TIME NFL

Adrian Peterson’s Mom Says Critics ‘Don’t Know His Heart’

Palestine running back Adrian Peterson, right, smiles after signing a national letter of intent to play football for Oklahoma on Feb. 4, 2004, in Palestine, Texas. At left is his mother Bonita Jackson, and at center is his brother, Jaylon Jackson.
Palestine running back Adrian Peterson, right, smiles after signing a national letter of intent to play football for Oklahoma on Feb. 4, 2004, in Palestine, Texas. At left is his mother Bonita Jackson, and at center is his brother, Jaylon Jackson. David Branch—Tyler Morning Telegraph/AP

“People are judging him, but they don’t know his heart"

Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson never intended to hurt his four-year-old son when he beat him with a tree limb, his mother said Wednesday, in her first interview since news of the abuse allegations broke.

Peterson’s mom Bonita Jackson told the Houston Chronicle that Peterson is “not a perfect man by any means,” but that she’s proud to be the mother of a 29-year-old son she says is a loving person.

“For the most part he is trying hard to be a good parent, he’s working at it,” said Jackson, 50. “People are judging him, but they don’t know his heart. This was never his intent.”

Jackson said in the interview that she and Peterson’s father were both “big disciplinarians” when their children were young, and that she used belts, her hands, and switches—which Adrian Peterson reportedly used on his four-year-old—to get her kids in line.

“I don’t care what anybody says,” Jackson said. “Most of us disciplined our kids a little more than we meant sometimes.”

[Houston Chronicle]

TIME NFL

Panthers Player Latest to Get Benched for Domestic Violence

Defensive lineman Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh.
Defensive lineman Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. George Gojkovich—Getty Images

Greg Hardy was previously allowed to participate in NFL games, despite his domestic violence conviction

The Carolina Panthers said Wednesday that defensive end Greg Hardy will be placed on the Commissioner’s exempt list, effectively banning him from playing with the team until the domestic violence case against him is resolved.

The NFL Players Association said Hardy had taken a “voluntary leave of absence” from the team. Hardy was convicted of assaulting an ex-girlfriend over the summer, but had been allowed to play in NFL games since the 2014 season began. Hardy is appealing the conviction.

The league has been under close scrutiny in recent weeks for its handling of the revelation that star running back Ray Rice punched his then-fiancee unconscious. Rice was initially suspended for just two games until publication of a video of the assault sparked outrage and led the Baltimore Ravens to cut him and the league to suspend him indefinitely.

TIME NFL

Vikings Owner Says ‘We Made a Mistake’ With Adrian Peterson

Minnesota Viking v Tennessee Titans
Running back Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on Aug. 28, 2014 in Nashville. Ronald C. Modra—Sports Imagery/Getty Images

As Nike drops its endorsement deal with the star

Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Wednesday that the team had “made a mistake” in its initial decision to allow Adrian Peterson back onto the field as the star running back was being investigated for allegedly abusing his four-year-old son. The team said Peterson is now banned from all team activities until his legal problems are resolved, the Associated Press reports.

“We made a mistake and we need to get this right,” Wilf said. “It is important to always listen to our fans and the community and our sponsors. Our goal is always to make the decision we feel is right for the Minnesota Vikings … We want to be sure we get this right.”

The reversal came as a growing number of sponsors severed ties with Peterson, with Nike joining the pack in dropping its endorsement contract with Peterson on Wednesday.

“NIKE in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL,” the company told ESPN.

[AP]

TIME Football

NFL, Union Agree to New Drug Policy, HGH Testing

(NEW YORK) — The NFL says it has reached an agreement with the players association on changes to its performance-enhancing drug policy, including the addition of human growth hormone testing.

The league said Wednesday that under the new rules, three previously suspended players — the Broncos’ Wes Welker, Cowboys’ Orlando Scandrick and Rams’ Stedman Bailey — will be eligible to return to their teams this week.

Testing for HGH was originally agreed upon in 2011, but the players had balked at the science in the testing and the appeals process for positive tests. Under the new deal, appeals of positive tests in the PED program will be heard by third-party arbitrators jointly selected by the NFL and union.

TIME Football

NFL Players Association Appeals Ray Rice’s Indefinite Suspension

Baltimore Ravens v Dallas Cowboys
Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens smiles during warm ups before their game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on August 16, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. Ronald Martinez—Getty Images

The NFL's players' union criticizes Commissioner Goodell's handling of the Rice case

The National Football League Players Association has filed an appeal challenging the league’s suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, saying it seeks to protect the “due process rights” of NFL players.

Rice was initially suspended for just two games after a domestic violence incident against his then-fiancee Janay Rice in an Atlantic City casino in February. However, the NFL indefinitely extended Rice’s suspension after new video footage was recently released showing Rice striking Janay Rice and causing her to lose consciousness before dragging her body out of an elevator.

The NFLPA criticized Rice’s treatment, saying there has been a “a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the office of the Commissioner of the NFL” Roger Goodell, who has been criticized for his inconsistent approach towards Rice’s case, as well as being too lenient in Rice’s first two-game suspension.

Rice has been indicted by a grand jury on third-degree aggravated assault and could face a three-to-five-year jail sentence.

A hearing will be set within 10 days of the NFLPA’s notice of the appeal, where a neutral arbitrator will hear Rice’s case. The appeal accuses the NFL of double jeopardy, saying that “under governing labor law, an employee cannot be punished twice for the same action when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment.”

TIME Football

Still Playing: 12 NFL Players Have Domestic-Violence Arrests

Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers
Ray McDonald #91 of the San Francisco 49ers runs onto the field for their game against the Detroit Lions at Candlestick Park on September 16, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Ezra Shaw—Getty Images

Ray Rice may never again play in the NFL, but a dozen other players with domestic violence arrests are still suiting up on Sundays.

Ray McDonald and Chris Cook of the San Francsico 49ers, Tony McDaniel and Kevin Williams of the Seattle Seahawks, Brandon Marshall and Santonio Holmes of the Chicago Bears, Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, Erik Walden of the Indianapolis Colts, Donte Whitner of the Cleveland Browns, Randy Starks of the Miami Dolphins and Frostee Rucker of the Arizona Cardinals…

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME Football

Vikings Reverse Adrian Peterson Decision and Ban Him From Playing

Minnesota Vikings v St. Louis Rams
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings rushes during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 7, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. Michael Thomas—Getty Images

The star running back has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities in the wake of his child abuse charges

Updated 10:41 a.m. E.T.

Reversing their earlier decision, the Minnesota Vikings have placed star running back Adrian Peterson on the NFL’s exempt list until his ongoing child-abuse case is resolved.

Peterson has been charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child after injuring his four year-old son with a switch, a stripped tree branch. Despite the charges, the Vikings initially cleared Peterson — who surrendered to police Saturday before being released on $15,000 bail — to play in a game this weekend against the New Orleans Saints.

However, the Vikings now say they have placed Peterson on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list — an effective indefinite suspension from all team activities — in order to allow Peterson to “take care of his personal situation until the legal proceedings are resolved.”

In a joint statement released in the very early hours on Wednesday, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and team President Mark Wilf said:

“While we were trying to make a balanced decision yesterday, after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian. We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right. At the same time we want to express our support for Adrian and acknowledge his seven-plus years of outstanding commitment to this organization and this community. Adrian emphasized his desire to avoid further distraction to his teammates and coaches while focusing on his current situation; this resolution accomplishes these objectives as well.”

Peterson himself responded to the news with a tweet:

And the NFL Players Association said Wednesday that Peterson “made a decision to take a voluntary leave with pay to take care of his personal and legal issues.”

The running back released a statement earlier this week denying that he was a child abuser. “I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I have brought to my child,” he said. “I am not a perfect parent, but I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser. I am someone that disciplined his child and did not intend to cause him any injury.”

Peterson is also facing separate allegations of child abuse dating back a year, though his attorney flatly denied those claims. And while the Vikings grapple with Peterson’s case, the NFL Player’s Association said Tuesday evening it would appeal an indefinite ban against Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice which the league handed down after new video recently surfaced of Rice knocking his now-wife unconscious and dragging her body out of an elevator.

TIME United Kingdom

Scottish Athletes Are Going to Have to Make a Very Tough Choice

Olympic Games  -  London 2012
Gold medalist Andy Murray of Great Britain poses after the medal ceremony for the men's singles tennis match at the Olympic Games on Aug. 5, 2012, in London Professional Sport—Popperfoto/Getty Images

They'll lose British funding, coaching and facilities if they compete for an independent Scotland

As Thursday’s referendum nears, Britons are pondering what an independent Scotland will mean not just in terms of national identity or the economy, but also in an area dear to the hearts of many on either side of the polling divide: sport.

National allegiances in British sports are not straightforward in the first place. The union fields four national football squads — England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales — but they all unite for the Olympics. Golf players compete for their separate countries, but tennis players don’t. Scottish tennis star Andy Murray serves as the clearest example of the complications of this kind of dual identity: enthusiastically embraced as a Briton when he’s on good form (such as in 2013, when he became the first player from the isles to win Wimbledon in 77 years), but referred to distantly as a Scot when he loses.

Now he and other Scottish sports stars may face a difficult choice. Should Scotland opt out of the union, and they go with it, they risk losing out on the benefits of British funding, coaching and facilities. Even if they stay with Team Great Britain, they’ll have a harder time earning the love of English and Welsh fans. A survey by the Mail on Sunday last week found that 11.9% of U.K. responders outside Scotland would already be less likely to cheer for Murray.

The current world No. 12 has long dodged the question of whether he favors Scottish independence, but recently acknowledged that he might swap the Union Jack for the Saltire if Scotland seceded.

“If Scotland became independent, then I imagine I would be playing for Scotland,” the Guardian reports he told reporters on Aug. 28. “It would be pretty much the first time in my life that I would have ever [had the chance to play for Scotland].”

Murray triumphed in the London Olympics 2012, as did Scottish cyclist Chris Hoy, Great Britain’s most successful Olympian of all time. The Associated Press’ John Leicester notes that English coach Dave Brailsford played an instrumental role in each of Hoy’s six Olympic gold campaigns. Hoy has now retired, but other Scottish athletes may have to weigh the possible shortfalls of Scotland’s inexperience in the Olympics.

Scottish athletes currently make up 10.7% of U.K. Sport’s World Class Programme and will continue to receive funding unless they switch sides. Star sailor Luke Patience, for instance, benefits handsomely from the $40 million allotted to sailing at the 2016 Olympics.

However, pro-independence politician Shona Robison, who serves the Scottish government’s minister for sport, argues that Team Scotland would be equally able to accommodate Olympic hopefuls.

“We will make sure that our athletes absolutely receive the support that they require to enable them to compete at the highest level,” she told AP. “We believe very strongly that the prize of being an athlete competing for the first time for Team Scotland in the Olympics and Paralympics will be something that is hard to resist for the vast majority of athletes.”

But if Scotland votes Yes for independence on Thursday, there may still be a lag before its top athletes jump ship. The country’s own IOC vice president, Craig Reedie, has already said the timetable for Scotland to enter the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 may be too tight, the Telegraph reports. That will give plenty of anxious athletes more time to make up their minds.

TIME Baseball

Bryan Cranston Delivers a Hilarious One Man Baseball Show Spoof

The MLB's new commercial is pretty great

The One Who Knocks really knocks one out of the park in a new commercial for Major League Baseball–which features Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston touting an epic Looney Toons-inspired one man show about the sport.

“I felt it was just time for me to get back to the basics by diving right into my great passion: baseball,” Cranston says, over a puffed up dramatic musical score.

In a faux behind-the-scenes vignette, he describes this supposedly self-funded passion project: “Then it hit me: why not dramatize the entire MLB postseason? It would be my greatest acting challenge.”

Cranston (who is on a roll, guys) will—in the imagined universe of the mini-mockumentary—act out all your favorite moments in baseball all by himself. He’ll come up to bat, he’ll get a pie smashed in his face, he’ll talk in a dramatic voice about the mystique of the game. There will be ballet (he even gets dance lessons from Misty Copeland, in a delightful cameo appearance by the American Ballet Theatre dancer). There will be spoken word renditions of classic songs dripping with gravitas.

“Any actor that tells you that he is not inspired by Bugs Bunny is a liar, frankly,” he says. “Or just a hack.”

After watching this glorious piece, who does not want to make this fake one-man show a reality? We’ll just go ahead and get those Change.org petitions and Kickstarter accounts started now.

TIME NFL

Major NFL Sponsor Anheuser-Busch Criticizes NFL Over Scandals

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns
Running back Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. Matt Sullivan—Getty Images

The beer maker says it is “increasingly concerned” about domestic violence among players in the league

The NFL’s official beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch blasted the league in a statement Tuesday over its handling of recent domestic violence scandals involving former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and current Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

“We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” the Anheuser-Busch statement said. “We are not yet satisfied with the league’s handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code. We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league.”

According to CNBC, Anheuser-Busch sponsors 88% of teams in the league and is the second-biggest sponsor in the NFL after Gatorade.

The NFL has come under harsh criticism in recent days for its handling of the two latest scandals. Rice was cut from the Ravens and suspended from the league after video surfaced of him punching his now-wife unconscious. Peterson was censured but allowed to stay on with the Vikings following his arrest for disciplining his four-year-old son with a whip.

While most of the league’s sponsors have opted to stay, the Radisson hotel chain pulled its support Monday for the Vikings program Monday.

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