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Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey dies at 77


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 5:19 PM UTC
By Michael David Smith · Original Article
NFL: AUG 03 Hall of Fame Game - Giants v Bills
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Claude Humphrey, a Hall of Famer who was one of the best pass rushers in football throughout his 14-year career, has died at the age of 77.

After starring at Tennessee State, Humphrey went to the Falcons with the third overall pick in the 1968 NFL draft. He made an immediate impact and was chosen the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year that year.

Although sacks were not an official statistic while Humphrey was playing, research has shown that he had double-digit sacks in nine different seasons, the first in 1968 and the last in 1980. Only four players in NFL history have more 10-sack seasons than Humphrey: Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene and Julius Peppers.

Humphrey played the game with intensity, and may be best remembered for an incident in Super Bowl XV, when he was playing for the Eagles, and he responded to a roughing the passer penalty by picking up the flag and throwing it back at referee Ben Dreith.

Upon being selected to the Hall of Fame in 2014, Humphrey said, “I was aggressive, very aggressive. I tried to play the game to the point where when I walked off the field, there was nothing that I didn’t cover. I tried to play all out. I didn’t take any prisoners. I just tried to do my job.”

Panthers place Frankie Luvu on COVID-19 list


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 5:13 PM UTC
By Myles Simmons · Original Article
NFL: NOV 21 Washington Football Team at Panthers
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The Panthers are on their bye, but they still had a Saturday transaction to announce.

Carolina has placed linebacker Frankie Luvu on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Luvu has appeared in is in his first season with the Panthers, but his fourth season as a pro. He’s appeared in each of Carolina’s 12 games this season with three starts. He’s recorded 23 total tackles with four tackles for loss, three QB hits, 1.5 sacks, and three fumble recoveries.

If Luvu is unvaccinated and tested positive, then he’ll be out for the Panthers’ Week 14 matchup against Atlanta. But vaccinated players are eligible to return to the team after a pair of negative tests separated by 24 hours.

Antonio Brown’s former live-in chef now plans to sue over unpaid debt


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 4:12 PM UTC
By Mike Florio · Original Article
Miami Dolphins v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Steven Ruiz has gotten his pound of flesh. Now he wants his bag of cash.

Antonio Brown‘s former live-in chef, who blew the whistle on Brown having a fake vaccination card, tells TMZ.com that he plans to sue Brown for $10,000 in unpaid bills.

“The game plan now is to file a lawsuit and take it from there,” Ruiz told TMZ.com. “People provide a service and you’ve got to pay for it. That’s it.”

Brown has a history of allegedly or actually not paying his bills. By not paying Ruiz, Brown opened the door to losing a lot more than $10,000.

“If he had just probably paid me, you know what?” Ruiz told TMZ.com. “He probably would still be getting paid in the NFL right now. He’d probably be playing the games that he could be playing and none of this would have even happened.”

The three-game suspension will cost Brown $161,764 in salary, and $158,823 in per-game roster bonuses, if he had been available to play in any of the next three games. (Brown reportedly was targeting a Week 13 return from his ankle injury. That abruptly changed earlier this week, possibly because the Bucs knew that the suspension was coming.)

The Buccaneers also could be able to pursue more than $350,000 in prorated signing bonus payments, based on the fact that Brown will miss three games due to the suspension over submitting a fake vaccination card.

The suspension also complicates his ability to unlock incentives based on receptions ($333,333 for 50, another $333,333 for 70), yards ($333,333 for 600, another $333,333 for 800), and touchdowns ($333,333 for five, $333,333 for seven). He currently has 29 catches for 418 yards and four touchdowns, in five games.

So, yes, he should have just paid his bill to Ruiz. It also would have been wise to not submit a fake vaccination card.

T.J. Watt is back from the COVID list, after only five days


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 2:55 PM UTC
By Mike Florio · Original Article
Chicago Bears v Pittsburgh Steelers
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The first negative came on Friday. The second negative came on Saturday.

The Steelers have activated linebacker T.J. Watt from the COVID reserve list, clearing the way for him to play on Sunday against the Ravens.

Watt tested positive on Monday. He’s the first player to make it back after only five days away.

By rule, vaccinated players can return after generating a pair of negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Given that vaccinated players are tested weekly, it’s possible that Watt first became positive not long after his post-Week 11 weekly test. This demonstrates one of the flaws of the 2021 protocol. Watt quite possibly was in and around players and coaches while shedding virus for several days. He likely played against the Bengals while shedding virus.

Regardless, he’s now negative. Which means that he’ll play on Sunday in a key game against Pittsburgh’s AFC North rivals.

Patriots announce return of popular throwback uniforms in 2022


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 2:43 PM UTC
By Michael David Smith · Original Article
Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots
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After a decade-long absence, the Patriots are bringing back their throwback uniforms for the 2022 season.

The Patriots’ Hall of Fame announced on Twitter that the red throwback jerseys, which haven’t been worn since 2012, will be worn again in 2022.

There was no immediate word on whether the Patriots would also wear the white “Pat Patriot” helmet, but it seems like a good bet that they will. Part of the reason we’ve seen fewer throwbacks in recent years, both in New England and elsewhere, is that the league implemented a rule that teams could only use one helmet for an entire season. But for 2022, the league will again allow teams to use throwback helmets, as long as the throwback helmets are properly fitted for each players and meet all the same safety standards as the teams’ primary helmets.

Teams had to apply in advance this year to use throwback helmets in 2022. The NFL hasn’t said which teams have been granted permission to wear throwback helmets, but the Patriots, with one of the NFL’s most popular throwback helmets, would be a natural fit to wear them.

The stories of Antonio Brown, Mike Edwards, and John Franklin III “unraveled” under scrutiny


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 2:30 PM UTC
By Mike Florio · Original Article
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New England Patriots
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On Thursday, the NFL announced three-game suspensions of Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown, Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards, and free-agent receiver John Hamilton III. The man who first broke the story of fake vaccination cards in Tampa explains how the league concluded that this trio was misrepresenting their vaccination status.

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the NFL used Stroud’s original report from November 18 as the template for constructing its investigation.

On Wednesday, November 24, NFL investigators contacted Steven Ruiz, Brown’s former live-in chef who went public with the claim that Brown had secured and used a fake vaccination card after Brown allegedly failed to pay Ruiz’s bill. Offered an opportunity to have an attorney on the line before answering questions, Ruiz agreed to be interviewed “without hesitation” and then shared his story with the league. Ruiz told the investigators that Franklin sold Brown his fake card.

Brown’s defense fell apart when he told the league that he was vaccinated in Citrus County, which is located 80 miles north of Tampa. Beyond the fact that it made no sense to go that far when the Buccaneers were offering easy and convenient access to vaccines at the team facility, Brown insisted that he traveled to Citrus County without any teammates so that he wouldn’t be recognized. When the league learned that the cards tendered to the team by Edwards and Franklin came from Citrus County on the same day, the stories “unraveled” — especially since none of the three players had personal ties to Citrus County.

Meanwhile, Brown’s lawyer (who has said way too much about the situation, and we’ll have more to say about what he has said later) claimed that Brown secured his card at a drive-through facility. So he said that he drove 80 miles to a drive-through facility, on the same day that Edwards and Franklin were vaccinated in the same county, even though Brown went there alone. The league recognized that claim for the hogwash that it is.

Stroud also explains that NFL investigators separately attempted to verify the information on Brown’s vaccinated card but “ran into familiar roadblocks” regarding confidentiality, etc. Frankly, the “familiar roadblocks” that the league likes to cite ultimately may be a convenient excuse. A source who has been very involved with and knowledgeable regarding the enforcement of the 2021 COVID protocols has explained that players have signed all proper documents and waived all relevant rights, allowing the teams and/or the league to do whatever needs to be done to confirm the information contained on a vaccination card. And even if that isn’t enough in some states to allow the team or the league to verify vaccination status, nothing stops the league from telling players who claim to have been vaccinated off site that it’s up to them and their agents to obtain and present appropriate proof that the cards are real.

That’s an important point, because if the league is able to persuade outsiders that it can’t verify the vaccination information on its own, the league has cover for not making the calls necessary to confirm that the 20 percent of all vaccinated players who received their shots at a place other than team facilities did indeed submit a valid vaccination card. In this case, the proof fell into the league’s lap, starting with Ruiz’s public claim and ending with Brown’s nonsensical story imploding. It didn’t require much elbow grease to stumble into a finding that three fake cards had been submitted.

As to 31 other teams presenting the league with no specific leads as to any specific players who may have submitted fake cards, the league would have to roll up its sleeves and get to work. To date, there has been no inclination whatsoever that the league is willing to embrace this important effort to show that all players who are behaving as if they are vaccinated truly have been. Instead, the league continues to be content to accept the fact that a similarity in the rate of positive tests among the players vaccinated on site and off site means that there isn’t an issue with fake vaccination cards.

And that approach continues to make no logical sense.

Pete Carroll says it’s realistic that Adrian Peterson will play on Sunday


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 1:33 PM UTC
By Mike Florio · Original Article
Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans
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This week, the Seahawks acquired one of the all-time great NFL running backs. They may not be waiting to use him.

Asked on Friday whether it’s realistic that future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson will play on Sunday against the 49ers, coach Pete Carroll told reporters, “Yes. Yes, it is.”

As to the question of whether Peterson is physically ready to play, Carroll pointed out that Peterson has “played three games this year so far.”

Beyond the things that Peterson can still do on the football field, Carroll explained that he added the last non-quarterback to win the NFL’s MVP award because of his work ethic.

“It’s a big part of it just because it’s a rare opportunity for our guys to see somebody like that, that has that kind of background but stands for so much more than just the numbers and the stats and all of that,” Carroll said. “He’s been a remarkable competitor forever. It was so obvious. It was really a boost for a bunch of guys, the young guys in particular. He’s serious about playing. He’s not just here for show. He’s here to come here and try to help us win a game.”

Peterson signed with the Titans after running back Derrick Henry suffered a foot injury. Peterson had 27 carries for 82 yards and one touchdown in three games with Tennessee.

Mike Glennon: Ex-Bills QB Jake Fromm’s experience against the Dolphins is helping this week


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 12:27 PM UTC
By Michael David Smith · Original Article
Green Bay Packers v Buffalo Bills
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Why did the Giants decide to sign Jake Fromm off the Bills’ practice squad and onto the active roster this week? It may have been in part because the Bills have already played the Dolphins twice this season, and that gives Fromm some insight to share with the Giants as they prepare to play in Miami on Sunday.

Giants quarterback Mike Glennon, who will start on Sunday in place of the injured Daniel Jones, said Fromm came in this week and immediately provided a helpful perspective. Although Fromm has never played in an NFL regular-season game, he has been with the Bills for two years and has prepared in practices to face the Dolphins four times, twice this year and twice last year.

“He’s been great for the room. he came from Buffalo having already played the Dolphins two times, so he’s had a few things to say,” Glennon said. “He’s been a great addition to the room already.”

The Giants had their own practice squad quarterback, Brian Lewerke, whom they could have promoted this week. But they decided to keep Lewerke on the practice squad and bring in Fromm, and Fromm’s may help the Giants this week even if he doesn’t step on the field.

Jerry Jones: Ezekiel Elliott is good to go, will be full-speed for the rest of the season


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 10:33 AM UTC
By Michael David Smith · Original Article
Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints
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Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is dealing with a knee injury, and it’s been a month since he has managed to gain even 50 yards in a game. But Elliott isn’t blaming his knee for his poor production, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says the knee will be fine as well.

Jones said on 105.3 The Fan that he fully expects Elliott to be able to handle a full workload for the rest of the season.

“His trainers, the people that are the closest to his health, his medical situation, they think he’s really good to go,” Jones said, via the Dallas Morning News. “And, so, I don’t see after a 10-day rest here, you know, a lot of times, if you can get through games, if you can push on, then that’s better for you than sitting it out. You actually, if you have an issue, it improves if you’re able to get through and not injure it more. He certainly didn’t injure anything more last night. So, I really look forward to a powerful and dynamic Zeke as we move on into this last part of the season.”

Whether Elliott’s knee is the reason or not, the Cowboys’ other running back, Tony Pollard, has generally outplayed Elliott this season. So the Cowboys don’t need to rush Elliott back. But Jones sounds confident that Elliott will be in good shape for the five remaining games this season and, he hopes, multiple games in the postseason.

Report: Texans sign Tremon Smith to contract extension


Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
December 4, 2021 - 4:06 AM UTC
By Charean Williams · Original Article
NFL: NOV 28 Jets at Texans
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The Texans have signed cornerback Tremon Smith, a core special teams player, to a one-year extension through 2022, Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 reports. The deal includes a $1.1 million base salary and $500,000 guaranteed, per Wilson, with a maximum value of $1.6 million.

Smith is averaging 26 yards on six returns this season and has a long of 44 yards.

He has played 79 percent of the special teams snaps and 14 percent of the defensive snaps. Smith has a career-best 14 tackles.

Smith followed special teams coordinator Frank Ross from Indianapolis, where Smith averaged 22.5 yards per kickoff return last season. He signed a one-year deal worth a maximum of $1.1 million during the offseason.

Smith has returned 60 career kickoffs for a 25.4-yard average.

The Chiefs drafted Smith in the sixth round in 2018. He also has played for the Packers and Eagles.