News
Associated Press
Associated Press Premium
The Sports Xchange
    Bears sign second-round pick Gordon to 4-year contract
    6/24/22

    LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears signed second-round draft pick Kyler Gordon to a four-year contract on Saturday.

    The cornerback from Washington became the Bears' first selection when they took him with the No. 39 overall pick. The Bears got a potential starter opposite Jaylon Johnson by taking the athletic and hard-hitting Gordon. A first-team, All-Pac-12 pick, he had 46 tackles and two interceptions to go with a team-high seven pass breakups in 12 starts last season.

    With Gordon under contract, the Bears' only remaining unsigned draft pick is Jaquan Brisker. The safety from Penn State was taken in the second round at No. 48 overall.

    The Bears went 6-11 last season and missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years. They fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy and hired Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus to replace them.

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    AP sources: Watson to meet with NFL disciplinary officer
    By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer | 
    6/24/22

    CLEVELAND (AP) — Deshaun Watson's short-term future with the Browns could be coming into focus.

    Cleveland's quarterback will have a hearing next week with NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, three people familiar with the scheduled meeting told The Associated Press on Saturday.

    Watson, who is facing a potential suspension from the league stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct by two dozen massage therapists in Texas, will meet with Robinson on Tuesday, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the hearing have not been disclosed publicly.

    It's not yet know how long Watson is scheduled to meet with Robinson.

    The hearing is a significant development in Watson's case as Robinson will decide if the 26-year-old violated the league's personal conduct policy. The league is expected to recommend significant discipline for Watson, who will be defended by the NFL Players Association in the high-profile case.

    ESPN was first to report Watson's meeting with Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the league and NFL Players Association in 2020. This is the first case the former federal judge has heard under the league's revised disciplinary procedure. Previously, Commissioner Roger Goodell handled these matters.

    Earlier this week, Watson reached undisclosed financial settlements in civil lawsuits filed by 20 of his 24 accusers. The women claimed he had harassed, assaulted or touched them during sessions when he played for Houston.

    The four remaining cases could still go to trial, but that wouldn't happen until 2023.

    Watson has denied any wrongdoing and said sex with three of the women was consensual.

    The league has said Watson's settlements will not affect its investigation. If Robinson finds Watson violated the league's personal conduct policy, he'll likely be suspended for multiple games if not longer.

    Robinson is expected to rule before the Browns open training camp later next month.

    Cleveland signed Watson to a five-year, $230 million contract in March after convincing the three-time Pro Bowler to waive his no-trade clause and join a team looking to bounce back after a disappointing 8-9 season. He had been pursued by several other teams as well.

    ___

    AP Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Tampa, Florida, contributed to this report.

    ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Tight ends gather in Nashville to learn from NFL's best
    By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Pro Football Writer | 
    6/23/22

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee tight end Chig Okonkwo has a really good reason not to be working with the rest of the Titans' rookies as they wrap up their offseason at the team headquarters.

    Okonkwo, the rookie who ran the fastest 40-yard dash among tight ends earlier this year at the NFL Combine, had somewhere better to be.

    Tight End University, the equivalent of a master class at the rookie's position.

    “It’s just so amazing to be able to be here and do this ...,” Okonkwo said Thursday. "And it’s just awesome. There’s like 80 of us out here. ... And there’s so many Pro Bowl guys, so many big contract to the guys. It’s just really nice to be able to go out there as a rookie in my first season.”

    Going into his first NFL season, Okonkwo is trying to be a sponge, soaking up everything he can, especially when seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks.

    “He showed me something that I’ve never seen before,” Okonkwo said. “And I was like, ‘I think I should probably start working on that because he’s really good, he’s the best in the business.’ So just learning things like that, like being able to just take little tidbits like that from different guys.”

    That was the whole reason for Tight End U — or TEU for short.

    A three-time Pro Bowler for San Francisco, George Kittle already had been working with eight to 10 tight ends in the offseason after moving to Nashville five years ago. He talked with Kelce and three-time Pro Bowler Greg Olsen about expanding the group, and Olsen said to invite everybody.

    They expected 20, with 50 in attendance last year at the high school where Kittle’s father, George, works as an assistant football coach for former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. The invite list grew so much for this week's camp they had moved to Vanderbilt University and had at least 85 tight ends in attendance.

    Kelce, Kittle and Olsen also had to tell a bunch of young tight ends no.

    “We're still expanding and trying to find room for everybody to be able to come out here because everybody sees what kind of turnout it is,” Kelce said. “And on top of that, to hear the stories from the guys that are coming through and what they’ve learned, we know how unique of a situation it is. We’re going to keep trying to make it bigger and better every year.”

    The tight ends spend camp working through problems like blocking 300-pound linemen to running routes against much faster players. They picked the brains of veterans like Olsen in a classroom before moving onto the field to hone the physical techniques to thrive in an NFL season.

    Getting that many people together costs money.

    TEU has Bridgestone, Charmin, Gatorade, Levi's and Bud Light as sponsors. The tight ends also raised money again for the Boys and Girls Club. Dawson Knox of Buffalo winning the competition with Okonkwo second, and they brought in more than $131,000. Bridgestone brought that to $681,000 with a further donation Thursday.

    More TEU expansion is likely in the future. Kelce said they would like to bring in more tight ends, possibly tight end coaches and maybe even college tight ends.

    For now, everyone leaves having learned something, whether it's a new release on a route, a blocking technique or something off tape.

    “And everyone here is hungry and everybody here wants to be a great NFL tight end,” Kittle said. "And so when you put all that hunger together, it’s just big ol' nasty beast, and that’s what a tight end is.”

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Bears LB Adams arrested, charged with firearm possession
    6/23/22

    CHICAGO (AP) — Bears linebacker Matt Adams was arrested and charged with misdemeanor firearm possession, Chicago police said Friday.

    Police said they recovered a weapon during a search of his vehicle in downtown Chicago on Thursday evening. He was also cited for possessing a high-capacity magazine within the city limits and metal-piercing bullets, a municipal code violation. Adams has a court date scheduled for Aug. 24.

    The Bears said they were made aware of the arrest Friday morning and are “gathering more information.”

    “We will refrain from making any further comment at this time,” the team added.

    Adams signed with Chicago in April after spending his first four seasons in Indianapolis and followed new coach Matt Eberflus to the Bears. Eberflus replaced the fired Matt Nagy after spending the past four seasons as the Colts' defensive coordinator.

    Chicago also has a new general manager, with Ryan Poles taking over after Ryan Pace was fired. The Bears went 6-11 last season and missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years.

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Waiting game continues in Deshaun Watson discipline case
    By ROB MAADDI, AP Pro Football Writer | 
    6/23/22

    A decision regarding discipline for Deshaun Watson is still expected before training camp, though the league has yet to conclude its investigation and turn it over to a disciplinary officer, according to two people with knowledge of the case.

    Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the investigation is ongoing. The Cleveland Browns open training camp on July 22 for rookies with veterans due on July 26.

    Once the NFL completes its investigation, former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the league and the players’ union, will review the findings to decide whether Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and whether to impose discipline.

    The Cleveland quarterback reached an agreement to settle 20 of 24 civil lawsuits for sexual misconduct earlier this week. A league official told the AP the settlement won’t dissuade the NFL from seeking a lengthy suspension.

    The league and the NFL Players’ Association can recommend a potential length of suspension. If either the union or league appeals Robinson’s decision, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee “will issue a written decision that will constitute full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” per terms of Article 46 in the CBA.

    It’s unlikely Watson’s legal team will be able to negotiate terms of a suspension to avoid having the disciplinary officer make the decision.

    The Browns acquired Watson from Houston for a slew of draft picks and signed the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback to a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract in March.

    Watson has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name.

    In March, two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.

    ___

    AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Hall of Fame NFL running back Hugh McElhenny dies at 93
    The Associated Press | 
    6/22/22

    NFL Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny, an elusive running back from the 1950s has died. He was 93.

    The Pro Football Hall of Fame said in a news release that McEhlenny died of natural causes on June 17 at his home in Nevada, and that son-in-law Chris Permann confirmed the death.

    Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970, McElhenny’s thrilling runs and all-around skills as a runner, receiver and kick returner made him one of the NFL’s top players of the 1950s. He was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1952 (before the award became official) and made two All-Pro teams, six Pro Bowls and the NFL’s All-Decade squad of the 1950s.

    “Hugh McElhenny was a threat in all phases of the game offensively — rushing, pass receiving and as a kick and punt returner. His all-around talent — obvious to pro football scouts when Hugh was still a teenager — will be celebrated and preserved forever in Canton,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement.

    An all-conference player at Washington, where he set several Pacific Coast Conference records, McElhenny was selected ninth overall in the 1952 draft and made an immediate impact. Not only did he lead the run-happy NFL in yards per carry (7.0) that season, but McElhenny had the longest rush from scrimmage, 89 yards, and the longest punt return, 94 yards. He scored 10 touchdowns as a rookie.

    It was the beginning of a stretch of nine seasons in which McElhenny was the 49ers’ primary offensive weapon. Only in 1954, when a separated shoulder sidelined him after six games, and 1960, his final year in San Francisco, was McElhenny not a focal point for the Niners.

    “The 49ers family is heartbroken to learn of the passing of one of the NFL’s all-time greats, Hugh McElhenny,” San Francisco co-chairman Dr. John York said in a statement. “Growing up, my favorite team was the 49ers. I remember so many great players from the late 50s and 60s. When I started to invite an alum to every game, my goal was to meet the “Million Dollar Backfield”. Hugh was the last of the four to join us and we remained friends. Hugh is a great part of 49ers history.”

    McEhlenny also was something of a franchise savior, which was fitting because the 49ers once tried to sign him out of high school when they were still in the All-American Football Conference.

    “When Hugh joined the 49ers in 1952,” Lou Spadia, then the team’s general manager, said, “it was questionable whether our franchise could survive. McElhenny removed all doubts. That’s why we call him our franchise saver.”

    Defenders would call him something else as they got arms full of air instead of the ball carrier.

    “My attitude carrying the ball was fear,” he said. “Not a fear of getting hurt, but a fear of getting caught from behind and taken down and embarrassing myself and my teammates.”

    Easily recognizable for his long stride and high knee action, McElhenny not only was fast but had the moves of a break dancer decades before break dancing became a thing.

    “Preparing for a team that lists McElhenny on the roster,” said Hamp Pool, who coached the archrival Rams from 1952-54, “you just can’t take any chances.”

    Coincidentally, his long-time 49ers backfield mate, fullback Joe Perry — another Hall of Famer — had played at Compton Junior College in California, where McElhenny starred before heading to Washington. Together in San Francisco, they formed one of pro football’s best backfield tandems.

    But the Niners made the postseason only once with McElhenny, losing a Western Conference title playoff game with Detroit in 1957. By 1961, with McElhenny wearing down a bit, he was left on the expansion draft list and scooped up by Minnesota. He had a solid season and made the Pro Bowl as the Vikings went 3-11 in their inaugural season.

    Knee problems then slowed him. He played one more year with Minnesota, spent 1963 as a backup with the New York Giants, where he played in his only NFL title game, losing to Chicago, and finished his career in 1964 with Detroit.

    When he retired, McElhenny was one of three players to have gained more than 11,000 all-purpose yards.

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Pats ink deal with Strange, 2 others to complete '22 class
    6/22/22

    FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots have completed signing their 2022 draft class, inking contracts with first-round pick Cole Strange, second-round pick Tyquan Thornton and fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe.

    Terms of the deals were not released. New England has previously reached agreements with the other seven members of its class.

    Strange was a five-year starter on the offensive line for Chattanooga and was taken 29th overall in April. He is expected to have a chance start as a rookie this upcoming season following the offseason trade of Shaq Mason and free agency departure of Ted Karras.

    The Patriots are set to open training camp on July 27.

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Report: Woman accused Commanders' Snyder of 2009 sex assault
    6/21/22

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A woman accused Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her on a team plane in 2009, and the woman was later paid $1.6 million by the team to settle her claims, according to a document obtained by the Washington Post.

    The Post reported Tuesday that it had obtained a letter by an attorney working for the team that detailed the woman's allegations while arguing that her claims were not credible. The $1.6 million settlement had been previously revealed in legal filings related to more recent investigations of the team, but details of the woman's allegations were not disclosed. The woman agreed not to sue the team or publicly disclose her allegations as part of the settlement.

    Snyder denied the woman's allegations, according to the letter, and a team investigation accused her of making up the claims in an attempt to extort him.

    The contents of the letter were disclosed a day before a scheduled hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is investigating the Washington team's workplace culture. Snyder has declined an invitation by the committee to testify, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was scheduled to testify remotely.

    The NFL fined the team $10 million and Snyder stepped away from its day-to-day operations after an investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson revealed a workplace culture that was abusive to women. But the league declined to release a written report of Wilkinson's findings.

    The committee has since uncovered an allegation of sexual harassment by Snyder. Former team employee Tiffani Johnston told the committee that Snyder groped her at a team dinner and tried to force her into his limousine, claims that Snyder denied.

    That triggered a new investigation of the team ordered by the NFL and led by Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney and chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. White is also looking into claims of financial improprieties by a former vice president of sales for the team. The NFL has said White's findings will be made public.

    The letter obtained by the Post was written by Howard Shapiro, an attorney at WilmerHale law firm, which had helped the team investigate the woman's allegations. Shapiro wrote that the woman's claims were “knowingly false.” He declined to comment to the Post.

    According to the letter, the woman accused Snyder of asking her for sex, groping her and trying to take off her clothes in a private, partitioned area at the back of a team plane during a return flight from a trip to Las Vegas.

    The letter stated that none of the other passengers on the flight supported the woman's account. Others said the door to the back area of the plane was open for most of the flight and that other passengers and flight attendants were frequently present in that section, according to the letter.

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Steelers add veteran DL Ogunjobi with 1-year contract
    6/21/22

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers signed veteran defensive end Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year deal on Tuesday, shoring up a position of need following Stephon Tuitt's retirement earlier this month.

    The 28-year-old Ogunjobi spent last season with the Cincinnati Bengals and had planned to sign a three-year contract with Chicago in March before he failed a physical, nullifying the deal.

    Ogunjobi injured his right foot during the Bengals’ wild-card victory over the Las Vegas Raiders and was lost for the remainder of the playoffs. The injury required surgery, and the lack of progress during his rehab led to the failed physical.

    The Steelers are banking on Ogunjobi being good to go as they try to shore up a defensive line that finished dead last in the NFL against the run in 2022. Ogunjobi was productive last year for Cincinnati, posting career highs in sacks (7) and tackles for loss (12).

    Pittsburgh was hoping Tuitt would return after he sat out all of 2021 following the death of his younger brother last June, combined with a knee injury. The Steelers did little during the offseason to address the defensive line, re-signing tackle Montravius Adams and taking Demarvin Leal in the third round of the draft.

    Ogunjobi gives Pittsburgh veteran depth even if he has a spotty history with the Steelers. Playing for Cleveland in 2019, Ogunjobi blindsided Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph during a scuffle that included Browns defensive end Myles Garrett tearing off Rudolph's helmet and then swinging it at him. Ogunjobi was suspended for one game for his role in the melee, though a fine was later rescinded.

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson dies at age 26
    By NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer | 
    6/21/22

    Jaylon Ferguson, who set an FBS record for career sacks while at Louisiana Tech and then played the past three seasons in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, has died. He was 26.

    Police said Wednesday the cause of death was still to be determined.

    “On June 21, 2022, at approximately 11:25 p.m., Northern District patrol officers responded to a home in the 400 block of Ilchester Avenue for a report of a questionable death,” Baltimore police said. “Once there, officers located 26-year-old Jaylon Ferguson, unresponsive, being treated by medics. Ferguson never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead on the scene by medics. No signs of trauma was found or foul play suspected at this time.”

    Ferguson, nicknamed “Sack Daddy,” was drafted by the Ravens in the third round in 2019 and played his whole pro career with them. He appeared in 38 games and had 4 1/2 sacks.

    “Jaylon was a good-hearted, gentle person who loved his family and his team. He was a joy to talk with and be around every day," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “You always wanted to see and talk to ‘Ferg.’ Our prayers and our help go to his family.”

    Born Dec. 14, 1995, in St. Francisville, Louisiana, Ferguson played high school football and basketball at West Feliciana. At Louisiana Tech, his 45 sacks were one better than another Ravens linebacker, Terrell Suggs, achieved at Arizona State.

    Ferguson was a third-team AP All-American in 2018.

    “The LA Tech Family mourns this morning’s tragic news of the sudden death of former Bulldog great, Jaylon Ferguson,” the Louisiana Tech football program tweeted. “We will remember his God-given talents on the field and his infectious personality off of it. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

    Ferguson made nine starts as a rookie for the Ravens in 2019, and he also started the team's only playoff game that season. The linebacker spent time on the COVID-19 list early last season but ended up appearing in 10 games.

    “Me and ‘Ferg’ went through some of the same struggles when it came to making a name for ourselves in the league," linebacker Tyus Bowser said. “From that, we were able to gain an understanding and help each other build and grow as players. From the playbook, to the field — and even outside of work — we created a strong bond amongst ourselves. Whether I was having a bad day or vice versa, we encouraged each other, and that’s what I appreciated most and what I’ll miss about him.”

    The Ravens finished minicamp last week and are off until training camp. Wednesday was a tragic day for the franchise, with news breaking that both Ferguson and former defensive tackle Tony Siragusa had died.

    “‘J Ferg’ had the most genuine energy I’ve ever been around," safety Tony Jefferson said. “Before I left after minicamp in the locker room, he expressed how he was ready to have a big year, and I believed it was going to be his best season as a Raven. He will be watching over us, I know it, and he will bring the team closer just from his mark he left.”

    ___

    Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

    ___

    More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

    Recent articles
    Bears sign second-round pick Gordon to 4-year contract
    AP sources: Watson to meet with NFL disciplinary officer
    Tight ends gather in Nashville to learn from NFL's best
    Bears LB Adams arrested, charged with firearm possession
    Waiting game continues in Deshaun Watson discipline case
    Hall of Fame NFL running back Hugh McElhenny dies at 93
    Pats ink deal with Strange, 2 others to complete '22 class
    Report: Woman accused Commanders' Snyder of 2009 sex assault
    Steelers add veteran DL Ogunjobi with 1-year contract
    Ravens linebacker Jaylon Ferguson dies at age 26
    Congress alleges 'shadow' probe by Commanders owner Snyder
    NFL seeks arbitration for Flores' racial discrimination suit
    Former NFL defensive tackle, TV broadcaster Tony Siragusa dies at 55; played for Colts and Ravens
    Tony Siragusa, who helped Ravens win Super Bowl, dies at 55
    Deshaun Watson settles 20 civil suits, faces NFL suspension