Hope the NFL likes its bad news in waves because there’s a fresh batch coming its way. Here are two stories from ESPN. We suppose neither should be terribly surprising based on what was already known, but they do each add a new layer to the stories of Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice:
Nike has terminated the contract of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. A spokesman for the shoe and apparel company confirmed the news Thursday. Nike suspended its contract with Peterson on Sept. 17, meaning it stopped paying him and would not consider him for use in its advertising.
Again, this was probably the logical conclusion based on Nike’s action in September, but it does reinforce that everything isn’t just back to “normal” now that Peterson’s legal proceedings are resolved.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome testified under oath Thursday in the Ray Rice appeal hearing that he heard the former Baltimore running back tell NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during his June 16 disciplinary hearing that he had hit his then-fiancée in a casino hotel elevator, two sources told “Outside the Lines.” … What occurred in the June 16 hearing is key to Rice’s chances for reinstatement, sources said. He was suspended indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after a video of him hitting Janay and knocking her out at an Atlantic City casino was released publicly. Goodell originally had suspended the running back for two games. Rice and the NFL Players Association contend the league’s indefinite suspension constitutes an enhanced punishment for the same violation and thus violates labor law.
So yes, this is quite significant not only for Rice’s future but also because it’s another piece of information that seems to contradict the narrative from the league and Goodell that there was ambiguity in what had happened until video footage became available.
The Vikings are waiting for the NFL to make a decision regarding Adrian Peterson’s future before deciding whether to welcome him back to the team. It appears that decision could take a while.
The NFL advised the Vikings running back this afternoon that he will be reviewed for potential discipline under the NFL’s personal conduct policy after he entered into a plea agreement in Texas, avoiding jail time by pleading no contest to a misdemeanor for recklessly injuring his 4-year-old son.
The league has requested that Peterson “submit relevant information regarding his case and meet with designated experts who will make recommendations for the Commissioner’s consideration,” according to a league spokesman. Peterson will also have the opportunity to have a hearing with the NFL — presumably with commissioner Roger Goodell — before any discipline is handed down.
In the meantime, Peterson will remain on the commissioner’s exempt list, keeping his status for the Week 11 game against the Bears — and potentially the rest of the 2014 season — in doubt.
Peterson hasn’t played since Week 1. He still gets paid by the Vikings while on the exempt list.
Grab some popcorn because there are few things more volatile and entertaining than thin-skinned Bill Simmons when he feels scorned.
And whoa, does he he feel scorned after Mike and Mike — who work for the same company, ESPN, mind you — played an audio clip of Simmons on with Colin Cowherd (another ESPN employee) talking about LeBron James.
Simmons thinks Mike (Golic) and Mike (Greenberg) used his sound bite out of context, and it probably doesn’t help that Golic also said on the air, “That’s what I’ll say about Bill Simmons. So, you know, he grabbed a headline, which is something I know he loves — and that’s one of the most ridiculous lines I’ve ever heard in any sport in my life.”
And now the gloves are off, based on a series of Simmons tweets that popped up around noon. Here are a couple:
What Mike and Mike did today was absolute garbage. I would say I lost respect for that show, but I never had it. http://t.co/LRd8YzFfO8
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 6, 2014
For an ESPN Radio show to pull an interview out of context from another ESPN Radio show, then play the moral authority card, is disgusting.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 6, 2014
Simmons isn’t wrong, and he’d come out of this looking pretty focused on an actual slight, but then he can’t resist also complaining about the ESPN Ombudsman’s recent column looking at his suspension.
Regardless, it’s a curious situation all around. We will be interested to see if ESPN disciplines Golic since Simmons has gotten in trouble before for bad-mouthing colleagues.
Is this part of a grand scheme from ESPN to make the talented but seemingly volatile Simmons mad enough that he leaves? That would seem like a strange end game, but there is precedent for ESPN cutting bait with an ego it no longer felt it could manage, and the three-week suspension for Simmons that ended not too long ago could have been a turning point.
Since Master Tesfatsion is spending his bye week in California — and obnoxiously sends me pictures of swimming pools and sunsets and things like that while I spend the bye week bundled up as I shop for snow blowers online — I will take over his weekly Four Downs mailbag this week.
Since I laid out everything we know about the Adrian Peterson saga in this story in today’s paper, this will be a Peterson-free mailbag, although I’m sure he will get mentioned at up some point. And since I’m not Master, there probably won’t be any asides about sneakers or Chick-fil-A or what it’s like to be from Texas. My apologies in advance.
@mattvensel Rudolph/Ford as starting TE’s? Where does Ellison fall into the mix?
— Matt Olson (@RangeVikesFan) November 6, 2014
I think the better question is where Chase Ford falls into the mix. As I wrote on the blog yesterday, Ford is starting to settle into that pass-catching role with 11 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown the past two weeks. But he is the one who will be most affected when Kyle Rudolph returns from injury (Rudolph is shooting for the Bears game next weekend). Rudolph may need a game or two to get back to taking on a full workload, but the Vikings were expecting big things from him in this offense and signed him to that big deal during training camp. He will be the pass-catching tight end and Rhett Ellison will still have an important role as a blocking tight end in two-TE sets, a role that has kept him on the field for 56.2 percent of the offensive snaps this season. Once Rudolph is back to full strength and gets his conditioning level back up, it will likely be hard for Ford to get on the field, though I would be intrigued to see what the Vikings could do in a two-TE set with a pair of pass-catchers on the interior like the Patriots used to do before Aaron Hernandez became a real-life “Grand Theft Auto” character. After all, Teddy Bridgewater loves throwing to his tight ends.
@mattvensel when do you think Harrison Smith extension or new deal will happen?
— FireTheLandlord (@firethelandlord) November 6, 2014
There is no doubt that Smith is a player the Vikings will try to keep for the long haul. He is an ascending young safety who will likely get serious consideration for the Pro Bowl. Personally speaking, he has quickly become one of my favorite Vikings to watch and I’ve enjoyed my interactions with him in the locker room. So yeah, signing him makes sense to me. The problem for Smith is that he is in the third year of his four-year rookie deal, which includes a team option for a fifth season, which they can and likely will exercise this offseason. So the Vikings don’t have to be in any rush to sign him. That being said, they can open contract talks with him after the season and it may make sense for them to lock him down now before his value rises even more.
@mattvensel What is wrong with CP? Sure seems to have taken a step back in year 2.
— Tim Nafe (@tnafe) November 6, 2014
The conversation about Patterson sure has changed over the course of the season. In training camp, I was one of the many to say that Patterson was poised to be a breakout star for the Vikings. He had that big game in the opener, doing most of his damage as a runner, then didn’t make much of an impact. The story then became “Why isn’t Cordarrelle getting more touches?” Then after a few weeks it evolved to “OK, what’s wrong with Cordarrelle?” Big picture, nothing is wrong with him. He is a great talent who is in his second year in the NFL. It can sometimes take some wide receivers longer than others to break out, and this was a kid the Vikings drafted as an underclassman after he spent less than a year in Div. I program. So long term, there is no reason to panic. In the short term, though, sure, Patterson’s struggles have hurt the Vikings a little bit. They have no choice but to let him learn on the fly, though, given the investment they have in him and the fact that there aren’t really any better options on the roster. Head coach Mike Zimmer suggested on Monday that Patterson doesn’t always run the right route or that he sometimes runs the right route but not at the proper depth, which has made it hard for him and Bridgewater to get something going. The Vikings are not worried about Patterson’s future, though, and neither should you be.
@mattvensel yes. When he comes back, is asiata or mckinnon the #2 guy?
— Hogocalypse (@40MinsFailphrey) November 6, 2014
OK, I caved. I will mention Peterson after all, but only because this is strictly a football-related question. Operating under the assumption that Peterson is reinstated — whether he will be is undetermined as I type this — the Vikings wouldn’t be bringing him back to be part of a committee, not with all the scrutiny that would be sure to come. But surprisingly, the Vikings have actually been running the ball pretty efficiently in Peterson’s absence lately and they now rank sixth in the NFL in yards per carry. I think the Vikings would still find a way to keep exciting rookie Jerick McKinnon involved as a change of pace and a third-down pass-catching back, and maybe there would be ways to use Peterson and McKinnon together. But Matt Asiata’s role would probably greatly diminished. The Vikings like Asiata because he can do everything fairly well, including running between the tackles and getting it done at the goal line. But if Peterson were to return, he would take over those responsibilities. That wouldn’t leave much for Asiata to do, outside maybe coming in as a pass protector as he is by far the best of this bunch at that.
@mattvensel how will the Vikings perform down the stretch? In other words, what’s your best guess at the final record
— Strand (@strandemos) November 6, 2014
BYE WEEK BONUS DOWN! Before the season, I predicted that the Vikings would go 8-8. My thought was that if the Vikings could survive that challenging start, they might be able to build some confidence and some momentum. That’s exactly what they have done, so I’m going to stick with the 8-8 prediction. Every game from here on out is winnable, though the home game against the Packers, the Lions game in Detroit and the December trip to Miami will be very challenging. But I think 8-8 is probably the ceiling. And that’s OK. With a new coach installing a new defense, a rookie quarterback trying to find his way and the Vikings having to deal with all the turmoil early in the season, going .500 wouldn’t be a bad thing at all. That would set the stage for them to maybe be playoff contenders in 2015 if Spielman’s seven, especially Bridgewater, continue to develop.
Ricky Rubio didn’t just have a very good all-around game — 14 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds — in the Wolves’ impressive comeback win at Brooklyn. He also provided the moment of the night in the postgame presser.
With FSN cameras rolling on Nikola Pekovic, Rubio appeared taken aback when Pek said the Wolves were going to “forget this win.”
We made a screen grab of his confused face, and CJ Zero was kind enough to take it a step further by capturing the entire scene:
Best part? Even Rubio thought it was funny. Laughs all around and a victory, too. That’s a nice change of pace with the Wolves.