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Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank expressed his unbridled support of the NFL's decision to relax its rules regarding on-field celebrations for the upcoming season.
It was announced that players will be allowed to use props and participate in group celebrations in 2017. Celebrations that depict violent or sexually suggestive acts are still outlawed, however.
Blank took notice of the general opinion fans expressed about the conservative leanings of the NFL, and said the new rule encourages players to act naturally.
"Well, from my perspective - and I'm a fan like all the rest of the fans - I think the NFL, you know the 'No Fun League,' I think that's been overplayed a little bit," Blank said Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "And I think allowing the players ... allowing them to celebrate in appropriate ways after something great happens - a touchdown, a field goal, winning game, whatever the event may be - is natural.
"Go back to your childhood when you're playing any sport," Blank added. "Whenever you did something that was really good and you won and you were successful, you had a fist pump. You did whatever was appropriate, but you did celebrate. I think it's very natural for our players to celebrate. Our fans want to see them (celebrate). Frankly our players are going to be, in my opinion, very creative, because they are creative. They love to dance. They love music. And they know how to do it. So I certainly expect to see a lot more of that. And I think I'm looking forward to that next year, personally. I think our fans will as well."
Blank certainly enjoys having fun with his players, dancing up a storm in the locker room after the Falcons advanced past the Seattle Seahawks, then took to the podium to turn up after his club routed the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
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Sorry, Jimmy Graham. You're still not allowed to show us your dunks in the end zone.
While the NFL announced they will relax celebration penalties next season, players will still not be allowed to dunk the ball over the crossbar after touchdowns, a source told ESPN's Kevin Seifert on Wednesday.
The new rules are supposed to allow the use of the ball as a prop, but the possibility of a delay of game has outlawed the end zone dunk.
In 2013, Graham, then with the New Orleans Saints, dunked the ball through the goalposts at the Georgia Dome, causing them to tilt. It took the game operation staff several minutes to fix the posts before play could resume, and the following season dunks were banned.
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After three losing seasons and 63 career turnovers, Blake Bortles might be catching on to this whole "being an NFL quarterback" thing.
With vice president Tom Coughlin and head coach Doug Marrone now leading the charge, the Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback sounds like he's picking up on a few new concepts, one of which being the idea of not giving the ball to the other team.
"If you don't turn the ball over, you’ll win football games," Bortles said Wednesday, according to Mike Kaye of WTLV. "That’s our focus.
"Turnovers are going to happen. We get that. You have to make sure to minimize them as much as possible and stay away from the stupid ones."
Bortles' progression has been a key focus of the Jaguars' offseason as Marrone has put an emphasis on reconstructing his quarterback's throwing motion.
The fourth-year pro has showed he can chuck it at the NFL level, passing for 11,241 yards and 69 touchdowns through 45 starts, but his consistency and ball security have been major issues. Bortles has thrown 51 interceptions and fumbled 29 times since 2014.
While Bortles' revelation seems obvious, the 25-year-old has developed a habit of pointing out the overtly obvious.
Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.
Bell's funding will go toward installing turf at the school's football stadium.
The running back graduated in 2010, then enrolled at Michigan State.
"This is an incredible gift to the Groveport Madison Schools community," superintendent Bruce Hoover said to ABC 6. "Le'Veon and his mother, Lisa, give credit to many people at GMHS, most particularly to coach Bryan Schoonover, for helping Le'Veon during his high school years. This gift speaks to the power of strong, trusting relationships between our students and staff. It also demonstrates the power and connection between our schools and our alumni – and what it means to be a Cruiser."
Groveport Madison will be renaming Cruiser Stadium to Le'Veon Bell Field as a result of his donation.
Brock Osweiler's view of Brock Osweiler is likely quite different from yours.
After a year-and-a-half of starting experience in the NFL, the former Denver Broncos and Houston Texans quarterback has replaced Mark Sanchez as the most laughed-at passer in the league. But Osweiler isn't laughing.
When asked if he could be a starter for the Cleveland Browns, he told reporters Wednesday: "I think the proof is in the film for the past two years."
Here are 10 reasons why he might want to take that statement back:
Getting 'revenge' on the Broncos
The game Osweiler should have been the most motivated and best prepared for came in Week 7 of the 2016 season against the Broncos, his former team.
Evidently, his former teammates were more motivated than him, as he threw for 131 yards on 41 attempts and set an NFL record for most games with less than 200 passing yards on 40 attempts or more. Bravo.
Making 6-foot-8 look short
One thing Osweiler has always had going for him is his height.
But somehow, it seems few quarterbacks have had more passes batted down at the line of scrimmage than this 6-foot-8 QB.
Being cheered to the bench
Name one quality starter who has been cheered on for getting benched in favor of a quarterback with no career starts.
The fact that first-ballot Hall of Famer Brett Favre threw into triple coverage all the time isn't valid reasoning for forcing this throw.
Chemistry with his No. 1 WR
DeAndre Hopkins had back-to-back seasons of more than 1,200 yards with a combination of Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, and T.J. Yates throwing him the ball.
In his first game playing with Hopkins, Osweiler tried a bounce pass to his elite pass-catcher.
Creating his own pressure
After experiencing some limited success against the blitz while playing the Raiders, Osweiler was thrown off by the lack of pressure and opted to pass up an open receiver down the sideline to force a pass to a covered target.
When a pass is batted back into a quarterback's hands, he can either bat it down and live to play another down, or catch it, get tackled, and lose some yards.
Seems like an easy decision, right?
Identifying the opponent's biggest threat
In Osweiler's fourth career start, he had just one defensive player to really keep an eye on: Khalil Mack.
Despite Mack's 6-foot-3, 250-pound frame, the former Broncos quarterback couldn't seem to spot the Raiders edge rusher, as he was slammed to the field five times. It was just the 15th time in NFL history a player notched five sacks in one game.
Starting off on the right foot
A good quarterback can take over a game on the first drive if he handles it properly.
On the first drive against the Colts in Week 6 of last season, Osweiler handed the ball off once, threw two incomplete passes, and quickly fumbled on third down.
Using his eyes
Among the greats, Drew Brees has made a career out of moving defensive backs around the field with his eyes.
Osweiler proved he can do the same, staring down his receiver until a defensive back could jump in front of his pass.
J.J. Watt was either celebrating his love for his brothers or issuing one of his patented humble brags on Wednesday.
While J.J. thought it was cute that him and his brothers were dressed in similar festive fashion, Evans couldn't help but notice the family had a striking resemblance to another holiday season staple.
Grigson was fired by the Colts in January after five seasons with the club.
Former Colts punter Pat McAfee, who retired from pro football in February, couldn't hold his reaction back:
This isn't the first time McAfee has voiced his displeasure of Grigson, as he blasted his former GM on Twitter after the Colts let him go in January.
It appears the Browns weren't consulting anyone from the Colts before deciding to hire Grigson.
Grigson was fired by the Colts on Jan. 21.
"Ryan brings valuable experience to our personnel group," Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said in the announcement. "He was raised as a road-scout and has been evaluating talent in this league for almost 20 years. We place a premium on that experience and on his passion for football. Ryan has much to offer to any personnel department and we are pleased that he chose to join our staff."
Grigson served as the Colts' general manager from 2012-2016. He was best known for trading a 2014 first-round pick for running back Trent Richardson.
The Los Angeles Chargers are eager to get their first-round pick back on the field.
Head coach Anthony Lynn admitted wide receiver Mike Williams, who has been sidelined since the first day of rookie camp due to back tightness, is already falling behind
"I'd like to see him out there next week because he's getting behind right now, and we've got to get him back out on the field," Lynn said, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN. "If he wasn't a rookie it would be different. But he has so much to learn, and some of this you can only learn on the field."
Initially classified as nothing more than back tightness, the injury presumably won't keep Williams out for an extended period of time. And he can likely still make up for lost time if he indeed gets back in the mix sooner rather than later. To Lynn's point, though, every rep is critical when making the transition to the NFL level.
His chances of making an impact early in his pro career will be furthered by every snap he can take on the practice field, establishing a rapport with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers.
Los Angeles selected Williams with the No. 7 overall pick in April's draft, making him the second wideout off the board following a season in which he helped Clemson to a national title with 98 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns.
If you weren't a fan of Jim Harbaugh during his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, the lack of respect he showed to then-Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz in 2011 was likely part of the reason for your contempt.
After a 25-19 win over the Lions in Week 6 of the 2011 season, Harbaugh - in his first season as an NFL coach - started yelling and screaming about his team's win less then a second after shaking hands with Schwartz, which caused a physical altercation.
At the time, Harbaugh told SFGate's Gwen Knapp he wasn't going to apologize for the incident, stating: "If that offends you or anyone else, so be it."
However, now that Harbaugh is comfortable coaching college ball at Michigan, he's reflected on his overexcited demeanor and feels he was to blame for the altercation.
"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake," Harbaugh told the "Pardon My Take" podcast. "We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends...
"There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong."
Bruce Arians fully supports the NFL's decision to reduce overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes in the upcoming season.
The Arizona Cardinals head coach, whose team played to a grueling 6-6 tie against the Seattle Seahawks last season, doesn't believe there are any valid arguments against shortening the overtime period, and is welcoming the change.
"Will it lead to more ties? Hell, who knows?" Arians told the Cardinals' official website. "We'll call the game a little differently. But I'm happy with it."
"People are worried about 10-minute drives," he added. "I don't know if I've ever seen a 10-minute drive. I guess there have been a couple. If you get the ball ran on you for 10 minutes, you deserve to lose anyway."
Osweiler's horrific 2016 campaign with the Houston Texans turned him into a punchline across the league, and he was traded to the Browns in March.
NFL Network's Steve Smith wasn't buying Osweiler's argument whatsoever, roasting him for his audacious claim.
Smith, who retired from professional football in January, was known for his candor throughout his career and it doesn't seem like he'll back down during his new role as an analyst.
Team president Bruce Allen confirmed that talks have been ongoing earlier this week, but with rumors that the team isn't completely sold on Cousins as their franchise quarterback, the 28-year-old did little to hint at whether he will actually land a new deal soon.
"I've had very positive conversations with everybody involved throughout the process this offseason," Cousins said Wednesday, according to NFL.com's Nick Shook. "I feel like everybody is on the same page and I really have nothing further to add from what's already been said.
"I feel good about where I'm at, where this team is at, where my teammates are at so now it's a matter of trying to move forward and we'll see what happens come July 15. It will be a telling date as it was last summer."
Cousins is currently set to play the 2017 season on the franchise tag after doing the same in 2016. He would have the highest base salary in the league at $23.9 million in 2017, according to spotrac.com, but would only have the job security of one season - which he apparently doesn't have a problem with.
He and the Redskins have until the July 15 deadline to come to an agreement on a new contract or Cousins will be forced to play under the tag.
Teddy Bridgewater was given some good news during a meeting with doctors Wednesday in Dallas.
Small as the development may seem, any progress Bridgewater can make in working his way back from a significant knee injury is incredibly positive news for both player and team.
The former first-round pick missed the entire 2016 season after tearing both his ACL and MCL as well as suffering additional knee damage in a training-camp practice.
He remains without a timeline for return, and there's been no indication of whether he has a chance to play next season, but the doctor's evaluation is the second encouraging sign for the signal-caller this week.
Sam Bradford, who was acquired in a blockbuster trade following Bridgewater's injury last summer, will continue as the No. 1 quarterback ahead of his second season in Minnesota.
Bridgewater eventually returning to the mix could make for a complicated situation under center, but having two established starters at the most important position on the field certainly wouldn't be a bad problem to have.
Fans in attendance for country singer Chris Stapleton's show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colo. on Tuesday night were treated to a surprise appearance by Peyton Manning.
The former Denver Broncos quarterback took the stage alongside Stapleton to perform a rendition of "Tennessee Whiskey."
As one might expect, Antonio Brown is pleased with the development - and already planning his end-zone festivities.
"It's amazing," Brown said, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. "I'm sure the guys are looking forward to it, the O-line, some of the guys who don't get to celebrate with the guys who are getting in the end zone. I think it will be fun."
Brown specifically mentioned that he hasn't danced with center Maurkice Pouncey.
The rule change follows a torrent of criticism directed at the league and makes it legal to, among other things, celebrate with teammates or use the football as a prop.
Brown was flagged for excessive celebration on three different occasions last season alone, each time taking a hit to the bank account afterward. The fines added up to $57,733.
The perennial Pro Bowler is likely just one of many who will be taking full advantage of the new rules.
So confident, in fact, Osweiler said Wednesday that anyone doubting his ability to start should go watch the tape from 2015-16.
"I think the proof is in the film for the past two years," said Osweiler, according to NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano.
During the exchange, Osweiler refused to talk about his time with the Houston Texans before responding somewhat defiantly when a reporter argued that some would say the proof was not on the film.
Osweiler was traded to the Browns by the Texans along with a second-round pick this offseason, in what was essentially a salary-cap dump move rarely seen in the NFL.
The 26-year-old was decent in seven starts for the Denver Broncos in 2015. He appeared in eight games (starting seven) and finished the year with an 86.4 passer rating.
However, the wheels quickly came off after a big-money move to Houston. Osweiler was the starter for most of the regular season, but threw for less than 3,000 yards and had more interceptions than touchdown passes (16 to 15). Only Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the year with a worse passer rating among qualifying quarterbacks.
Osweiler took snaps with the second-string unit at the Browns' OTAs, with the presumptive favorite for the starting job, Cody Kessler, working with the first team. Osweiler said Kessler has earned the right to be the man to beat.
"I'm the new kid on the block," said Osweiler, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com.
Jim Caldwell seems to have every intention of repairing things between his Detroit Lions and one of the best players in franchise history.
Addressing Calvin Johnson's recent comments, which hinted at a strained relationship on the heels of his retirement last year, the veteran head coach likened the team dynamic to that of a family - and its attendant conflicts.
Caldwell anticipates that, at some point, the matter will be settled through communication.
"Playing in the National Football League for a team, it's like a family. Families sometimes have disagreements," Caldwell said, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN. "They look at things a little differently. I have grown children. Sometimes we look at things a little differently. We hash them out, talk them out. There's dialogue, but it doesn't mean I don't love them. But we get the differences worked out.
"I think the same thing will happen in this situation. Maybe there's a disagreement, a little different viewpoint, but the most important thing, I think, is perhaps this whole thing will bring about a little bit more dialogue."
Neither Johnson nor the Lions have disclosed the points of contention between the two sides, and Caldwell didn't want to offer a time frame for when the issue might be resolved.
Johnson's dissatisfaction with the organization became apparent over the weekend when he was asked about the possibility of Detroit retiring his jersey.
"I don't even like to talk Lions too much just because the way our relationship ended," Johnson responded, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "If they see me around here, we'll see. But hey, I don't know. I just didn't feel like I was treated the way I should have been treated on the way out. That’s all. I mean, it's all good. I'm not tripping. I don't feel any kind of way, just hey, that's what they did. Hey, it is what is."
Johnson, selected No. 2 overall in the 2007 draft, was one of the league's most dominant receivers over the course of his nine seasons in Detroit.
The six-time Pro Bowler's incredible level of production - 731 catches, 11,619 yards, and 83 touchdowns - saw him walk away with a sizable lead atop each of the franchise's all-time receiving categories.
On the surface, Marvin Lewis' blast of the NFL's more relaxed celebration rules sounds like a grumpy, old head coach who's simply out of touch with what fans and players want.
"I'm not for that at all," Lewis said Tuesday about the latest rule change. "We had a good standard and the whole standard has always been you want to teach people how to play the game the correct way and go about it the correct way, and that's not a very good example for young people."
Nearly every other head coach in the league could've made those remarks, and most of the football world would've shrugged it off.
However, Lewis coaches the Bengals, a team that time and time again has taken chances on questionable-character guys and overlooked off-field issues, regardless of how those decisions are viewed outside their facility.
And as the leader of that team, Lewis has to be aware that he's in no position to decide what is and isn't a good example for young people.
If that really was Lewis' primary concern, would Cincinnati have drafted Joe Mixon this year after the controversial running back was captured on CCTV in July 2014 punching a female student?
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
Or would Vontaze Burfict still be a member of the Bengals? The linebacker has been accused of intentionally trying to injure opponents, was suspended for three games to start the 2016 campaign due to an egregious helmet-to-helmet hit on Antonio Brown during the 2015 playoffs, and is almost universally known as the dirtiest player in the NFL.
And the less said about Adam Jones the better. The veteran cornerback's entire career has been dominated by off-field issues, with the most recent incident leading to him being charged with a misdemeanor after making profane comments toward a Cincinnati police officer. Jones also had a felony charge dropped for allegedly spitting on a nurse.
At least Jones didn't coordinate a "Gangnam Style" dance afterward - maybe then he'd have felt the wrath of Lewis and the Bengals.
Instead, what was Lewis' actual response to Jones' latest indiscretion? Telling the player to work on his image.
Work on his image?! Maybe try some tough love, Marvin. Or, you know, release the guy, if you truly don't want young kids to think that's how you should behave.
Now, Lewis and Cincinnati are far from the only coach and team that turns a blind eye to distractions and poor behavior when it's balanced out by talent and production.
But the Bengals are arguably the worst offenders, and the cost of taking on guys like Mixon, Burfict, and Jones is that you have to cede the moral high ground.
If Lewis really cared about negatively influencing young people, he wouldn't consistently show them that you can get away with nearly anything as a professional athlete as long as you're talented enough.
His misguided stance against celebrations reeks of hypocrisy, and that's without even getting into the fact that he stood on the sidelines as Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson spent his entire career doing this, and this, and this.
The NFL's new rules still prohibit offensive and excessive celebrations, such as mimicking a weapon or taunting an opponent. This won't be the Wild West, with players celebrating in any inappropriate way they want. And even if it was, Lewis sure isn't in any position to act as Sheriff.
Perhaps the New York Jets won't be so quick to give up on their 2016 second-round pick, after all.
The fact that the Penn State product was kept on the sideline for his entire rookie year was understandably considered to be a red flag. A non-contender being unwilling to get its young quarterback on the field didn't exactly do much to dispel the notion that Hackenberg was a project of epic proportions.
In relaying the apparent optimism, Schefter cites the impact of quarterback coach Jeremy Bates, who was hired this offseason after five years in the same role with the Chicago Bears.
While encouraging reports about any player should be taken with a grain of salt at this time of year, it seems possible the Jets are teeing up an opportunity for Hackenberg to show what he can do.
And why wouldn't they?
After opting against addressing the position in the draft, the only other candidates for snaps include veteran free-agent addition Josh McCown and 2015 fourth-rounder Bryce Petty. The ideal strategy, before likely having the opportunity to land a top quarterback prospect next spring, is evaluating what the team has in Hackenberg.
The 22-year-old completed 56.1 percent of his passes across three seasons at Penn State, throwing for 8,457 yards, 48 touchdowns, and 31 interceptions.