Tag:Josh Katzowitz
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:25 am
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Report: Freddie Mitchell indicted for tax fraud

Mitchell has been indicted on tax fraud charges. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

For as much as he liked to talk -- and talk trash -- former Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell had a pedestrian* four-year career. He accumulated 90 catches and 1,263 yards and five touchdowns. Which would have been good for one season. But not so impressive when it’s spread out over four seasons.

Since then, we’ve seen him pop up on a reality TV show (unfortunately, he didn’t find love on “Millionaire Matchmaker”) and on police rap sheets (he’s been the subject of a drug charge and has been in trouble for an apparent lack of child support payments).

Now, Mitchell has got trouble with the IRS, as My Fox Philly reports that Mitchell has been indicted on federal tax fraud charges in Orlando. Mitchell allegedly recruited a pro athlete for a scheme to obtain false tax returns for two other co-conspirators who apparently claimed tax refunds ranging from $170,000 to $1.9 million.

Allegedly, Mitchell recruited a pro athlete with the initials A.G., who paid a firm connected with Mitchell to do his taxes. That athlete, who had no knowledge of the scheme, paid Mitchell $100,000 for tax preparations with the thought he would receive a $1.2 million tax refund.

Instead, Mitchell’s alleged co-conspirators filed false tax returns without A.G. knowing about it.

*He was so unimpressive that Bill Belichick once said he was happy to face off against the Eagles when Mitchell was in the game because he was so bad.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:42 am
 

I'll always be grateful to Peyton Manning

Ever during his tough rookie season, Manning will be remembered as a gentleman. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

With the news that the Colts most likely will release quarterback Peyton Manning, an Indianapolis era is over. Manning was the one who led the moribund franchise into a perennial Super Bowl contender. He's the one that led the Colts to the world title. He's the one who helped convince the NFL to place Super Bowl XLVI in Lucas Oil Stadium. Hell, Manning is one of the main reasons Lucas Oil Stadium was erected in the first place.

So, it'll be a sad day when the Colts say goodbye to one of the top players in NFL history.

And it's a sad day for the reporters who covered him, as Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz put it on Twitter. "It was a joy and a privilege to watch and cover Peyton Manning. Always a class act, went out of his way to accommodate us. ... One example: After nite games, PM would talk to us right away, usually in full pads, knowing we were on deadline and in a rush. Appreciated."

I know what Kravitz means, because it was Manning 14 years ago who saved me from what could have been one of the most embarrassing moments of my young career. It was Dec. 6, 1998, and I had driven to Atlanta from Athens, Ga., to cover the Falcons-Colts game so I could write a feature on former University of Georgia offensive lineman Adam Meadows for the Red & Black, the student newspaper.

The Colts were terrible that year, finishing 3-13 in Manning's rookie season in which he led the league with 28 interceptions. On that day, though, the Colts were just as good as Atlanta, which went 14-2 that season and wound up losing to the Broncos in the Super Bowl. Manning went 19 of 27 for two touchdowns and two interceptions, and Colts running back Marshall Faulk rushed for another score as Indianapolis took a 21-7 lead in the second quarter. The Georgia Dome was stunned. The terrible Colts were en route to upsetting perhaps the best Falcons team of all time.

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But Atlanta scored and then scored again to tie the game. Then, one more time in the third quarter to take a 28-21 lead that Manning couldn't erase. The Colts fell to 2-11 that day, and the mood in the Indianapolis locker room was sour. Meadows was pleasant, but Faulk barked a non-answer at me that probably should have given me pause before I approached Manning in the corner of the locker room as he dressed after his shower.

I didn't know how locker room protocol worked, and I'm sure, by that point, Manning had already conducted his postgame press conference. But I didn't know any better. Instead, I saw a chance to get Manning one-on-one. I approached and greeted him. He looked at the floor, but he it was clear he would answer my queries after I told him I was from the UGA student paper.

I asked him a couple questions, and he answered without much enthusiasm. Then, I asked him the worst question I've ever muttered in my life. I won't mention it, because it was so god-awful brutal. But suffice to say, Manning could have -- and probably should have -- told me to get the hell out of the locker room. The question was that bad. But he didn't. He looked at me, probably sighed, and answered the question. Like it was legit. Like he wasn't standing there in his boxers wanting to disappear from the locker room. Like I hadn't just asked an idiotic question.

But he answered, and I used his quote as my kicker to that story (I apparently thought my question was that top-notch).

I'll never forget him for that. He could have blown me off and embarrassed me like Faulk. He could have excused himself and left the scene. He could have put on his pants and ignored me. He could have laughed in my face. But he didn't. He treated me like a reporter. He treated my question like it was a professional had asked it. He treated me like an adult. For that, I'll always be thankful.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:34 pm
 

Manning, Irsay fly into Indy together

Peyton Manning and Jim Irsay, right, flew on Irsay's plane into Indy on Tuesday night. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

Late Tuesday night, after news broke that the Colts and Peyton Manning would officially break up Wednesday, Manning and owner Jim Irsay flew together from Miami to Indianapolis on Irsay’s private plane to prepare for Wednesday’s news conference.

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A handful of reporters were at the airport to meet him, including Ashley Adamson of WISH-TV in Indianapolis, who reported that Manning and Irsay left the airport in the same car and stopped for a moment for those who were waiting for them.

"We're gonna do this the right way,” Manning said Tuesday night. “We'll talk to you guys tomorrow."

Asked if he was happy, Manning said, “We're good. We're all good."

According to an Indianapolis Star report on Tuesday, the two were scheduled on the plane to continue their discussions about whether they’d really part ways and that there was still a small chance that the Colts would not get cut. At this point, though, we fully expect Wednesday's press conference will be Manning's official goodbye.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:55 pm
 

More nuggets on Saints' bounties come to light

Gregg Williams wasn't the only one to get hooked by the NFL on the bounty pools in New Orleans.  (AP)
By Josh Katzowitz

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King has an interesting story on the NFL’s investigation into the pay-for-performance ring* instigated by about two dozen Saints players and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and some of the details that are unearthed are worth noting because it’s the first we’ve heard of them.

*I will not call it Bounty-gate. I will not call it Bounty-gate. I will not call it Bounty-gate. 

First off, read the first two paragraphs of the story, because it paints a tremendous picture of how the rewards were distributed in front of the entire defense and how, sometimes, the Saints would urge the honoree to put the money back into the pool instead of accepting it.

New Orleans' forgettable offseason
Aside from that chilling color, here are few more nuggets reported by King.

-During the 2009 NFC title game vs. the Vikings -- played in January 2010 -- in which New Orleans defensive linemen Bobby McCray and Remi Ayodel high-lowed Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre and badly spraining his ankle, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, after Favre temporarily left the game, excitedly proclaimed “Favre is out of the game! Favre is done! Favre is done!”

As King also writes, “An on-field microphone directed toward the sideline caught an unidentified defender saying, ‘Pay me my money!’”

-As we know, the investigation was halted for lack of evidence -- because everybody involved basically denied the bounty pool’s existence -- but it’s interesting to note how the NFL began looking into it in the first place. After the Vikings playoff game, Minnesota officials informed the league that it had information that a bounty had been placed on Favre and a bounty had been placed on Kurt Warner the week before.

Williams, Hargrove and assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt all denied the allegations, and apparently, the investigators told Saints general manager Mickey Loomis to make sure there was no bound program. Loomis said he would.

Obviously, he didn’t. Which means he not only apparently lied to his boss but he also apparently lied to NFL officials. When the investigation started up again in last season’s playoffs, Saints owner Tom Benson told the NFL he would contact Loomis to make sure there was no bounty program.

-King also talked to Scott Fujita, who’s been very active on the player safety front. And who happened to be a big-time contributor (between $2,000-$10,000) to the bounty pool in New Orleans.

"Over the years I've paid out a lot of money for big plays like interceptions, sacks and special teams tackles inside the 20,” Fujita told King. “But I've never made a payment for intentionally injuring another player."

Still, paying into a bounty like that sort of clouds the message of player safety, doesn't it?

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 8:20 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:20 pm
 

Peyton Manning's release: Winners/Losers

Manning

By Josh Katzowitz

With the news that the Colts and Peyton Manning will part ways Wednesday, there will, of course, be bystanders who are positively and negatively affected by the news. Here’s our list of winners and losers.

Winners

Andrew Luck: In his first year in a Colts uniform, Luck will get to experience the highs and lows of playing as a rookie quarterback. Sometimes this goes well (see Cam Newton and Andy Dalton). Sometimes this goes poorly (see, um, Peyton Manning). And while we could make the argument that Luck would do well apprenticing under a veteran for a season -- he wouldn’t have to deal with the top pick pressure for an extra year and he could learn the new offense without the media spotlight trained on his every move -- Luck will learn much more if he’s actually playing. Plus, he won’t have the Peyton Manning shadow hanging over his rookie season.

Jim Irsay: Already, Irsay has begun to renovate his team, firing Bill Polian and former coach Jim Caldwell, following the 2-14 season. Irsay has done a wonderful job turning the Colts franchise into a perennial Super Bowl contender (2011, of course, being the exception), and now, he gets to be involved in another massive rebuilding project. Manning, of course, has done perhaps more than anybody to get Super Bowl XLVI to Indianapolis and to get Lucas Oil Stadium built, but Irsay now can remake the team as he sees fit. Plus, like Luck, his team won’t have the Peyton Manning shadow hanging over the franchise in 2012.

ManningAFC South: We’ve seen what happens when Manning isn’t playing for the Colts: the rest of the division gets better! Well, except for the Jaguars, of course. But without their franchise quarterback in the lineup, the Colts went from being the scariest team in the AFC South to being the most toothless. That probably won’t change in 2012, in which the Texans -- who never could get over the Manning hump and who couldn’t make the playoffs until he wasn’t playing -- will be one of the favorites in the AFC. Without Manning, Houston might have the chance to become the new Indianapolis.

Colts fans: In some sense, the city has been held hostage by the Manning-Irsay impasse, and it actually overshadowed the early part of Super Bowl week. But without Manning around, the salary cap won’t be as rigid, and with Luck coming into town (we assume), he’ll bring a new sense of excitement to the organization and to the city in general. Yes, Indianapolis will miss a community leader in Manning, but who’s to say Luck couldn’t fill that role anyway.

Losers

Matt Flynn: In our free agent quarterback rankings, we listed Drew Brees as No. 1, Manning as No. 2, and Flynn as No. 3. Brees has been franchise-tagged by the Saints, and it’s clear that the possibility of landing Manning will overshadow whatever Flynn will be trying to do. Flynn to Miami? Well, let’s see if the Dolphins can land Manning first. Flynn to (fill in the blank)? Well, let’s see if (fill in the blank) can land Manning first. Flynn likely won’t be anybody’s first choice, and you have to wonder how that will affect his bottom line. Would you rather have Manning, even if he’s not completely healthy, or Flynn? The answer is obvious.

Robert Griffin III: While the Manning release is good news for Andrew Luck, it might mean something different for RG3. Like Flynn (though probably not as much as Flynn), other quarterback-needy teams will look at Manning first before (possibly) trying to trade up with the Rams in order to draft Griffin after Luck. Like Flynn, this might limit Griffin’s options, and it might actually mean Griffin isn’t taken with the No. 2 pick. That probably won’t happen, but if one of the teams (say, ahem, Washington) looking at Griffin ultimately goes with Manning and the rest of league believe St. Louis’ price is too high, you have to wonder if Griffin will fall to the fourth pick.

Manning’s bank account: Not that he needs financial assistance, but cashing in on a $28 million bonus would have been pretty sweet.

Rob Lowe: I guess we can forget about Lowe’s budding journalism career. While he was right in believing that Manning was done in Indianapolis, Lowe also reported that Manning would retire. That’s not going to happen, and unfortunately for Lowe, reporters don’t credit for being half-right.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:21 pm
 

Colts, Manning will part ways Wednesday

After 14 years, Manning and Irsay are getting set to split. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are breaking up, and they’ll make it official at a news conference Wednesday, CBSSport.com's Mike Freeman has confirmed.


The news was first reported by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

The decision isn’t a surprise, considering Indianapolis was highly unlikely to pay Manning his $28 million bonus when so much about the health of his neck is unknown.

Thus ends a 14-year partnership when Manning took over a moribund Colts squad and helped develop the franchise into one of the best in the NFL.

Sources tell Mortensen that Manning -- who will be in attendance at the presser along with owner Jim Irsay -- will try to continue his career.

But this day was due to come. No matter how much love is shared by Irsay and Manning -- and despite their pissing contest this offseason, the two have had a strong relationship during their time together -- the Colts couldn’t continue on with a Manning-sized quarterback question. It's all but certain that Indianapolis will take Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the draft, and though a Luck apprenticeship under Manning would have been fine for a year or two (even Luck said he’d be cool with it), it wouldn’t have helped the organization if Manning decided he wants to play another half-decade.

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And what of Manning’s health? A workout video of what appeared to be Manning was leaked last weekend, and Manning -- if it really was him -- appeared to be in fine form. But remember, a report a few weeks ago said that Manning actually had a fourth neck procedure and that he might need another spinal fusion.

The spin emanating from both sides was almost comparable to the current Presidential race. You didn’t know what to believe.
Well, we can believe this: we have seen the last of Manning in a Colts uniform.

Which leads us to this question: Where does he go from here? The Dolphins seem to be a front-runner, because of the supposed Manning infatuation of owner Stephen Ross. As do the Cardinals, who could be willing to end the one-year Kevin Kolb experiment, and the Redskins -- who are always willing to try to become the offseason champion. The Chiefs and the Jets also could be in play, especially considering Romeo Crennel and Rex Ryan haven’t given their respective quarterbacks huge endorsements.

Also, this is bad news for Matt Flynn, who automatically becomes less interesting to the league when Manning hits the market. And depending on when Manning signs with another team -- which, if he’s released, he could do immediately, as opposed to waiting until free agency begins March 13 -- he could have an effect on the teams that might be interested in trading with the Rams for the right to draft Robert Griffin III.

Though we seemingly know the outcome to the Manning-Colts marriage, there are still plenty of questions to be answered in the weeks to come.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 5:17 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 5:50 pm
 

Payton, Loomis take 'full responsibility'

Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis have promised never to allow a bounty program in their organization again. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Since the Saints bounty program news broke last Friday, New Orleans coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis have not commented. On late Tuesday  afternoon, they broke their silence, releasing a joint statement through the Saints PR department.

Basically, Payton and Loomis are taking full responsibility. 

Here is the statement:
We acknowledge that the violations disclosed by the NFL during their investigation of our club happened under our watch. We take full responsibility.

This has brought undue hardship on Mr. (Tom) Benson, who had nothing to do with this activity. He has been nothing but supportive and for that we both apologize to him.

These are serious violations and we understand the negative impact it has had on our game. Both of us have made it clear within our organization that this will never happen again, and make that same promise to the NFL and most importantly to all of our fans.

Mickey Loomis & Sean Payton

You’ll recall that Gregg Williams also apologized in a statement last week, saying, “I want to express my sincere regret and apology to the NFL, Mr. Benson, and the New Orleans Saints fans for my participation in the 'pay for performance' program while I was with the Saints. It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it. Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role. I am truly sorry. I have learned a hard lesson and I guarantee that I will never participate in or allow this kind of activity to happen again.”

It is interesting, though, that the only person to whom they apologize is Benson. Not to Roger Goodell or the fans or the players that might have been physically hurt by the bounties.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 11:17 pm
 

Report: Johnson, Bills close to a five-year deal

Johnson will be happy to hear that he's on the verge of singing a five-year deal. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

In the past few weeks, the Bills haven’t seemed totally interested in keeping No. 1 receiver Stevie Johnson in Buffalo. They said they wouldn’t franchise tag Johnson, probably because the organization doesn’t feel he’s worthy of a $9.4 million, one-year deal, and at times, it seemed as if the team might let him walk without getting anything back in return.

But apparently that’s not the case as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported late Sunday night that Johnson and the Bills are on the verge of finalizing a five-year contract that should be completed “in the next 24 hours.”

In our free agent wide receiver rankings, Johnson was in the No. 8 slot, and though he's topped 75 catches, 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in the past two seasons, he’s, at times, inconsistent and a celebration penalty-drawing nuisance.

So, you can understand why Buffalo might have been hesitant about signing him to a long-term deal.

For the record, however, Johnson plans on being more mature after catching touchdown passes from now on, saying he’s finished with scoring celebrations.

"But no matter what: I'm done with it,” Johnson said recently. “When I was doing my first couple seasons, I was just trying to be a relevant guy, you know? I think people are beginning to know who [No.] 13 is."

And now that Johnson is on the verge of signing his deal, it really is a Happy New Year for him after all.

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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