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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

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Reporter not voting Aaron Rodgers NFL MVP because of off-field reasons

Aaron Rodgers after a play

Veteran NFL reporter Hub Arkush took heat on Tuesday after revealing he was not giving Aaron Rodgers an MVP vote because of off-field issues.

Arkush was a guest on the “Parkins & Spiegel Show” with Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel on 670 The Hub in Chicago on Tuesday. Arkush, the editor of Pro Football Weekly, said on-field performance aside, Rodgers shouldn’t be MVP because he is a “jerk.”

“I don’t think you can be the biggest jerk in the league and punish your team and your organization and your fanbase the way he did and be the MVP,” Arkush argued. “Has he been the most valuable on the field? Yeah, you can make that argument. But I don’t think he’s been clearly that much more valuable than Jonathan Taylor or Cooper Kupp or maybe even Tom Brady. And from where I sit, the rest of it is why he’s not going to be my choice.”

Arkush also told the hosts that he has talked with some other Associated Press NFL MVP voters who view things similarly to him, which presumably means they will hold off-field issues against Rodgers.

As for what the AP is told are the guidelines for MVP voting, “we are told to pick the guy who we think is the most valuable to his team,” Arkush said.

Arkush is displaying a clear anti-Rodgers bias and holding off-field matters against the quarterback.

It’s undeniable that Rodgers caused controversies regarding offseason trade rumors, and about his vaccination status. However, it’s clear that the quarterback’s behavior did not negatively impact his team during the regular season. Rodgers is having another big season, and his Packers have the best record in the league.

You can absolutely argue that other players, like Taylor or Kupp or Brady, have been more valuable to their teams this season than Rodgers. But the reason should be due to on-field matters, not off-field issues. Green Bay’s success is direct proof that what Rodgers has done off the field hasn’t hurt the team.

Others on Twitter took issue with Arkush showing his bias and not evaluating MVP solely based on on-field performance.

There are 50 votes that go towards AP NFL MVP. If Rodgers wins, we know it won’t be unanimously.

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

Jim Harbaugh giving thought to NFL return?

Jim Harbaugh in sunglasses

Jim Harbaugh is coming off his best season in the seven years he has been at Michigan, but that is not going to stop the speculation that he could leave the school for another job.

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that he has been told by sources at the NFL and collegiate level that Harbaugh is considering a return to the NFL. One source said he believes the talk is “real.”

Michigan went 12-2 this season and won the Big Ten for the first time since Harbaugh was hired in 2015. The Wolverines won the conference by finally beating Ohio State in the regular season and dominating Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan then lost to Georgia in the College Football Playoff, but the season is widely considered a success.

There was talk of Harbaugh being on the hot seat after Michigan went 2-4 in a COVID-shortened season last year. The coach then signed a discount contract extension with the school. He could probably secure a raise and extension now after taking the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff. Why, then, would Harbaugh be tempted to leave Ann Arbor?

As Feldman notes, there are two NFL head coaching vacancies that might interest Harbaugh — the Las Vegas Raiders and Chicago Bears. Harbaugh began his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach with the Raiders in 2002. He played for the Bears for seven seasons after they drafted him in the first round in 1987.

Still, the jump seems unlikely. Harbaugh loves Michigan so much that he took a pay cut last year rather than looking for another job. He earned a significant amount of bonus money this season due to the team’s performance, but he donated it all back to Michigan’s athletic department.

NFL teams would certainly have interest in Harbaugh, who went 44-19-1 in in four seasons as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014. He took the team to the NFC Championship Game three straight years and Super Bowl in 2012. Harbaugh’s resume is plenty impressive.

That doesn’t mean he wants to leave. Harbaugh was swatting away NFL coaching rumors even when things were going poorly at Michigan. After beating Ohio State and reaching the College Football Playoff, he likely feels he has finally gotten over the hump. The same rumors will pop up every year, but we wouldn’t expect Harbaugh to go anywhere.

Photo: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Browns reporter shares why team passed on Ben Roethlisberger in draft

Ben Roethlisberger throws a pass

The Cleveland Browns got what was likely their final close-up look at Ben Roethlisberger during their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. Roethlisberger has completely owned his division rival throughout the years, and some have wondered why he didn’t end up in a Browns uniform. We may have an answer.

Prior to Pittsburgh’s 26-14 win over the Browns, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com spoke with “The Fan Morning Show” on 93.7 The Fan about why the Browns passed on Roethlisberger in the 2004 NFL Draft. She said former Browns offensive coordinator and interim head coach Terry Robiskie told her the team’s talent evaluators felt at the time that Big Ben had “heavy legs” and would be doomed playing behind their offensive line.

Here’s more:

“They did not think that he would survive too long behind their offensive line, which of course is short-sighted thinking,” Cabot said. “You cannot evaluate a quarterback (based on) what your current offensive line looks like. They had Pete Garcia as their GM at that point. He had come from (the University of Miami) with Butch Davis. They didn’t have a real, longtime, strong NFL GM in place. Had they had one, they may have taken — and should have taken — Ben Roethlisberger at No. 6 overall.”

The Browns selected Kellen Winslow at sixth overall. The tight end had played for Davis at Miami. Davis was the head coach of the Hurricanes for six seasons before the Browns hired him in 2001.

It’s impossible to say if Roethlisberger would have been the same player with the Browns that he became in Pittsburgh. There’s no guarantee the Browns would have developed him as well as the Steelers did. That said, Big Ben on Monday night improved to 26-3-1 in his career against Cleveland. You can’t blame Browns fans for wondering how the past 18 years might have been different had they drafted Roethlisberger.

The Browns may have finally found their franchise quarterback in Baker Mayfield, but the jury is still out on that. Their inability to draft and develop a QB has plagued them for years. Maybe they’d be the team with two Super Bowls in the past 15 years if they got it right with Roethlisberger.

Photo: Dec 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) warms up before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Video of Ben Roethlisberger celebrating Steelers win will give you goosebumps

Ben Roethlisberger gives a hug

Not many athletes get to experience a storybook ending towards the end of their career, but Ben Roethlisberger got to experience a pretty special goodbye at Heinz Field on Monday night.

Roethlisberger’s Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 to improve to 8-7-1. Though Roethlisberger did not play very well, he did not get in the way of his team’s stellar defensive performance.

“It’s not always pretty, but we find a way,” Roethlisberger said in a postgame interview with ESPN.

This was widely expected to be Roethlisberger’s final home game with the Steelers. The defense held Cleveland in check most of the way, but things got dicey towards the end when the Browns scored late. However, Najee Harris broke free for a 37-yard touchdown to seal the win.

It was after that TD that Big Ben really started to get emotional and soak it all in. The video is great.

As if that weren’t enough, the Steelers also got an interception and gave Roethlisberger a chance to kneel down in the victory formation to end the game.

Roethlisberger hung around on the field to soak it all in with his teammates and family.

So far, we have heard that Roethlisberger was not expected to be back with the Steelers next season. That left in question whether or not he would continue his career elsewhere. Based on how Monday night went, Roethlisberger sure looked like a guy who will be walking away after the season.

New information sheds light on what led to Antonio Brown meltdown

Antonio brown

Antonio Brown stripped off his uniform and left the field midway through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ game against the New York Jets on Sunday, but there have been questions about whether he was fired by his team or abruptly quit. A new report claims it was more the former than the latter.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Brown and Tampa Bay’s coaching staff had a disagreement during Sunday’s game about whether Brown was healthy enough to play. Brown, who has been battling an ankle injury, said during the third quarter that he could not play. Head coach Bruce Arians and others reportedly told Brown he could not be on the sideline if he was refusing to enter the game. Rapoport says Arians then “cut him from the team” before Brown’s surreal mid-game exit.

“Antonio Brown did not believe he was healthy. … What he told the staff, from what I understand, is that he was not going into the game because, in his mind, he did not feel he was healthy,” Rapoport said. “The response from the offensive coaches and from Bruce Arians was, ‘If you are not going to go into the game when we tell you to go into the game, you cannot be here.’ At that point, they threw him off the sideline and then cut him from the team.”

Brown did play some in the game. He recorded three catches for 26 yards.

There are two sides to every story, and neither has really shared theirs in this instance. Arians only said after the Bucs’ comeback win over the Jets that Brown is no longer with the team. Brown seemingly thanked the Buccaneers in an Instagram post.

One report claimed Brown was upset about being benched. Another said he refused to go into the game, which is consistent with what Rapoport was told. If that is the case, Arians obviously believed Brown was lying about being injured.

Whatever the case, Brown stripped off his uniform and tossed it into the stands in a stunning scene (video here). The 33-year-old has been given numerous chances in the NFL despite all his off-field issues, the most recent of which was a COVID vaccine controversy. Brown’s NFL career is likely over.

Photo: Aug 22, 2019; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown reacts before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Investors Group Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reason for Antonio Brown’s meltdown reportedly revealed

Antonio Brown throws his uniform into the stands

Antonio Brown stripped his uniform off and left the field in a surreal scene during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-New York Jets game on Sunday, and we may now know what set him off.

According to Bucs radio sideline reporter TJ Rives, Brown was benched by Bruce Arians prior to quitting on his team.

Newer information from Jay Glazer says that Arians benched Brown after the receiver twice refused to enter the game.

The veteran wide receiver had three catches for 26 yards before he left the field.

Arians would not go into detail with the general media about the incident after the game. The Bucs coach only said that Brown is no longer a member of the team.

The Bucs were trailing 24-10 in the third quarter when Brown stripped off his uniform, threw his equipment into the stands at MetLife Stadium and left the field. He stopped in the end zone to pump the crowd up and wave goodbye on his way out. You can see the video here.

Arians gave Brown a chance by signing him last year despite his numerous off-field issues. Brown was then suspended this season for three games after the NFL determined that he turned in a fake COVID vaccination card. He recently blamed the media for all the negative headlines about him.

Video: Antonio Brown strips off uniform, leaves field in epic meltdown

Antonio Brown strips and leaves a game

Antonio Brown threw what appeared to be an unprecedented temper tantrum during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ game against the New York Jets on Sunday.

With the Bucs trailing in the second half, Brown stripped off his jersey, pads and undershirt and walked off to the locker room shirtless. He threw some of his clothing to the fans at MetLife Stadium.

Brown then ran across the field while the teams were still playing and stood in the end zone pumping up the crowd. The FOX broadcast said Brown was upset over something on the sideline. Teammates Mike Evans and OJ Howard tried to convince him to keep his uniform on, but Brown ignored everyone and continued on his way. You can see a different view of the meltdown below:

Tampa Bay was trailing 24-10 at the time. Brown had three catches for 26 yards before he left.

It’s unclear what set Brown off, but it would not be a surprise if his NFL career is over. The Bucs gave him a chance by signing him last year despite his numerous off-field issues. Brown was then suspended this year for three games after the NFL determined that he turned in a fake COVID vaccination card.

Brown, 33, recently blamed the media for all the negative headlines about him. We can’t imagine he will find a way to remedy this situation. He may have just quit football altogether.

Video: Jalen Ramsey throws punch at teammate Taylor Rapp

Jalen Ramsey throws a punch at a teammate

Tempers flared early in Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens, leading to a physical altercation between two players. Those players happened to be on the same team.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey threw a swing at teammate Taylor Rapp during Baltimore’s first offensive possession of the game. It’s unclear what led to the exchange, but Ramsey was clearly furious about something. The two players had to be separated by teammates.

It’s rare to see two teammates going at one another on the field like that. What made the altercation even more bizarre is that it took place so early in the game. We saw a Washington player throw a punch at a teammate on the sideline last week (video here), but that was in the middle of a blowout loss.

The Rams will almost certainly downplay the incident, but that was embarrassing.

Jaguars botching head coach search for one major reason?

Shad Khan smiling

The Jacksonville Jaguars have already begun their search for a new head coach, and it sounds like things are off to a rough start. In order to change that, they may have to make a significant front office move.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that the Jaguars have already turned off several top candidates by retaining general manager Trent Baalke for their coaching search. Baalke has a poor reputation among coaching circles and a history of becoming wrapped up in power struggles. One agent told La Canfora he wouldn’t even let his client take an interview with the Jags unless Baalke is out.

“My client would have to fire me to take an interview there under this setup,” the agent told La Canfora. “No way. It’s totally backwards.”

Several candidates are open to interviewing with the Jaguars next week, but they reportedly want to gather information about why team owner Shad Khan has chosen to retain Baalke to lead the search. Many executives from other teams believe Khan will eventually have to fire Baalke due to feedback he has received from both fans and potential coaching candidates.

Many of Jacksonville’s candidates seem to prefer a totally clean slate in the wake of Urban Meyer’s brief tenure with the team. Some of the coaches the Jaguars reached out to are skeptical that they can produce positive results with the team as long as Baalke remains GM.

Before he joined the Jaguars’ front office in 2020, Baalke’s previous job was as GM of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2016. The Niners enjoyed great success early in Baalke’s tenure with the team, but he has been criticized for forcing Jim Harbaugh out. Between that and the Meyer disaster, it would not be a surprise if coaches don’t want to work under him.

Photo: Oct 17, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan (Shahid Khan) watches from the sidelines during an NFL International Series game against the Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Utah player Tevita Fotu throws punch at end of Rose Bowl

Tevita Fotu throws a punch

One Utah player got salty at the end of the Rose Bowl and was seen throwing a punch.

Tevita Fotu, who was not in uniform for the game, was seen throwing a punch at a Buckeyes player.

Fotu is a sophomore defensive tackle and did not see any action this season. His Utes blew a 14-point lead and lost 48-45 to Ohio State on a field goal with nine seconds left.

Tevita is a junior college transfer. His brother Leki Fotu is a defensive lineman for the Arizona Cardinals.