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 by Elvis
5 months ago
 Total posts:   26020  
 Joined:  Mar 28 2015
United States of America   Los Angeles


Pro Bowl Confidential: Players on marijuana testing, coaches they’d like to play for, worst city to travel to, more

By Greg Auman Jan 24, 2020

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Halfway through the anonymous survey, one Pro Bowl player stopped and walked away.

“Hey, man, I’m gone,” he said after practice Tuesday. “That’s a trap question.”

We went to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex, site of this week’s practices leading up to Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Orlando, with a quick two-minute survey for players, talking to 32 over two days, with a mix of NFC and AFC, young and old, offense and defense. We had the usual best-and-worst type of superlatives, but we also included three questions about whether, moving forward, the NFL should be testing players for marijuana.

It’s possible the league will soften its stance on the drug and whether it tests or suspends players for using it, potentially even this year as part of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. As marijuana is made legal in more states for both medicinal and recreational purposes, there’s a continued discussion that it could or should be an alternative in pain management to harsher painkillers. As it stands, marijuana is considered a banned substance by the league, and repeated positive tests result in fines and eventually suspensions.

So one of our questions was a simple one: Under a new CBA, should the NFL be testing players for marijuana?

About 59 percent answered with a definitive “no,” more than six times as many as the 9 percent who said any form of “yes.” (“I’m probably in the minority,” one said. “But I say yes.”) Another 10 either said “I don’t know” or politely declined to comment, even on an anonymous survey, and yes, one actually walked away after the question. Some had much more nuanced, thoughtful answers.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with anybody that smokes marijuana. Obviously, it’s better than a Percocet or some kind of pain medication,” one Pro Bowl player said. “I think the pain-relieving uses of it are probably more exacerbated than what they are. A lot of people say it’s not addictive, and it’s not physically addicting, but I’ve seen people get overtaken with it. … I don’t think anybody should miss game time, should be suspended for it.”

Said another: “Obviously, it’s the rule, and you have to follow the rules at your job. I just think the way it’s going, it’s legal in a lot of places, and they’re doing studies that show that it’s helping people.”

This is an ongoing issue and players, even when protected by anonymity, are being careful about what they say. We also asked a hypothetical question: If marijuana were available to you and legal as a pain management option, would you take it? Players were fairly divided between three general responses: Yes (8 votes), no (11 votes) and “I don’t know” (13 votes). Some specific answers that speak to a measured approach:

“If I talked to doctors and they said it would work, I would definitely use it.”

“I don’t know. I would do more research.”

“Who knows? If the Lord blessed me and said ‘Use it,’ maybe.”

We also asked whether players were already seeing teammates and other NFL players using marijuana for pain management. The current rules only test players not already in the system once each offseason, and in a specific window between April and August, so players can be careful in when they use the drug.

On this question, players were also divided, with answers that spoke to different levels of candor as much as opposing beliefs. “I thought everybody uses it,” said one player, and several who said “no” did so with a hearty laugh. Those who answered “yes” had a 10-8 edge on “no.”

We also asked a handful of football questions, of course, with a wide range of enlightening responses:

Most underrated NFL players

We asked players to name the most underrated offensive and defensive player in the league, with the caveat that they couldn’t name a current teammate. There’s a wide interpretation of what constitutes being underrated, from annual snubs to perennial Pro Bowlers. “Mahomes isn’t underrated,” one player told himself aloud as he went through potential answers.

We initially asked players for the most overrated on each side as well, but commendably, to a man, they didn’t want to throw anyone under the bus. “That’s rude,” one said. “I ain’t doing that one,” said another, so we stopped asking. Some were legitimately stumped, so there are more answers for some than others, but here are their choices for most underrated players.



Kyle Juszczyk, FB, 49ers: “He’s listed as a fullback, but he can play tight end, fullback, H-back, split out wide. His versatility, combined with what (George) Kittle does, is what makes that whole system so efficient.”


Davante Adams, WR, Packers: This is his third straight Pro Bowl, and his numbers dropped off this year, getting five touchdowns in 12 games after reaching double-digits in TDs the previous three seasons.

Nick Chubb, RB, Browns: Finished second in the NFL with 1,494 rushing yards in his second year in the league, making his first Pro Bowl. Has averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in each of his two seasons in Cleveland.

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots: “What’s that receiver from the Patriots? Slot receiver?” He has 599 career catches but has never been to a Pro Bowl. Three 1,000-yard seasons, 36 career TDs, has 1,442 receiving yards in playoffs.

Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos: Made his first Pro Bowl as a replacement player after getting 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns, all team highs, in his second NFL season.


Robby Anderson, WR, Jets: Third straight 50-catch season, steady average around 15.0 yards per catch, 21 touchdowns over the last three years.

John Brown, WR, Bills: Had a career-best 72 catches for 1,060 yards and six touchdowns in his first season in Buffalo. His 14.9 yards/catch average is seventh-best among active players with 250-plus catches.

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Colts: Nine-year starter Indianapolis, but he’s never been to a Pro Bowl. This season was his sixth starting all 16 games.

Jared Cook, TE, Saints: Had a career-best nine touchdown catches at age 32 in his first season in New Orleans. Has 468 career catches but just one Pro Bowl appearance, in 2018 with Oakland.

Taysom Hill, QB/UT, Saints: Hill does a little bit of everything for New Orleans, playing all over on special teams, catching six touchdown passes, cameoing as a dual-threat direct-snap weapon.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Chiefs: Made fourth Pro Bowl in his four NFL seasons, with his second first-team All-Pro selection after going for 860 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts: Five 1,000-yard seasons in eight years in the league, four straight Pro Bowls from 2014-17, missed six games this season due to injury.

Ja’Waun James, OT, Broncos: Limited to three games by a knee injury this year but got a four-year, $51 million contract from Denver after five seasons and 62 starts in Miami.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns: Made fifth straight Pro Bowl after getting 83 catches for career-best 1,174 yards and six touchdowns.

Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers: Had 57 catches for 802 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie for San Francisco as a second-round pick out of South Carolina.

Joe Staley, OT, 49ers: Six-time Pro Bowler missed half the regular season, but now is in the Super Bowl at age 35 in his 13th NFL season. “I think he’s a Hall of Famer. I might give him some love.”

Jawaan Taylor, OT, Jaguars: Second-round rookie from Florida started every game for Jacksonville. “He’s really underrated. He led the league in penalties (15 accepted), but he had a lot of production.”

Marshal Yanda, G, Ravens: Can you be underrated while attending your eighth Pro Bowl? The more common question is whether he’s a Hall of Famer, with a Super Bowl ring and 166 career starts.



Chandler Jones, OLB, Cardinals: Made the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro after finishing second in the NFL with 19 sacks, tying for the league lead with eight fumbles.


Adrian Amos, S, Packers: His tackles have gone up in each of the last three years, and he also had two interceptions in his first season in Green Bay.

Geno Atkins, DT, Bengals: “He goes to the Pro Bowl, people know about him, but they don’t know how good he is.” He’s up to eight Pro Bowls, 75.5 sacks in his 10 NFL seasons.

Shaq Barrett, OLB, Bucs: Led the NFL in sacks with 19.5 after five years as a backup in Denver, plus six forced fumbles and 37 quarterback hits. In line for a major raise as a free agent likely re-signing with Tampa Bay.

Michael Brockers, DT, Rams: Acquired indirectly from the Robert Griffin III trade, he has been a starter for eight seasons, getting a career-high 63 tackles in 2019.

Jurrell Casey, DT, Titans: This is his fifth straight Pro Bowl, along with seven straight seasons with at least five sacks and at least 10 QB hits, impressive for an interior linemen.

Davon Godchaux, DT, Dolphins: Fifth-round pick in 2017 has started every game the last two years for Miami. His 75 tackles in 2019 are very high for a defensive lineman.

Shaquill Griffin, CB, Seahawks: Voted to his first Pro Bowl in his third NFL season, he started 14 games for Seattle, resetting his career high with 65 total tackles.

Joe Haden, CB, Steelers: He’s back in the Pro Bowl for the first time in five years, and his five interceptions were his most since six as a rookie in 2010. Set a new career high with 59 solo tackles for Pittsburgh in 2019.

Cameron Heyward, DE, Steelers: First-team All-Pro and third straight Pro Bowl in 2019. Had nine sacks and 83 total tackles this season, giving him 29 in the last three years after 25 in his first six seasons.

Sam Hubbard, DE, Bengals: Third-round pick from 2018 had six sacks off the bench as a rookie, then 8.5 this past season as starter, along with 76 total tackles.

Jerry Hughes, DE, Bills: Never been to a Pro Bowl, but a six-year starter in Buffalo with two 10-sack seasons, averaging almost seven per year with the Bills.

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Ravens: Made the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro for first time in his three NFL seasons this year, getting three interceptions and returning two fumbles for touchdowns.

Adoree Jackson, CB, Titans: The former first-round pick is a three-year starter for Tennessee, has dabbled on returns as well. Only gave up one touchdown in 54 targets this past season.

Grady Jarrett, DT, Falcons: Made his first Pro Bowl this year. His sack total has gone up in each of his five NFL seasons, including 7.5 in 2019, along with a career-high 69 tackles.

Byron Jones, CB, Cowboys: Now in his fifth year as a starter in Dallas, just one Pro Bowl (2018). Two career interceptions, and his tackle totals have dropped in each of the last three seasons.

Carl Lawson, DE, Bengals: Still only 24 and entering his fourth season, the former fourth-round pick had five sacks and 22 quarterback hits off the bench. Also had 8.5 sacks as a rookie in 2017.

Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Chiefs: Still only one career Pro Bowl nod. Snubbed this year despite four interceptions, 75 tackles and 12 passes defensed. Now playing for a Super Bowl championship.

Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Texans: Finished with 7.5 sacks, two INTs, four forced fumbles for Texans, earning a four-year, $54 million extension last month.

Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB, Bears: Primarily a special teams player, he has 17 tackles on coverage units while playing for four teams in the last four seasons.

Logan Ryan, CB, Titans: Actual answer, fittingly: “My guy Ryan Logan.” Four interceptions, 4.5 sacks this year in helping Tennessee to AFC Championship Game.

Justin Simmons, S, Broncos: “Justin Simmons should be here right now.” The fourth-year safety had four interceptions, 93 tackles, 15 passes defensed.

Preston Smith, OLB, Packers: The actual nomination: “The other Smith for Green Bay. I can’t think of his first name.” Free-agent gem had career highs in sacks (12), tackles (56) and quarterback hits (23).

Za’Darius Smith, OLB, Packers: Now at his first Pro Bowl after a breakout year with 13.5 sacks and 37 quarterback hits. Had totaled 18.5 in his first four seasons with the Ravens.

T.J. Watt, OLB, Steelers: Made second Pro Bowl, first-team All-Pro after finishing with 14.5 sacks, 36 total QB hits and tying for the league lead with eight forced fumbles.

Coach you’d most like to play for

We asked players what NFL coach — aside from their current head coach — they would most like to play for, given the chance. There’s a bit of recency bias at work here, as the two coaches on hand in Orlando to coach the Pro Bowl squads are Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, so that might have played a role in their strong showings.

Some were so loyal as to object to the idea of naming another coach beyond their own (“I like my coach, man” and “I plead the fifth”) and the best answer might have been an excited endorsement of newly hired Giants head coach Joe Judge, a longtime Patriots assistant and special teams coach. One random shoutout: soon-to-be-inducted coach Jimmy Johnson. “He was a winner,” one said. “I would have loved to be part of his recipe.” The final voting:

Andy Reid, Chiefs (4)

Pete Carroll, Seahawks (4)

John Harbaugh, Ravens (2)

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers (2)

Mike Tomlin, Steelers (2)

Mike Vrabel, Titans (2)

Bill Belichick, Patriots

Joe Judge, Giants

Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals

Sean McVay, Rams

Bill O’Brien, Texans

Sean Payton, Saints

Frank Reich, Colts

Best NFL city to travel to

As writers, as fans, the NFL is a chance to see the country each fall in going to road games, so we asked a question we all can relate to: What’s the best NFL city to travel to? In retrospect, we shouldn’t have allowed players to name the city they play in, as everybody is proud of where they play, sometimes overriding the spirit of the question.

One impressively focused player’s abstention: “I don’t leave the hotel, so they’re all the same to me.” Another young player said his favorite is one he hasn’t been to for work yet, choosing Denver. “I haven’t played there, but I like it.” The past and future were in there with the present options, as one player, out of habit, initially offered San Diego, now without an NFL team, and two went with Las Vegas, which welcomes the Raiders as their new home this fall.

Another player had a conditional answer: “This is probably going to be not the norm, but Green Bay,” he said. “If it’s not the dead of winter. If it’s the dead of winter, I like Miami or Tampa, any of that. But there’s something about going to Green Bay.” Here’s how the final voting worked out:


Miami (4)

Seattle (4)

Denver (3)

Nashville (3)

Kansas City (2)

Las Vegas (2)


Green Bay


New Orleans

New York



Worst NFL city to travel to

That naturally sets up the opposite. And if they had hesitation even anonymously identifying individual players as overrated, there was no such kindness here. One player offered up four cities before being politely asked to choose the worst one.

BUFFALO, yes, was the runaway winner, named by 10(!) players. “No charm, and all the negatives of Green Bay,” one player said. “Anywhere on the East Coast” was another response, declining to pick a single city. Said another who rarely leaves the hotel on the road: “I judge a city by the locker room, and Oakland has the worst.” Also receiving votes:

Cincinnati (4)

Green Bay (4)

Oakland (4)

Cleveland (3)

Kansas City

New England (Boston)



Most poorly officiated call in the NFL today

We asked players what the most poorly officiated penalty (“We could be here a while,” one said) and to no surprise, pass interference was easily the most popular response, getting 50 percent, twice as much as any other penalty.

Some players would have a natural positional loyalty, with offensive linemen pointing to the inconsistency of holding calls (part of seven votes there) and pass-rushers unhappy about the penalty for landing on a quarterback, even after a legal hit. But pass interference — “PI” in NFL shorthand — was the landslide winner. “Pass interference of all kinds,” one said.

Among the other more colorful responses were the continued detail of the crackback block (“You should be able to kill the guy,” one said) and an offensive player citing the inconsistency of roughing the quarterback penalties (“Some aren’t egregious, whatsoever”), which had four votes. The difficult nature of calling lowering-the-helmet penalties came up twice as well.

 by Hacksaw
5 months ago
 Total posts:   17291  
 Joined:  Apr 15 2015
United States of America   AT THE BEACH

Popular place to play but the coaches popularity appears to be slipping. He a BB with only 1 vote? What have you done lately?
How good is Reid w/o PM? Carroll surprises me.

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2 posts Jul 13 2020