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#pounditTuesday, November 30, 2021

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Mike McCarthy had wild motivational tactic before Cowboys’ blowout win

Mike McCarthy

The Dallas Cowboys bounced back in a huge way on Sunday after their shocking blowout loss in Week 9, and it’s fair to wonder if they had a little pep in their step after head coach Mike McCarthy busted out his latest motivational tool. This time, it was Monkey Butt.

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, McCarthy labeled this past week “R.A.W.” for the Cowboys. That stood for “red a– week” after the Denver Broncos dominated them 30-16 in Dallas. McCarthy then had staff walk around the locker room and hand the players Monkey Butt, which is an anti-chaffing powder. It’s used for things like “being sore from getting your butt kicked,” as Pelissero described.

Here’s more:

The Cowboys responded with a 43-3 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

This isn’t the first time McCarthy has used an unorthodox motivational tool with the Cowboys. It may sound quirky, but you can’t argue with the results.

Aaron Rodgers making 1 big change to comply with NFL COVID protocol

Aaron Rodgers on the sideline

Aaron Rodgers is making one big change to comply with the NFL’s COVID protocol.

Rodgers made headlines the last two weeks after he missed his Green Bay Packers’ Week 9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs due to a positive COVID-19 test. Rodgers’ COVID-19 vaccination status leaked and became a huge topic of discussion.

The Packers quarterback was found to be unvaccinated even though he gave off the impression for months that he had been vaccinated. Not only did Rodgers mislead reporters when asked a question in August about his vaccination status, but he also did not wear a mask to press conferences and on the sidelines. The latter offense — not wearing a mask in those situations — violated the NFL’s protocol.

Rodgers no longer has a charade to keep up, so he is making one change. Rather than wear a mask to press conferences, the man who just recovered from COVID-19 has opted to conduct his postgame press conferences via video conference.

Even though Rodgers is making that change, he has not gone full compliance mode. He was still seen greeting opponents after the Packers shutout the Seattle Seahawks 17-0 on Sunday without wearing a mask.

Rodgers is basically telling the NFL, angry executives, and the “woke mob” to go pound sand.

Photo: Jan 19, 2020; Santa Clara, California, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts following the loss against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady was curt with media after loss to Washington

Tom Brady in a Bucs jersey

Tom Brady is notorious for taking losses poorly. We got another example of that on Sunday.

Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered a stunning 29-19 loss to the Washington Football Team. It was Tampa Bay’s third loss of the season and one of the bigger upsets of the year so far.

So how angry was Brady? He spoke for just 56 seconds after the game. His answers were about as curt as can be, too.

Brady obviously has no real interest in reflecting on a defeat like this. That’s especially true when he threw for only 220 yards and turned the ball over twice. It doesn’t help that he’s made some uncharacteristic mistakes recently.

Brady’s sportsmanship being questioned after a loss is nothing new.

Brady and the Bucs will look to get back on track next Monday against the New York Giants. They still lead the NFC South by a game, but Brady will find little consolation in that right now.

Watch: Saints robbed of INT due to horrible roughing the passer call

Saints called for roughing

Roughing the passer penalties continue to be a major issue across the NFL, and another bad call proved to be costly for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

The Tennessee Titans had the ball deep in New Orleans territory when safety Marcus Williams intercepted a Ryan Tannehill pass in the back of the end zone. The pick was negated after Saints linebacker Kaden Elliss was called for roughing the passer.

An official called Elliss for a blow to the head. You can see the play below:

Elliss may have grazed Tannehill’s helmet with his fingers, but that was a blow to the nameplate, not the head. Former NFL official and CBS rules analyst Gene Steratore said the flag should have been picked up.

The Saints were flagged for pass interference a few plays later, which gave Tennessee another first down. Tannehill then scored on a QB sneak.

That may not have been as embarrassing as the roughing penalty that was called against the Saints two weeks ago (video here), but it was much more costly. New Orleans came up with a huge red zone stop and should have gotten the ball. Instead, the officials essentially gifted Tennessee a touchdown.

Report: NFL execs angry with league’s handling of Aaron Rodgers situation

Aaron Rodgers after a play

The NFL announced fines for both Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers this week after the quarterback violated COVID-19 protocols, and a lot of people around league reportedly feel the punishment did not fit the crime.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports was told by sources that NFL executives — including some within the league office — were unhappy that the disciplinary action against Rodgers and the Packers was not more harsh. Rodgers was fined $14,650 and the Packers were fined $300,000.

“Everyone’s reaction was pretty much the same. It’s a joke,” one high-ranking team official told La Canfora. “It’s the league taking care of (Packers team president) Mark Murphy. It’s not really a surprise, but it’s total BS.”

Even some within the league office reportedly believed Rodgers and the Packers received preferential treatment. At least one coach agreed.

“You think they would let us off like that if (that team’s quarterback) did that?” the coach asked. “No (expletive) way.”

The issue for many is that Rodgers admittedly violated COVID protocols on multiple occasions by not wearing a mask. However, since he was not disciplined before, he was not treated as a repeat offender. The NFL told Rodgers and the Packers that future violations could result in harsher punishment and potentially the loss of a draft pick.

The public learned last week that Rodgers was unvaccinated despite him giving off the perception that he was vaccinated. A misleading answer the quarterback gave to a question in August about his vaccination status led to the belief that he was vaccinated (more here). He also misled people about his vaccination status by not wearing masks in multiple situations, such as in press conferences, which were violations of the league’s protocol for players who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Rodgers apologized on Tuesday for misleading people about his status.

Photo: Oct 28, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jared Casey taunts Texas fans with ‘Horns Down’ after winning catch

Jared Casey does Horns Down

Jared Casey had some fun taunting Texas fans after catching the winning pass on Saturday night.

Casey caught a pass from Jalon Daniels for a 2-point conversion to give Kansas a 57-56 win in Austin in overtime. Casey jumped around with his teammates after his winning catch.

Then as he was walking off the field, cameras caught him flashing the “Horns Down” gesture that’s done as an anti-Texas Longhorns symbol.

When you catch a pass like Casey did to win the game, you can celebrate with such a gesture. This was KU’s first win at Texas. If you can’t celebrate then, when can you celebrate?

Lane Kiffin predicts big upset during ‘GameDay’ appearance

Lane Kiffin on College GameDay

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin was the surprise celebrity guest picker when ESPN’s “College GameDay” traveled to Oxford on Saturday, and he didn’t shy away from a pretty bold selection.

Kiffin offered up his assessment of top-ranked Georgia’s trip to Tennessee on Saturday, and had a rather surprising selection in that game. The Ole Miss coach made a hilarious quip about how Neyland Stadium is “a very dangerous place to play,” and then went on to pick the Volunteers to pull off a huge upset.

You have to give Kiffin some credit for sticking his neck out like that. Picking Georgia, a 20-point favorite, would have been the simple thing to do. It’s even funnier when you consider Kiffin’s love-hate relationship with Tennessee and its fans.

As an aside, Ole Miss continues to kill it with the celebrity guest pickers. Only time will tell if Kiffin pulling double duty proves as lucky as Katy Perry did.

Ole Miss fans! It’s time to jump aboard the Lane Train! This Lane Train shirt is a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here.

Jon Gruden files lawsuit against NFL, Roger Goodell

Jon Gruden in a Raiders hat

There has been speculation that Jon Gruden could file a lawsuit against the NFL since he was forced to resign last month, and the former Las Vegas Raiders coach has done just that.

Gruden filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court on Thursday that names the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell as defendants. According to documents obtained by David Ferrara of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Gruden’s lawyers claim in the 21-page complaint that the league intentionally leaked damaging emails to force the former Super Bowl champion to step down.

“Through a malicious and orchestrated campaign, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell sought to destroy the career and reputation of Jon Gruden, the former head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit accuses the NFL of leaking the first email and then threatening to release more if Gruden remained in his position as Raiders coach. Gruden says the NFL intentionally withheld the emails for months in order to release them when they could cause maximum damage.

“When their initial salvo did not result in Gruden’s firing or resignation, Defendants ratcheted up the pressure by intimating that further documents would become public if Gruden was not fired,” the lawsuit reads. “They followed through with this threat by leaking another batch of documents to the New York Times for an October 11, 2021 article.”

The first email surfaced on Friday, Oct. 8 in a Wall Street Journal article. In it, Gruden mocked NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith over the size of his lips. The email was described as Gruden using a racist trope against Smith, though the coach disputed that and said he was calling Smith a liar.

More emails leaked days later in a New York Times article. Gruden used a gay slur and other problematic language in those emails.

The emails Gruden sent came from the 2011-2018 time period. They were uncovered during the NFL’s investigation into the Washington Football Team regarding the franchise’s workplace environment. More than 650,000 emails were reviewed as part of the investigation, but the NFL has reportedly claimed Gruden’s were the only damaging ones.

Someone who spoke with Gruden over a week ago said the former coach believes the “truth” will eventually come out.

The lawsuit is not a surprise, and it may not be the only one the NFL faces over the situation.

Photo: Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden takes the field before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Odell Beckham Jr. preferred to sign with other NFC team?

Odell Beckham Jr warms up

Odell Beckham Jr. agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, but they may not have been his first choice. Had all things been equal, Beckham might have ended up catching passes from Aaron Rodgers for the remainder of the season.

According to ESPN’s Jordan Schultz, Beckham would have preferred to sign with the Green Bay Packers over the Rams. But Beckham reportedly did not feel that the Packers were “all-in” on him. Green Bay reportedly offered him no more than a veteran minimum contract.

If OverTheCap.com’s latest numbers are accurate, the Packers have more than $4 million in salary cap space. That means they could have afforded to offer Beckham more than the veteran minimum, especially if they structured his contract similarly to the way the Rams did. Beckham’s contract with L.A. has several incentives. If he hits those, they would count toward the salary cap in 2022.

The Packers are projected to be roughly $40 million over the salary cap next season, so perhaps they took that into consideration. Or, maybe they simply didn’t feel Beckham was worth the money given all his recent injuries and lack of production with the Cleveland Browns.

In any event, you can understand why Beckham felt more wanted by the Rams. Some of their star players recruited him heavily, and Sean McVay almost certainly sold him on the idea of an offense that plans to keep airing it out. As long as he’s comfortable not being the first or even second option in the passing game, Beckham should have plenty of opportunities to thrive with L.A.

Photo: Oct 21, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) warms up before the game between the Browns and the Denver Broncos at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Von Miller has message after Odell Beckham Jr. joins Rams

Von Miller on the practice field

Von Miller worked hard to bring Odell Beckham Jr. to the Los Angeles Rams, and now he’s ready to reap the rewards.

Miller essentially confirmed that the Rams would be signing Beckham by posting an Instagram image of the two video chatting. The caption sent a clear message, both to Beckham and the rest of the league: “Let’s chase this ring family!!!!”

If it wasn’t already obvious, the Rams are going all out in 2021. They already added Miller via trade earlier this month. Adding Beckham is arguably an even bigger statement of intent.

Miller was pretty actively involved in recruiting Beckham to Los Angeles. It’s not clear how big a role that played in the wide receiver’s final decision, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt.

Photo: Jun 1, 2021; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) during organized team activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports