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Attorneys for former Washington Football Team employees reject NFL’s stance, say clients want investigation ‘findings released’



The attorneys for some former Washington Football Team employees rejected NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s reasoning for not making the investigation into the organization public, saying in a letter that their clients wanted anonymity but also a written report.

Goodell had said in a news conference at the league meetings Tuesday that they did not release a written report into the nearly year-long investigation of the organization and owner Dan Snyder because some who were interviewed wanted anonymity and therefore no public report.

In a two-page letter to Goodell, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz stated that their clients — they represent 40 women who made allegations of sexual harassment while working for Washington — wanted only protection. They wanted the findings released.

The letter stated, “While many who came forward feared retaliation by Dan Snyder, and therefore requested their names be kept confidential, they never envisioned that all their efforts and the efforts of Beth Wilkinson and her team would result in no written report of findings, and no real accountability for Dan Snyder or the WFT. Had they known this, they would not have participated.”

Beth Wilkinson provided a verbal report to the NFL of her findings. There were 150 people interviewed during the investigation. The NFL fined Washington $10 million for its toxic workplace culture; Snyder said at the time that he would step aside from day-to-day operations of the franchise in favor of his wife, Tanya.

Banks and Katz wrote that Goodell “misrepresented the wishes of our clients, and likely those of the other women and men who came forward, to justify your decision to bury what we know would be a damning report.”

They once more urged Goodell to release the findings. They said once that happens the public can determine whether the actions taken against the WFT were appropriate.

They wrote, “Your continued refusal to produce the findings of the investigation, ignoring the repeated pleas from those who put themselves at great risk to participate in this investigation, suggests strongly that it is not they who you are determined to protect.”

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Bites, coffee and tears: How Dan Campbell helped guide the Detroit Lions through a rocky season – Detroit Lions Blog



On Jan. 21, 2021, new Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell made headlines for a passionate, intense and sometimes funny hour-long introductory news conference in which he referenced biting off kneecaps and “The Big Lebowski.”

Seven months later, he went viral after revealing his unusual, caffeine-filled morning coffee order – two 20-ounce coffees at Starbucks with an additional two espresso shots.

Then in October, Campbell, after seeing his team drop to 0-5, again displayed his emotion by shedding tears during a postgame media session following a heartbreaking last-second loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

For those viewing the Lions coach from afar, it perhaps wouldn’t be unreasonable to think the team was being led by a mercurial personality, whose temperament would rise and fall with each game’s outcome.

But a year after that memorable opening news conference, it’s clear Campbell earned the respect of the locker room for his steady leadership, even-keeled approach and optimism in the face of a difficult season.

From that 0-5 start to the 3-13-1 finish, players and coaches say they never saw his demeanor change.

“I think just his steadiness in the midst of how poorly it went early on, especially how steady he was daily and how he showed up as the same person every day and there was no wavering from him,” said Lions quarterback Jared Goff, describing one of Campbell’s most valuable attributes. “That bleeds into the rest of the coaching staff.

“Then, ultimately that bleeds into the players and the leaders on the team. We needed that this year. He was the same guy every day and said the right things, did the right things.”

The Lions’ first victory of the season came in Week 13 against the Vikings, when rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown caught the game-winning touchdown on the final play of the game. After throwing the TD pass, Goff ran straight to Campbell and celebrated with his coach on the sidelines. And after securing the catch, St. Brown said the first person he thought of was Campbell.

“Obviously, after that Vikings win, we were just so happy for him as a head coach to finally get that first win,” St. Brown said. “So, I mean there were so many points in the season where we were like, ‘We love this dude,’ but probably that Vikings game to finally get his first win.”

Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn was on the New Orleans Saints coaching staff with Campbell for five seasons prior to joining him in Detroit, but developed a deeper bond with him this season while pushing through adversity.

“When he first hired me, I just recall me and him sitting up in our office. It could be 2 o’clock in the morning and we’re talking, trying to put things together with this player, that player or this scheme, that scheme,” Glenn said. “And, man, the one thing that I could say about him that has never, never wavered is his thought process, his belief system, the way that he goes about handling players, and that’s pretty impressive because you don’t see it a lot, especially when you have the ebb and flows of a season.

“One thing I can say about that man is that he’s never wavered on who he is, what he’s about and what he stands for, and that has taught me a lot about that and I think players, they really do respect that because now they don’t have to come in and say, ‘OK, what mood is he gonna be in today?’ They know exactly where Dan’s gonna be at and that’s something that no doubt will be a part of who I am as a coach moving forward.”

Campbell admitted the job of turning around a franchise that hasn’t experienced a playoff win since 1992 hasn’t been easy. But he has a clear vision for his team.

“I see it like this: I told [principal owner] Sheila [Ford Hamp] this … and really the team, but we’ve kind of been — we’re in the Arctic Ocean, but we’re headed to the Caribbean. You can see it, I can see it, it’s not always easy to see,” Campbell said before the Lions finished the regular season with a win over the Green Bay Packers. “There’s a long way to go, but we’re heading there, I do know that.

“That’s what this year has been about, and we’re going to — everything had to happen that’s happened this year to an extent, it really has,” he said. “You had to go through some of these growing pains and it’s not been easy, but yet anything worth having or anything worth having success at, it takes a lot of work, hard work. It’s not going to just happen. And, it’s also what makes it that much sweeter, that’s for sure.”

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J.C. Jackson faces uncertain future with Patriots after tough playoff outing – New England Patriots Blog



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:

1. J.C.’s future: Coach Bill Belichick didn’t diminish the importance of evaluating the Patriots’ 47-17 playoff loss to the Bills, but also said it’s important to take a longer view of things when making decisions for the future.

Perhaps no player highlights this balancing act more than cornerback J.C. Jackson.

On a night the defense turned in what might have been the worst performance in Belichick’s 22 years as coach, Jackson had probably the worst game of his four-year career. His technique playing the ball in the air faltered. There were coverage breakdowns in Cover 3 zone calls. His interest in shedding blocks and tackling didn’t seem high.

And now comes the question: How much stock does Belichick put into the game when determining Jackson’s future with the team?

Jackson, a second-team All-Pro selection after totaling eight interceptions during the regular season (now 25 for his career), is scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

“J.C. Jackson looked like he wanted to get the heck out of there healthy and go to free agency and try to make a bunch of money. Which he will,” ESPN analyst Rob Ninkovich said on former teammate Chris Long’s “Green Light” podcast.

There’s always the possibility the Patriots and Jackson reach agreement on a contract extension before the start of free agency March 16. But once a player makes it through a season healthy, and there’s a chance to test the open market and maximize earnings, it usually takes a sweet deal (or an overwhelming desire to stay put) for him to sign before then.

That’s why it seldom happens that way in New England — or anywhere in the NFL.

A franchise tag for Jackson projects at $17.28 million on a one-year term. This reporter has been all over the map — a 15-yard flag for inconsistency is justified — on whether that might happen.

After Jackson’s playoff performance, it now feels like a longer-odds scenario to me that he would be tagged.

2. One clear voice on D? How Belichick addresses the defense immediately became a top storyline following what longtime safety Devin McCourty described as an “embarrassing” playoff loss to the Bills. Ninkovich, on the “Green Light” podcast with Long, shared his opinion that the group would benefit from a clear-cut defensive coordinator.

“I think that’s key. You can’t have a jury of defensive coordinators and minds of how to play defense,” he said. “You have to have the clear-cut general — ‘This is how we’re doing it, this is the type of scheme we’re going to run, this is our game plan.’ Then the players follow that and I think there’s more confidence.”

Belichick has always been heavily involved, as evidenced by the weekly TV shots of him on the sideline flipping through pictures. Then there’s outside linebackers coach/playcaller Steve Belichick, inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and even special assistant Matt Patricia.

“I think that tears at the players a certain way and doesn’t give them the confidence to go out there and play fast,” Ninkovich said on the podcast.

3. Phillips’ remarks: Of all the comments made by players in the aftermath of the playoff loss, safety Adrian Phillips‘ stood out to me. He acknowledged the season changed after the Dec. 12 bye week — he wasn’t sure why — and then said of meeting the physical challenge against the Bills in the playoffs: “I think physically we were there. I think mentally we just weren’t in the right space to go out there and make those plays … For us, we just dropped the ball on that part. I think that’s what the difference was.”

How were the Patriots not mentally in the right space for a playoff game?

Before Belichick can move forward to the 2022 season, and start building the team, this seems like the only place he should start. Without an answer to that question, not much else seems to matter.

4. Lining up the picks: ESPN senior analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s first mock draft — which had the Patriots taking Alabama receiver Jameson Williams at No. 21 — served up a reminder to become more familiar with the team’s entire haul of picks.

  • First round

  • Second round

  • Third round

  • Fourth round

  • Sixth round

  • Sixth round (from Rams)

The fifth-rounder went to the Raiders in exchange for offensive tackle Trent Brown, and the three seventh-round picks the Patriots once owned were traded as part of deals for receiver Isaiah Ford (Dolphins), offensive tackle Yasir Durant (Chiefs) and Shaun Wade (Ravens).

The team is not projected to receive any compensatory draft picks after its big-spending offseason in 2021.

Looking ahead, the Patriots get a fourth-rounder from the Rams in 2023 (as part of the Sony Michel deal) and a sixth-rounder from the Panthers in 2023 (as part of the Stephon Gilmore deal). They traded their 2023 fifth-rounder to the Ravens (as part of the deal for Wade).

5. Mac perspective: Kiper doesn’t have a quarterback in the top 10 of his mock draft, which of course can always change as the draft nears. But the initial snapshot provides context on how this year’s QB crop isn’t considered close to last year’s, when five went within the first 15 picks. It highlights how fortunate the Patriots were to land Mac Jones, as sitting at 21 this year and still looking for a QB would be a tough scenario.

6. Front-office depth: With director of player personnel Dave Ziegler (Raiders) and consultant Eliot Wolf (Bears/Vikings) interviewing for general manager jobs across the NFL, the Patriots could potentially lose two of their top front-office staffers. That would hurt given the positive direction things seem headed after a productive 2021 draft. It would test the depth of the personnel staff, with national scout Matt Groh and pro scouting director Steve Cargile top internal candidates to rise based on what Belichick said about them over the past year.

7. Salute to the wives: Veteran tight end Hunter Henry was asked what he learned about himself in his first season in New England, and his answer in an “exit interview” with reporters was heartfelt, highlighting the sacrifices his wife, Parker, made throughout a year “with a lot of life changes.”

Parker was pregnant with the couple’s first child (a son, Ace, born in December) as Henry himself spent the offseason training in New England. And then she packed up all their belongings and coordinated everything for a relocation from Los Angeles to New England, before managing a newborn mostly on her own during the homestretch of the season/playoffs.

“I think the biggest thing for me is her,” Henry said. “She’s the one who held everything together. I love her to death and am super thankful to have her in my life.”

8. Jennings’ lost year: Linebacker Anfernee Jennings, a 2020 third-round pick from Alabama, was a forgotten man this season after landing on injured reserve at the end of training camp and staying there all season. He falls into a similar category as Chase Winovich (2019 third round) and Josh Uche (2020 second round) as Day 2 picks on defense who should be part of the Patriots’ core going forward, but whose futures with the team are instead more uncertain. Jennings didn’t arrive for 2021 training camp in peak physical condition, so a good sign of a possible bounce-back in 2022 will be if he changes his offseason approach.

9. Meyers’ tender: Receiver Jakobi Meyers is scheduled for restricted free agency, and because he entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, the Patriots would risk losing him without receiving compensation by tendering him at the lowest level. That’s why a second-round tender, of $3.9 million, seems like a no-brainer. In his final session with reporters after the playoff loss, Meyers expressed his desire to return and build on his play strength, which he said waned down the stretch.

10. Did you know? Belichick, his assistants and players conducted a total of 857 news conferences/video conferences from July 27 to Jan. 17. Belichick had 90 himself, while the players with the greatest number of news conferences/video conferences were Jones, linebacker Matthew Judon, McCourty, center David Andrews and Meyers.

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Aaron Rodgers enters offseason of speculation about Packers’ future after playoff dud – Green Bay Packers Blog



GREEN BAY, Wis. – It’s speculation season now that the Green Bay Packers’ actual season ended with a thud.

As usual, Aaron Rodgers is in the middle of it all.

In what could be considered his greatest playoff failure, the likely season MVP failed to lead the Packers to a single postseason victory even though their regular-season work put them in Position A as the top seed.

Of course, Rodgers didn’t get any help from the Packers’ special teams, which on back-to-back plays had a 39-yard field goal blocked to end the first half and allowed a 45-yard kickoff return to start the second half.

And that wasn’t even the worst of it. That happened in the fourth quarter, when the 49ers Jordan Willis blocked Corey Bojorquez’s punt and safety Talanoa Hufanga returned it 6 yards for a game-tying touchdown with 4:41 remaining.

As if that weren’t enough, the Packers had only 10 players on the field for Robbie Gould‘s 45-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.

Saturday night’s 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round accelerated the questions about Rodgers’ future. It’s also possible it influenced it.

“I did not think we’d be talking about this after this game, but I’m gonna take some time and have conversations with the folks around here and then take some time away and make a decision obviously before free agency or anything kind of gets going on that front,” Rodgers said. “But it’s fresh right now. It’s a little shocking for sure.

“Definitely was hoping to have a nice week after the NFC Championship to enjoy the lead-up and then start contemplating some things. I haven’t even let the moment really sink in yet.”

Does another season without a Super Bowl make Rodgers any more or less likely to return to the Packers next season?

This time, they didn’t get within a sniff of the Super Bowl. After losing back-to-back NFC Championship Games, the Packers didn’t even get there this time.

Those worried Rodgers might feel like another Super Bowl is never going to happen for him in Green Bay shouldn’t rest easy until Rodgers declares his intentions for the 2022 season.

At least he promised a quick resolution when he spoke on the matter last month.

It all started so promisingly on Saturday. The Rodgers-to-Davante Adams connection was alive and well on the opening drive. They connected three times for 35 yards, and it led to a touchdown — something that happened only three times in 17 regular-season games.

Then, despite possession after possession given to them by a swarming defense that sacked Jimmy Garoppolo four times, the Packers’ offense went nowhere.

Six straight drives without a point.

Their offense had not been so ineffective since the Jordan Love game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 7. The only time that happened this season with Rodgers was the 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the season opener, when they went eight straight drives without a point.

It’s not like the Packers’ defense didn’t give Rodgers and Co. plenty of opportunities, thanks to defensive stars like Rashan Gary, who had two sacks and a tackle for loss.

But Rodgers, who fell to 0-4 against the 49ers in the playoffs, failed to throw a touchdown pass in a postseason game for the first time since the 2010 NFC Championship Game against the Chicago Bears. He finished 20-of-29 for 225 yards.

It was reminiscent of last year’s NFC title game, when Rodgers was the beneficiary of three interceptions of Tom Brady, yet turned those into only seven points. Rodgers’ playoff record since his lone Super Bowl dropped to 7-9.

While Rodgers admitted that his performance wasn’t good enough, it was head coach Matt LaFleur who took most of the blame — for the offense managing only 10 points, for the myriad special teams’ mistakes and for another season without a Super Bowl.

“Ultimately,” LaFleur said. “It all falls on me.”

With the Tennessee Titans’ loss to the Cincinnati Bengals earlier Saturday, it’s the first time that both No. 1 seeds lost in the divisional round since the 2010 postseason, when the No. 1-seeded Patriots lost to the Jets and the top-seeded Falcons lost to the Packers.

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