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David Garrard

David Garrard

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Cleveland Browns give Mike Holmgren the boot


  Cleveland Browns give Mike Holmgren the boot

Opposing Views:

Did you know that in the Beatles song, “I Am The Walrus,” John Lennon doesn’t say “Koo Koo Kachoo,” but actually says “Goo Goo G’Joob?” I sure didn’t, but frantic googling while writing this showed me the truth. Acid’s a strange drug.

Anyway, after seeing this picture, I think we can all agree that it’s a crying shame there’s only one Mike Holmgren. Or, that every walrus in the world doesn’t have a Mike Holmgren face. Just think about how much more fun the zoo would be if you could stop by the Holmgren exhibit and scream “WHY DID YOU TAKE A 28-YEAR-OLD QUARTERBACK IN THE FIRST ROUND” until you’re red in the face.

Or, if you’re one of those sickos who hangs out in the “Dawg Pound,”  you could probably find Holmgren hanging around the streets of Cleveland – or wherever walrus/coach hybrids live – in his free time now that he has been fired (he technically retired, just like Terry Francona “resigned”) from his position as team president. He’s going to remain with the team for the remainder of the year to help the team make a transition from him to his successor, but he won’t be making personnel decisions anymore.

It makes sense. The Browns were just 10-28 since Holmgren became president in 2010, and new owner Jimmy Haslam III (no relation to Udonis) didn’t want the team to continue to be the worst organization in professional sports anymore. So he hired big Walrus Holmgren so he could get someone in the president’s chair who actually knows what he’s doing. And, you know, doesn’t draft Brandon Weeden in the first round when the team is going to go 0-16 anyway and be forced to take either Geno Smith or Matt Barkley this year.

This might be the end of the “former successful coach becomes a team president” routine now that we’ve seen that it doesn’t work. The Dolphins tried it with Bill Parcells, and what they got was a whole bunch of nothing. Then the Browns hired Holmgren and were even worse.

On the bright side, pairing Holmgren and Parcells together for a sitcom called “The Tuna And The Walrus,” is a great idea and would be significantly more successful then either of the teams they ran at the end of their careers. Are you telling me that you wouldn’t sit down and watch a show about Parcells and Holmgren living together in a small New York City apartment complex, trying to find their way in the world while eating Chinese food every night and secretly both sleeping with the hot neighbor. I’d watch. I’d watch every single episode.


RIP Alex Karras


 RIP Alex Karras

SF Chromicle:

Alex Karras was one of the NFL’s most feared defensive tackles throughout the 1960s, a player who hounded quarterbacks and bulled past opposing linemen.

And yet, to many people he will always be the lovable dad from the 1980s sitcom “Webster” or the big cowboy who famously punched out a horse in “Blazing Saddles.”

The rugged player, who anchored the Lions’ defense and then made a successful transition to an acting career, with a stint along the way as a commentator on “Monday Night Football,” died Wednesday. He was 77.

Mr. Karras had recently suffered kidney failure and been diagnosed with dementia. The Lions also said he had suffered from heart disease and, for the last two years, stomach cancer. He died at home in Los Angeles surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Mr. Karras’ attorney.

“Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex,” Lions president Tom Lewand said.

His death also will be tied to the NFL’s conflict with former players over concussions. Mr. Karras in April joined the more than 3,500 football veterans suing the league for not protecting them better from head injuries, immediately becoming one of the best-known names in the legal fight. Mitnick said the family had not yet decided whether to donate Mr. Karras’ brain for study, as other families have done.

Born in Gary, Ind., Mr. Karras starred for four years at Iowa. Detroit drafted Mr. Karras with the 10th overall pick in 1958 and he was a four-time All-Pro defensive tackle over 12 seasons with the franchise.

For all his prowess on the field, Mr. Karras may have gained more fame when he turned to acting.

Playing a not-so-bright bruiser named Mongo in Mel Brooks‘ “Blazing Saddles,” he not only slugged a horse but also delivered the classic line: “Mongo only pawn in game of life.”

Several years before that, Mr. Karras became a bit of a celebrity through George Plimpton‘s behind-the-scenes book about being an NFL player in the Motor City, “Paper Lion: Confessions of a Second-string Quarterback.”

That led to Mr. Karras playing himself alongside Alan Alda in the movie adaption and it opened doors for Mr. Karras to be an analyst alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on “Monday Night Football.”

In the 1980s, he played a sheriff in “Porky’s” and became a hit on the small screen as Emmanuel Lewis‘ adoptive father, George Papadapolis, in the sitcom “Webster.”


Scott Fujita rips Roger Goodell a new one!


 Scott Fujita rips Roger Goodell a new one!

With as much purpose as any tackle he’s ever made, Scott Fujita delivered a shot to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Angered by Goodell’s handling of the New Orleans Saints’ bounties scandal, Fujita accused the commissioner of misusing his power, questioned his record on player safety, and the Browns linebacker vowed to keep fighting to clear his name.

“The commissioner says he is disappointed in me,” Fujita said. “The truth is, I’m disappointed in him.”

One day after Goodell reduced his three-game suspension to one for alleged involvement in the Saints’ pay-for-hits program and ruled on the penalties for three other players, Fujita took on the commissioner in a strongly worded statement.

Fujita charged Goodell with “abuse of power” and expressed his displeasure with the way his suspension was lessened. On Tuesday, Goodell sent Fujita a letter in which he chastised the 10-year veteran and member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee for not doing more to stop his former teammates in New Orleans from taking part in the “bounty” program.

Goodell wrote to Fujita that he was “surprised and disappointed by the fact that you, a former defensive captain and a passionate advocate for player safety, ignored such a program and permitted it to continue. … . If you had spoken up, perhaps other players would have refused to participate and the consequences with which we are now dealing could have been avoided.”

Fujita was angered by the “condescending tone” in Goodell’s letter — and most of its content.

“For him to come out and say he was disappointed in me for not standing up to my coach,” Fujita said after practice Wednesday. “I haven’t had someone tell me they were disappointed in me since I was 12 years old, and that was my father.”

Fujita was pleased Goodell all but exonerated him from any involvement in the Saints’ mess, but was incensed the commissioner felt it necessary to chastise him for not stepping in and trying to stop the rogue program.

“I thought it was uncalled for and inappropriate,” Fujita said.

Fujita will appeal his one-game suspension and intends to play Sunday when the winless Browns (0-5) host the Cincinnati Bengals.

Fujita has maintained his innocence in the scandal since it first broke in March. Seven months later, Fujita hasn’t changed his stance and felt a recent Sept. 28 meeting with Goodell was “respectful and productive,” which is why he’s puzzled the commissioner would come down so hard.

“I went in and no punches were thrown,” Fujita said of meeting Goodell in New York. “Everybody was kind. So, yeah, I was a little bit taken aback by it. It didn’t have to go there at all. It just felt like one more personal jab.”

After reading Goodell’s letter, Fujita said he began preparing a statement to rebuke the commissioner. Fujita’s wife, Jaclyn, urged him to “cool down and sleep on it” before he sent something he would regret. For Fujita, Goodell’s implication that he was hypocritical about player safety hurt most.

“For him to speak to me as if I’m cavalier about player health and safety, that’s when I said enough is enough,” Fujita said.

The way Fujita sees it, Goodell overstepped his boundaries.

“It’s just a power-run-amok situation,” he said. “Obviously, the scope of the conduct-detrimental powers that have been afforded him are broad, but there has been clear abuse of power that has been afforded to him.”

In his statement, Fujita said Goodell’s new ruling “seems like an extremely desperate attempt to punish me. I also think it sets a dangerous precedent when players can be disciplined for not challenging the behavior of their superiors. This is an absolute abuse of the power that’s been afforded to the Commissioner.”

Fujita said if the wording in Goodell’s letter had not been so offensive he may have accepted the lesser suspension without a fight.

On Tuesday, Goodell upheld the suspensions of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith and reduced penalties for Fujita and Anthony Hargrove.

Vilma will sit out the entire season and Smith’s punishment stands at four games. Hargrove, a free agent defensive lineman, will face a two-game suspension once he signs with a team. He originally was hit with eight games, but that was reduced to seven with five games already served.

The players were implicated in what the NFL said was a bounty pool run by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and paid improper cash bonuses for hits that injured opponents. The players have acknowledged a pool but denied they intended to injure anyone.

Fujita insists the bounty program never existed.

Goodell’s new ruling comes about a month after an appeals panel created by the NFL’s labor agreement vacated the original suspensions on technical grounds during Week 1 of the regular season. The panel informed Goodell he needed to clarify the reasons for the punishment.

Fujita feels a personal connection to the player safety issue. He was at the bargaining table for the players during contract talks when they successfully fought for changes. Fujita’s close friend and former Saints teammate Steve Gleason is afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, an incurable disease that medical studies say could be lined to head injuries.

Fujita knows his fight’s not over. And he’s not worried about any repercussions for his criticism of Goodell.

“This is how I feel about things,” he said with a shrug. “I’ve been very clear about it since back in March, so I don’t think it could get any worse.”


DJ Williams suspended for another three games for being a screwup


 DJ Williams suspended for another three games for being a screwup

The Denver Broncos will be without linebacker D.J. Williams until mid-November after the NFL added three games to his suspension Friday.

Williams was punished for violating the league’s substance abuse policy following his conviction in August of driving while ability impaired.

He already was serving a six-game suspension to start the season for violating the league’s banned-substances policy — such as performance enhancing drugs — after the NFL said he supplied a “non-human” urine sample during a drug test.

Williams, the team’s leading tackler in four of the last five seasons, won’t be eligible to return to the Broncos until Nov. 12.

He was originally slated to return in time for the game against New Orleans on Oct. 28, but will now miss that game and road contests at Cincinnati and Carolina, too.

The Broncos, who had been preparing for Williams’ suspension to be extended, declined comment after arriving in New England on Friday night for their game against the Patriots this weekend.

Wesley Woodyard and Keith Brooking have shared snaps at weakside linebacker in Williams’ absence.

Williams met with commissioner Roger Goodell in New York last month in hopes of avoiding further punishment from the league following his latest run-in, a case that stemmed from a drunken driving arrest nearly two years ago.

He was originally charged with driving under the influence, but a jury returned a conviction on a lesser charge. He was also convicted of driving without headlights, the offense that prompted police to stop him near downtown Denver about 3 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2010.

Prosecutors said Williams failed roadside sobriety tests during his traffic stop and refused to take a blood test to determine his possible alcohol level. He was taken to a detox facility.

The Broncos stripped Williams of his captaincy shortly after his arrest — the second time he’d been detained for suspicion of drunken driving. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to impaired driving.

Williams has led the Broncos in tackles five times in his eight years since joining the NFL as Denver’s top draft pick in 2004 out of the University of Miami.


Danny Amendola out 6 weeks with collarbone injury…


 Danny Amendola out 6 weeks with collarbone injury...

Jeff Fisher is more tight-lipped about injuries than any of the five Rams head coaches — and two interim head coaches — who have preceded him in St. Louis.

With that in mind, it wasn’t all that surprising when Fisher went name-rank-serial number on the status of injured Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola.

“I’m going to have an injury report for you on Wednesday,” Fisher said at his Friday media session. “I’m not commenting on any injuries from the game. It’s a competitive issue. … If Danny’s going to miss a game, I’ll discuss it at a time in which I’m sure he’s going to miss a game.”

But Fisher wasn’t fooling anyone. Amendola will miss a month or more, league sources indicated to the Post-Dispatch on Friday, after suffering a separated SC joint trying to make a diving catch in the second quarter of Thursday’s 17-3 victory over Arizona. Amendola landed hard on his right shoulder and was done for the night.

In layman’s terms the sternoclavicular — or SC — joint is where the collarbone meets the breastbone. After Amendola’s separation, Rams medical officials were able to put the joint back in place immediately and cleanly, according to sources familiar with the injury. That’s important in terms of avoiding complications and a quicker recovery time.

X-rays taken at the Edward Jones Dome on Thursday night were inconclusive. The Rams wanted to make sure there was no fracture or ligament damage so Amendola underwent additional testing Friday. On Friday, an MRI exam showed no ligament damage. A CT scan showed no fractured or broken bones.

So Amendola does not need surgery. But time is needed to let the injury heal naturally. How long that takes varies, although it’s usually between four and eight weeks. In Amendola’s case, if you split the difference at six weeks, he would be sidelined until the Nov. 25 rematch with the Cardinals in Arizona.

If that happens, he would miss only five games because the Rams have their bye week during that span. Those who know Amendola realize it will be hard to keep him off the field that long. Pound-for-pound one of the toughest Rams, Amendola will be pushing to play as soon as possible.

For proof, look no farther back than last season, when after suffering elbow and triceps injuries in his left arm during the Rams’ 2011 season opener, he attempted to work himself into game shape a month later during a Rams bye week practice. He aggravated the triceps injury attempting to practice last Oct. 6 — or exactly one year ago today — and was done for the year.

In the short term, such an injury is more of a pain tolerance thing. If the injury is 100 percent healed, he’s not more prone to additional injury or an out-and-out broken collarbone, which the Rams originally feared might be the case Thursday night. But if Amendola returns too early, he could be at a greater risk to aggravating the injury.

Given the strong relationship he had with former Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Amendola probably wants to play in the Rams’ Oct. 28 London game with the New England Patriots — McDaniels’ current team.

A more likely situation, although still on the optimistic side, would have Amendola returning after the bye week for the Rams’ Nov. 11 game at San Francisco. A return at that time would be 5 1/2 weeks after the injury, and thanks to the bye, would have Amendola missing just three games: Oct. 14 at Miami, Oct. 21 at home against Green Bay, and the New England game.

No matter how long Amendola is sidelined, it’s a huge setback for the Rams’ already struggling offense.

“Obviously, losing Danny is big,” quarterback Sam Bradford said after Thursday’s victory. “Everyone knows that he’s a big part of our offense. A lot of what we do runs through him.”

Amendola was well on his way to a breakout season before the injury. Entering Thursday’s game he was second in the NFL in receptions (31) and eighth in the league in reception yards (351). He had just one catch against Arizona before the injury, but it went for 44 yards on a route in which Amendola’s speed and quickness all but turned defender Patrick Peterson into a pretzel.

His absence creates more opportunities for the team’s five remaining healthy wide receivers: Brandon Gibson, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Brian Quick and Steve Smith. Smith has tons of experience playing the slot receiver position usually manned by Amendola, but Pettis can play there as well.

Rookie Givens had moved into the No. 3 spot the past two games in terms of playing time behind starters Amendola and Gibson. Givens actually started ahead of Amendola on Thursday, although Amendola was in on the very next play.

So the likely lineup minus Amendola would have Gibson and Givens starting with Smith or Pettis working out of the slot.

According to NFL stats, Givens was in for a total of 86 snaps against the Cardinals and Seahawks. Quick was in for 26 plays, and Pettis 25 in those two games.

Smith was inactive against Arizona and Seattle last Sunday, making room for rookie Quick on the game-day roster. But that now changes for the next month or so with Amendola sidelined.


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