Skip to main content
Larry Brown Sports Tagline. Brown Bag it, Baby.
#pounditFriday, April 16, 2021

Football

These two proposed NFL rule changes are likely to be adopted

Roger Goodell

NFL owners will vote on a series of proposed rule changes next week, and two of them appear to have a good chance of passing.

One significant rule change likely to pass is one that will allow for greater communication between referees and officials in New York, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. This would allow the officiating department in New York to advise on-field officials using video replay and provide help to correct a number of calls, including penalty enforcement. Pelissero added that the rule change has “strong support” among the league’s coaches.

The second rule that appears to have significant support is one that will ease restrictions on which positions are allowed to wear certain jersey numbers, which has also gained “strong support” among teams.

Pelissero notes that the proposal to allow teams to attempt a 4th-and-15 play instead of an onside kick is unlikely to be adopted.

The new communication rule for officials likely brings about the most significant change here. It’s not quite the same as the sky judge proposals of the past, but it seems likely to help referees going forward, and hopefully cut down on blatant missed calls.

Texans GM Nick Caserio offers update on Deshaun Watson situation

Deshaun Watson

It was not all that long ago that the Houston Texans were insisting Deshaun Watson would be the face of their franchise for years to come, but suddenly they do not sound so certain.

Texans general manager Nick Caserio met with reporters on Friday, and naturally he was asked several questions about Watson. Since Watson is facing sexual assault allegations from at least 22 different women, Caserio said he cannot comment on the situation. He said he has nothing to add beyond the statement the Texans already put out.

“I would say, I really don’t have any comment,” Caserio said, via NFL.com. “I know Cal [McNair] and ownership put a letter out a few weeks ago relative to the organizational stance, relative to where we are. I don’t have anything to add other than its legal process and we respect the legal process and where that is. We’re focused on today, we’re focused on getting ready for the offseason program and getting ready for the draft, so that’s where our focus is.”

One new lawsuit was filed against Watson this week, which brought the total to 23. One woman then dropped her suit this week citing privacy and security concerns, so there are now 22 civil suits outstanding against the star quarterback. Houston police also confirmed earlier this month that one of the alleged victims has filed a complaint.

Caserio said he has heard a lot of speculation but isn’t going to add to it.

“We’re not going to get into a lot of hypotheticals, a lot of speculation,” the GM said. “I’m not really good at that. Maybe someone else is better at that than me. If you want to speculate, probably go buy Bitcoin and focus on that.”

Regardless of what happens with Watson from a legal standpoint, it would be a shock if he is not suspended by the NFL. He has maintained his innocence and admits to having sexual encounters with some of the massage therapists who are suing him, but the NFL will conduct its own investigation.

One of the alleged victims, Ashley Solis, delivered a powerful statement last week in which she spoke about how Watson’s alleged misconduct has negatively impacted her career and life. You can see that video here.

Tom Brady sends awesome tweet about how long he has been playing

Tom Brady Bucs

NFL fans were once again reminded on Friday of how far Tom Brady has come in his career, as it has now officially been 21 years since the New England Patriots drafted him 199th overall. And the star quarterback knows just the way to celebrate.

Or, should we say, he knows how his career can celebrate. Brady sent a great tweet to recognize the 21st anniversary of him becoming a sixth-round draft pick. He said his career is now legally old enough to crack a beer.

The milestones just keep on coming for Brady.

Even at age 43, Brady is still motivated by the way people doubted him when he was coming out of college at Michigan. His Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates have found some hilarious ways to make sure Brady never forgets it, but we know he never will.

Video appears to show Aaron Donald trying to break up fight

Aaron Donald

An attorney representing Aaron Donald said on Friday that the Los Angeles Rams star actually tried to help the man who accused him of assault, and video footage appears to support that claim.

A man named De Vincent Spriggs filed assault charges against Donald earlier this week after he says Donald attacked him outside a Pittsburgh nightclub early Sunday morning. Spriggs’ face was left badly injured following the incident.

Donald’s lawyer, Casey White, told media outlets on Friday that Donald actually saved Spriggs from further injury. White said police have reviewed video footage and agree that it does not show Donald assaulting Spriggs. You can see a portion of the video below, which appears to show Donald trying to break up the melee:

White acknowledged that Spriggs’ injuries came from people who acted in defense of Donald, as he says Spriggs previously swung a bottle at the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and hit him in the head. The lawyer also said five witnesses have confirmed that Donald did not attack Spriggs.

While the photo of Spriggs’ injuries shows he clearly was assaulted in some way, Donald appears to have a fairly strong case. It would not be a surprise if the charges against him are dismissed.

Photo: The 61st Contingency Response Wing/Flickr via CC-by-S.A. 2.0

Aaron Donald’s attorney shares much different side of alleged assault story

Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald was accused of assaulting a man at a Pittsburgh bar over the weekend, but the attorney representing Donald says the victim in the attack should actually be thanking the Los Angeles Rams star.

A man named De Vincent Spriggs filed criminal assault charges against Donald on Monday after he claims Donald attacked him and injured him outside a nightclub early Sunday morning. Spriggs’ lawyer provided a photo that showed Spriggs’ face badly swollen, but Donald’s attorney says his client did not inflict the injuries.

Donald’s lawyer, Casey White, told 97.3 The Fan on Friday that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year actually saved Spriggs from further injury. White says the incident began after Spriggs began aggressively jabbing Donald in the back with his elbow at a party. Other people at the party took Spriggs outside, and he again encountered Donald and Donald’s brother when they were leaving. Donald says Spriggs began walking at him and yelling while holding something in his hand, which Donald initially thought was a gun. It turned out to be a bottle, which Donald says Spriggs swung at him.

A fight then broke out, and White says Donald tried to pull people away from Spriggs. The lawyer acknowledged that Spriggs’ injuries came from friends who came to Donald’s defense while Donald was restrained.

“Aaron then breaks free from the restraints … he then goes to the pile where this melee is taking place and he starts tearing people off, protecting Mr. Spriggs,” White said. “He actually saves Mr. Spriggs from further injury.”

White says there is video evidence that proves Donald did not attack Spriggs. Five witnesses also said Donald was not the aggressor. The attorney says police have the footage and contacted White on Friday morning to tell him they “agree thus far that there is no evidence from that video that shows Donald assaulting the victim.”

“There’s not much else left to do to be honest with you because he’s not assaulted by Aaron Donald, he’s actually saved by Aaron Donald,” White added. “Mr. Spriggs should write a thank you card to Aaron Donald.”

Even if Donald is not charged, the NFL will conduct its own investigation. He could face disciplinary action, depending upon what his role was in the incident.

Donald is widely considered the best defensive player in the NFL and has been named Defensive Player of the Year in three of the past four seasons. The 29-year-old was extremely emotional after the Rams lost to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, as you can see here.

Photo: The 61st Contingency Response Wing/Flickr via CC-by-S.A. 2.0

Patriots confident in Cam Newton heading into season?

Cam Newton

Several analysts have predicted recently that the New England Patriots will be aggressive in trying to land one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, but Bill Belichick may be more comfortable with the team’s current QB situation than many believe.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Thursday that the Patriots are still in the quarterback market, but he made it a point to note that they believe Cam Newton will be better in 2021 than he was last season. Newton signed with New England late in what was already an unusual offseason due to the pandemic. He then tested positive for COVID-19 and missed some valuable time during the regular season.

“They believe Cam Newton will get a better, fairer shake this season over last season, which I think might reduce some of the urgency,” Schefter said, via WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “I still think they are in the quarterback market. If they can get the right guy at the right (price) they certainly would.”

It’s also worth noting that Newton had arguably the worst supporting cast in football last year. The Patriots have signed the two top tight ends on the market in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. They also added starting-caliber wide receivers by signing Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. It would make sense if Belichick wants to see what Newton can do with some actual weapons and a full offseason.

Schefter went on to note that Belichick has never traded up in the draft for a quarterback. He has only traded up four times in total. Of course, it was never really necessary to trade up for a QB with Tom Brady leading the way.

A report last month claimed the Patriots do not view Newton as their starter. We also know that they have kept their eye on one specific veteran QB, so they probably feel Newton is plan 1B. If they thought he had no good football left in him, they would not have brought him back.

Johnny Manziel sent sports reporter troll autograph saying ‘f— you’

Johnny Manziel

Darren Rovell is known most for being a sports memorabilia junkie and annoying people on social media, which is why the gift Johnny Manziel recently sent him seems absolutely perfect.

Manziel, like many others, does not seem to get along with Rovell. The former Texas A&M star has tweeted his disdain for the reporter in the past, and he has found a new way to show Rovell how he feels about him. On Thursday, Rovell revealed that Manziel sent him an autographed Cleveland Browns helmet that says ‘F— you!’ on it.

Now that’s personalization.

We don’t know if Manziel was joking or if he’s still angry with Rovell. However, Rovell tried to buy a playing card last year that Manziel wrote “F— Rovell” on, so this has been going on for a while. Manziel has also called Rovell a “b—h” on Twitter.

Manziel has done a lot of self-reflection lately and even recently revealed his biggest career regret. It’s possible he was trying to bury the hatchet with Rovell rather than adding more fuel to the fire, but Rovell haters are undoubtedly hoping it was the latter.

H/T UPROXX

Tom Brady sent great tweet on National High Five Day

Tom Brady referee

Tom Brady has mastered just about everything on the football field during his legendary career, but high-fiving has never been his strong suit. The seven-time Super Bowl champion was modest enough to acknowledge that once again this week.

Thursday was National High Five Day, which Brady felt was a great time to call attention to one of his most noteworthy flubs with the celebratory gesture.

For those who don’t know, that photo was taken after Brady scored a rushing touchdown in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ playoff win over the New Orleans Saints earlier this year. Brady tried to high-five a referee after the play, and the official remained professional and was not having it. Brady was quick to troll himself over the snub at the time.

Of course, that was not the first time Brady was been snubbed with a high-five attempt on the field. His inability to find a teammate to high-five him with the New England Patriots years ago (video here) became a wildly popular meme.

Brady is a perfectionist, so you know he wants to master the art of the high five before he retires. With the way he played in 2020, he may have several more seasons to work on it.

DeVonta Smith shares how he responds to questions about his weight

DeVonta Smith

DeVonta Smith was the runaway Heisman Trophy winner thanks to the monster season he had for Alabama.

Smith caught 68 passes for 1,256 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. Then he exploded as a senior with 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. He saw more action last season in part because of Jaylen Waddle’s injury, and also because of the quarterback change to Mac Jones.

There is little doubt about what a weapon Smith was for Alabama. There are high expectations for him entering the NFL. The one question that does come up when people discuss Smith as a prospect is his weight.

Smith is listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds. He appears to be skinny on the field and looks nothing like, say, this guy.

Smith believes he has proven himself on the field and doesn’t focus on the weight talk as much anymore.

“In high school, I used to feel some type of way when people tell me that, but now I really don’t care. I mean, somebody say that, I’m just gonna look at ’em and laugh. But, I mean, it is what it is. At the end of the day, I know that when I get on the field and I line up, I’m gonna do what I gotta do,” Smith told Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion.

Smith also believes that his non-imposing figures works to his advantage. He speculates that some defenders have low expectations of him due to his size, and they end up getting burned.

There could be something to that, because Smith does not look intimidating, even though his numbers definitely are. As we have been taught before, sometimes looks don’t mean a whole lot.

Giovani Bernard shares how easy decision to join Bucs was

Giovani Bernard

Giovani Bernard signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday and will be joining the defending Super Bowl champs. The former Cincinnati Bengals running back says the decision to join the Bucs was very easy.

Bernard is close friends with James White, who was one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets in New England. White raved about Brady to Bernard, which made the decision a “no brainer” for the former Bengal.

Bernard feels that the Bucs aren’t done after winning the Super Bowl last season. He believes they are still in the process of building something special.

Bernard, 29, has spent his entire career with the Bengals. He is very productive in the passing game and caught 47 passes for 355 yards and three touchdowns last season. He should fit in well with Brady’s passing style.

The Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski Tampa party continues! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.