TIME U.K.

Soccer Club Will Not Let Convicted Rapist Train

The club was criticized for initially agreeing to allow the soccer star to train

British soccer club Sheffield United has withdrawn its offer to let convicted rapist Ched Evans use their training facilities following his release from prison, according to a statement made Thursday.

Sheffield United had agreed to allow Evans to train with them again after the Professional Footballers’ Association argued the soccer star should be free to resume his career.

MORE: Soccer star convicted of rape returns to training amid angry debate

The club has now reversed the decision, citing the unexpected intensity of the public reaction.

A string of patrons resigned from the club and more than 165,000 members of the public signed a petition calling on the club not to allow Evans to play again.

Evans played for Sheffield United for three years before he was convicted in 2012 of raping a 19-year-old woman. He served two and a half years of a five-year sentence and was released from prison last month.

 

 

TIME NFL

Raiders Stun the Chiefs for Their First Victory

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 20, 2014.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr celebrates after the Raiders defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 in an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Nov. 20, 2014. Marcio Jose Sanchez—AP

The Raiders hadn't won a game since Nov. 17 of last season

The Kansas City Chiefs entered Thursday looking like clear Super Bowl contenders, having won five straight to chase down Denver in the AFC West standings. The Oakland Raiders appeared to be on their way to 0-16 and had gone 368 days without a regular-season win.

So of course, in this incredibly unpredictable NFL season, the night belonged to Oakland.

The Raiders used a 17-play touchdown drive (their longest of the season at 7:21) and a late defensive stop to pull off the shocking upset, 24-20. It was their first victory since a 28-23 triumph at Houston on Nov. 17 of last season. Since then, the Raiders had come up short in 16 consecutive games, including all 10 to start 2014.

“These losses have been hard,” Raiders QB Derek Carr said in the aftermath of his team’s win.

Carr dropped to his knees and threw his hands up toward the sky after Alex Smith‘s final fourth-down pass fell incomplete. His teammates celebrated with equal exuberance, almost to a fault. After a sack of Smith one play earlier, Oakland linebacker Sio Moore celebrated with his teammates behind the line of scrimmage for so long that DE Justin Tuck called timeout to avoid an offside penalty.

The Raiders’ celebration was on for good just a few seconds later. Three thoughts on Oakland’s breakthrough:

1. This was no fluke: Kansas City clearly is the more talented of the two teams, but it hardly looked that way for much of Thursday night. The Raiders came out firing on all cylinders, streaking to a 14-0 lead behind stalwart efforts at the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively.

The tables turned for a bit late in the third quarter, with the Chiefs running off 17 straight points to take the lead.

But with their backs against the wall, the Raiders responded via that epic game-winning drive, which included three third-down conversions and a 4th-and-1 QB sneak from Carr to move the chains. Carr then capped the possession by slinging one to an open James Jones in the end zone, sending the Black Hole into pandemonium.

“I needed this win like I need to breathe,” said veteran DB Charles Woodson, who Thursday became the first player in NFL history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks over his career. “The whole team, this whole organization needed this win tonight.

“[The Chiefs] fought back, they made it interesting but we [were] going to get this one,” Woodson added. “We needed it.”

Perhaps it’s fitting that Jones made the grab. He was one of several relatively big-name free agents added by the Raiders this offseason with an eye on moving forward from back-to-back 4-12 seasons. Several of those pickups — Maurice Jones-Drew, LaMarr Woodley and others — have fallen far shy of expectations.

Oakland had been a deserving 0-10, even with Carr and first-round pick Khalil Mack offering a silver lining. Thursday, the Raiders looked nothing like a winless squad.

2. On Kansas City’s play calling … : Following a couple of Kansas City losses earlier in the year, head coach Andy Reid criticized himself for not getting Jamaal Charles enough touches. He might sound a similar tune after this costly setback.

Charles wound up with 23 touches (19 rushes, four passes), but on a night when the Chiefs’ offense was sluggish for extended periods, though, the number probably could have been higher.

That goes for the final drive, too. Kansas City was up against it, trailing by four and without a timeout. There still was plenty of time to work in a Charles run or two, especially with the Raiders so focused on not getting beat over the top. The star running back’s only work on the decisive possession came on a 4-yard pass from Smith.

The Chiefs also waited until they faced a 17-3 third-quarter deficit to really lean on talented TE Travis Kelce. He made two catches to help set up Kansas City’s first touchdown, then hauled in a 27-yard completion to open the Chiefs’ next offensive series.

There undoubtedly will be questions asked of Smith, who is three months removed from signing a $68 million extension. Plenty of Smith critics remain skeptical of his ability to take the Chiefs deep into the playoffs or past the Peyton Manning-ledBroncos in the AFC West. Performances like the one he endured Thursday only add fuel to the fire.

Smith was all out of whack in the early going, misfiring badly on several short throws. He did connect on a pair of second-half touchdown passes, yet came up short in the closing seconds. Smith took a sack on 3rd-and-6, despite solid initial protection, and then came up well short of Frankie Hammond on fourth down.

Give credit to the Oakland defense for disrupting its opponent up front. The Chiefs failed to find any counters in the first half, opting for (often unsuccessful) screens or inside handoffs to Charles.

That said, Reid’s offense left some points on the field.

3. Latavius Murray’s all-too-brief brilliance: Murray was headed toward a potential all-timer type of night before a concussion sent him to the locker room. On just four carries, spread over the first and second quarters, Murray piled up 112 yards and scored twice. His 90-yard touchdown scamper was the longest ever allowed by the Chiefs and had CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz recalling a Bo Jackson highlight.

Once Murray left a few minutes later, the Oakland offense absolutely bogged down. Only when the coaching staff bailed almost completely on Darren McFadden and Jones-Drew in favor of hybrid fullback Marcel Reece did any oomph return, and just in time for the late drive that won the game.

Hopefully, Murray can recover in short order, because the starting running back job ought to be his moving forward. The 2013 sixth-round pick out of Central Florida has a burst that neither McFadden nor Jones-Drew possesses any longer.

He could be a perfect partner for Carr in the backfield as the Raiders continue their rebuild. And Murray helped set the tone vs. Kansas City, landing a couple of haymakers early in the upset.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NFL

Bills-Jets Game Will Be Played in Detroit on Monday

Signora said the decision to not play Sunday in Buffalo was made "due to public safety concerns and the ongoing weather emergency"

The New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game will be played at Ford Field in Detroit at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, the NFL announced Thursday night.

The game will be televised by CBS in the Buffalo and New York City markets.

NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora earlier announced that the game wouldn’t be played on Sunday in Buffalo. Signora said the decision to not play Sunday in Buffalo was made “due to public safety concerns and the ongoing weather emergency” and that the league was in the process of rescheduling and relocating the game.

Earlier Thursday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bills coaches were preparing for the game to be held in Detroit, Pittsburgh or Washington, D.C.

FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo reported that one of Buffalo’s contingency plans was to fly out on Friday to wherever the game wouuld be played. Bills president Russ Brandon said that it “may not be possible” to get the team out of Buffalo for a game elsewhere.

A source told Schefter that Buffalo “will be hard pressed to get [the] stadium ready” for its Nov. 30 home game against the Cleveland Browns.

The Buffalo area has received more than six feet of snow this week and the region is expected to receive an additional 20 to 30 inches of snow Thursday, according to CNN.

The Bills said Wednesday that Ralph Wilson Stadium is currently under an estimated 220,000 tons of snow and the organization has offered to pay fans $10 an hour plus game tickets to shovel it. On Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it is “impractical” for the Bills and Jets to play on Sunday due to the snow.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports Jets coach Rex Ryan said he has contingency plans in place in the event the game and/or date is changed.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NFL

The Buffalo Snowstorm Is Really Causing Problems for the Bills

Wintry Weather New York
A band of storm clouds moves across Lake Erie and into Buffalo, N.Y., on Nov. 18, 2014 Gary Wiepert—AP

Fans who help shovel snow will be paid $10 per hour and receive game tickets

Snow accumulation in the Buffalo area is approaching apocalyptic amounts. Some places are expected to receive up to six feet. This is obviously posing massive problems for Western New York residents, including the Buffalo Bills.

The hardest-hit area is south of Buffalo, which includes the town of Orchard Park, where the Bills’ stadium is. Orchard Park reported more than four feet of snow, leaving Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Bills are supposed to play the Jets on Sunday, completely buried.

As you can see, the snow has let up for the time being, but more is expected overnight. The stadium will have to be cleared out, even as snow continues to fall. The team estimates there are 220,000 tons of snow in the stadium, enough to fill the practice facility eight times over. It’s a monumental task that will require massive amounts of manpower, so the Bills are enlisted their fans to help.

Fans who help shovel snow will be paid $10 per hour and receive game tickets. They hope to have people working 24 hours a day in order to get the stadium ready by Sunday.

The coaches are planning to sleep at the team facility. They’re also distributing the gameplan digitally because they can’t hold team meetings.

As for the players, they can’t practice because roads in most of the area are completely closed. How often do pro athletes get snow days?

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Football

NFL Suspends Adrian Peterson For Season

Peterson pled no contest to charges of reckless assault

Minnesota Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson has been suspended from the National Football League without pay for the remainder of the 2014 season, the league announced Tuesday. Peterson pled no contest this month to charges of reckless assault after he was accused of hitting his son with a switch.

In an open letter, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told Peterson that the player’s ability to return to the field would depend on his completion of counseling and treatment.

“You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy,” said Goodell, who has come under criticism in recent months for turning a blind eye to player misconduct.

Peterson will not be permitted to return to play before April 15, Goodell said.

TIME Football

DEA Agents Raid NFL Medical Staffs After Games

NFL Football Giants 49ers DEA Drugs
Jayron Hosley #28 and Adrien Robinson #81 of the New York Giants take the field prior to playing against the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Nov. 16, 2014. Al Bello—Getty Images

Federal drug enforcement agents showed up unannounced Sunday to check at least three visiting NFL teams’ medical staffs as part of an investigation into former players’ claims that teams mishandled prescription drugs.

There were no arrests, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne said Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers’ staff was checked at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, after they played the New York Giants. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ staff was checked at Baltimore-Washington International airport after playing the Redskins. The Seattle Seahawks, who played at Kansas City, confirmed via the team’s Twitter account that they were spot-checked as well.

The operation was still ongoing, and other teams may be checked later Sunday, Payne said.

“DEA agents are currently interviewing NFL team doctors in several locations as part of an ongoing investigation into potential violations of the (Controlled Substances Act),” Payne said.

The spot checks were done by investigators from the federal DEA. They did not target specific teams, but were done to measure whether visiting NFL clubs were generally in compliance with federal law. Agents requested documentation from visiting teams’ medical staffs for any controlled substances in their possession, and for proof that doctors could practice medicine in the home team’s state.

“Our teams cooperated with the DEA today and we have no information to indicate that irregularities were found,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.

The nationwide probe is being directed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York — where the NFL is headquartered — but involves several U.S. attorney’s offices.

The investigation was sparked by a lawsuit filed in May on behalf of former NFL players going back to 1968. The number of plaintiffs has grown to more than 1,200, including dozens who played as recently as 2012. Any violations of federal drug laws from 2009 forward could also become the subject of a criminal investigation because they would not be subject to the five-year statute of limitations.

“This is an unprecedented raid on a professional sports league,” said Steve Silverman, one of the attorneys for the former players. “I trust the evidence reviewed and validated leading up to this action was substantial and compelling.”

Federal prosecutors have conducted interviews in at least three cities over the past three weeks, spending two days in Los Angeles in late October meeting with a half-dozen former players — including at least two who were named plaintiffs in the painkillers lawsuit, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the meetings who spoke on the condition of anonymity because prosecutors told them not to comment on the meetings.

The lawsuit alleges the NFL and its teams, physicians and trainers acted without regard for players’ health, withholding information about injuries while at the same time handing out prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet, and anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, to mask pain and minimize lost playing time. The players contend some teams filled out prescriptions in players’ names without their knowledge or consent, then dispensed those drugs — according to one plaintiff’s lawyer — “like candy at Halloween,” along with combining them in “cocktails.”

Several former players interviewed by The Associated Press described the line of teammates waiting to get injections on game day often spilling out from the training room. Others recounted flights home from games where trainers walked down the aisle and players held up a number of fingers to indicate how many pills they wanted.

The controlled substance act says only doctors and nurse practitioners can dispense prescription drugs, and only in states where they are licensed. The act also lays out stringent requirements for acquiring, labeling, storing and transporting drugs. Trainers who are not licensed would be in violation of the law simply by carrying a controlled substance.

The former players have reported a range of debilitating effects, from chronic muscle and bone ailments to permanent nerve and organ damage to addiction. They contend those health problems came from drug use, but many of the conditions haven’t been definitively linked to painkillers.

The lawsuit is currently being heard in the northern district of California, where presiding judge William Alsup said he wants to hear the NFL Players Association’s position on the case before deciding on the league’s motion to dismiss. The NFL maintained that it’s not responsible for the medical decisions of its 32 teams. League attorneys also argued the issue should be addressed by the union, which negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that covers player health.

The DEA investigation comes during a turbulent time for the NFL.

The league is still weathering criticism over its treatment of several players accused of domestic violence and just wrapped up an arbitration hearing involving Ravens running back Ray Rice, who is contesting the length of his suspension. The league has hired former FBI director Robert Mueller III to investigate its handling of the Rice case.

The NFL is also trying to finalize a $765 million class-action settlement reached in August 2013 over complaints by thousands of former players that the NFL concealed the risk of concussions.

TIME How-To

How to Turn Your iPhone into an Eagle-Eyed Fantasy Football Scout

Professional football running back running through defenders crowded stadium in background
Thomas M Barwick—Getty Images

Blitz your league opponents with this mobile playbook

When the first iPhone was launched in 2007, it had more computing heft than all of NASA had in 1969. So, if a bunch of giant, whirring supercomputers can help mankind land on the moon, your tiny pocket-sized smartphone can certainly rocket your fantasy football team into contention.

But it doesn’t take an astronaut or a football expert to make all the right picks—someone with a good understanding of the Xs and Os of Apple iOS can stiff arm the competition. Try these tips to turn your iPhone into your secret fantasy football weapon:

Tip 1: Throw a Flag on Your Notifications

If you’re like most people, your iPhone’s notifications are like Wes Welker in the offseason: out of control. Go into Settings and then Notifications, and look at the effect of your haphazard app adds—you do not need alerts from Candy Crush Saga. So, for the rest of these tips to work, start by nuking your iPhone’s current alerts in order to start fresh.

Apps can have three kinds of notifications. Badges (the little red numbered dots on the corner of the app) are great for things that you can blast through later, like work email. Banners (small strips that come and go up on the menu bar) work well if you’re always eyes-deep in your phone, and want to know what’s happening outside the app you’re in. Alerts, meanwhile, are like a solid defensive tackle — they’ll stop you in your tracks (until you press “OK”). Set up your apps keeping these differences in mind, giving alerts to the programs with the most crucial information and putting badges on the good-to-know news apps.

In addition, swiping down from the top of the home screen reveals the Notification Center, a great place to quickly zip through alerts across your apps. Most apps display items in Notification Center, but the best way to ensure you don’t get hit with the same information twice is to allow notifications for apps you want to display info here, but then turn off their sounds, badges, alerts, and lock screen options. This app offensive might take a while to run, but at least it gives you something to do while watching this week’s Tampa Bay game at Washington.

Tip 2: IFTTT the NFL

Yes, your phone is your team’s MVP, but there’s a whole world of digital smarts that can also lead you to victory, and IFTTT (pronounced “ift”) is the playmaker that can make them play like a team. An online service that links web-based data with web-based services, this easy-to-use interface can do everything from flash your Internet-connected lightbulbs when your team scores to text-message taunt your league opponents when their players get injured — all automatically.

If you haven’t heard of IFTTT yet, you will soon, because it’s starting to attract users outside the geek-o-sphere. But more importantly, IFTTT has heard of the NFL, and they even have their own list of winning fantasy football plays. For instance, if you want send breaking ESPN fantasy news to your phone via text message, this service can make that happen. League operators are even starting to pile onto IFTTT too. For instance, by using IFTTT with Yahoo Fantasy Sports, you can receive a daily digest email of your players’ health changes, among other things.

Tip 3: Be A Social Media Sleeper

In today’s always-on information age, there’s a tremendous amount of news to digest — and that’s just what gets published. Sometimes the meatiest scoops are solitary posts on Twitter. If you want to be an expert on your roster, you have to gather social media news like a pro, and professionals use Hootsuite. Free to use (though you can pay for enhanced options), Hootsuite connects to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others, all within one application, allowing you to better organize your feeds. You can create lists of writers and outlets who cover football or report on your favorite teams individually, and you can even track hashtags and search terms (like your players’ names) to make sure you’re gobbling up every bit of news they’re making.

If that’s too involved for you, or you’re a rookie to the fantasy football scene, Reddit also has excellent analysis, with user-generated topics that get up-voted by other users. Specializing in injury rumors, the board can alert you to impending roster problems. The forum website has a great official app, though you might have a hard time finding it because it’s called Alien Blue. Just keep in mind that anyone can post here, including your opponents, so take every “day-to-day” with a grain of Gronk-sized salt.

Tip 4: Tap That App

Of course, when you think iPhone, you think apps, and when it comes to fantasy football there are enough iOS offerings to choke a linebacker. As far as free apps go, Team Stream is an excellent way to stay on top of the latest news with a customizable interface that stretches beyond football even into college sports. Combining popular Twitter feeds with news stories (even scouring the local papers) the app hits hard for fantasy football fanatics.

But don’t dismiss paid apps. Some 33 million people will spend more than $100 each on fantasy football this year, so at $9.99, RotoWire Fantasy Football Assistant is a bargain worth looking into. RotoWire has been in the fantasy game for more than 15 years, typically providing subscriber-based insight to guys who are mopping it up in their leagues. But this app is subscription-free, giving you all the numbers you need, as well as the ability to view depth charts, make watch lists, and project statistics. If you’re looking for an app to tell you who to add and who to start, this guy could quickly become your new best friend.

TIME Crime

Report: Florida State Football Star Got Traffic Tickets After Hit-and-Run

A public police database did not contain any record of the crash

A Florida State University football player who allegedly left the scene of a car crash in which he was a driver received traffic tickets for what normally would qualify as a crime, the New York Times reported. A public police database did not contain any record that the player, starting cornerback P. J. Williams, was involved in the crash.

The report is the latest scandal to draw attention to preferential treatment of the school’s athletes by local authorities. The Tallahassee police failed to conduct a thorough investigation of quarterback and Heisman Trophy-winner Jameis Winston after he was accused of rape last year. That story prompted outrage and accusations of bias by local officials.

Read the full story in the New York Times.

TIME U.K.

Soccer Star Convicted of Rape Returns to Training Amid Angry Debate

Ched Evans playing for Sheffield United in 2012.
Ched Evans playing for Sheffield United in 2012. Stu Forster—Getty Images

More than 163,000 people have signed a petition against his return

Correction appended Nov. 15.

The story told by Ched Evans in an Oct. 22 video statement posted on YouTube features two victims. First among these is his girlfriend Natasha, who nestles alongside him in the film and remains in the relationship despite the crime Evans committed in a Welsh hotel room in 2011 which he terms “my act of infidelity.” The second is Evans himself. The soccer player, released from prison last month, uses the video to deny the rape verdict that put him behind bars. “The acts I engaged in on that night were consensual in nature and not rape,” he says, pledging to “continue to fight to clear my name.”

There is, of course, another victim—the unnamed 19-year-old woman Evans assaulted. Since Evans left prison, heated debate around whether or not he should be allowed to return to work at his former club Sheffield United risks creating further victims still. “Jean Hatchet”—her name is a pseudonym—has been subjected to online abuse since starting a petition calling on Sheffield United to drop the player.

And on Nov. 14 police started an investigation after a Twitter troll posted a tweet about Jessica Ennis-Hill. The Sheffield-born athlete, who won gold in heptathlon for Britain in the London 2012 Olympics, has threatened to remove her name from a stand at the Sheffield United grounds if the club reinstates Evans. “Those in positions of influence should respect the role they play in young people’s lives and set a good example,” she said in a statement. “I hope [Evans] rapes her,” the troll responded.

Heat and hostility threaten to obscure the deeper questions at the heart of the discussion. Evans has served his time—or at any half of the five-year term originally meted out—and now seeks rehabilitation. Isn’t that the way the justice system is supposed to work? Evans seems to think so. “It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to be able to play professional football,” he says in his YouTube non-mea culpa. “Now that I’ve served the custodial part of my sentence of two-and-a-half years, it is my hope that I’ll be able to return to football. If that is possible, then I will do so with humility having learned a very painful lesson. I would like a second chance but I know not everyone would agree.”

That last point is undeniable. More than 163,000 people have signed Hatchet’s petition in support of her view that “to even consider reinstating [Evans] as a player at the same club is a deep insult to the woman who was raped and to all women like her who have suffered at the hands of a rapist.” Charlie Webster, a sports television presenter, lifelong fan of Sheffield United and patron of the club, resigned that after learning that the club had allowed Evans back to train. A victim of sexual abuse as a teenager, Webster has used her public profile to try to encourage other victims of sexual abuse to speak out. In her view Evans’s public profile means that he cannot simply be allowed to return to his old life. “We cheer him on as a role model and he’s influencing the next generation of young men who are currently making their decisions on how to treat women and what sexual mutual consent is,” she told the BBC.

Neither Sheffield United nor the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the players’ union, accepts this view. Sheffield United issued a statement on Nov. 11 confirming that Evans was back in training, but denying any final decision about his future. “The club rejects the notion that society should seek to impose extrajudicial or post-term penalties on anyone,” the statement said loftily. “In a nation of laws, served by an elected parliament and duly constituted courts of law, there can be no place for ‘mob justice’. The club believes that the only penalties following from a conviction on any charge should be those set forth in law and deemed appropriate by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

PFA chief Gordon Taylor made a similar point in more demotic language: “I didn’t know there was a law that said once you come out of prison you still can’t do anything.”

Such discussions are hardly unique to English soccer. Across the Atlantic two prominent National Football League players are currently serving suspensions after admitting acts of violence. In September, the Baltimore Ravens dropped Ray Rice, already suspended by the NFL for hitting his then-fiancée, now wife, after publication of a second and more graphic video of the attack. Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings, is waiting a decision on his status as a player after pleading no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault for whipping his four-year-old son with a switch.

Sporting history is garnished with individuals who serve as role models not only in their chosen disciplines but through their life choices: philanthropists, activists and all-round good eggs such as Ennis-Hill. But the same history is also full of flawed heroes and monstrous egos and yet darker tales. A question largely ignored in the current discussions is why that might be. Is sport simply a microcosm of the world, for good and ill, or might the people who run sports bear a greater share of the responsibility?

Football teams—soccer and American football—recruit kids young and work the raw material to create winners, but not necessarily rounded human beings. Joey Barton, a soccer player who returned to the professional game after serving a jail sentence for assault and affray and now aims to be a manager, gave a revealing interview when he retired as a player in September.

“I used a lot of the dark energy to make myself a footballer,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “If I’d been a balanced person I’d never have been an elite-level sportsman. There were a lot of players more technically gifted than me but what I had was an ability to harness my anger at the world. I used anger like a fuel, a propellant, to turn in to performances.”

He argued that his flaws—and criminal record—should not rule him out as a role model. “I realized, wow, I can’t be a role model for the squeaky clean because I’m not squeaky clean. There are a lot of kids out there who feel disconnected, a bit lost. They relate to me.”

That, of course, is only a good thing if the lesson they draw from Barton is to learn from mistakes, or hopefully to avoid them in the first place, because such mistakes often take a toll not just on the person who commits them but on other people.

These are lessons team managements and sports bodies must do better in imparting to their rising stars. Their messaging must be clear and unequivocal. That is why many people believe Sheffield United should not reinstate Ched Evans.

Correction: The original version of this story mischaracterized the career of Joey Barton. He is currently a player with Queens Park Rangers.

TIME Football

LeBron James Explains Why He Won’t Let His Kids Play Football

LeBron James Receives 4th MVP Award
LeBron James, center, his sons Bryce James, left, and LeBron James Jr. attend a press conference to announce his Fourth NBA MVP Award in Miami on May 5, 2013 Alexander Tamargo—WireImage

You won’t see LeBron James’ sons scoring touchdowns anytime soon. The Cleveland Cavaliers all-star said in a new interview that he neither lets them play football, nor hockey.

“We don’t want them to play in our household right now until they understand how physical and how demanding the game is. Then they can have their choice in high school, we’ll talk over it,” James reasoned to ESPN. “But right now there’s no need for it. There’s enough sports they can play. They play basketball, they play soccer, they play everything else but football and hockey.”

James explained that health concerns led to the ban. “It’s a safety thing,” he said. “As a parent you protect your kids as much as possible.” Football aside, both of his sons still play several sports: LeBron Jr., 10, concentrates mainly on basketball while Bryce Maximus, 7, favors soccer.

MORE: Parents Deeply Concerned About Injuries in Youth Sports, Survey Finds

He’s far from the first big name to speak out against youth football. President Barack Obama said last January that if he had a son, “I’d have to think long and hard” before letting him play. And Friday Night Lights director Peter Berg took an even firmer stand in a TIME op-ed this fall, saying he had forbidden his son from playing. But New Yorker columnist and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell holds perhaps the most controversial position of all — that all college football should be banned.

James’ stance may come as a surprise to some fans. The two-time NBA champion has called football “his first love.” Along with being one of the most sought-after high school basketball recruits ever, he was also an all-state wide receiver at his high school in Ohio. But he dropped football in his junior year after breaking a wrist during the off-season.

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