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.


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.

TIME marketing

Why (Most) Sponsors Aren’t Pulling Out of the NFL

Ray Rice
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pauses as he speaks during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, in Owings Mills, Md. Patrick Semansky—AP

Radisson suspended their Vikings sponsorships, but they may be the only brand to go that far

When Vikings general manager Rick Spielman announced yesterday, in front of a backdrop splashed with the Radisson logo, that Adrian Peterson would play Sunday despite serious allegations of child abuse, the hotel chain suspended its sponsorship of the NFL team.

But it appears that Radisson’s withdrawal has not opened the floodgates for other sponsors to drop their NFL contracts. Covergirl announced late Monday night that it would not stop being the “Official Beauty Sponsor of the NFL,” despite a viral meme that showed a Covergirl model sporting a black eye while wearing a Ravens jersey. “In light of recent events, we have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence,” Covergirl said in a statement.

Anheuser-Busch, official beer sponsor of the NFL, released a statement Tuesday condemning the response to the abuse scandals, but did not pull their sponsorship. “We are disappointed and increasingly concerned by the recent incidents that have overshadowed this NFL season,” they 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.”

But despite the finger-wagging, PR experts say it’s unlikely that major NFL sponsors like Verizon and PepsiCo would pull their sponsorship in light of the recent abuse scandals. “You didn’t see people immediately jumping ship—they’ve made multimillion investments in this,” says Joe Favorito, a sports media consultant who teaches strategic communications at Columbia University and once served as head of PR for the New York Knicks. “I don’t think that the massive brands that are tied to the NFL are in the blind on anything.”

“Everybody these days wants immediate results and immediate reactions,” he says. “Most brands will take their time, especially since most of them have very positive and lucrative experiences with the NFL, and then will act accordingly.” He noted that FedEx hasn’t pulled their sponsorship of the Redskins despite the controversy over their name, and Under Armor is still sponsoring the Ravens despite Ray Rice’s abuse scandal.

So why was Radisson the only brand to suspend their sponsorship? Ray Katz, executive VP for sports marketing at Source Communications and adjunct professor of sports marketing at Columbia University says he suspects Radisson probably had a pretty minor contract compared to the big deals like Verizon and Gatorade, whose sponsorships are more “organic” because they tie in more naturally with sports broadcasts.

“Radisson is not and has not been a very broad corporate sponsor,” Katz says. “To me, this is essentially an excuse to get out of that sponsorship. The benefit of taking an alleged moral high ground is a way bigger benefit than the sponsorship.” Katz serves on the board of Sherwood Trading Group, which helps companies get out of corporate sponsorships, and is not in any way affiliated with Radisson.

Katz also noted that Nike and Castrol have not yet pulled their sponsorship of Adrian Peterson, and the accused child abuser was spotted wearing Nike on Tuesday morning.

“Why should the Vikings cut somebody based on allegations?” Katz said. “The Bears or the Packers will pick him up. The NFL didn’t say Adrian Peterson couldn’t play football.”


This is the Hottest Ticket in the NFL

Secondary market sales show that prices to attend a Seattle Seahawks game have climbed faster than other team since 2010

In 2010, the Seattle Seahawks made history as the first team to win a division with a sub-.500 record. This past February, the Seahawks won their Super Bowl Championship. Along the way, Seahawks tickets have gone from the fourth cheapest in the NFL to the most expensive, and for 2014, Century Link Field is one of the most expensive places to see a sporting event in the country.

In 2010, only the Bills, Raiders and Browns had ticket prices cheaper than the Seahawks. That year, it cost an average of $97 to see a game at what was then called Qwest Field. Two weeks into the 2014 season, based on secondary market data from TiqIQ, the ticket search engine where I am founder and CEO, it costs an average of $398 to see one of the Seahawks home games. That increase of 227% is the biggest five-year increase in the NFL.

Here are the 30 NFL teams—from costly Seattle to increasingly affordable Indianapolis–and their average price increase or decrease since 2010.


1. Seattle Seahawks | 2014 Season Average: $398.51 | Percent Change: 227.3%

Over the past five years, the Seattle Seahawks have experienced the biggest average price increase on the secondary ticket market in the NFL. Two consecutive losing seasons in 2010 and 2011 followed by a pair of NFC West divisional titles and a Super Bowl Championship last season has given Seattle a 227.32% increase in average price since 2010.

2. San Francisco 49ers | 2014 Season Average: $379.71 | Percent Change: 225.7%

Entering their inaugural season at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the 49ers control the second largest four-year percent change in season average price. Like the Seahawks, the 49ers had a rough patch at the start of the decade, but have been to three straight NFC Championship Games in the past three seasons.

3. Denver Broncos | 2014 Season Average: $339.71 | Percent Change: 119.9%

The secondary market average price at Sports Authority Field has soared since Peyton Manning left the Colts for the Broncos in 2012. In that two-year period, the Broncos have gone on to win two consecutive AFC West titles and made a Super Bowl appearance last season.

4. Carolina Panthers | 2014 Season Average: $192.58 | Percent Change: 73.5%

In 2010, Carolina had the worst record in the league, which led them to drafting quarterback Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Carolina made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 last season and that has continued to increase optimism around Bank of America Stadium.

5. Dallas Cowboys | 2014 Season Average: $260.23 | Percent Change: 56.7%

Despite plenty of on-the-field woes in recent years, the Dallas Cowboys have the fifth highest percentage increase in season average on the secondary market since 2010.

6. Oakland Raiders | 2014 Season Average: $146.14 | Percent Change: 40.7%

Raiders fans are certainly a passionate bunch, and that shows on the secondary market. Oakland has not had a winning record since 2002, but average price continues to increase on the secondary market.

7. Buffalo Bills | 2014 Season Average: $139.18 | Percent Change: 40.4%

With two wins under their belt heading into Week 3 this season, there’s no reason to believe Bills tickets won’t continue to rise in price. A new owner who has vowed to keep the team in Buffalo will certainly help too.

8. Detroit Lions | 2014 Season Average: $150.11 | Percent Change: 37.1%

Though they haven’t clinched a playoff berth since 2011, the Lions continue to see the average price at Ford Field rise on the secondary market.

9. San Diego Chargers | 2014 Season Average: $199.44 | Percent Change: 37%

San Diego struggled in mediocrity during the Norv Turner era and 2013’s playoff appearance under Mike McCoy was the first for the franchise since 2009. In 2010, Chargers tickets had a season average of $137.50.

10. New York Giants | 2014 Season Average: $324.49 | Percent Change: 34.7%

The Giants have been a puzzling regular season team over the past few seasons. They’ve won two Super Bowls since 2007, but have not been a consistent team in the regular season. Since 2010, New York Giants tickets have been towards the top of the league in secondary market prices, and the price keeps increasing every season.

11. Houston Texans | 2014 Average Price: $196.60 | Percent Change: 34.2%

12. New England Patriots | 2014 Average Price: $338 | Percent Change: 30.8%

13. Chicago Bears | 2014 Average Price: $387.15 | Percent Change: 28.5%

14. Minnesota Vikings | 2014 Average Price: $154.25 | Percent Change: 27.2%

15. Tennessee Titans | 2014 Average Price: $148.11 | Percent Change: 27%

16. Arizona Cardinals | 2014 Average Price: $139.59 | Percent Change: 24.9%

17. Cleveland Browns | 2014 Average Price: $124.06 | Percent Change: 24.2%

18. Cincinnati Bengals | 2014 Average Price: $145.70 | Percent Change: 19.4%

19. Philadelphia Eagles | 2014 Average Price: $219.68 | Percent Change: 19.2%

20. Green Bay Packers | 2014 Average Price: $229.83 | Percent Change: 19%

21. Miami Dolphins | 2014 Average Price: $166.01 | Percent Change: 18.9%

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 2014 Average Price: $144.16 | Percent Change: 18.9%

23. Jacksonville Jaguars | 2014 Average Price: $150.42 | Percent Change: 18.7%

24. Atlanta Falcons | 2014 Average Price: $148.57 | Percent Change: 10.1%

25. Pittsburgh Steelers | 2014 Average Price: $218.28 | Percent Change: 9.4%

26. St. Louis Rams | 2014 Average Price: $128.04 | Percent Change: 1.2%

27. New Orleans Saints | 2014 Average Price: $268.53 | Percent Change: -0.1%

28. Washington Redskins | 2014 Average Price: $165.62 | Percent Change: -0.6%

29. New York Jets | 2014 Average Price: $196.64 | Percent Change: -1%

30. Kansas City Chiefs | 2014 Average Price: $139.40 | Percent Change: -17.2%

31. Baltimore Ravens | 2014 Average Price: $189.38 | Percent Change: -17.6%

32. Indianapolis Colts | 2014 Average Price: $147.46 | Percent Change: -19.5%

Jesse Lawrence is the CEO and Founder of TiqIQ.

TIME Football

Second Adrian Peterson Child Abuse Claim Could Aid Prosecutors

The running back was accused of hitting another one of his sons last June

Although the Minnesota Vikings announced Monday Adrian Peterson would return to the team after he admitted to using corporal punishment to discipline his son, Peterson is now facing new allegations of an earlier instance of child abuse, according to Sports Illustrated. SI reports that Peterson hit another one of his sons last June, leaving a scar on his forehead.

The team reinstated Peterson under the argument of “due process”– something they did not do for Chris Cook who, after being accused of choking his girlfriend in 2011, was suspended indefinitely without pay and missed 10 games before being acquitted, according to Sports Illustrated.

[Sports Illustrated]


Grand Jury to Weigh Case of NASCAR’s Tony Stewart

(CANANDAIGUA, N.Y.) — A grand jury will decide whether NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will be charged in the August death of a fellow driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York.

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said Tuesday that after reviewing evidence collected by sheriff’s investigators, he has decided to present it to a grand jury. Tantillo could have determined there was not enough evidence to support charges and dropped the case.

Stewart’s car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. at a dirt-track race in Canandaigua on Aug. 9. The 20-year-old had climbed from his car after it had spun while racing alongside Stewart.

Stewart issued a statement saying he looks forward to the process being completed and will continue to cooperate.

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