TIME NFL

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

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 NFL

Peyton Manning Throws Touchdown Pass 509 to Set New NFL Record

Peyton Manning
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning celebrates his 509th career touchdown pass with teammates during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in Denver. Jack Dempsey—AP

The 38-year-old Denver Broncos quarterback threw touchdown pass No. 509 against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday

If he hadn’t already, Peyton Manning has now well and truly cemented his place in NFL history.

The Denver Broncos quarterback threw his 509th touchdown pass Sunday night and thus broke the record set by former Green Bay Packers star Brett Favre. The record-breaking pass came in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers, giving the Broncos a 21-3 lead.

Manning needed three touchdowns to break Favre’s record, and the 38-year-old did so comfortably before quickly being surrounded on the sidelines by his jubilant coach and teammates. Denver went on to win 42-17.

Favre had said before the game that he didn’t “really care” about his record being broken. “And I mean that with no disrespect. I think the world of Peyton. I’m not surprised that he’s going to break it.”

According to USA Today, Manning might cross 600 touchdowns by 2016 if he keeps throwing at his current success rate, and the man whose record he broke seems to agree as well.

Favre’s congratulatory tweet said the achievement was “well deserved,” and ended with a hashtag of encouragement.

 

TIME NFL

Former New Orleans Saints Wives Say NFL Covered Up Their Abuse

The NFL logo is displayed on the turf on September 14, 2014.
The NFL logo is displayed on the turf on September 14, 2014. Doug Pensinger—Getty Images

Two former New Orleans Saints wives have come forward to tell their story of abuse, fear and how the NFL tried to keep them quiet

If you’re looking to marry into the NFL, two former wives of players have some advice for you: keep your mouth shut when he hits you. That’s not their playbook, it’s the one they were handed when they were put in abusive situations during their husbands’ playing days.

On Friday, The Washington Post ran a story that detailed the horrifying lives of two women who were married to New Orleans Saints players in a time period between the 1990s and present day. To highlight how tight of a grip abuse still has on them, only one woman was willing to use her name publicly.

Dewan Smith-Williams, who was married to New Orleans Saints player Wally Williams in the 1990s and 2000s, detailed her abuse and how then-head coach Jim Hasslet nudged her towards keeping her mouth shut. Smith-Williams notes that Hasslet told her that taking the fall for her husband was not a good idea, which years later caused her to silence herself about her husband’s illegal activities even after he took a baseball bat to their entire house.

“We’ve told agents about it, called the NFL Players Association when things were really, really bad,” Smith-Williams recalls. “They would say, ‘Oh, we’re really sorry that you are going through this. We’ll look into it.’ But you never heard back. There’s no one available for the wives.”

The wife that wanted to remain nameless detailed an even more horrifying incident in which she was violently abused by her NFL husband only to have no one care. She notes that the police were called by the neighbors, who proceeded to joke with her husband and ask for autographs. But the most horrific and spine chilling details came in the days after.

After the incident occurred, the New Orleans Saints called the house to not so much offer assistance but to make sure she wasn’t going to go public with what happened. If that doesn’t paint a terrifying enough picture, the woman then noted that her husband refused to take her to the hospital and drove her around to make sure she told everyone that she had been in a car accident

“I learned to listen and not speak,” she says. “He would remind me of that night, how no one would care if I was gone and how the cops did [not care]. It was all about him. He reminded me that I was alone and disposable.”

This unnamed woman is still shackled in chains of an abusive relationship as her anonymity is on account of her abuser is still associated with the NFL in enough capacity that she is scared to say her name.

As if the NFL didn’t already have a big enough problem with abuse, this highlights just how deep the roots are. You can’t hear these stories and not feel sick. All of this happened over the last decade, which means the NFL needs to stop cowering behing the facade that abuse is a ‘societal problem’.

Abuse in the NFL being a societal problem is like saying obesity is a problem because gym memberships cost too much. There’s correlation but pretty transparent correlation. The NFL needs to stop hiding behind machismo and answer to what is very clearly a societal problem that the largest sports business in the world is enabling.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NFL

Tom Brady Has ‘Significant’ Ankle Injury

Brady played through the injury on Sunday

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady‘s ankle injury is “significant,” CSN New England’s Tom Curran reported Sunday, citing two sources familiar with Brady’s injury.

Brady played through the injury on Sunday, leading the Patriots to a 37-22 victory over their AFC East division rival, the Buffalo Bills. Brady had his best game of the season, completing 27 of 37 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns.

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According to Curran, the 37-year-old Brady “needed a lot of therapy” to play in Sunday’s game. According to the report, Brady rolled his ankle in practice on Friday, which led him to be listed as “questionable” ahead of Sunday’s contest.

Earlier this month, there were reports that personnel and coaching changes have led to tension between Brady and the Patriots’ coaching staff. The rift, according to the reports, could reportedly lead to him finishing his career with another team.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

 

TIME NFL

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

TIME Music

What the Super Bowl Halftime Show Means for Katy Perry

Katy Perry
Katy Perry. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP) John Shearer—John Shearer/Invision/AP

The "Dark Horse" pop star will perform on TV's biggest night. What does she stand to gain?

As has been widely reported, Katy Perry will be the halftime performer at the next Super Bowl, in Glendale, Ariz. in February 2015. This hardly comes as a shock: Perry had already been the object of widespread speculation after an August Wall Street Journal report that pinned her, Rihanna, and Coldplay as the three acts in contention for the gig and indicated all three had been asked to pay for the booking. The “Dark Horse” singer recently appeared on a college football broadcast and confirmed that she had been in talks with the NFL but refused to pay.

And yet for Perry, the Super Bowl is extremely valuable, and not merely for the huge exposure it will provide her. (This year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched television broadcast of all time, and provided halftime act Bruno Mars with a healthy sales bump.) With this booking, Perry obtains something she’s sought throughout her career — credibility.

Performers have, in recent years, gotten different things from performing in front of a hundred million viewers. In the 2000s, the halftime act was a male recording legend — a likely response to the controversy over Janet Jackson’s bared breast at the 2004 Super Bowl. Artists from Paul McCartney to Bruce Springsteen got to connect with young music fans who might otherwise have been unreachable.

In more recent years, the choices have gotten edgier, with younger or less venerated acts using the stage to cement their stardom; Madonna, never as critically acclaimed as her male contemporaries, made a case for herself as the era’s defining pop star with a bombastic show in 2012, while Beyoncé’s exhaustive, brilliantly executed 2013 show kicked off her current phase as an object of universal admiration. Bruno Mars, less famous than either but unique in his role as a self-conscious throwback act, got to burnish his reputation as a live performer.

Perry is certainly famous — for as widely-watched as the Super Bowl is, it’s hard to imagine a pop music fan tuning in who isn’t aware of at least one of her hits. And yet she’s one among a very crowded field, a set of young female pop stars including Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Miley Cyrus, all of whom strive to define themselves and none of whom is a uniting figure. She’s a solid hitmaker with no real persona or standout trait (notably, she’s the only halftime show performer since the Janet Jackson incident to never have won a Grammy). While Madonna, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars were already alone in their fields when picked for the gig, Perry feels like she has something to prove.

But in February, she’ll be the only performer in her particular cohort to have played the Super Bowl. This is an opportunity for the singer behind some of the biggest pop songs in the world to become, if all goes well, one of the biggest pop stars in the world.

MONEY Sports

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

141008_EM_COWBOYSSTADIUM
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 NFL

Ex-NFL Manager Says Teams Ignore Hundreds of Domestic-Abuse Cases

Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo speaks at press c
Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo speaks at press conference about the one-game suspension of Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson in Chicago on Dec. 19, 2006 Charles Cherney—Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty Images

Former Chicago Bears manager Jerry Angelo regrets not taking stronger action when he had the chance

As the NFL grapples with a colossal backlash over its attitude towards domestic violence, a former team executive has revealed that hundreds of cases of domestic abuse by players were swept under the rug during his 30-year league tenure.

Jerry Angelo, a former general manager of the Chicago Bears, told USA Today that his perspective changed with the controversy around Ray Rice, and he regrets not taking stronger action against players when he was in a position to do so.

Rice, the running back for the Baltimore Ravens, was shown knocking his then fiancée unconscious in an elevator with a punch to the face, in a video released in August by TMZ.

“I made a mistake,” said Angelo. “I was human. I was a part of it. I’m not proud of it.”

Angelo, who had earlier worked in different capacities for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, said his typical approach after any violent incident involving a player was simply to enquire whether everyone involved was O.K. “And then we’d just move on,” he said.

A statement from the Bears, released later on Thursday, denied any knowledge of Angelo’s claims: “We were surprised by Jerry’s comments and do not know what he is referring to.”

TIME Music

Katy Perry Will Play Next Year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show

Katy Perry "The Prismatic World Tour" - Washington D.C.
Katy Perry performs onstage during "The Prismatic World Tour" at the Verizon Center on June 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Kevin Mazur—WireImage/Getty Images

The "Roar" and "Dark Horse" singer had reportedly been shortlisted by the NFL with Coldplay and Rihanna

Katy Perry is going to perform at the Super Bowl. After over a month of speculation, sources confirmed to Billboard that the artist would perform during halftime at Super Bowl XLIX.

Perry was reportedly shortlisted by the NFL in August along with Rihanna and Coldplay, the Wall Street Journal reported. But controversy arose from reports that the league, which declined to comment on the “Firework” singer’s selection, was asking artists for payment in exchange for performing at its marquee event.

Curiously enough, Perry told ESPN last week that she wouldn’t give anyone money for a performance. “I’m not the kind of girl that would pay to play the Super Bowl,” she said.

Some 111.5 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl, which included halftime performances by Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, setting a new viewership record.

[Billboard]

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