Sports Outside the Beltway

Former NFL Linebacker Elijah Alexander dead at 39

He played in the NFL for 10 years. RIP.Elijah Alexander

Former NFL linebacker Elijah Alexander has died after a nearly five-year battle with cancer. He was 39.


Alexander was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, in 2005, four years after his career ended in Oakland.

The former Kansas State player spent nine seasons with four teams. After one year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1992, Alexander spent three seasons each with the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. He made 29 starts in 30 games for the Raiders during the final two years of his career in 2000-01.


NFL owners pass change to playoff Overtime rules

Why is a playoff game subject to a different set of rules than a regular season game. From ESPN-

The NFL owners voted to change an element in the overtime rule, giving the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime to get a possession if the coin-toss winning team scores a field goal with the first possession.

The proposal passed 28-4. As it is written, the rules change applies just for the postseason, but the owners also decided to discuss adopting the changes for the regular season at their next meeting, in May in Dallas.

The Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals voted against the proposal.

The competition committee recommended the change in a vote of 6-2, and commissioner Roger Goodell supported the plan. He was able to secure enough votes to get the proposal passed on Tuesday, a day before the expected Wednesday vote.

The reason for the change was the increased accuracy of kickers since 1993. In 1994, the NFL moved kickoffs from the 35 to the 30, which created better field position for the teams that won the coin toss and received the kickoffs.

Statistics examined by the committee showed that since 1994, teams winning the coin toss win the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team that loses the toss wins the game 38.5 percent in that 15-year span.

“We’ve had this discussion for a number of years,” competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said. “We feel this year’s proposal gave us the opportunity to [install] a pretty good rule. Statistically we felt it needed to be changed. It wasn’t creating the fairest result as far as field goal accuracy, field goal distance and drive starts.”

Under the new rules, both teams will get one possession whoever leads at the end of it is the winner. If both are tied, then whoever scores first wins. Then doesn’t that defeat the new rule, I mean the team that won the toss gets the first 2nd crack at scoring!

The NFL has used the same rule for over 50 years to decide playoff games. No matter how you finesse matters, the stats are never going to come out 50-50. If teams don’t like it being decided by a coin toss, go for two points instead of playing it safe late in the game when the team kicks the tying extra point.


Cincinnati Bengals sign WR Antonio Bryant

He will replace the recently cut Laveranues Coles. From ESPN-

Wide receiver Antonio Bryant has agreed to a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, his agent, Patrick Brougham, told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

Bryant’s contract is worth $28 million, a source told’s John Clayton. With incentives, he could make as much as $29 million.

Cincinnati’s addition of Bryant considerably lessens the possibility that the Bengals will sign unrestricted free agent Terrell Owens. A league source told Schefter that the Bengals never made Owens a contract offer.

Receiver Chad Ochocinco has been lobbying for the Bengals to sign Owens since the end of last season, when the Bengals’ passing game lacked a deep threat.

“There’s always been the speculation and perception out there [about coming to Cincinnati] and Chad kick-started it and lobbied to have me here as a teammate and I welcome it with open arms,” Owens, who made a visit to the Bengals, told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Bryant had career highs with 83 catches for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns in 2008 with Tampa Bay. He needed surgery for torn cartilage in his left knee during training camp last year, and was bothered by pain in the knee all season. He finished with 39 catches for 600 yards and four touchdowns.

Because of the knee, the Bryant signing looks risky to me. I understand why a team is reluctant to sign Owens because of the baggage that comes with that player but at this point in time I would gamble on Owens over Bryant.


NFL may change overtime rules for playoffs

No sudden death for sudden death? From AP-

An NFL spokesman said Saturday the league could change its overtime format for playoff games at a meeting next month.

Under the new format, both teams would get the ball at least once unless the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown, Greg Aiello said. If the first team to get the ball makes a field goal and the other team ties the game, action would continue until a team scores again.

Under the current rules, the first team to score wins.

“There have been various concepts that have been discussed in recent years, but this one has never been proposed,” Aiello said.

The competition committee will discuss the new concept with teams and players at league meetings March 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., when it could come to a vote. At least two thirds of the teams would need to agree to the changes for new rules to be adopted.

It is my prediction that the NFL does make some kind of change. Personally, I’m ambivalent on the issue. I believe the statistics show that the teams who lose the toss win slightly more often in regular season games. What the playoff record, I don’t know. Honestly, who says life or sports has to be fair?


NFL considering mandatory echocardiograms

The NBA has required this test for its players since 2006. From ESPN-

Between the time of Bears defensive end Gaines Adams’ death last Sunday to his funeral Friday, the NFL’s Cardiovascular Committee began discussing the possibility of subjecting all players to a heart scan called an echocardiogram, starting with potential draft picks invited to the NFL scouting combine next month.

NFLPA medical director Thomas Mayer told ESPN that the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Adams stated the enlarged heart that led to his death could have been detected by an echocardiogram.

But, as Mayer pointed out, the process is complicated.

Is the fear of legal liability going to influence a doctor? Are cardiologists going to agree on whether a player has an enlarged heart or an athlete’s heart? Does that mean he’s systematically finished as a football player?

More likely, a questionable echocardiogram could lead to more sensitive tests, such as a cardio catheter procedure.

As a person who had major cardiac surgery less than 18 months ago, I see mandatory electrocardiograms as a good idea. Putting the policy into place will be complicated, but it shouldn’t be used as a reason not to do this. My heart condition, a bicuspid heart valve and ascending aortic aneurysm was very serious, and till as little as two weeks prior to my operation, nobody knew I had those conditions. Some heart problems in addition to a enlarged hearts, show few or little warning signs.

I would also add that a large amount if not majority of NFL players, are grossly overweight. Heart testing is for their own good.


Chicago Bear DE Gaines Adams dead at 26

The cause of death is unknown at this time. Very tragic and RIP.

Chicago Bears defensive end Gaines Adams died Sunday morning after he was taken to a Greenwood, S.C., emergency room, the county coroner said.Gaines Adams

Greenwood County Coroner James T. Coursey said Adams was taken to the emergency room at Self Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9 a.m. ET Sunday morning.


Adams, 26, listed at 6-foot-5 and 256 pounds, played in college at Clemson and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. He was traded to the Bears in October.

In 47 games over four seasons with the Bucs and Bears, Adams had 67 tackles, including 13.5 sacks.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Jermaine Phillips charged with domestic battery

He has played his entire NFL career, 2002-09, with the Bucs. From AP-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jermaine Phillips has been arrested and charged with trying to choke his wife during an argument.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release that Phillips was charged with domestic battery by strangulation. Jail records indicated he is scheduled to be released on his own recognizance Monday.

Authorities say Phillips’ wife called 911 early Sunday morning and told dispatchers that her husband had grabbed her around the neck.

She said she had confronted Phillips about a number she found in his cell phone. Sheriff’s officials say the couple argued, and Phillips then grabbed his wife’s neck.

Violence by a man towards a woman, with the exception of self defense, is just despicable. The Bucs seem to have a violent incident with their one of their players. Last year a player was stabbed by a girlfriend, in 2007 another Buccaneer was arrested for assaulting a pregnant woman. Is it too much to expect 50 or so professional athletes to stay out of trouble for 7 months?


Arizona releases K Mike Nugent

The return of Neil Rackers made Nugent expendable. From AP-

The Arizona Cardinals have released kicker Mike Nugent and added defensive end Jason Banks to the active roster.


Nugent was signed because Neil Rackers has been bothered by a groin injury. He was released by Tampa Bay on Oct. 5 after he missed two field goals in a 16-13 loss to Washington.

I think it is safe to call Nugent a draft bust. Few kickers get that label, then very few are selected in the 2nd round of the NFL draft(#47 selection 2005 draft by the NY Jets) and go through 3 teams in less than 5 seasons of pro football.


New Orleans Saints waive K John Carney

Is the 45-year-old’s NFL career at an end? From ESPN-

The New Orleans Saints apparently won’t carry two kickers into the playoffs, as they’ve done for much of this year. The team announced Tuesday afternoon it has cut veteran kicker John Carney.

That’s a sign they’re committed to sticking with Garrett Hartley, who reclaimed the kicking job for the 12th game of the season. Hartley had been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy by taking a stimulant that he said was to keep him awake during a long drive.

Carney, 45 and a 21-year NFL veteran, was signed by the Saints when they became aware of Hartley’s suspension. Carney handled kicking duties in the first 11 games. He made 13-of-17 field goals and 50-of-52 extra points. Carney also played with the Saints from 2001 through 2006 and is the second-leading scorer in franchise history with 750 points.

New Orleans isn’t the only team to change placekickers this week. The Dallas Cowboys cut Nick Folk yesterday.

IMHO Carney’s kicking was sub par this year.(76.5 success rate on Field Goals compared to a career average of 82.4) That and in the light of his age and nomadic last few years(4 teams in less than 3 years), I do think his career is indeed over. I also think he will elected to the NFL Hall of Fame sometime in the future. Carney was one of the NFL’s elite kickers for 20 years.


NFL changes return to play concussion rules

Nearly 1/5th of NFL players surveyed said they hidden or downplayed the effects of a concussion. From AP-

NFL teams now have new, stricter instructions for when players should be allowed to return to games or practices after head injuries, guidelines that go into effect this week.

In the latest step by the league to address a hot-button issue, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to the 32 clubs Wednesday saying a player who gets a concussion should not return to action on the same day if he shows certain signs or symptoms.

Those include an inability to remember assignments or plays, a gap in memory, persistent dizziness and persistent headaches.

The old standard, established in 2007, said a player should not be allowed to return to the same game if he lost consciousness.

Wednesday’s memo also says players “are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion.”

The new guidelines sound good in practice(I think they were overdue. A player not able to think clearly has no business being on a football field.) but I doubt they will be adhered to. Coaches are under pressure to win and most NFL players aren’t inclined to challenge these people who have authority over them. A person is also more likely to press on and shrug off any ill feelings they have. I know I have for maladies large and small, including a slight concussion I suffered six years ago after an auto accident.


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