Author Archives: John Kryk

Blandino: NFL consults with CFL to see how adding PI calls to video reviews went over in 2014

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The NFL has been in touch with the CFL about how video reviews for pass-interference calls went over in 2014.

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice-president of officiating, told Sun Media after Thursday’s football-operations news conference here at Super Bowl XLIX that he has talked with his counterpart north of the border about the matter of adding PI calls to video reviews.

“Yeah, I talked to Glen Johnson, who is (the CFL’s) head of officiating, and we’ve had conversations,” Blandino said. “And he has sent me the video, because it’s something that we’ll review with our committee.

“That’s something we can take and say, ‘Hey, that’s something they’re looking at it and let’s review.’”

According to Sun Media colleague Kirk Penton, CFL coaches challenged 55 pass-interference calls or non-calls in the 18-game 2014 season. Overturns occurred 17 times, or 31% of the time.

Coaches, players, executives and fans all seemed to be happy with the results.

‘Yeah,” Blandino said. “They seem to. I think the coaches appreciated the ability to at least challenge those calls.”

Branch began 2014 season in Buffalo Bills’ doghouse, ends it in Super Bowl with Patriots

Alan

 

PHOENIX, Ariz. – New England Patriots defensive tackle Alan Branch is ending the 2014 season in the Super Bowl.

He began it in the doghouse, of then Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone. It was in July, at Bills training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, N.Y.

Branch showed up to camp slightly out of shape in Marrone’s estimation, and for five days could not partake in team drills. He worked out alone, on the sidelines, in sweats, as his teammates began prepping for the season. (That’s him in in the background in my photo from Day 1 of Bills training camp, with QB EJ Manuel in the foreground.)

The Bills cut Branch in late August, a day after he was arrested for DUI.

“I had a lapse of judgment,” Branch said Thursday morning, at the Patriots’ last media availability before Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle (Sunday, 6:30 p.m. EST, CTV/NBC).

“That was their decision. I’m not mad about it.”

While he didn’t seem or sound angry about not having passed his pre-camp physical, it’s clear it still doesn’t sit well with him.

“I was fine,” Branch said. “Everybody is not going to be in football shape. You can’t practise being a D-lineman in the street. It’s not basketball. You can’t just go outside and train doing that.

“They said I was a little overweight. And I was, but just by a couple pounds. I mean, I wasn’t out of shape. Having a 300-pounder run a million gassers just to show that you’re in shape, I don’t think that proves a big man is in shape. Because that’s not a realistic run for a big guy in a game.”

Branch signed with the Bills as a free agent in March 2013, after spending his first four NFL seasons in Arizona and the 2011-12 seasons in Seattle.

Branch was a backup D-tackle in Mike Pettine’s 3-4 defence in 2013. Last year at this time, though, the Bills switched to what Branch calls a base 4-3 “penetrating scheme” under Jim Schwartz.

“I’m not Marcell Dareus, where I’m a freak athlete who can do anything. I’m a big guy,” Branch said. “I can do that defence — I can play the 4-3. It’s just that (starting tackles) Marcell and Kyle (Williams) are a lot better at that scheme.

“I wasn’t as good as them, so I guess that made me look worse. But I really don’t think I came into camp out of shape.”

Branch latched on with the Patriots on Oct. 29 and immediately began seeing backup duty at defensive tackle. He started New England’s last two regular-season games, recording two quarterback hits and a pass knockdown by the playoffs.

Asked if he was surprised when Marrone bolted the Bills on New Year’s Eve, Branch said no.

“I saw that the New York (Jets) job was open, and I know he’s a Bronx guy. He decided to roll the dice on that and it really didn’t work out for him, I guess.

“But I mean, he’s a great coach and he knows what he’s doing. He’s a great offensive line coach as well, so I’m sure he’ll get another (head-coaching) opportunity.”

Richard Sherman and California sports-radio reporter go at it over his conflict-of-interest charge against commish

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PHOENIX, Ariz. – Richard Sherman does not like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Underscoring that point seems to be one of his missions here in his meetings with the press this week at Super Bowl XLIX.

And you’d better be prepared for a war of words if you dare challenge him on it.

On Tuesday at Media Day, a sports radio reporter from Palm Desert, Calif., did exactly that — and held her own admirably.

Julie Buehler of KXPS (my photo, above) challenged Sherman on his statement Sunday that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is so buddy-buddy with Goodell that it amounts to “a conflict of interest,” and is the reason the NFL’s deflation-scandal investigation likely will not result in any punishment for the Patriots, in Sherman’s view.

The all-pro cornerback on Sunday referred to a photograph that made the rounds on the web last week, showing Goodell at Kraft’s house just before the Patriots defeated the Colts in the AFC championship game.

Kraft is known to be a close confidante’s of the commissioner’s, whom some even believe to be the league’s second most powerful man.

On Tuesday, a few minutes into Sherman’s one-hour news conference, Buehler challenged Sherman’s Sunday statements.

Sherman not only didn’t back down, he gave it right back to Buehler. She didn’t back down either, and it was quite the exchange.

Here it is, as best as I could make it out amid the din:

 

BUEHLER: Kraft said that you didn’t know enough about that situation, so how much care do you put into your own research for you to state publicly that the commissioner of the NFL has a conflict of interest?

SHERMAN: Um, it’s not difficult for me to research.

BUEHLER: Did you do any research?

SHERMAN: I obviously did.

BUEHLER: But you were incorrect about that.

SHERMAN: In which way was I incorrect?

BUEHLER: You saying Goodell and Kraft have a conflict of interest is like you and (current New England Patriots cornerback and former Seattle Seahawk) Brandon Bowner not being able to talk as former teammates.

SHERMAN: That’s a little different.

BUEHLER: How so?

SHERMAN: I don’t work for Brandon Browner.

BUEHLER: (brief pause)

SHERMAN: You don’t have anything else?

BUEHLER: Oh no, I do. I wonder how much research you do –

SHERMAN: But you never answered my — you never (continued) our discussion, you never concluded that, so I don’t work for Brandon Browner, so the point is invalid.

BUEHLER: Well it’s not invalid … There are only 32 owners, and hanging out with an owner doesn’t mean there’s impropriety, just like you hanging out with a competitor at the Super Bowl doesn’t mean there’s impropriety.

SHERMAN: I don’t work for my — I don’t work for the competitor. I don’t get to impose discipline on the competitor.

BUEHLER: But you stated that there is a level of impropriety in hanging out. It isn’t accurate.

SHERMAN: How many other owners has he hung out with, has he had dinner at his house and took pictures with?

BUEHLER: Goodell … (inaudible, sounds like: “has a lot of friends.”)

SHERMAN: Have you done your research?

BUEHLER: Absolutely.

SHERMAN: No you haven’t. You just came up knee-jerk and said that. Come off it.

 Seahawks fans in attendance then drowned out the continuing exchange for a few moments on my audio digital recorder. As the exchange became clear again, Sherman contended Kraft was the “first person” to call Roger Goodell to offer support when the Ray Rice scandal blew up all to hell in September.

 SHERMAN: C’mawn, c’mawn, who was the first person to call Roger Goodell? C’mawn, give it to me. Give it to me. You’re not doing your research … (I can’t) have a discussion with someone who has no information. You don’t have any information. I have all the research. I’m doing your job for you. You’re making it difficult to have a discussion … Was (Kraft) the first person to call Roger Goodell to talk about the Ray Rice situation, or wasn’t he?

BUEHLER: No, he wasn’t.

SHERMAN: He wasn’t? You know that? Did you do your research? C’mawn … Did you do your research? I wish this could be a better debate, but the levels aren’t there for you.

 With that, Sherman took another question.

 

 

The seven words you can say on TV
… if you’re Marshawn Lynch

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PHOENIX, Ariz. – Remember George Carlin’s “seven words you can’t say on TV?” Best we not go there.

But here are the only seven words Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was willing to say, time and again, on Tuesday at his own podium at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day:

“I’m here so I won’t get fined.”

Lynch answered every question with those seven words during his five-minute news conference, which he cut off about 55 minutes early during the ostensible hour-long session for the Seahawks team with thousands of reporters and cameramen at over-stuffed US Airways Center.

Lynch’s notorious dislike of talking to the press seems to become more intense, and more passive-aggressively unhelpful, with every mandated session.

Hundreds of reporters and cameramen swamped his stage (see my photo, below). Lynch wore a ball cap and dark sunglasses for his brief stint.

Outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman supports Lynch’s stance.

“I don’t think (players) should be obligated any more than the commissioner is obligated to speak to the media,” Sherman said at his podium.

“I think that if players are going to be obligated to speak to the media, then every one of the NFL personnel should be obligated to speak to the media weekly, and that’s not the case.”

That’s correct. An NFL head coach must be available to talk  to reporters at least four days per week during the season. But not every team holds a weekly news conference with even the offensive and defensive coordinators, let alone with seldom-available position coaches.

General managers are available even less often in some cities, and player personnel directors rarer still.

“It’s unfortunate,” Sherman said.

At that, we went over to see Seahawks GM John Schneider — who seldom makes himself available to talk to the press. We asked him what he thinks of Sherman’s suggestion that all NFL personnel should be made to talk to the press as often as players.

“I’m totally against that,” Schneider said, chuckling. “No, I understand where he’s coming from. He has his opinion, so that’s fine.”

Sherman said the league should be more flexible to appease players such as Lynch who are chronically uncomfortable talking to the press.

“Every team should be forced to present certain players (to the press) — obviously a few of them,” Sherman said.

“If someone is uncomfortable in front of the media and uncomfortable answering questions and things like that, then you have to find a way to accommodate (them).”

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Air compressors? Hmmm. Additional theories pump new life into deflate-gate

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Never mind the hate hurled at me from New England Patriots lovers. Or the love from Patriots haters.

Scientists, amateur and professional alike, have emailed me since Saturday to quibble with –or offer additional theories to — findings provided to me by University of Toronto professor of physics Stephen Morris, which I wrote about on the weekend.

Morris said it would take about a 30C drop in outdoor temperature (or 54F) for an inflated football to naturally lose two pounds per square inch (PSI) of air pressure.

Journalists everywhere have been consulting physics experts such as Morris to learn how a football might lose two PSI without the surreptitious insertion of a pin.

Eleven of New England’s 12 footballs used in the AFC championship game against Indianapolis reportedly lost about two PSI of pressure by halftime. Some quarterbacks find a slightly deflated football easier to grip and thus easier to throw, especially in the cold.

The controversy has prompted a full-bore NFL investigation. The Patriots vehemently deny any hanky-panky.

Seems there are a host of other scientific conditions to be considered in all this, according to feedback I’ve received. I’ll dumb them down as best I can:

 

Same theory, different number:

Reader Gabriel Goldman praised Morris for properly taking into account atmospheric pressure in addition to the football’s internal pressure in doing his ideal-gas-law calculations — something many online experts failed to do.

But Goldman arrives at a lower temperature difference than Morris to get a natural 2-PSI pressure drop in the football: a drop in temperature of 22C (40F). That is, from the conditions in which the refs gauged the footballs’ pressure before the game indoors, to the cooler outdoor temperature at which the balls’ pressure reached equilibrium during the first half.

Still, such a drop didn’t come close to occurring — because even if you believe the officials’ locker-room temperature was as high as 24C (75F), the game-time temperature outdoors was warm for mid-January in New England: 11C (51F). That’s only a drop of 13C (24F), far short of even Goldman’s calculated temp drop to get a natural 2-PSI deflation.

 

The astrophysicist’s take:

Yes, I actually got an email from such a scientist. Earl Schulz says he is a “working astrophysicist with several published papers.”

He copied several doctors in the field in emailing me to say that if the Patriots’ footballs were initially completely depressurized (granted, an extreme case), and then those balls were inflated to 13 (PSI), the increase in temperature of the contained air would rise from 24C (75F) to about 83C (181F).

Why? Apparently, the act of pumping air into a football dramatically heats up that air, at least temporarily.

According to Schulz, after the temperature of the internal air dropped back to 24C (75F), the football’s pressure would drop all the way down to about 8.5 PSI, and if the internal air temperature ever dropped to 10C (50F), the pressure would drop yet more, to about 7.5 PSI.

Schulz used the equation in the accompanying photograph in his calculation, which I couldn’t even begin to type into a Word document, let alone comprehend:

EQUATION

“The point is that the equilibrium pressure is very dependent on how much pumping was required to fill the ball to 13 (PSI), and how long after filling the ball was tested,” Schulz said.

“The size of (this) effect is more than enough to explain the amount of depressurization that was observed.”

If Schulz is correct, then I suppose the obvious answer to “Well then why were did Colts’ footballs not experience a similar drop in pressure given the same conditions?” is that the air in the Colts’ balls would have to have already reached equilibrium before testing by the officials, pregame.

An air compressor, huh?

Schulz touched on an interesting angle — how the Patriots, or any NFL team, inflates footballs.

Do they use a compressor? Because a compressor essentially injects very hot air. Who knew? Not me.

The requisite temperature drops to get a 2-PSI deflation, as described above, could easily be reached if the Patriots used a compressor to blow up their footballs, according to a few emailers of mine.

“When air is compressed it heats up,” Shawn Fogg contends. “Air coming out of a compressor will be hotter than ambient temperature. Essentially it is a hot-air pump.”

The act of actually filling the football through the small hose and pin will heat the air yet more — through friction, Fogg said.

“The difference in pressure between the two teams’ balls could merely be that one (the Colts) used a hand pump, while the other (the Patriots) used an electric compressor,” Fogg said.

So, yeah. It could all be true — and all have been done innocently.

Unless there’s a Hasslein Curve angle to this story, I’m done with the science lessons, folks. My head hurts.

 

Marcell Dareus: Rex Ryan’s the Bills coach ‘we’ve all been waitin’ on’

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It isn’t just Buffalo Bills fans who are looking to new head coach Rex Ryan to, once and for all, raise the team into a winner again.

Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is right there with them.

“Yup, he’s the man we’ve all been waitin’ on, so we’ll see what he can do with us,” said Dareus, one of three Buffalo Bills defensive linemen who played on Team Carter in Sunday night’s Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“He’s somebody with attitude, with an edge, that just brings a lot to the team,” Dareus said. “Just somebody we’re really excited about.”

D-tackle Kyle Williams and perennial Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams echoed as much in separate on-field interviews with Sun Media following Team Carter’s 32-28 loss to Team Irvin.

Dareus said the Bills trio this past week here heard nothing but good things about Ryan. Especially from the New Yorks Jets players.

“Yeah, Mango (centre Nick Mangold) — everybody, man. Yeah, we talked with them, and communicated to see how things were with him.

“They said it’s going to be fun, so we’re just looking forward to it.”

Ninth-year pro Kyle Williams lined up for Buffalo against all six of Ryan’s Jets teams. So won’t it be strange, having the enemy’s head coach now leading the Bills?

“You know, I’m excited about it,” Williams said. “Everybody that I know who’s played for him, or coached for him, really likes him. Really, 100%. Everybody that’s been with him raves about him, so I’m excited about it and looking forward to working for him.”

Ryan will be the third head coach in four seasons for Mario Williams in Buffalo. And Dennis Thurman will be his fourth defensive coordinator, after one-year stints from Dave Wannstedt, Mike Pettine and Jim Schwartz.

“Unfortunately I’ve had a different coach just about every year, so it’s not like something new.”

And Mario Williams said he is not concerned at all if the base formational scheme swings back yet again from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

“No problem. It’s nothing,” Mario said. “I think we’ll all pick up to it real quick, and it’ll be all right.”

The 2006 No. 1 overall draft pick said Ryan’s reputation among NFL players is top-shelf.

“We’re definitely excited,” he said.

“I pretty much know about him. Everybody’s already saying he’s a player’s coach, and he’s a great guy, so I’m looking forward to it.”