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It’s obvious that Sunday should be last Pro Bowl

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
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It’s time. And, Sunday was the last straw. We had already written earlier in the day that it was a miserable 50 degrees (felt colder) and raining throughout Sunday in Orlando for the 2019 Pro Bowl.

And metaphorically speaking we don’t like to “rain on everyone’s parade.” Nevertheless, we have finally reached a point, where the Pro Bowl should be done away with.

As in, for good.

At the risk of being criticized for being reactionary or even like Clint Eastwood and “Get off my lawn,” no one can defend any longer what we’re seeing, as anything that resembles a football game.

No you can’t defend something that used to be at least an aggressive and fun All-Star Game featuring the NFL’s best players, but that has devolved into a farce.

A farce where no one wants to block, much less tackle anyone.

This was on full display from the beginning of the game on the dreary damp Sunday in Orlando. This as, handoffs would go to running backs, who would run into the massive bodies at the line where players were not blocking the players in front of them. And, the referees would eventually just blow the whistle with everyone standing around.

Quarterbacks would throw the ball down the field to receivers, who were running 3/4 speed against defensive backs who were running a 3/4 speed and both might, or might not, try to make the catch or play on the ball.

Yes, there was an occasional moment, where are you saw flashes with a significant throw or runner would break free, but make no mistake: what the Pro Bowl has become, gradually over the last few years, and now on full display Sunday, is not football.

It’s not even close.

And to further make a mockery of it we saw, there were numerous players playing totally foreign positions, including on the opposite side of the ball.

This included the Bucs receiver Mike Evans playing defensive back for numerous plays, and eventually, because offense was being so lackadaisical, he was able to do this:

Later in the game Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey got his shot at playing some offense and, again, because no one cared on the NFC with under :30 remaining, he got to do this:

There was Cowboys All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott playing defensive end at 230 lb and going around offensive lineman also at 3/4 speed towards the quarterback.

And, on and on.

We at F.F.I. get the fact the game used to be a post-season reward to players, who would go to Hawaii from 1980-2016. However, in the 80s, 90s and even early 2000s, the players were at least still trying to play football in the game. And, the fundamentals of blocking tackling and playing of the game were still consistently there.

Not anymore.

Yes, the Players Association would squawk about this silly form of an All Star Game being taken away, but this point, they have very little leverage that the game needs to be played.

As for contract bonuses, they can be tied into other forms of accomplishment, like making the All-Pro teams or some other form of NFL designation for the best players at their position to be compensated for that and still, not having a Pro Bowl “game.”

Of course there’s the skills competition, like with the NFL did on Thursday in the Orlando sunshine. That’s entertaining and it could stay somehow, if you wanted.

And, maybe you turn the recognition of “Pro Bowl players” into a part of the “NFL Honors”/ Awards night, which currently happens now, on the Saturday night before the Super Bowl?

Just don’t go on trying to con anyone that this “game” is something worthwhile to watch.

And for those that argue: “it gets TV ratings,” put a re-run of the conference championship game the previous weekend on (like what the NFL Network showed throughout this past week) and people would watch it in droves, too.

The other three big professional sports of the NBA, MLB and NHL at least play some semblance of their game during their All-Star Game. And, the fundamentals exist and the players aren’t making a complete mockery of the game itself.

That’s what the Pro Bowl that we watched on Sunday now is. A mockery.

Forget about all the smiling and the waving and the MVP award that analyst Jason Witten dropped on national television and broke. (Yes, he really did).

It’s pro football’s All-Star game that’s broken.

And since the guys involved don’t want to play in it any longer, it should go away.


Florida Attorney General files appeal in Robert Kraft case

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Attorney General has appealed a lower court ruling throwing out the video in New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft solicitation of prostitution case from Palm Beach this past January.

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office just beat the Tuesday night October 1st deadline to file with Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals on the previous lower court ruling.

The 50 page legal brief concludes that authorities in Palm Beach County were within their right to obtain video surveillance of Kraft and numerous others having sex acts performed on them during a five day period in January at the “Orchids of Asia” Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.

Kraft, the 78 year old owner of the Patriots, was allegedly captured on video on back-to-back days engaging in the illegal sex acts.

The Boston Globe obtained the legal brief which quoted Moody’s office,

“Based on video captured by surveillance cameras police installed in the Spa pursuant to a warrant, Mr. Kraft’s guilt is a virtual certainty.”

Kraft lawyers were not available for comment on the appeal to the paper Wednesday morning.

Kraft’s defense team won the key ruling to suppress the video for his case with circuit Judge Robert Hanser. In May Hanser agreed that the so-called “Sneak-and-Peek warrant” that the police officials obtained did not take enough precautions to protect the privacy of those who were going into the massage parlor and receiving legitimate massages.

The five-day surveillance netted charges against 25 men on solicitation of prostitution and lewd and lascivious conduct. Numerous ones of them have already plead guilty.

Kraft, who has a home in Palm Beach, was in the day spa just hours before he flew to Kansas City for the Patriots overtime AFC Championship Game win against the Chiefs that put them into Super Bowl 53.

The legal brief asserts that Kraft was not entitled to argue to the court about the rights of all of the defendants or anyone else that was surveilled on the video. Instead, Moody’s office wrote,

“Mr. Kraft lacks standing to vicariously assert the Fourth Amendment rights of third parties … Second, in no event would Mr. Kraft be entitled to total suppression of all video in the case; rather, he would be entitled to suppress only the unlawfully seized videos, a class which would not include the video evidence of his own prostitution offenses.”

In other words, he is only allowed to argue about his own situation and Hanser ruled incorrectly on that point.

Kraft’s side now has 30 days to respond. The appeals court is expected to rule later this winter and if they do so in favor of the Attorney General and the prosecutors, then the video may end up being released to the public even before a trial.

That is because, as we have detailed throughout this process earlier this year, defendants in Florida caught under any type of video surveillance in alleged criminal acts are not exempt from having that video released, even if they have not been tried or convicted.

Numerous local and national media outlets filed with the Palm Beach County Court to have the video released and that case is also still pending because of Hanser’s previous May ruling.

More serious than they likely fine, community service, etc. that Kraft might receive as punishment, is the possible discipline from the NFL under the personal conduct policy.

That could include fines and suspension, but the NFL traditionally waits for legal proceedings to finish first.

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Dolphins at home- Jags and Bucs out West Sunday

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Week number four in the NFL has two of the state teams on the road out West and the other hosting a West Coast team in South Florida.

We begin with the Dolphins, off to their most miserable start in franchise history at 0 – 3 and having been blown out at all three games. They will play host to the L.A. Chargers.

The Chargers are struggling themselves having lost their last two games, including to Houston last week at home. Miami will keep Josh Rosen in at quarterback, and he played adequately in Dallas, despite the team only kicking two field goals.

The Chargers will welcome back their starting Pro Bowl running back, Melvin Gordon, who has ended his 9-week holdout seeking a new contract. Gordon is only expected to play sparingly, if at all.

The Jaguars, off a win over the Titans 10 days ago on Thursday Night Football, travel to Mile High to take on the Broncos. The biggest question mark is: defensive back Jalen Ramsey, who has an ongoing soap opera with the team about whether he is going to be traded?

Ramsey also apparently has a back and hamstring injuries and is listed as questionable for the game. However, he did travel with the team and may be out there playing this afternoon.

The Jacksonville pass rush registered nine sacks on Tennessee in the home win and now will try to get after Joe Flacco Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew has developed a connection with second-year receiver D.J. Chark hitting him with a TD in each of the last two games. And we’ll see if his “Minshew Magic” with throws and occasionally his feet, can continue in a difficult place to play.

Finally, the Buccaneers travel farther out west to Los Angeles to take on the unbeaten Rams.

Tampa Bay is still reeling from giving up an 18-point lead at home to lose to the Giants. This included, getting into easy field goal range only to have kicker Matt Gay miss it with no time left.

Wide receiver Mike Evans had a tremendous game with 190 yards and three touchdowns. However, he will likely be locked up with Pro Bowl DB Aqib Talib, who was originally drafted by the Buccaneers in 2008.

And, as we wrote earlier this week, the Bucs must contend with the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in defensive tackle, Aaron Donald. Trying to slow him down/keep him out of QB Jameis Winston’s face will be big.

And, on offense, the Rams have a high-powered attack led by QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley is already looking running early in this season.

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