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Tag:Michael Oher
Posted on: December 21, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Rodgers tops Pro Bowl voting; Tebow third AFC QB

Aaron Rodgers led the way in all Pro Bowl voting.(Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We've wondered whether or not Tim Tebow is a Pro-Bowl candidate before this year and the answer is probably "no." But that doesn't matter when it comes to Pro-Bowl voting, where Tebow was the third-highest vote getter among AFC quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers, named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, was the top vote-getter among all NFL players, pulling in 1,581,982 votes from fans. Tom Brady was second among all NFL players with 1,454,311 votes. Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski joined Brady in the top 10, via NFL.com:

Top-10 Pro Bowl Vote Getters
Player Position Team Votes
Aaron Rodgers
QB Packers 1,581,982
Tom Brady
QB Patriots 1,454,311
Drew Brees
QB Saints 1,188,893
Calvin Johnson
WR Lions 1,180,777
Wes Welker
WR Patriots 1,133,787
LeSean McCoy
RB Eagles 962,824
Rob Gronkowski
TE Patriots 936,886
Ben Roethlisberger
QB Steelers 935,535
Adrian Peterson
RB Vikings 925,554
Mike Wallace
WR Steelers 923,073

So, yeah, breaking: the Patriots and Steelers are popular! Also popular? Tebow.

AFC Pro Bowl Leaders by Position
Offense Defense
Player Pos Team Votes Player Pos Team Votes
Tom Brady
QB Patriots 1,454,311 Andre Carter
DE Patriots 511,693
Arian Foster
RB Texans 896,804 Haloti Ngata
DT Ravens 592,603
Vonta Leach
FB Ravens 149,801 Terrell Suggs
OLB Ravens 546,851
Wes Welker
WR Patriots 1,133,787 Ray Lewis
MLB Ravens 413,222
Rob Gronkowski
TE Patriots 936,886 Darrelle Revis
CB Jets 561,986
Michael Oher
OT Ravens 327,644 Troy Polamalu
SS Steelers 230,649
Logan Mankins
G Patriots 337,844 Ed Reed
FS Ravens 198,075
Maurkice Pouncey
C Steelers 376,457 Shane Lechler
P Raiders 228,782
Sebastian Janikowski
K Raiders 244,512 Joe McKnight
KR Jets 140,926

Once again, I'll point out that the Ravens and Patriots are popular (and also good at what they do), along with the Steelers. Brendon Ayanbadejo was the leading "special teams" vote-getter, with 106,515. On the NFC side, well, I hope you like the Packers:

NFC Pro Bowl Leaders by Position
Offense Defense
Player Pos Team Votes Player Pos Team Votes
Aaron Rodgers
QB Packers 1,581,982 Jared Allen
DE Vikings 784,527
LeSean McCoy
RB Eagles 962,824 Justin Smith
DT 49ers 525,578
John Kuhn
FB Packers 322,260 DeMarcus Ware
OLB Cowboys 581,554
Calvin Johnson
WR Lions 1,180,777 Patrick Willis
MLB 49ers 581,554
Jimmy Graham
TE Saints 725,612 Charles Woodson
CB Packers 763,198
Chad Clifton
OT Packers 392,106 Roman Harper
SS Saints 147,542
T.J. Lang
G Packers 327,740 Morgan Burnett
FS Packers 223,292
Scott Wells
C Packers 436,693 Andy Lee
P 49ers 161,812
Mason Crosby
K Packers 184,665 Devin Hester
KR Bears 268,293

For the NFC, Jarrett Bush of the Packers received the most special teams votes with 134,696. (And yes, I suppose I could have kick returners on the offense side, but I'm not trying to have my tables be all uneven. Oh no I'm not.)

Naturally, none of this means any of these guys are guaranteed to make the Pro Bowl -- the fan vote only counts as one-third of the total. The players vote is worth two-thirds. But there's a good chance that many of these guys will end up in the Pro Bowl.

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Posted on: October 6, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Books we want to read

It's time for a biography on Ed Sabol and his son, Steve. (US Preswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With the controversy surrounding the new Walter Payton biography, written by Jeff Pearlman, I got to thinking about the other books we need to read but that haven’t been written yet. I’m not talking about a season in the life book of the 2010 Packers or the latest words written by Mike Ditka (at least five authored or co-authored by the Bears coaching icon), but about subjects we don’t really know and on topics we would love to explore.

For this Top Ten List with a Twist, I’m discounting what a publisher might say if he/she was presented with some of these ideas (namely, the idea that blah, blah, blah won’t sell or that nobody has ever heard of blah, blah, blah). Some of these ideas, no doubt, would work, and maybe, one day, you’ll see one of them on the shelf of your nearest book store in the cart of your Amazon.com page.

Without further ado, here are the Top Ten books we absolutely deserve to read.  

10. The inside story on the NFL lockout: Yeah, maybe many football fans wouldn’t care about a book like this, because they only wanted the work stoppage to end as soon as possible so they could continue to watch the game they love, but I bet it would be fascinating. What is the relationship between Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith really like? How were the compromises finally reached? Did Jerry Jones really tap his fists together and walk out of a negotiation session to make a point? For those  who reported and analyzed the entire ordeal, it would be a mind-churning look from behind the curtain.

9. Bill Belichick end-of-career autobiography: Although he almost always comes off completely uninteresting during his midweek and postgame press conferences -- hell, he eats his lunch during teleconference calls with the media! -- the recent NFL Network documentary showed that he’s an interesting dude. The fact he got a little emotional during a trip to the Meadowlands was almost shocking, and I’ve seen interviews with him before that are really, really good. If he let down his guard, like during that documentary, his autobiography would be a fascinating study of the best coach in football. There have been big-name authors who have written big-name books about Belichick, but when his career is over, I want him reflecting on the impact he’s made and the reason he did it all the first place.

8. A biography on Tom Brady’s hair: We’ve already had the obituary for Brady’s shorn locks. Next, we should have a book that tells the tale of the entire two-year history of the hair that helped Brady land that lucrative Uggs endorsement.

7. Sid Gillman biography: Gillman is the most important coach you might not remember. Unlike Paul Brown (who has a stadium named after him and a legacy in Cincinnati) or Vince Lombardi (who you might have heard a little something about) or Woody Hayes (a decent-enough coach at Ohio State) -- all of whom were Gillman contemporaries -- Gillman has fallen through the cracks of history. And considering, he’s the father of the modern passing offense, that’s a shame.

Rex and Rob Ryan (US Presswire)6. Rob/Rex Ryan quote book: This could even be made into one of those peel-a-page-every-day calendars, like the Jeff Foxworthy redneck gags or the best of the old Far Side comic strips. But if you like to laugh (or just shake your head), this book would be a big seller. You could have Rex talking about not wanting to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings or Rob discussing how Calvin Johnson would be the Cowboys No. 3 receiver behind Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. See what I mean? It’d be high hilarity.

5. Bryant McKinnie in the Blind Side, part II: Since McKinnie was the one to replace Michael Oher as the Ravens left tackle, McKinnie should have his own Michael Lewis-penned biography. I’m pretty sure McKinnie didn’t live in foster homes and on the streets before he was adopted, like Oher, but McKinnie has had struggles with his weight and he did (allegedly) spend $100,000 on a bar tab this offseason. It’s not as heartwarming as the Oher book, but a tome about McKinnie would be pretty fun.

4. The early struggles of black players: You know all about Jackie Robinson in major league baseball, but if I asked you who the broke the color barrier in the NFL, you probably wouldn’t have any idea. Hell, I read a long article about the NFL’s integration the other day, and I couldn’t tell you the guy’s name*. But this is an important -- and somewhat complicated -- history. Black players participated in pro football at the turn of the 20th century, and they also were part of teams in various professional leagues until the NFL stopped signing them in the early 1930s. It would be an interesting look at an era that, just like much of society, was decidedly unfair for anybody who wasn’t white.

*After blacks were excluded from the league in 1933, Kenny Washington was the one to break the barrier in 1946, one year before Robinson did it in baseball.

3. A Cam Newton investigation: Don’t we deserve to know who Newton’s bag man is or if there was a bag man at all? Not that it would make any difference in his pro career, but don’t you want to know if Newton’s father really demanded $180,000 from Mississippi State for Newton’s service? Maybe Auburn fans wouldn’t, but I certainly would.

2. NFL Films biography: People underestimate the importance of Ed and Steve Sabol. Proof of that was that it took so long for Ed to earn his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But the NFL -- and the NFL fans -- owe them a huge debt of gratitude, because the way you watch football today might not be possible if NFL Films hadn’t been created on the backs of the Sabol’s in the 1960s. I want to know how it started, the obstacles they faced in the early years and the impact the company has made to this day. It’s a book the Sabol’s deserve to have written.

1. An investigation into the rise of CTE: There have been a few journalists (the Newark Star Ledger’s Jerry Izenberg and the New York Times’ Alan Schwarz are two who come to mind) who do fine work keeping watch on the NFL’s relationship and response to the rise of head injuries that continue to devastate retired players and keep us reminded about what a brutal game football is to those who play it for your enjoyment. But from the premature death of Steelers legend Mike Webster to the shock of what Chris Henry’s brain looked like during his autopsy, from the suicide of Dave Duerson to the continued work of those who track of the rise of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, this is a book that needs to be written. And the sooner, the better.

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Posted on: September 4, 2011 7:16 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 7:20 pm
 

Gurode helps, but Ravens still have depth issues



Posted by Ryan Wilson

If the Ravens can stay healthy they have as good a chance as any team in the AFC to make a Super Bowl run. But this is football and not ping pong; injuries are as much a part of the game as touchdowns and interceptions. And with the regular season four days away, Baltimore still has plenty of unanswered questions, mostly having to do with the lack of depth at key positions.

On Sunday, the team addressed one of their needs by signing five-time Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode, who lost his job in Dallas when he refused to restructure his $5.5 million 2011 salary. Gurode isn't nearly the player he was during most of his nine-year Cowboys career, but he doesn't have to be in Baltimore.

The 2011 Ravens

The Ravens signed him as insurance in case their other veteran center, Matt Birk, isn't yet fully recovered from August 3 knee surgery. Though general manager Ozzie Newsome sounded absolutely ecstactic when talking about the news publicly. "We just got better as a team.," he said. "To have a successful season, you have to have quality depth across the board. We just added great depth to the interior of our OL with Andre."

It's amazing to think that the Ravens, a team that was committed to building a formidable offensive line through the draft, has been reduced to searching through the free-agent lost-and-found bin for warm bodies to protect Joe Flacco and open up holes for Ray Rice.  Late last month, Baltimore signed Bryant McKinnie to play left tackle. The Vikings had released McKinnie earlier in the offseason because he was out of shape.

Since 2005, the team has taken seven o-linemen in the first three rounds and the results have been mixed. A quick draft recap:

2005: T Adam Terry, 2nd round
2006: C/G Chris Chester, 2nd round
2007: G Ben Grubbs, 1st round; G/T Marshall Yanda, 3rd round
2008: T Oniel Cousins, 3rd round
2009: T Michael Oher, 1st round
2010: T Jah Reid, 3rd round

Reid, Oher, Yanda and Grubbs are still with the team, and the last three are starters. That said, McKinnie was signed after Cousins flopped as the Ravens' right tackle (and was subsequently cut), and Oher remained unimpressive at left tackle. The plan is for Oher to move to right tackle (where he's previously had some success) and install McKinnie at left tackle. The other players listed above either weren't re-signed once their contracts expired, or in the case of Terry, released.



Baltimore also has issues at wide receiver and quarterback. They traded for Lee Evans after rookie Torrey Smith proved he wasn't ready to be the No. 2. (And rightly so -- he's a rookie who didn't have the benefit of OTAs or minicamps; no idea why coach John Harbaugh thought it was even a possibility.) And he'll team with Anquan Boldin and, well, that's it. The Ravens have Ray Rice, who was second on the team in receptions last season behind Boldin, and much will be expected of second-year tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

A much bigger concern is the backup quarterback. As it stands, rookie sixth-rounder Tyrod Taylor won the job by default. We'll have to wait and see if Newsome brings in a just-released veteran (Trent Edwards, Josh McCown and Dan Orlovsky are all looking for work), or risks sticking with Taylor. Flacco hasn't missed a start in his three-year NFL career, but without him the Ravens go from double-digit wins to a staring 6-10 right in the face.

A year ago, Marc Bulger dutifully held down that role but he retired this offseason. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron recently called Bulger to gauge his interest in returning to the Ravens and he was kindly rebuffed, at least for the time being. The Carroll County Times' Aaron Wilson tweeted Saturday that "Bulger has decided to stay retired at this time, but told Ravens he would be interested in case of emergency if Flacco got hurt."

It's a nice sentiment, but it's not exactly an ideal set up. The last thing a team wants to do after losing its franchise quarterback for any amount a time, is bring in a guy off the street to start in less than a week. Even one who is intimately familiar with the offense. There's the matter of being in shape, not to mention developing timing and chemistry with the receivers.

For now, though, Bulger's staying put and the Ravens are headed into the 2011 season with a couple of o-line veterans let go by their previous teams and a backup quarterback who has been in the NFL for a grand total of six weeks.

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Posted on: August 27, 2011 4:57 pm
 

Ravens move Oher to make room for McKinnie

McKinniePosted by Josh Katzowitz

Ever since the Ravens pulled tackle Bryant McKinnie off the free agent scrapheap, we’ve speculated about the immediate future of Michael Oher as the guardian of Joe Flacco’s blind side.

With Baltimore’s failure to re-sign Jared Gaither, it seemed clear that the team was banking on Oher at the left tackle spot. Until, that is the Ravens signed McKinnie -- formerly the Vikings left tackle. Now, it’s been made clear that Oher, who struggled mightily at times on the left side last year and helped contribute to an offensive line that allowed 40 sacks, will move to the right tackle spot to make room for McKinnie.

“If you give Joe time in the pocket he’s going to make the throws you need,” Oher said today, via Rapid Reporter Jason Butt. “It’s really not that hard. You were left, now you’re right. You just have to switch it.”

Oher, you’ll recall, began his career at right tackle, and now that the Ravens have moved him back, it seems clear that Oher might have found a permanent position (it would be a bit crazy for Oher’s fundamentals if he got moved back to left tackle again).

But this has turned out to be a great day for McKinnie, who says he’s down to 370 pounds (he was rumored to weigh close to 400 pounds before the Vikings released him). He also said he eventually wants to weigh 355.

"There's some things I can do as a veteran," McKinnie said, via the Carroll County Times. "I'm here to help everybody get better. I'm not real vocal, but I will pull people aside and give them tips."

He also claims he’s different than the way he’s been portrayed (apparent $100,000 bar tab notwithstanding).

"Actually, I'm more quiet and laid-back than what people think," McKinnie said. "Little things here and there used to pop up in my past, but it was kind of in my younger days."

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Posted on: August 25, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Hot Routes 8.24.11: Vince Young vs. Mike Kafka



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • A couple days late on this story, but I really enjoyed this column by Yahoo Sports’ Michael Silver on Patriots ownere Robert Kraft and how he’s dealing with his wife’s death. Great stuff in here. One poignant quote from Kraft on CBA negotiations while his wife was dying: “There were plenty of moments where I thought, ‘Why am I here?’” Kraft says. “I’m thinking of my sweetheart, and I wanted to be with her every minute. Really, the only time I wasn’t with her was at these meetings, and when we’d get off in minutiae or [talking about] things I thought were irrelevant -- they might not have been, but to me they were -- I was thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but I was.”
  • And we’ll go ahead and hit you with another Silver story. This one is on the league’s discipline policy for those who got in trouble during the lockout.
  • Another player has gone down with a torn Achilles tendon injury and will miss the season. This time it’s Chiefs linebacker Brandon Siler, who hurt himself on the last play of Tuesday’s practice. He’s the 11th player to be lost for the season with this kind of injury.
  • The Chiefs have signed TE Anthony Becht to a one-year deal. The 34-year-old was out of the league last season.

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 6:01 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Bryant McKinnie gets a chance with Ravens

McKinniePosted by Josh Katzowitz

Bryant McKinnie’s long wait to sign a new deal with a new team is over. The former Vikings offensive tackle who was cut earlier in the preseason has reached an agreement with the Ravens, the Baltimore Sun reports.

McKinnie was a Pro Bowler in 2009*, but he upset the Vikings when he showed up to this year’s training camp far out of shape. Though the Vikings never actually came out and said that was the reason they got rid of McKinnie, coach Leslie Frazier said this before axing him: "There are a number of things that we want to work on with Bryant and some other guys as well. Conditioning is part of it. We just want to try to make sure that we're doing the right thing by every guy that's wearing the purple."

The Vikings also apparently were upset that McKinnie refused to budge off his base salary of $4.9 million, and for a guy who supposedly weighed in at nearly 400 pounds** when he arrived at camp, that was unacceptable.

*You might recall that McKinnie partied a little too hard in Hawaii, and he was not allowed to play in the game.

**McKinnie is 6-foot-8, but even for that height, 400 pounds is rather rotund.

McKinnie's drama
But now, he gets another chance with the Ravens -- who, according to the Carroll County Times, will sign him to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million (with a $1 million bonus).

It’s an interesting move by the Ravens, considering they failed to re-sign free agent tackle Jared Gaither earlier this offseason, essentially paving the way for Michael Oher to return to the left tackle spot, which used to belong to Gaither.

But as I’ve been saying, Oher, though he has a great backstory, isn’t always such a great left tackle. Perhaps the Ravens will give McKinnie, who can be a wonderful tackle when he’s in shape, the chance to prove himself worthy of protecting Joe Flacco’s blind side instead of Oher.

Remember this, though. In order for the deal to be consummated, McKinnie still has to pass his physical. As we’ve seen in the not too recent past, that’s not necessarily a slam dunk for McKinnie.

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:43 pm
 

Jared Gaither to start over with Chiefs

GaitherPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With Jared Gaither helping hold down the Ravens offensive line, Baltimore was consistently one of the best running teams in the league. Last season, though, Gaither missed the entire year with a back injury, and perhaps not coincidentally, the Ravens running game became rather mediocre.

But with Baltimore set at the T position this season with Michael Oher and Oniel Cousins, the Ravens declined to sign the free agent Gaither -- which, as it turns out, opened the door for the Chiefs, who signed a deal with Gaither on Thursday.

The 6-foot-9, 340-pound Gaither played LT with the Ravens in 2008 and 2009. It’s not immediately clear on what side of the OL he’ll play for Kansas City, though it stands to reason that, assuming Gaither is healthy, he’s a more enticing tackle than Branden Albert on the left side or Barry Richardson on the right side.

There was a thought, though, that if the Ravens re-signed Gaither, they could return him to LT and switch Oher -- who struggled badly at times trying to protect QB Joe Flacco last season -- to the right side of the line.

But either Baltimore is extremely confident in Oher or not so confident in Gaither’s back, and now it’s up to the Chiefs to discover what Gaither has -- or doesn’t have -- left in his body.

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Posted on: February 28, 2011 2:09 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2011 2:50 pm
 

Report: Pat Dye was agent to be cuffed (UPDATED)

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED (2:40 p.m.):
Liz Mullen from the Sports Business Journal spoke with Dye, and he claimed “I have done nothing wrong or illegal.”

According to Dye, the incident occurred at the players hotel Thursday night, not at the stadium Friday. He said he was invited to the hotel by Under Armour to finalize a seven-figure deal for his client, former Alabama WR Julio Jones, and he was led through security by Under Armour personnel and was issued Under Armour credentials.

Apparently, he spent less than 15 minutes in the hotel and did not have contact with any players, but when he left the hotel, he was arrested.

Mullen tweeted that she’d have more in the SBJ, and I hope so, because I’m not sure I understand Dye’s story at all.

----------

News broke late Saturday night from the National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson when he reported that at least one player-agent was handcuffed and led out of Lucas Oil Field Stadium when he (or they) was found to have illegitimate passes to watch the workouts.

Now, Sports By Brooks has reported their names. According to the website, the offender was Pat Dye Jr., who was handcuffed, detained and led away from the stadium, while his partner, Jimmy Sexton, escaped arrest.

The two broke the rules and obtained their passes from Under Armour, and apparently, the person who gave them those passes was sent home immediately.

Sports by Brooks was unable to reach either agent for comment, and the NFL declined comment.

More from the blog posting:

Sexton’s NFL client list includes Tim Tebow, Ravens left tackle Michael Oher, Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, Browns running back Peyton Hillis, and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.  Sexton’s coaching clients include Bill Parcells, Tony Sparano, Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin, Steve Spurrier, Houston Nutt and Tommy Tuberville.

Dye, Jr., who is the son of former Auburn football coach Pat Dye, represents Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Jets linebacker Calvin Pace, Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain, and Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

The Sexton/Dye firm also represents DeMarco Murray, Julio Jones and Sam Acho in this year’s NFL draft class.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com