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Bombshell recording of NFL owners/players anthem protest meeting emerges

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Sep 17, 2017; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan watches his team during the second half of a football game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A bombshell inside story on the NFL owners and players meeting last October about national anthem protests has emerged from the New York Times Wednesday afternoon. And it’s not being viewed as a coincidence, that the story’s release is coming on the eve of the NFL’s most important off season weekend with the NFL Draft.

The Times also obtained an audio recording of the three-hour meeting, and it’s a fascinating window into the chaos that began in August of 2016 with Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem. Then, erupted like a volcano, when President Donald Trump spoke out on the Friday Night of the third weekend of the NFL season last September.

President Trump went so far as to call on fans to boycott, and that owners should “fire” players, who were kneeling. That weekend there were numerous player protests orchestrated across NFL games in response to Trump’s incendiary comments. That included the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were playing that Sunday in London and many Jags players knelt for the national anthem of the United States and then stood for the national anthem of England.

From the audio recording that the New York Times obtained, Jaguars owner Shad Khan and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are heard making comments and responding in Q&A with a group of players. Those players through the NFLPA had been invited to attend the unprecedented mid-season summit in New York to address social issues.

The Times quotes Ross as having raised the idea of  “a march on Washington D.C.”  by NFL players and owners. It apparently didn’t get much support or response in the room.

The Times also quotes Jaguars owner Shad Khan from the recording, giving his thoughts to everyone in the room that he believed “the damage is already done from Trump.” And, that the owners who were voicing concerns that more Trump comments would only inflame the situation should not as concerned with that, as finding solutions.

We previously wrote that around that the same time, the Jaguars were receiving massive private pressure from military organizations and potential fan boycotts and backlash. So much so, team president Tom Lamping and Vice President of Football Tom Coughlin attended a meeting in the Jaguars facility with representatives of the military organizations to listen and to try to calm what was going on behind the scenes in North Florida.

We have also written that Ross was originally in agreement with his players protesting, but earlier this off-season actually spoke out on the record in New York that he wanted the anthem protest to end now.

Ross received backlash on the internet and elsewhere, and quickly backpedaled his comments the following day. He now says, he would rather that the players not kneel, but if they choose to do so, it’s there right.

Clearly from this article and what has gone on since during last season in this off season, there is still a great fear from the owners of what the anthem protests are doing to the business at the NFL. It is also not in dispute that the NFL has lost approximately 10% of its viewership over the course of the past two seasons.

There is no other reasonable explanation, as to why that suddenly happened, except backlash from fans angry at the protests-siding with Trump’s comments and against those who are kneeling, by turning games off.

And the article from the Times basically lays out numerous owners talking about such backlash and their concern for their businesses during last October’s meeting. And, what they believed what would happen, if they do not act accordingly.

Once more, it’s more than curious timing that this would be released on the day before the 2018 NFL draft is to begin in Arlington, Texas. It’s also curious that the article has quotes from the meeting from prominent owners like Robert Kraft of the Patriots and John Mara of the Giants, but nothing from usually verbose Jerry Jones of the Cowboys.

There is also no mention of the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs, having commented during the meeting, either.

And conspiracy theories are abounding everywhere as to who would have leaked the audio recording to the paper in the first place. This is especially, when Rodger Goodell can be heard on the recording, according to the Times, as saying to everyone in the room that the meeting should be “kept confidential.”

Truly, there’s never an off-season or a dull day in covering the National Football League.

Wednesday is proof of that

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Who is headed to Miami and Super Bowl XLIV after Sunday?

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Two games remain to determine whom will tee it up at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. Will the upstart Titans pull off a third straight upset in Kansas City? Can the Packers get revenge over a San Francisco team that humbled them in late November?

We know this: the unexpected has already happened several times in these playoffs and don’t rule out the upsets Sunday.

First, the Baltimore Ravens had been favorites to win Super Bowl LIV for some time now. Pretty much since they destroyed the Pats in the middle of the season. They had already beaten the K.C Chiefs and a handful of other solid teams. And, once they defeated the the 49ers in December, it looked like the Ravens were the best team in the NFL .

Then, last Saturday night, this happened:

The Ravens appeared to be the most complete team in the NFL, but that’s the thing about the playoffs, all it takes is one bad game and you’re out.

The Tennesse Titans went into M&T Bank Stadium and surprised them last Saturday night. Jim Harbaugh got outcoached and the Ravens hit a brick wall of a Mike Vrabel defense. So, now they are gone.

But who fills the void, now that the supposed  “best team in football” got eliminated, and whom is the favorite to win it all now headed in to Championship Sunday?

The Titans and veteran QB Ryan Tannehill are on an epic run. They are the beast slayers, so to speak. But it isn’t them. Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best QB in the NFL, and the Packers have won six games straight games after last week’s close one at Lambeau over Seattle.

However, it’s not them either. The 49ers are in a position to win it all for the first time since 1994 and they have the best pass defense in the league. But again, it’s not them.

That leaves just one team: Andy Reid and his “Kool-Aide-Colored” Chiefs.

Kansas City leads the Super Bowl Futures odds charge at +135. The SF 49ers can be found around +165 and both the Packers are Titans are sitting at +650. So, Las Vegas has the Chiefs to win, with the 49ers close at second.

But does this mean the Chiefs and their perennial runner-up coach, will win out?

Not necessarily.

Many smart sports handicappers have their picks with the Titans to at least keep the game close enough to cover the point spread Sunday. More like the rolling Titans to win outright.

The same goes for the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers game. The Niners are big favorites, but we are dealing with a team whose recent situation performance shows, they would actually win –but maybe not cover.

So, we have two conference championship games with clear, heavy favorites … that could both lose.

The Chiefs showed us a few things in their incredible Division-Round win over the Houston Texans. The first thing they showed us is that their defense and special teams units are vulnerable. This was made apparent when the Texans went up 24-0 and looked to be dominating the game.

Next, the Chiefs showed us that they can adjust better than anyone. They shook it off and put up 28 points in the second quarter to retake the lead. Then they poured it on in the 3rd and 4th, adding 23 more to the board, showing us that they are still the best second-half team in football.

That said, the Texans are not the Titans. They showed us this season that they really only get consistent wins against sub-500 teams. Houston ranked way back at No. 23 in the league for scoring defense (and way worse in their last 3 games allowing 35 per affair) and 26.7 overall while playing on the road.

The Titans on the other hand, only allow 16.6 points per game on the road. They have a top-ten defense overall and have been absolutely stellar in recent games. In their last 3, they’ve only allowed 13 points per game. KC has allowed 18.3 per game in their most recent three.

On the flip side, the Super Bowl favorite has scored 29 points per game at home and averages the same overall. But, the Titans have upped their average to 25 points per game both overall and on the road. So, we should see a very close game, indeed.

Can the SB LIV favs beat the Titans and go on to win it all in South Florida? Perhaps, but it won’t be easy.

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Titans QB Tannehill on Wednesday- “I wanna win”

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans are readying to play in the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. And on Wednesday, former Dolphins quarterback now turned Tennessee starting QB, Ryan Tannehill, met with the media about the opportunity for he and his teammates to play their way into Super Bowl 54.

And, Tannehill made something abundantly clear again, it doesn’t matter about his own personal pass attempts or stats, he’s mainly concerned with getting another victory:

“We’ve put in a lot of work to win multiple ways this season. You don’t forget how to throw and catch…. Being a quarterback, I love throwing the ball, but I just wanna win.”

Tannehill has only thrown the ball a total of 29 times with 15 completions in the Titans two playoff wins over the Patriots and the Ravens. So, it’s obvious the Tennessee’s game plan of grinding teams with the run and Derrick Henry bruising them, and, then, playing sound, physical and opportunistic  defense has worked thus far.

However, Tannehill also acknowledged Wednesday that it might be different against the Chiefs, who certainly are more explosive then either New England or Baltimore on offense. The Texans found that out firsthand at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, when their 24 – 0 lead evaporated in the second quarter and Patrick Mahomes and Co. proceeded to put 41 unanswered points on them.

Now, Tennessee’s defense is better than Houston’s overall and it’s one of the big reasons why they’re still alive at this stage of the postseason. Still, Tannehill may be called upon to make a bunch of big throws and plays in this game if the Titans are going to have any chance.

As we wrote previously, he’s had success since taking over for former number 1 pick Marcus Mariota earlier in week seven of the season.

His first start was at home against the Chargers and threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in a win. Tannehill then led them on a run of winning six of seven starts total. And, in every one of those games, Tannehill threw for either at least 300 yards or for at least two touchdowns or a combo of both.

His play has been consistent, and at times, very good for Tenneessee.

Further, when you total up his 11 games started, Tannehill now has an 8 – 3 record (including these two playoff wins), and he has only one game, a 30 – 20 loss at Carolina in early November, where he had two interceptions.

One, essentially “bad game” in 11 starts.

And, since that November Carolina game, Tannehill has thrown only 3 picks total, while throwing 19 TDs. Oh, and Tennessee is now 7 – 2 over those next nine games.

And, one of those games is the previous win over Kansas City in Nashville on November 10th, when Tannehill threw for 181 yards and two scores and no picks.

Now, they will head to frigid K.C. to play the biggest game of Tanehill’s and several of the young stars on offense’s biggest professional game ever. And, you get the sense that the veteran signal caller whom the Dolphins gave up on this off-season, is ready to throw it 10 times or 40 times to try to get it done.

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