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NFL misses deadline to provide documents to Congress on Washington Football Team investigation



WASHINGTON, D.C. — The NFL did not provide documents by a deadline set by members of Congress relating to its investigation of the Washington Football Team, according to a statement issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee Friday and confirmed by the league.

But an NFL spokesman said the league had submitted responses to questions in the Committee’s Oct. 21 letter to commissioner Roger Goodell.

“The NFL on Thursday submitted responses to the questions in the Committee’s October 21 letter,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “As we have discussed with the Committee, we are in the process of identifying responsive documents while working through issues of privilege and anonymity promised to participants in the investigation.”

The league faced a Thursday deadline to submit “documents and information” concerning the team’s workplace culture and the league’s investigation into it. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., requested the documents in a five-page letter that also posed several questions to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Among the questions the committee wanted to know: the league’s role in Beth Wilkinson’s investigation into the Washington Football Team’s workplace culture; why there was no written report after talking to 150 people; what the role of the NFL’s general counsel, Jeff Pash, was, during the investigation after his tight relationship with former WFT team president Bruce Allen had been revealed in multiple emails. Allen was fired after the 2019 season.

“Commissioner Goodell said the NFL will cooperate with Congress, and we expect him to make good on that promise by producing the documents requested,” Rep. Maloney said in a statement. “In the spirit of transparency, I am calling on the NFL and Washington Football Team to honor the Commissioner’s public statement that witnesses to the team’s hostile workplace culture are ‘welcome’ to come forward. Congress has a responsibility to combat harassment and discrimination in the workplace. If the NFL shares our commitment to address these issues, it will be fully transparent about the findings of the internal review and will allow all individuals to speak freely without fear of retaliation.”

“While Commissioner Roger Goodell has told the press that victims and witnesses are free to take their story public, he should know many of them do not have that option,” Rep. Krishnamoorthi added. “Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Football Team, has saddled them with gag orders, preventing them from coming forward due to fear of retaliation. If the NFL and the WFT are serious about addressing, among other things, sexual harassment within their organizations, they must allow these individuals to speak freely. The NFL has committed to producing documents. We look forward to seeing them.”

A few of the 650,000 emails amassed during the investigation leaked to media organizations last month, leading to the resignation of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden on Oct. 11. He had sent emails to then-WFT team president Bruce Allen that contained misogynistic, racist and anti-gay language.

Goodell has said no report was released after the league’s nearly year-long investigation of the WFT and owner Dan Snyder because some who were interviewed wanted anonymity and therefore no public report. The NFL announced its findings on July 2 and fined the franchise $10 million.

But since the Gruden emails were published, the league has come under public pressure, including from the attorneys for 40 women who have alleged sexual harassment while working for the team, to release the full findings, including more emails.

“The way they handle issues of race and gender and the way they treat their employees really influences the way society handles those very issues,” Krishnamoorthi told ESPN last month. “We’re very much interested in learning more about exactly why the NFL did what they did and the way they did it.”

The committee’s letter raised concerns about nondisclosure agreements that former employees signed and sought more information about the role of NFL general counsel Jeff Pash in the investigation. Pash’s emails to Allen, among those leaked in the media recently, showed a friendly relationship between the two, and the representatives want to know how that might have affected the investigation. Allen was fired after the 2019 season.

Krishnamoorthi said the committee wants to determine if new or stronger laws are needed to help employees in similar environments. He said they also want to make sure the NFL did not cover up information via the nondisclosure agreements signed by the former Washington employees.

They also sought the names and job titles of everyone who oversaw the probe.

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky), the ranking minority member of the Oversight committee, said Democrats on the committee are out of touch to think Congress has a role in sorting out the WFT matter.

“Americans are currently facing an unprecedented border crisis, skyrocketing inflation, a supply chain breakdown, and an underperforming economy,” Comer said in a statement. “The Democrats’ latest theatrics are clearly a last-ditch effort to distract the American people from President Biden’s self-inflicted crisis.”

The Committee on Oversight and Reform is one of the most powerful committees in Congress. Staffers described it as having “broad powers” that enable it to investigate any industry or topic its members choose.

Democrats hold the House majority, and thus control what will happen next in the WFT inquiry. Multiple committee staffers told ESPN the next few weeks will likely be a time of negotiation between the NFL and the Committee’s senior staff. One congressional source told ESPN that the league had made contact with the committee’s Republican staffers at least three times before the Thursday deadline.

A couple of Republican staffers told ESPN they felt the inquiry was an overreach, arguing Congress shouldn’t get involved in an HR investigation of a private organization.

But some staffers for the Democrats said they wanted the full committee to hold a hearing regardless of what documents the NFL ultimately produces, with the hope of pressuring the NFL to change its culture.

When — and if — a hearing takes place is still being debated. The Committee generally schedules hearings about three months in advance. Congress already has a packed schedule to tackle before the end of year, including voting on the president’s domestic agenda and funding the government. There’s also a general expectation Congress will have a heavy focus on the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection.

Even so, staffers from both sides cautioned that the NFL is high-profile and “newsy” enough that they can’t rule out a hearing before the end of the year.

In a hearing, Republicans would be allowed to invite one witness for every three witnesses called by the Democrats. Due to Covid-19, witnesses have been allowed to testify virtually.

The Committee has the legal authority to subpoena documents and compel witnesses who would prefer not to testify, similar to a court case. But subpoenas are generally considered to be a last-ditch effort if negotiations and hearings fail to satisfy the Democrats running the committee.

Since the investigation ended, Snyder has ceded day-to-day operations to his wife and co-CEO, Tanya. But he remains involved, focusing on finding a site for a new stadium and also attending games.

Among notable members on the Committee are Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-Washington, D.C., who represents the team’s hometown and has long butted heads with Snyder. She and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced last year that the team would never be allowed to build a stadium in the District unless the team dropped its previous nickname. It did a few months later. Snyder’s desire for a new stadium could continue to give Norton leverage during the inquiry.

The team currently plays in Maryland and practices in Virginia, whose suburbs could become home to a new stadium as well. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD, Rep. John Sarbanes, D-MD, Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-MD, and Rep. Gerrald Connelly, D-VA, all sit on the committee.

There are at least 10 more Democrats on the committee from cities with an NFL team, including Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville and Chicago.

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New England Patriots throw just three passes, dominate on the ground in win over Buffalo Bills



ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Taking the ball out of rookie quarterback Mac Jones‘ hands in wind gusts over 40 miles per hour, and relying on their running game, the New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 14-10 at Highmark Stadium on Monday night to enter their bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Overall, Jones was just 2-of-3 for 19 yards, while the Patriots ran for 222 yards on 46 carries.

The three passing attempts are the fewest ever in Patriots history, while the two completions match their fewest, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The three pass attempts were the fewest by any team since the Bills attempted just two in Week 3 of the 1974 season (vs. the New York Jets).

The Patriots’ fewest pass attempts in a game was previously five, which came in the 1982 “Snow Plow” game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Massachusetts – a game played in a driving snowstorm that was scoreless in the fourth quarter when stadium worker Mark Henderson drove a tractor on to the field to clear a spot for the only field goal of the game.

The Patriots improve to 9-4, with the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs all 8-4. The Bills, meanwhile, drop to 7-5 and their margin for error to win the AFC East has been thinned.

Jones threw just one pass in the first half — when the Patriots led 11-7 at the break — and completed it for 12 yards. The pass sailed high in the wind and tight end Jonnu Smith pulled it down.

That was the fewest first-half pass attempts by a team since at least 1978, which is as far back as data is available, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The previous record was two, which happened three times, most recently by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14 of 2017 — also in Buffalo, in snowy conditions.

Overall, Jones’ only other completion was a screen pass in the fourth quarter.

The only other games in Patriots history in which they completed just two passes came in December of 1982, and November of 1969 — both against the Miami Dolphins.

Their one passing first down tied for the second fewest in franchise history, and was their fewest since Dec. 4, 1983. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the last team in the NFL that won a game with one or fewer passing first downs, doing so in 2010 with Dennis Dixon as their quarterback.

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Potential No. 1 pick Kayvon Thibodeaux to declare for NFL draft, skip Oregon Ducks’ bowl game



Star Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux is declaring for the NFL draft, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.

Thibodeaux will not play in the Ducks’ bowl game, a matchup against No. 16 Oklahoma in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, and instead will start preparing for the draft, sources said.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Thibodeaux rated No. 1 overall in his latest Big Board. Fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has him as the No. 2-rated prospect in this year’s draft class.

The 6-foot-5 Thibodeaux was the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2019 and a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last year after arriving at Oregon as the No. 1-ranked player in the class of 2019. He played 10 games this season — an ankle injury slowed him up early — and finished with seven sacks and 49 total tackles.

Thibodeaux was also at the forefront of players’ ability to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. He signed a handful of deals, including one with Ebay, another with United Airlines and a six-figure memorabilia deal. He also released an NFT in partnership with Nike founder Phil Knight and sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield that sold for $100 per unit. In September, he launched his own cryptocurrency called $JREAM.

Thibodeaux’s early exit came on the same day Mario Cristobal left Oregon to take the head-coaching position at Miami.

Information from ESPN’s Paolo Uggetti was used in this report.

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New York Giants QB Daniel Jones (neck) unlikely to play vs. Los Angeles Chargers, sources say



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After further visits with team doctors and specialists to have his neck injury evaluated, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is unlikely to play Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Jones missed Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins. He was injured the previous week in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants (4-8) remain hopeful he won’t miss much more time and will return this season.

Mike Glennon started in Jones’ place on Sunday, but was diagnosed with a concussion after the contest. That puts newly acquired quarterback Jake Fromm potentially in line to start against the Chargers. It only adds to questions about whether Jones has done enough in his first three professional seasons to convince the Giants — and potentially a new general manager — that he is a true franchise quarterback they should build around.

Fromm, a University of Georgia standout, was signed off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad last week. He has never played in an NFL game and could be making his first start 11 days after joining the team.

“It’s the beauty of the NFL. It’s next man up. Jake is getting his opportunity,” said Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas, who was also his teammate at Georgia. “I’m excited for him to get his chance. But like I said, next man up, and we’re doing everything to help him.”

The Giants also have former Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke on their practice squad. He seems to have been immediately jumped by Fromm on the depth chart.

Judge said that Fromm would be next in line this week at practice with Jones and Glennon sidelined. The Giants might still add additional contingencies.

“We’re talking internally about a lot of options personnel-wise to see what we can do and build in depth for a multitude of reasons,” coach Joe Judge said.

Judge said after the game in Miami that Glennon would remain the starter if healthy while Jones remained sidelined. But Glennon’s status is in doubt and might not be decided until late this week.

He’s currently in the concussion protocol.

“The optimistic view would be to have [Glennon] ready for the game on Sunday,” Judge said during a Monday afternoon conference call from Arizona, where the Giants are practicing this week.

New York is also dealing with COVID-19 issues. Offensive lineman Wes Martin and quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski tested positive on Monday, per Judge.

Martin was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday afternoon. Schuplinski was involved in meetings virtually throughout the day as the Giants try to get Fromm coached up quickly for a potential start.

Having Fromm start would provide some limitations.

“For a guy who has only been in your system for a couple days, you have to go ahead and select more of a menu what he can operate with in a game,” Judge said. “That is not always based on what he’s capable of with his ability, it’s just based on being new in a scheme and system and what he’s comfortable going out there and playing aggressively and making the right decisions within.”

Fromm has crammed hard since joining the Giants. He stayed after practice on Friday last week and did extra work with Jones there to provide input.

The fifth-round pick by the Buffalo Bills last year has made a positive first impression.

“He’s an intelligent guy. He’s demonstrated that already,” Judge said. “He has very good poise out there and he has a very good presence. Once thing that is very impressive about this guy is you talk to former teammates of his, like we did before he got in here, most of those Georgia guys, and every single one lit up and said we’d absolutely love to have that guy on the team.”

The bar won’t be especially high. The Giants failed to score a touchdown on Sunday in Miami. They have one touchdown in the two games since offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was fired.

Glennon went 23-of-44 for 187 yards with an interception against the Dolphins.

Jones has completed 64.3% of his passes for 2,428 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.

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