Heisman Trophy voters, do the right thing. I implore you to make a statement.
Show this prestigious award stands for more than just statistics. Show it stands for integrity. Show it stands for character.
Do not reward Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. The photo here tells you all you need to know.
Do not turn a blind eye to his consistent bad behavior. If you hand him this award, you are saying nothing matters except on-field performance. You are saying petulant and irresponsible actions are no big deal.
More than any other award, the Heisman represents college football. The winner becomes the face of the sport. Is this the person you want as the face of college football?
Mayfield apologized for his latest incident Saturday, the angry crotch grab on the sidelines during a predictably easy 41-3 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks.
Yes, I know the Kansas players refused to shake his hand during the coin toss. I don’t care. It doesn’t excuse Mayfield. Be the bigger man. It was a poor gamesmanship decision by the Jayhawks, but Mayfield has earned his hatred from opponents.
If Saturday was Mayfield’s first incident I would opt to let it go. It wasn’t.
After the 31-16 victory over Ohio State earlier this season, Mayfield did a victory lap with the OU flag and attempted to plant it on the Buckeyes logo at midfield. He apologized for that incident, as well.
Two weeks later in a brief pregame skirmish at Baylor, Mayfield said to the Baylor players: “You forgot who your daddy is. I’m going to have to spank you today.”
OU escaped with a difficult 49-41 victory over a badly outmanned Baylor team.
Again, it isn’t the one taunt. It’s football. Guys say things. But in Mayfield’s case, it’s the repeated childish behavior.
There also is the arrest in Arkansas last February for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
I realize the Heisman isn’t exactly pristine in the players its voters have honored over the last few years, including Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel.
All the more reason to change the landscape now. There are plenty of talented athletes worthy of the award who would make excellent representatives of college football.
And why not seriously consider a top defensive player? That’s a story for another day.
Mayfield deserves praise for what he has overcome in his career – a walk-on at Texas Tech who transferred to OU and made himself one of the best players in the country. He has a chip on his shoulder and some people say his antics are just part of his charm.
Sorry, I’m not buying it. If the Heisman voters hand Mayfield the trophy, the award is dead. It has no meaning. This award has to stand for more than just a star offensive player on a top team.
Make fans feel good about the Heisman again. Knock the dirt off it and make it shine for what’s good about the game on and off the field.
As many of us have heard before, talent is a gift, but character is a choice. Mayfield has talent, but he made his choice long ago.
RENTON, Wash. – Is the 2017 version on Byron Maxwell the same player who started in the Super Bowl for the Seattle Seahawks almost three years ago?
The Seahawks practically hit the lottery in the two veteran players added to the team in recent weeks with defensive end Dwight Freeney and left tackle Duane Brown.
Can they go 3 for 3? Maxwell comes home again to help replace Richard Sherman, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon last week and is done for the year.
No one expects Maxwell to be Sherman, the game’s best cornerback. But signing Maxwell is a good decision because the Legion of Boom is a banged up lot.
For the first time in six years, the Seahawks may have to play a game with both Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor off the field. Chancellor suffered a neck stinger near the end of the Arizona game and still is undergoing tests.
“It’ll definitely be weird,’’ Seattle middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said on the thought of Sherman and Chancellor being out. “I’ve never played a game without Richard out there. He’s definitely going to be missed. To have both of those guys out is something we’ve never had to deal with, but we’ll prepare for it and hold it down until at least one of them gets back.”
The good news is free safety Earl Thomas will return after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. Bradley McDougald, who started while Thomas was out, will start at strong safety if Chancellor doesn’t play.
McDougald has played well, but the cornerback situation without Sherman is more tenuous. Fans shouldn’t expect Maxwell to be the player they remember when he had four interceptions in 2013 and was the starter in 2014.
“I know the system and I know the coaches,’’ Maxwell said. “I love the guys in this locker room.”
You have to wonder about Maxwell’s effectiveness when the Miami Dolphins released him after two games this season and were willing to eat the remainder of his $8.5 million salary.
Maxwell signed a six-year, $63-million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015, but they traded him to Miami after one season. So who exactly is the Maxwell the Seahawks signed?
“I’m just savvier,’’ he said. “I’ve seen more football. I like to think I’m still in my prime.”
Pro Football Focus (@PFF_Seattle) had a Twitter post Thursday showing its grades for Maxwell in his seven-year career. PFF listed his 2016 season at Miami at 84.7, second-best to his 85.5 grade at Seattle in 2013.
But Maxwell had a 44.4 grade in Philadelphia and a 39.2 grade this season in Miami before the Dolphins let him go.
“That’s in the past now,’’ Maxwell said. “I want to focus on the Seattle Seahawks.”
Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero, who covers the Dolphins, had some answers in an interview on Seattle’s KJR radio (950-AM) Tuesday.
Salguero says Maxwell lost confidence in press coverage, even to the point of “going rogue” at times on press-coverage calls by the coaches. Maxwell would pull back to keep from getting beat by a receiver.
Carroll indicated the coaches wanted Maxwell to play off the receivers, so there’s some confusion on who did what and why.
Salguero still is a Maxwell supporter: “I like Byron,’’ Salguero said. “Yeah, he gave up some passes, but something can always happen when he’s out there.”
Maxwell has 10 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and five fumbles recovered in his career. The hope is Maxwell still can be a disruptive force.
“We’re going to kick him back into our style of play,’’ Carroll said of Maxwell. “We’re hoping we can recapture him technique-wise.”
The Seattle secondary prides itself on physical press coverage with its corners. Maxwell’s familiarity with the Seahawks defensive schemes and his strong relationship with defensive coordinator Kris Richard should help him. Richard was the secondary coach for the Seahawks during Maxwell’s first stint in Seattle.
Carroll said Jeremy Lane and rookie Shaquill Griffin will start Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons. Maxwell also will play and likely is the first option if either starter falters.
Lane’s story this season is as odd as it gets. He has gone from losing his starting job to Griffin, being traded to Houston in the deal for Brown, coming back to Seattle days later after failing his physical with the Texans, and now starting again in place of Sherman.
No matter who plays, the Seahawks are a weaker defense without Sherman, and weaker still if Chancellor is out. The injuries come as the team has to face one of the best receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones and a Pro Bowl quarterback in Matt Ryan.
Whatever Maxwell has to give, it’s likely more than the Seahawks would have without him. Signing veterans at midseason has been an unquestioned success for the Seahawks so far this season.
Maxwell wants to keep it going. Does he have something to prove?
“You always have to prove yourself in this league,’’ Maxwell said.
It’s mid-November and Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job. At this point, he probably isn’t getting a job in 2017. And it’s possible he never will play in the NFL again.
Take the politics out of it and this is the most ridiculous situation in sports. However, taking the politics out is the hard part.
For some people, the former 49ers quarterback committed the unforgivable sin of kneeling for the national anthem, and in their eyes, starting a movement of protest across the league.
In the view of some fans, and apparently most NFL owners, it made Kaepernick a pariah. This league has numerous players with legal issues, including well-documented problems of domestic abuse. But Kaepernick is outside looking in for exercising his constitutional rights.
The December issue of GQ magazine put Kaepernick on the cover and named him “Citizen of the Year”, which further infuriated those against him. The typical comment was how can Kaepernick be Citizen of the Year when Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt raised $37 million for hurricane victims?
Call GQ on that one, but it strays from the point: A talented quarterback, who almost everyone agrees is better than many QBs wearing NFL uniforms, isn’t in the league.
Whether NFL owners colluded to keep Kaepernick out will be decided in court since Kaepernick has filed a lawsuit against the league. But let’s list a few teams who look clueless at best and complicit at worse for not signing Kaepernick this season.
The Houston Texans are the most recent example when rookie sensation Deshaun Watson went down with a season ending-knee injury two weeks ago. The Texans are starting Tom Savage.
Houston is winless in the two games Savage has started since Watson’s injury. Savage has a 62.2 passer rating for the season in four appearances. He has completed 47.3 percent of his passes and has thrown two interceptions with five fumbles lost and just two TD passes.
And who are the Texans starting this week? Savage. The two backups are T.J. Yates and Josh Johnson. They signed Johnson last week. He hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2015 and has a 57.7 career passer rating (5 TDs and 10 interceptions).
Texans coach Bill O’Brien said on Nov. 6 they “discussed” bringing in Kaepernick. They did? And they concluded Savage was their man and Johnson was the new guy to bring in?
Had the Texans brought in Kaepernick, not even showed him the playbook, thrown him on the field and said, “Wing it”, the results would have been better than Savage has given them.
And that’s just one example. How about the Miami Dolphins and their $10 million man in Jay Cutler, who was signed before the start of the season when Ryan Tannehill suffered a season-ending knee injury.
The Dolphins are 4-5 and have scored a league-low 137 points with their 34-year-old immobile quarterback.
There are others who could have brought in Kaepernick and likely improved their changes _ Arizona, Green Bay, Indianapolis, the New York Jets. And we’re talking about a league of owners who would sign Satan himself if they thought he could throw for 300 yards a game and avoid pass rushers.
Here are Kaepernick’s career stats: 69 games, 12,271 yards passing 72 TDs, 30 interceptions and an 88.9 QB rating while completing 59.8 percent of his throws. He also has rushed for 2,300 yards and had a 6.1-yard rushing average.
His 2016 stats, while playing for a horrible 2-14 49ers team, were 16 TDs, 4 interceptions and a 59.2 completion percentage.
So why are teams willing to play less-qualified, less-talented quarterbacks when those teams clearly would have a better chance of winning games with Kaepernick? Is it really only because he took a knee for the anthem?
No one knows for sure, but here are a few possible reasons:
First, the media circus that would ensue for any team that signed him now would be a huge distraction. Coaches hate that, especially late in the year with a possible playoff spot on the line.
Second, who knows what Kaepernick is asking? The Seahawks brought in Kaepernick before training camp and didn’t sign him. Coach Pete Carroll said: “Kaepernick is a starter in this league and we have a starting quarterback.”
Does that mean Kaepernick insisted on competing for the starting job with Russell Wilson? No chance of that in Seattle, if that’s what Kaepernick wanted.
Even if it was, that wouldn’t have been a problem with the Dolphins. And they likely could have signed Kaepernick for a lot less than the $10 million they gave Cutler.
Did coaches insist Kaepernick stand for the anthem if they signed him, even though players on almost every team have knelt or sat at some point this season? Maybe Kaepernick would have agreed to that demand. Who knows?
Here’s what we do know: A truly talented quarterback who could help many teams win, a man who has committed no crimes and has even been honored in some circles, is sitting at home with no idea if he even will play again.
This isn’t football. It’s gladiators being thrown to the lions.
The 22-16 victory for the Seattle Seahawks Thursday night at Arizona didn’t feel like a victory. It felt like James Caan in Rollerblade, hoping he’s the last man standing in a barbaric contest to appease the masses and the corporate power brokers.
“This s--- is not OK. You can quote me on that,’’ said Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, who was playing with a pulled quad and limping on the sidelines during the game. “Thursday night football should be illegal. It has to change.”
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was the most obvious victim in a game that needed a triage doctor and an emergency room instead of a locker room.
Sherman suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, ending the season for a man who never has missed a game in his career, a player who was making his 99th consecutive start.
That means Sherman has played a lot of games hurt, like Super Bowl XLIX when he basically had one working arm and one he couldn’t bend at the elbow. But that was on two weeks rest, not four days.
Players get hurt every week in every NFL game. They play hurt every week. Trying to do so on four days rest instead of seven increases the likelihood of harm. It also means fewer starters play in the game because they can’t recover fast enough to get back on the field.
Sherman had played the previous three games on a weakened Achilles. The first game came on two weeks rest after the bye week and the next two on seven days of rest. The tendon finally gave out while trying to play on four days of rest.
Sherman said he figured the tendon would go out eventually, but the fact remains it happened when he had to play without a full week of rest.
The Seahawks lost seven players to injury during Thursday’s game, including newly acquired left tackle Duane Brown with an ankle sprain. Strong safety Kam Chancellor left the field on a cart near the end of the game.
“A lot of guys got banged up and I feel terrible about it,’’ said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “It’s a great event [playing on Thursday night], but it’s very difficult and very challenging.”
When Carroll was asked to elaborate on his feelings about Thursday games, he added: “I don’t want to pay it, so I don’t want to comment on that.”
That said plenty. It meant he didn’t want to pay a fine from the league for saying how he really feels about Thursday games.
The Cardinals also suffered numerous injuries. Three of them could be done for the year - offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (torn ACL), safety Tyvon Branch (knee) and tight end Ifeanyi Momah (broken ankle).
“It’s extremely tough,’’ said Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. “To play on Sunday and ask us to turn around and have our bodies OK on Thursday is tough. I hope the league is watching and will look at it.”
Oh, their watching all right, and they’re counting money while doing so. The NFL is all about the all-mighty dollar. Thursday games in prime time are what the TV networks want and they pay billions to have it as part of their contracts with the league.
It is naïve to think Thursday games will go away simply because the players don’t want them. But at a time when brain injury is at the forefront of the news and the NFL is trying to show more emphasis on health of the players, a game on four days rest goes against the grain.
It gives the impression of not caring. As Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said of the anthem protest, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”
McNair later apologized, but the point was made. The players are well-paid pawns in a bigger game ruled by big money.
Alternatives are possible. If Thursday games are here to stay, have teams only play them after a bye weekend. That likely means going to an 18-week schedule instead of 17 weeks.
So be it. Do whatever it takes. How about one less meaningless preseason game that no one cares about.
This can’t wait until the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. The NFL and the team owners need to step up and have some compassion.
End the Thursday night massacre before it’s too late.
RENTON, Wash. – Cheer up Pete. Things aren’t all bad.
That’s my message to Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll after seeing him a little outside himself on Monday.
One thing was noticeably different about Carroll in his weekly meeting with the media the day after a game. Carroll was down. Even worse, the man seemed a little sad and depressed.
A few times, he was a bit curt, answering questions with short responses indicating he didn’t want to answer them at all.
For many coaches, this is a typical press conference the day after a loss, but not Carroll. You couldn’t find anyone on the planet who sees the world in a more positive light than Pete.
The man could be trudging half way up Mount Rainier through a roaring blizzard wearing only swimming trunks and he would look back at his fellow climbers and say: “We’ve got this boys. No problem. Just a few more steps to the top. This is fun.”
That’s Pete Carroll. His picture should be in the dictionary under Optimist. He’s the Pollyanna of Puget Sound.
Not Monday. Carroll couldn’t hide his feelings. He knew his team lost a game it had no business losing in the 17-14 defeat to the Washington Redskins, a team playing on the road without five starters on offense.
Carroll knew 16 penalties for 138 yards meant the Seahawks beat themselves and Carroll felt responsible for it. And three missed field goals by Blair Walsh leaves questions about the kicking game moving forward.
So Carroll had no intention of showing a cheery disposition. His players blew it and he didn’t see the many positives.
“Really disappointing game in a number of ways,’’ Carroll said. “We didn’t perform like we are capable. We gave it away. We’ve got some real serious stuff we have to get better at.”
The Seahawks (5-3) need to get better quickly because they play Thursday night at Arizona against the 4-4 Cardinals. It’s a chance at a quick fix. A victory at University of Phoenix Stadium and Carroll’s normally upbeat nature likely will return.
Despite the ugly loss Sunday, there is a bright side. Here are a few reasons why:
Dwight Freeney and Duane Brown -- Two veteran acquisitions in the last two weeks have been off-the-charts good. These old pros still can get it done. Who needs training camp and practice?
Freeney looks 27 instead of 37. He has three sacks in his first two games for the Seahawks and has been a disruptive force up front.
Brown’s play at left tackle Sunday was a dramatic improvement over anyone the Seahawks have played in that spot the last two years.
It was his first game for the Seahawks and only his second game of the season after sitting out on a contract holdout with the Texans. The 32-year-old former Pro Bowler was solid in pass blocking, had a forward push for the running game and appeared to help make rookie left guard Ethan Pocic better.
“He played really well, very consistent,’’ Carroll said of Brown. “Really solid in the running and the passing game. He did just what we had hoped he would do. He did a very good job. He and Ethan played well together too. They did a nice job there.”
Total yards: The offense has produced more than 400 yards in each of the last three games. The season average of 378.6 ranks fifth in the NFL. Even so, the Seahawks still have issues on offense. Slow starts (no first-quarter touchdowns in seven of eight games) puts the team in bind.
The running game still needs improvement (Eddie Lacy could miss Thursday’s game with a hamstring injury), and red-zone production remains an issue. But logic tells you a team churning out over 400 yards a game over the last three weeks is bound to fix some of these problems.
Walsh will bounce back: This is the most controversial bright-side point, but hear me out. His three misses Sunday (all three hooked to the left) has made Walsh the scourge of Seahawks fans for the moment. Everyone remembers his miss for the Vikings on a 27-yard kick that enabled the Seahawks to escape with a 10-9 playoff victory two seasons ago.
Fears are justified, but Walsh was 12 of 13 this season before Sunday’s game. He has made 84 percent of his NFL field-goal attempts through six seasons, including 87 percent inside of 50 yards.
So look at the bright side Pete. Show everyone your usual peppy Pollyanna self. The Seahawks are a couple of made field goals and a few less penalties from being the team you want them to be.