has been openly critical of some coronavirus restrictions since the pandemic was declared last year, and the Green Bay Packers quarterback took another swipe at California Governor Gavin Newsom recently.

Rodgers was interviewed for an Instagram video for Zenith Watches last week when he mentioned how he has been trying to help small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The former NFL MVP recently donated $1 million to businesses in and around his hometown of Chico, Calif. He mentioned the California lockdowns when speaking about that during the Zenith Watches interview.

“You know, we’re just trying to do our part and as we ease back into the training stuff in my professional life, I just want to make sure where I’m from and the area I’ve called home in the past are doing OK. … And California has really been hit hard by COVID and by the rules that the governor has put in place as well,” Rodgers said, as transcribed by Carlos Garcia of Blaze Media.

This isn’t the first time Rodgers has taken aim at Newsom and other government officials. He previously made a sizable donation to “The Barstool Fund,” which was started by Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy to help struggling small businesses. Rodgers praised Portnoy during one of his routine appearances on “The Pat McAfee Show” and ripped government officials for their hypocrisy.

“I mean, they put these rules in place … they’re not even following their own rules. How many people have gotten caught?” Rodgers asked. “(They say) don’t travel, don’t leave the state. Oh, here’s so-and-so on a vacation. Oh, here’s so-and-so at a salon. Don’t eat out at a restaurant unless you’re wearing a mask and separate. Oh, here’s a picture of the governor of California violating those rules. Oh, public schools are closed but I can send my kids to a private school in person. It’s like, I mean, for us to count on the government to help us out is becoming a joke at this point.”

Rodgers said early in the pandemic that he is not in favor of stay-at-home orders. Newsom was the first governor last year to order a full lockdown for his state, and many others followed suit.

Rodgers was also critical of the NFL last year for some of the league’s coronavirus protocols.

H/T Outkick

Chargers reportedly looking to trade five-time Pro Bowl player

Los Angeles Chargers logo

The Los Angeles Chargers are looking to clear some salary cap space this offseason, and moving on from offensive lineman Trai Turner would be one way to do that.

The Chargers are actively shopping Turner in trade talks, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. If they can’t trade the 27-year-old, the expectation is that they will release him.

Turner was drafted third overall by the Carolina Panthers in 2014. He made the Pro Bowl each season from 2015-2019, but he has not played a full 16-game season since 2016. Turner was traded to L.A. from Carolina for Russell Okung last offseason.

Turner carries an $11.5 million salary cap hit for 2021. The Chargers can save that entire amount if they release him, so they will likely go that route if they’re unable to trade him.

Blake Griffin expected to sign with Nets?

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin is drawing interest from several contending teams now that he has reached a buyout agreement with the Detroit Pistons, but the six-time All-Star may have already made his decision.

The Brooklyn Nets are considered the favorite to sign Griffin, Shams Charania and James Edwards III of The Athletic report. While several teams are pursuing Griffin, the belief is that he will wind up in Brooklyn.

There are at least four other teams that have entertained the idea of signing Griffin.

The Nets have hit their stride now that they are at full strength with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. They entered Friday a half-game back of the Philadelphia 76ers for first place in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn has won 10 of its last 11 games.

Griffin is nowhere near as explosive as he used to be, but you can understand why contenders want to sign him. He averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists on a Pistons team that is one of the worst in the NBA. He’d be a great addition to the Nets and further cement their position as the favorite in the East.

Report: These five teams have interest in Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin is set to become an unrestricted free agent after reaching a buyout agreement with the Detroit Pistons on Friday. As you might expect, the six-time All-Star is drawing plenty of interest from contending teams.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Griffin has generated interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders. According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, those teams include the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors.

All of those teams are either a lock to make the playoffs or squarely in the hunt. While Griffin has lost a lot of his explosiveness due to injuries, he still averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists on a Pistons team that is one of the worst in the NBA.

The Pistons announced last month that they would be sidelining Griffin while they pursued trade possibilities for him. They then struggled to find a trade partner for the 31-year-old, so a buyout was the most likely outcome all along.

Mark Sanchez explains why Jets need to trade Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold

The New York Jets have admitted they are willing to listen to trade offers for Sam Darnold, but Mark Sanchez believes they should be actively shopping the quarterback. The way he sees it, there is no way Darnold can play for the Jets again in 2021.

During an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up!” Friday morning, Sanchez predicted that the situation in New York could get ugly for Darnold. The former Jets quarterback believes fans will turn on Darnold next season at the first sign of trouble.

“They gotta do something fast to get him out of there,” Sanchez said, via ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “As soon as he goes 3-and-out two times this year, his a– is getting booed out of the stadium. It’s not fair to the kid.”

Sanchez, of course, knows plenty about being booed by Jets fans. The team drafted him fifth overall in 2009, and he never lived up to the hype. New York had a couple of good seasons with Sanchez at the helm, but that was mostly due to Rex Ryan’s elite defense.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas admitted this week that the phone lines are open for Darnold. He also praised the 23-year-old and said the team would be confident moving forward with him.

Darnold will never be as much of a punchline in New York as Sanchez. The latter, of course, is responsible for the most embarrassing play in Jets franchise history. That said, you can understand why Sanchez is rooting for Darnold to get a fresh start elsewhere.

NFL on verge of forcing Daniel Snyder to sell Washington Football Team?

Daniel Snyder

The NFL has been investigating allegations of workplace misconduct involving the Washington Football Team, and talk surfaced on Friday that majority owner Daniel Snyder could be forced to sell the franchise. The league says that talk is premature.

Eric Bickel, a longtime host of the popular “The Sports Junkies” radio show on 106.7 The Fan in Washington, D.C., reported on Friday that he obtained information from the NFL’s roughly 130-page report on the investigation into the Football Team. The Fan’s JP Finlay shared some tweets on Friday about the situation. The top recommendation in the report is that the league “force the owner to divest his ownership of the team.” If the NFL doesn’t want to force Snyder to sell, the next recommendation would be to “suspend the owner for a significant period to allow time to repair its infrastructure and culture.”

The NFL says it has not yet received the report from the investigation into the Washington Football Team. A league spokesperson told Mike Jones of USA Today Sports that the information from “The Sports Junkies” is inaccurate.

“Absolutely false,” the spokesperson said. “We have received no such report.”

A story that was published in The Washington Post back in July detailed sexual harassment allegations against five former employees of the then-Redskins. Snyder was not directly accused of anything, but there has been speculation that the scandal could result in him being forced to sell the team.

A separate report that came out months later revealed that Snyder paid $1.6 million to settle a sexual misconduct claim in 2009. The settlement did not include any admission of wrongdoing from Snyder of the team.

There has been talk in the past about Washington’s minority owners pressuring Snyder to sell, and Snyder recently filed a lawsuit related to that.

Lions player hopes Matthew Stafford wins Super Bowl with Rams

Matthew Stafford

It would be very difficult to find a former teammate who would say a negative word about Matthew Stafford, and Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockensen put that into perspective when asked about the quarterback this week.

Hockensen had nothing but positive things to say about Stafford during an appearance on the “Bussin’ With the Boys” podcast. He described Stafford as a player who would do anything for his teammates and said he was beloved in the locker room.

“He’s one of those guys, again, for the boys, for all of us, he was like, ‘y’all do all this during the week. Y’all do everything I ask of you, and I’m going to go out there and do everything I can for you guys,’” Hockensen said, as transcribed by Benjamin Raven of NJ.com. “Everybody on our team respected that guy. Like everybody loved him. He will forever put a stamp on my career and in the city of Detroit. He’s, I mean, he was, like I said, one of the best — the best player I’ve ever (played with).”

Stafford, of course, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Jared Goff and draft picks. Even with the Rams and Lions both playing in the NFC, Hockensen said he and everyone else in Detroit want to see Stafford win a Super Bowl.

“There’s not a guy in our locker room that’s not rooting for that guy to get a ring,” Hockensen said. “I mean, all of us loved him.”

If you want to know why Stafford has earned so much respect from his teammates, look no further than his explanation for playing through injuries.

The Lions have been one of the worst franchises in football for years, so it’s fair to wonder how Stafford would have fared elsewhere. He now has a chance to answer those questions. It’s no surprise his former teammates want to see him succeed.

Photo: A Healthier Michigan/Flickr via cc-by-sa 2.0

NFL entertaining interesting overtime rule change?

Roger Goodell

NFL teams have proposed a number of changes to the league’s overtime format over the past several years, and one of the latest has fans buzzing in a big way.

Mike Florio of Pro Football talk reported this week that the Baltimore Ravens have made two radical proposals to overtime procedures that are centered around the “spot and choose” idea. The premise is simple — one team gets to choose the spot of the ball to start overtime, and the other team decides whether they want to play offense or defense. The coin toss would give the winning team the right to choose whether they want to decide the spot of the ball or choose between offense and defense.

The Ravens actually made two proposals, but both involve the same OT format. One proposal calls for sudden-death, where the first team to score wins in what would be up to 10 minutes of OT. The other proposal has no sudden-death and 7:30 of OT. Both proposal state that games can end in ties.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is in favor of the “spot and choose” idea and supports the proposal without sudden-death, according to Florio.

Obviously, the goal is to add more strategy to OT. Teams with strong defenses would probably opt to give their opponent the ball deep in the opponent’s territory. Teams with great offenses would probably take the ball, especially if the format is sudden-death. Other factors like weather and home-field advantage would also come into play.

The NFL has come a long way from an overtime format that was essentially determined by a coin toss. The “spot and choose” format would take the league even further away from that, which is why it should receive support. In order for it to pass, 23 teams would have to agree with the Ravens.