TIME Sports

This Map Shows How Big Your Football Team’s Fanbase Really Is

Cowboys fans are EVERYWHERE

Football fandom may seem obvious — Titans fans live in Tennessee, Seahawks fans live in Seattle — but as this interactive map from Twitter shows, the geographic makeup of NFL loyalties is actually pretty complicated.

To create this map, analysts determined which NFL team has the most Twitter followers in each county across the nation. Some of results make perfect sense, but other aspects of the map are pretty surprising. The Cowboys, for example, not only dominate Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas, but have pockets of fans just about everywhere.

There are several different ways to compare and contrast fan bases — so if you’re watching a football game right now, we recommend waiting till halftime to play around with the map.



Florida Football Player Accused of Rape Texted Alleged Victim: ‘Don’t Tell Nobody Bout Nothing’

Missouri Florida Football
Florida quarterback Treon Harris warms up prior to an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Gainesville, Fla. on Oct. 18, 2014. John Raoux—AP

The accuser has since withdrawn her complaint

A University of Florida football player who was accused of raping a fellow student on Oct. 6 allegedly texted the accuser “don’t tell nobody bout nothing” after the encounter, according to full police reports released Wednesday.

Treon Harris, the freshman quarterback of the University of Florida team, reportedly sent the text message the morning after the accuser came to his room according to the police report. The female accuser told police that she had gone to Harris’s room to sleep but repeatedly made it clear she did not want to have sex. She said he held her down with his body weight and penetrated her against her will, but has since withdrawn her complaint, reserving the right to press charges in the future.

The alleged rape occurred early in the morning on Oct. 5, and the accuser went to the police on Oct. 6. In a police interview, Harris said he thought the sex was consensual, and that the text message was intended to keep the hookup a secret from another girl, according to the New York Times. Harris was suspended from the team on Oct. 6, but was reinstated after the accuser withdrew her complaint on Oct. 9.

The release of the police reports come after the New York Times published an extensive investigation of police dealings with Florida State football players that brought to light incidents in which it appeared that players are often treated differently by police because of their position on the team. Although Florida State University and University of Florida are not affiliated, the incident coincides with a period of heightened scrutiny about how universities deal with allegations of sexual assault among football players.


Cowboys Waive Defensive End Michael Sam From Practice Squad

Dallas Cowboys practice squad player Michael Sam makes his first appearance at the team's practice facility on Sept. 3, 2014 in Irving, Texas.
Dallas Cowboys practice squad player Michael Sam makes his first appearance at the team's practice facility on Sept. 3, 2014 in Irving, Texas. Fort Worth Star-Telegram—MCT via Getty Images

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sam "had a long way to go" as a player

The Dallas Cowboys have waived defensive end Michael Sam from their practice squad, the team announced Tuesday.

Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, was signed to the team’s practice squad Sept. 3. He never made it to the Cowboys’ active roster.

According to the team’s official website, Sam will be replaced on the practice squad with linebacker Troy Davis, who worked out for Dallas on Monday.

Sam said the following on Twitter after his release was made public:

I want to thank the Jones family and the entire Cowboys organization for this opportunity, as well as my friends, family, teammates and fans for their support. While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday.

MORE: BURKE: Cowboys’ Big 3 among big winners of Week 7

Sam made history and received national attention in the spring when he announced he was gay several weeks before the NFL combine. As the reigning SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, Sam became the highest-profile active gay football player and sought to become the first gay player to be selected in the NFL Draft.

The St. Louis Rams picked Sam in the seventh round of this year’s draft and kept him on their roster until the last round of cuts at the end of training camp. He was picked up by the Cowboys several days later.

At the time of Sam’s signing, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Sam “had a long way to go” as a player while dismissing concerns that the rookie could be a potential distraction in the locker room due to his sexuality, echoing the sentiments of Rams coach Jeff Fisher from when Sam was with St. Louis.

Jones said Sunday that Sam’s sexual orientation was “a dead issue.”

Sam is now free to sign with any other team or join any other team’s practice squad. The CFL could also be an option, as Sam reportedly received interest from the Montreal Alouettes before he joined the Cowboys’ practice squad.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Football

Football Players Recall Abusive Hazing at New Jersey High School

Football Team Investigation
Residents of Sayreville gather for an anti-bullying rally Oct. 12, 2014, in Sayreville, N.J. Mel Evans—AP

One said the backlash from reporting the incident “made me want to shoot myself”

Older players on a New Jersey high school football team that has drawn national headlines for a hazing scandal allegedly pinned younger players to the floor and punched, kicked and sexually groped their bodies, according to a new report.

The New York Times, citing interviews with victims and multiple witnesses, provides new detail to the scandal that has cost Sayreville War Memorial High School its football season and has led seven varsity football players to be arrested. One victim said he was penetrated from behind by a finger. But there are conflicting accounts and some said they didn’t consider the hazing abusive.

The victims told the Times that they continued to suffer from abuse and taunts on social media for reporting the attacks, and one said the backlash “made me want to shoot myself.”

The team’s season was cancelled this month.

Read more at the Times


TIME Football

Peyton Manning Throws Touchdown Pass 509 to Set New NFL Record

He beat Brett Favre's record with No. 509

Many quarterbacks have come before. Few, if any, have been better.

Peyton Manning added another record to his collection Sunday night, tossing his 509th career touchdown pass to break Brett Favre’s all-time mark. The historic pass, his third TD of the night, landed in the arms of Demaryius Thomas, who managed to drag his feet near the sideline. Tight end Julius Thomas had a shot to help Manning cement the record two plays earlier, but he was unable to corral Manning’s pass.

A smiling Manning celebrated his latest accomplishment for but a brief moment, hugging head coach John Fox and several teammates as the crowd at Mile High Stadium saluted him with a standing ovation.

Earlier in the game against the San Francisco 49ers, Manning found Emmanuel Sanders for touchdown No. 507. He then tied Favre’s record with a 39-yard scoring pass to Wes Welker. A little of the drama was sapped from the Manning-to-Welker connection because the official nearest the play ruled that Welker had stepped out prior to getting the ball to the pylon. That call was overruled by a second official and stood after a review.

The record-holder before Favre came along was Dan Marino, who finished his career with 420 passing touchdowns. Manning leapfrogged that mark back in 2012, during his first season with the Broncos, leaving only Favre ahead of him.

Touchdowns Nos. 507 and 508 for Manning came 5,887 days after his first career NFL TD pass, a six-yard strike to Marvin Harrison way back in Manning’s NFL debut on Sept. 6, 1998.

He has broken record upon record since then (with a Super Bowl victory to boot), so many in fact that Manning and his teammates swore they had tuned out the noise coinciding with this latest chase.

“What I’ve concentrated on is trying to do whatever it takes to win,” Manning said earlier in the week. “I don’t feel like it’s been a distraction because we’ve handled it and focused on what’s important.”

Among the most prestigious records still in sight for Manning: Favre’s career passing yardage mark of 71,838. Manning entered Sunday’s game 5,344 yards back of that total. Should he finish out this season with good health and return for the 2015 campaign, it’s a virtual certainty that Manning catches Favre there, too.

Favre claimed on NFL GameDay Morning Sunday that he was not paying much attention to Manning’s touchdown total.

“I don’t really care to be honest with you and I mean that with no disrespect,” said Favre, in an interview with the NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci. “I think the world of Peyton. I’m not surprised that he’s going to break it.

As for the NFL’s recent tilt toward offensive prowess, Favre said, “Well, it is a little more prolific today, but I don’t want to take anything away from what he’s done. Drew [Brees], I think, if he continues to play, we know he’ll be prolific. He could put up astronomical numbers as well. But it’s becoming a different era.”

The careers of Favre and Manning overlapped for many seasons — Favre played from 1991-2010; Manning was the No. 1 pick of the 1998 draft.

Three years ago, it appeared that Manning’s days of rewriting the record books might be over. He, of course, missed all of the 2011 season with a neck injury. Indianapolis then cut the future Hall of Famer after that season and replaced him with 2012 No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck.

Manning signed with Denver and proceeded to put up 37 touchdown passes in 2012 and an NFL record 55 last season.

All told, Manning holds upward of 40 individual NFL passing records. He added another to his collection Sunday night.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME health

Football Players Have More Concussions Than Are Diagnosed, Study Suggests

From left: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers and the medical staff check out Eric Reid after he received a concussion during the game against the Carolina Panthers on November 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California.
From left: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers and the medical staff check out Eric Reid after he received a concussion during the game against the Carolina Panthers on November 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Michael Zagaris—Getty Images

‘Dings,’ ‘bell-ringers’ ... regardless of what they’re called, a new Harvard study reveals that potential concussions are being ignored at the line of scrimmage

The collisions that draw the most attention are usually the ones that happen in the open field: A receiver streaking across the middle gets blindsided by a safety, for instance. In the trenches, the hazards are less obvious but, perhaps, even more prevalent. Offensive linemen engage with an opponent on pretty much every play—when they don’t, it usually means they’re not doing their job.

“We’re backpedaling while someone is coming at us full speed,” Giants right tackle Justin Pugh says. “You use your technique, you try to use your hands as much as possible, but obviously the head gets put into that, and there is a lot of hand-slapping [against the helmet]. A lot of stuff goes on in the trenches you can’t get penalized for, and probably a lot of guys get hit or hurt.”

Part of changing the culture around brain injuries in football is gaining greater understanding of how they’re most likely to occur, and a new research study yielded interesting findings about the number of potential concussions that go unreported, particularly among offensive linemen.

The study, authored by Harvard Ph.D. student Christine Baugh, is based on a 2013 survey of more than 700 college players from 10 Division 1 FCS schools. Players were asked to respond with numeric answers to three questions based on both the previous football season (2012) and their entire playing careers: 1) How many times have you been diagnosed with a concussion by a medical professional? 2) How many times have you sustained an impact that you suspect was a concussion but was never diagnosed? 3) How many times did you get a ding or get your bell rung?

Players reported having about six times more suspected concussions than diagnosed concussions during the 2012 season, and about 21 times more “dings” or “bell ringers.” While offensive linemen didn’t have significantly more diagnosed concussions than the average for all players, they reported about 62% more suspected concussions and 52% more “dings” or “bell ringers” than their peers at other positions. (When providing numbers for their entire football careers, running backs reported significantly more “dings” or “bell ringers” than the average).

Those words—“ding” and “bell ringer”—are often used as code words for hits that may be potentially concussive. Players in this survey were more willing to admit absorbing these kinds of hits, though the words may have different meanings to different players. That highlights a central issue: No two head injuries are the same, yet much of proper treatment and recovery management relies on players self-reporting.

Not all of the suspected concussions reported in this survey would be diagnosed as concussions, nor would all the “dings” or “bell ringers,” but the results show top-level athletes are playing through impacts that may result in brain injuries. “Even in the era of concussion awareness, if we treat the diagnosed concussions properly, will that make a difference in the long-term?” says Chris Nowinski, co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute and co-director of the BU CTE Center. “It also shows, in a sense, no matter how many changes the NFL game makes we’ve still got these potentially unfixable problems at the levels below.”

In recent years, the NFL has employed measures like the “eye in the sky” athletic trainers, who serve as injury spotters from a perch above the field, to catch more potential head injuries. The controversy at the University of Michigan, though, in which Wolverines quarterback Shane Morris was allowed to re-enter a game for one play despite showing signs of a concussion, emphasizes that the process can be better at all levels of the game.

For offensive linemen in particular, the study provides a different perspective on the subconcussive hits—lower impact, but with higher frequency—that players on the front lines absorb. Players were asked to report how often they experience concussion-related symptoms after a hit. Compared to most other position groups, offensive linemen reported more frequently experiencing symptoms that were not likely to be externally observable, such as dizziness, headaches and concentration difficulties. The responses also showed that offensive linemen, on average, returned to play while experiencing symptoms after a hit more frequently than their peers during the 2012 season.

The research paper suggests that many of the hits considered “subconcussive” may in fact be symptomatic impacts left unreported. Perhaps because they are more routine; offensive linemen may also be less likely as a position group to self-report, for any number of reasons, whether it’s less attention being paid to head injuries among their position-mates or a pride that they rarely come out of the game.

“Since there are normally just five guys that play the offensive line position, a lot of times you just don’t want to come out of the game at all,” Pugh says. “As a defensive lineman, you can come out for a few plays, and you rotate, so it is part of the norm. With us, I won’t say it’s frowned upon, but no guy wants to come out of the game and hurt the chemistry of the team or hurt a good drive.”

Pugh was sidelined during his rookie training camp with a concussion after he collided with a teammate while pulling out in space. He now checks himself after every collision, using that experience as his context for what the symptoms of a brain injury feel like. Not every player has that context, though, nor does every concussion feel the same.

Many rule changes have focused on those big open-field hits, but this study suggests a wider lens in making the game safer. Nowinski recalls a visit to the University of Miami last year to discuss head trauma with coach Al Golden, after which the coach had his team wear baseball caps during a non-contact practice to ensure that the linemen were not continuing to knock helmets.

For now, proper technique is one way linemen can lessen the frequency of collisions in the trenches.

“The best way to pass block is to see your opponent,” Giants left tackle Will Beatty says. “Keeping your head up; keeping your eyes on your target. It is physical, but you are not out there head-butting people each play. You want your helmet to be clean. You want to use power from your arms and your chest rather than trying to use your head in a block. Even though you are in the trenches, you can still protect yourself.”

This article originally appeared on SI.com


Los Angeles Mayor Says It’s ‘Highly Likely’ an NFL Team Comes to City Soon

Key Speakers At The 2014 Milken Conference
The Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti speaks after an interview at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. on April 28, 2014. Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Anschutz Entertainment Group has been working to find a team to relocate and play in its downtown stadium

Mayor Eric Garcetti said it is “highly likely” an NFL team moves to Los Angeles within the next year.

During an interview on radio station KNX, via The Associated Press, Garcetti said he thinks the NFL is “finally interested” in Los Angeles 20 years after the Rams and Raiders left. The Anschutz Entertainment Group has been working to find a team to relocate and play in its downtown stadium. AEG’s proposal for a six-month extension will be reviewed on Friday. Garcetti has said he supports the extension.

The San Diego Chargers are opposed to a team relocating to Los Angeles because they receive 30 percent of their local revenue from the market. The Rams and Raiders have the ability to leave their current stadium leases at the end of this season.

Mike Florio of NBC Sports reported the NFL is planning to have one or two teams move to Los Angeles by 2016. New York Giants co-owner John Mara said he believes a team will move to Los Angeles in the near future. Fellow co-owner Steve Tisch, however, said the situation hasn’t moved forward or backwards.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was hesitant earlier this week to discuss relocation to Los Angeles.

“I’ve always been reluctant until we have a solution to project where we are,” Goodell said. “There are reasons for optimism, but that can change quickly also. What we want to do is make sure we’re doing the work to evaluate those alternatives, understand those alternatives, and if there’s an alternative that makes sense, bring that to the membership.”

Three-quarters of the league’s owners must approve of any team relocating.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

MONEY Sports

Why ‘America’s Team’ Home Games Are Dominated by Visiting Team Fans

Roger Steinman—AP

Poor Jerry Jones. The Dallas Cowboys' billionaire owner probably never imaged the lavish $1.2 billion stadium he built for the team would amount to a home-field disadvantage.

This Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys head to Seattle to face the Seahawks. Not only are Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, and company the Super Bowl champions, they also play at CenturyLink Field, one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums, a venue that’s been given some of the credit for the Seahawks’ overwhelming dominance at home games.

While the Seahawks are bejeweled with Super Bowl rings, the Cowboys, a.k.a. “America’s Team,” still try to stake their claim as the more popular franchise, and the squad also has bragging rights for playing in the more celebrated stadium. With a gargantuan 160-foot-long screen above the field, seating capacity for 80,000 fans, and a Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four already under its belt, AT&T Stadium has been an unabashed phenomenon since it opened five years ago.

What the stadium hasn’t delivered lately, however, is any real home field advantage for the Cowboys. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The Cowboys have hosted three home games thus far in the 2014 season, and at all three an estimated 40% of the seats have been occupied by the opposing team’s fans. Dallas Morning Star columnist Tim Cowlishaw described the situation as the “biggest home-field disadvantage in the NFL” after the Cowboys barely eked out a home victory this past weekend over the visiting Houston Texans. “Today we played on the road,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said after the game on his team’s own home turf. “We had to go to a silent count, and that was the first time I had to do that throughout the game at home.”

Who and what is to blame for this scenario? The discussion must start with the astronomical costs of attending NFL games nowadays. Taking a family of four to a Dallas Cowboys home game is estimated to run $634.80, and the average price of non-premium seats at the stadium is over $100.

As prices for tickets, parking, food, and other extras at NFL stadiums have soared, the fan base has shifted, with more seats being snatched up by corporations and wealthy types who, let’s be honest, aren’t the diehard fans of yore. These “fans” are less likely to feel compelled to attend every game in their season-ticket package, and the ease of using secondary market resale sites like StubHub helps them sell unwanted tickets. Add in that “America’s Team” boasts season ticketholders who live far away in neighboring states and even Mexico, that the stadium is one of the league’s biggest, and that the venue is considered a bucket-list “destination” for sports fans, and it’s easy to see how tens of thousands of Cowboys tickets go up for resale before every home game—and how they’re promptly snatched up by fans of the Saints, 49ers, or whatever other visiting team is in Dallas that week.

Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, feels sorry for his fellow pro sports owner in Dallas. “Part of having to pay for a $1.2 billion building is [high] ticket prices,” Cuban said to the Morning News. “You got to sell those tickets. That’s just what happens. So I do feel bad for him.” As for the idea of a visiting team’s fans outcheering the home team’s loyalists, Cuban said, “It would drive me nuts.”

For the many sports fans who hate the Cowboys for their long history of questionable ethics and consider Jerry Jones to be obnoxious and arrogant if not worse (he was accused of sexual assault last month), the current “home field disadvantage” scenario plays out like a morality tale. In it, Jones is righteously being punished for greed, excessive pride, and overshooting his bounds, not unlike the story of Icarus or the Tower of Babel. It’s bad karma come home to roost.

As for Jones himself, he said this week that he understands why Cowboys ticketholders put their seats up for sale, and he doesn’t think it’s a big problem. “They go out into the market and they sell their tickets and get that money,” Jones said to a Dallas radio station this week. “In doing so, they really do reduce their overall cost of coming to the stadium considerably because you sell two or three games as a season ticket holder and you’ve just about recouped what you’ve spent to buy the ticket.”

You see, it all comes down to money. No wonder Jones understands their motivation so well.

TIME Football

Watch an NFL Punter Recover His Own Onside Kick

In a game against the Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee recovered his own onside kick in a game against the Houston Texans on Thursday night. The ball dribbled forward 10 yards before any other player besides McAfee got close to it.

It’s the second time McAfee has helped the Colts convert an onside kick this season. The Colts took advantage of the play and went on to score a quick touchdown, putting them ahead 10-0 early in the game.


Report: Adrian Peterson Could Face Arrest After Pot Confession

Adrian Peterson
Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings plays against the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 7 in St. Louis. Michael Thomas—Getty Images

NFL player's admission he 'smoked a little weed' could violate bond conditions

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson could be arrested again after admitting he used drugs, which would violate his bond conditions, reports FOX 9 in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

According to the report, Montgomery County prosecutors have filed documents to have Peterson arrested again after Peterson admitted to a staffer that he “smoked a little weed” before giving a urine sample on Wednesday.

The district attorney has reportedly asked the judge to set aside Peterson’s $15,000 bond.

FOX 9 reports that there likely won’t be any action on Thursday, because the judge presiding over Peterson’s case has a hearing scheduled for Friday morning.

Peterson was arrested and indicted in September on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child after authorities said he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch.

A tentative trial date for the week of Dec. 1 was set on Wednesday. On the same day, Peterson appeared in a Montgomery County, Texas, courtroom, but did not enter a plea.

The 29-year-old faces up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted on the charges. He agreed to be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list while his investigation is ongoing.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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