NFL Week 17 –
THIS WEEK IN ANTONIO BROWN
“[Antonio Brown] is no longer a Buc, alright? That’s the end of the story. Let’s talk about the guys that went out there and won the game.”
—Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians’ comments on wide receiver Antonio Brown following Brown’s mid-game on-field outburst against the New York Jets. Brown ripped off his jersey and shoulder pads, threw his undershirt and gloves into the stands of MetLife Stadium, then jumped around on the field while running toward the tunnel and leaving the building. (Sports Illustrated)
“I took a seat on the sideline and my coach came up to me, very upset, and shouted, ‘What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you?’ I told him, ‘It’s my ankle.’ But he knew that. It was well-documented and we had discussed it. He then ordered me to get on the field. I said, ‘Coach, I can’t.’ He didn’t call for medical attention. Instead, he shouted at me, ‘YOU’RE DONE!’ while he ran his finger across his throat. Coach was telling me that if I didn’t play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs.”
“I know we were losing to the Jets and that was frustrating for all of us. But I could not make football plays on that ankle. Yes, I walked off the field. But there’s a major difference between launching from the line and taking hits, compared to jogging off the field with a rush of emotions going through your mind. I am reflecting on my reaction, but there was a trigger. The trigger was someone telling me that I’m not allowed to feel pain.”
—Brown gave his side of events, disclosing that he would be receiving season-ending ankle surgery for an injury that prohibited him from playing in the remainder of the game. Brown also shared texts between him and Arians discussing Brown’s injured ankle prior to the game. The team refuted having any knowledge of Brown’s injury. (ESPN.com)
“It was very hard. I wish him well. I hope if he needs help, gets some. It’s very hard because I do care about him.”
—Arians after officially cutting Brown Thursday. (NFL.com)
“I think everybody should hopefully do what they can in ways that he really needs it. We all love him. We care about him deeply. We want to see him be at his best, and he unfortunately won’t be with our team.”
“I think everyone should be compassionate and empathetic toward some very difficult things.”
—Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady on Brown’s release. (Dov Kleiman via Twitter)
I’LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT
“You know, we talk inside a lot. OK? And I don’t ever ask for patience from anybody. Let’s get that clear right now. All right? And the fans have every right to have an opinion. That’s why they’re fans. They have every right.”
“You buy a ticket, come to the stadium, you have every right to boo me going out of the stadium. That’s the way it is. That’s what we sign up for, right? And it’s New York. It’s supposed to be a tough place to be. Certain cities in this country, they don’t even know if their teams playing today. All right? So you sign up for a job in a city like New York, you expect to have this. I never shied away from that.”
—This is the introduction to what would eventually be an 11-plus-minute press conference answer from New York Giants head coach Joe Judge. Judge was asked by a reporter why he believes he can turn the Giants team around. As someone who has scoured coaching press conferences for quotes over the last five seasons, I have rarely (if ever) seen one with more tangents, anecdotes, and statements of questionable validity than Judge’s soliloquy on Sunday.
“A few years ago before I came here, when I came here and I sat down with all the players, I wanted to know what it was like in here, what we had to change from their mouths, all right. To a man every player looked me in the eye and said, ‘Joe, it’s not a team, they don’t play hard, we’re out of playoffs, everybody quit, everybody tapped, they stopped showing up to captains meetings, all that stuff.’ Right? They tapped out. OK? I’ve been a part of teams in other places. And I’m not trying to make this place anywhere else I’ve been.”
—After spending several minutes dissecting the internal improvements within the Giants organization and the all-in mindset of the team, Judge seemingly sends a slight at previous New York head coach Pat Shurmur. In 2019, the last year of Shurmur’s tenure, the Giants won two of their last three games. Judge’s Giants have lost their last five games and are seven-point underdogs at home in Week 18 against the Washington Football Team.
“Let me tell you something right now, all right, in 2018, I was a part of a team who halfway through the season, all right, we were all pretty convinced we were getting fired. We didn’t think we were going to make the playoffs, had no concept of anything was coming, we just showed up and kept improving to work week after week. And on the outside, we were all terrible. But we didn’t care about that any of that noise on the outside. We didn’t care about it at all. What do you care about on the inside, what are you doing? They showed up, they fought, they worked. We were improving as a team and put things together, and make a run and, you know, ended up winning the championship.”
—Judge then references the 2018 New England Patriots as an example of staying focused on the job at hand in the face of adversity. The Patriots were 7-2 at the midway point of their season, with their only two losses coming against the Doug Marrone/Blake Bortles-led Jacksonville Jaguars in a rematch of the 2017 AFC Championship Game and Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions in the coach’s first season since leaving New England. The Patriots would go on to win the Super Bowl that year.
“So this ain’t a team that’s having fistfights on the sidelines. This ain’t some clown show organization or something else. You talk about the foundation built, you talk about the things that—the toughest thing to change in a team, the toughest thing to change in a club is the way people think. You understand that? That’s the toughest thing. You can get new players, you can’t get out of your damn locker room all you want, you got to change how people thinking.”
—Judge refutes the idea that the New York Giants are a “clown show organization” because the team does not get into fistfights on the sidelines. The two most recent fistfights to occur in the NFL happened between Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp of the Los Angeles Rams (who won the NFC West, hold the second seed in their conference, and beat the Giants earlier this season) and Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne of the Washington Football Team (who have a better record than New York and also have a win over the Giants this season).
“So the fans are—and we go back to the first part, the fans are every bit right to ask what you’re asking. 100%. OK? 100%. I get about a dozen emails a day, all right, six of which ask me exactly what you’re asking, the other six offer full support the other way. OK? To me, both are great. Both are great. OK? Both are great.”
—Judge then insinuates he is constantly receiving emails from fans both praising and criticizing his performance as head coach. In either case, how did Giants fans get Judge’s email?
“Talking about building from the ground up, building the right thing. OK. Now, you guys ain’t been in the building for two years now with this coach, right, but I’ll tell you right now, all right, if you’re in the damn building, you walk on through our locker room, you ain’t seeing that crap you saw before. All right? You ain’t seeing guys planning vacations, you ain’t seeing golf clubs in front of players’ locker. You ain’t seeing that stuff. OK? You ain’t seeing it.”
—Judge mentions that one sign that the team is still mentally checked in is the fact that no one is discussing vacations and there are no golf clubs in the locker room. It should be noted that there are very few places to play quality golf in the New York/New Jersey area in January.
“I can tell you we got more players here who are going to be free agents next year, all right, who are in my office every day begging to come back. OK? I know that.”
“(There are players) who we coached last year that still calling me twice a week talking about how much they wish they were still here and they’re getting paid more somewhere else. OK? So I know we’ve got the right foundational pieces there. I know we have some players in key positions who are guys that you can build with and keep carrying on. All right? I know we got the right temperament. I know we got the right culture in terms of teaching the players.”
—Judge states that players set to hit free agency in 2022 have already begged Judge for the opportunity to return. On top of that, Judge states that players who left last year wish they had stayed to play under him. Of the seven players the Giants lost to free agency, five are currently on teams that have either already clinched playoff berths or are still in contention for a playoff spot. (Giants.com)
A BOY CAN DREAM
“That’s a pretty loaded scenario. That is an all-time coffee shop scenario. I feel like I’m with my buddies at the University of Dayton. I think we all respect the game and the NFL shield and the integrity of this game far too much to be complicit in something like that. This game matters too much to too many people, and we want to play our best and be proud of the result one way or another. We’re going to do everything we can to go win this game, and play the way we’re capable of playing. I hope all the fans and everybody who loves the NFL will be proud of the game on Sunday.”
—Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley has unfortunately shot down the opportunity to make NFL history. If the Indianapolis Colts lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, both the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders would make the playoffs if their Sunday Night Football matchup ended in a tie. Several have floated out the idea that, in the event of a Jaguars win, both the Chargers and Raiders take turns kneeling for 70 straight minutes to ensure their playoff berths. (The Rich Eisen Show)
Reporter 1: “I think you ended up with more yards than [Patrick] Mahomes had passing yards.”
Ja’Marr Chase: “Did I? What’d he have? I don’t think I did that. Ain’t no way.”
Reporter 2: “259 to 266.”
Reporter 1: “You did.”
Chase: “I did? Oh sh*t. Aw, sorry. Excuse my profanity.”
Reporter 1: “Well, you answered my question.”
—After setting the single-game rookie receiving record, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase found out that he had also single-handedly out-gained Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during the Bengals’ 34-31 win. Chase finished the afternoon with 11 receptions on 12 targets for 266 yards and three touchdowns. (B/R Gridiron via Twitter)
“I put the ball in harm’s way too much tonight. I feel like the kid that did nothing on the group project but got an A today.”
—Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen chose to focus more on his three interceptions than his two rushing touchdowns when reflecting on the Bills’ 29-15 win over the Atlanta Falcons. (NFL on FOX via Twitter)
EVEN GREENER BAY
“The grass is greener where you water it. I really believe that. And you know, that’s an adage to dissuade people from going out and taking risk and chances, and you know, I think that where you spend your time and energy and what you choose to water will always be the greenest part of your life. I decided when I came back that I was going to be all in with the team and all in to see things move forward to a better place. And that’s what the conversations were about, you know, during the offseason, was about being a part of those conversations that impact my ability to do my job. And I, you know, from one of the first days, Brian [Gutekunst] and I sat it down and got on the same page and it has been a really nice Fall and Winter. I appreciate his approach, how it’s been, and it has been very meaningful to me. So I’m thankful for that relationship, where it’s at at this point, and that has made my life that much more enjoyable. So I gotta give Brian a lot of credit for meeting me in the middle.”
—After months of speculation about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ plans this upcoming offseason, his latest comments may signal that he has repaired his relationship with Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and could be content remaining in Green Bay. (Adam Schein Podcast)
I HAVE SEEN ENOUGH
“I see him everyday.”
—Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer shot down any chance that rookie quarterback Kellen Mond would see the field during their Week 18 game against the Chicago Bears. (Courtney Cronin, ESPN via Twitter)
“I just meant [Mond] is the third-team quarterback. I mean, he has improved. He has improved throughout the year. He’s got a chance to be a good player, but he’s third on the depth chart. So I kind of knew that. … You guys ask me those questions 10 minutes after the game, too. So that’s part of it as well.”
—Zimmer clarifies his comments after several outlets took the quote as a slight to Mond. (USA Today)
BIG BEN’S BIG SEND-OFF
“Um, you know what, it’s funny because, probably not the way you wanted it, other than the win. And that’s all that really matters. That has kind of been the story of my career. It’s not always pretty, but we find a way. Man, did our defense step up tonight and the guys, it was just so much fun to be out here. These are the best fans in sports and this is the best place to play.”
—Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger held back tears while bidding farewell to Heinz Field after the Steelers’ 26-14 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. (NFL.com)
HISTORY? THAT’S OLD NEWS
“We’re in a new age of football here. We’re playing 17 games of football a year, and a lot of the stuff that happened before that, those records hold a different weight, being that they were played in those 16 games.”
“What those guys did in 16 games, it wouldn’t seem right to, I don’t know, for those to be broken in 17 games. It wouldn’t hold the same weight to me as it does for guys that have done that in a 16-game season and the accomplishments those guys had, and the seasons they put together. Those are incredible things, incredible accomplishments. You kind of have to separate the two.”
—Despite being in a position to break multiple receiving records this Sunday, Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp does not believe those records would hold the same weight as previous ones because of the 17th game added to this year’s schedule. With 1,829 receiving yards and 138 receptions, Kupp would have the opportunity to set both the single-season receptions and receiving yardage marks in Week 18. Kupp also has the chance to become the fourth-ever “triple crown” winner by leading the league in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, joining Jerry Rice (1990), Sterling Sharpe (1992), and Steve Smith (2005). (ESPN)
“The first year or two, I used to do big individual goals: ‘X’ amount of sacks, TFLs [tackles for loss], all that stuff. But it adds too much pressure. You start chasing and all that stuff. And now it’s just trying to affect every game the best that I can. … It has been working for me. So I’m not really looking at goals like that anymore, just trying to be a game-wrecker.”
—Pittsburgh Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt is completely unfazed by the fact that he sits just one sack behind Michal Strahan’s single-season record of 22.5. (Washington Post)
90% OF FOOTBALL IS PLAYED BETWEEN THE EARS
“Since I have been here, they have had our number. It is frustrating, but they don’t have mind control over us, nothing like that if that’s what you’re asking. It’s just how the games have went. But we are going out there confident on Sunday. We’re not going out there thinking, ‘Ah, man, we’ve lost this many games.’ That is not our mindset at all. We’re definitely going out there confident.”
—Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey will not allow the San Francisco 49ers to win the mental battle before their matchup on Sunday. The 49ers are 5-0 in their last five matchups with Los Angeles, winning each game by 10 points on average. (NFL.com)
NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS
“Let’s not put this season to bed yet. If we win this game, we just need a three-game parlay.”
—Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale hasn’t counted his team out of the playoffs just yet. In addition to a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens would also need the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers to lose. (Jeff Zrebiec, The Athletic via Twitter)
“I run from [George] Kittle after a good play because he will not change how he hits people no matter what, whether they have pads on or not. Best thing is to avoid Kittle when that happens because he is an injury waiting to happen.”
—San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan steers clear of tight end George Kittle at all costs after plays in the event he gets mistaken for a tackling dummy. (Jennifer Lee Chan, NBCSports via Twitter)
THIS WEEK IN SOCIAL MEDIA
WHO KNEW SNOOP DOGG COULD EVEN GET MAD?
—ESPN’s ManningCast cut away from real football momentarily to watch Snoop Dogg ragequit in Madden.
REVENGE OF THE GRIDDY
charvarius ward hit the griddy just to get mossed by Jamarr Chase 2 plays later lol pic.twitter.com/hPz4Nliw2Q
— MF⚜️(expecting another playoff loss) (@GOATED_WF) January 2, 2022
—Live by the Griddy, die by the Griddy.