SAINTS’ KAMARA SUSPENDED FOR 3 GAMES, APOLOGIZES FOR ROLE IN 2022 FIGHT, THANKS GOODELL FOR MEETING
METAIRIE, La. (AP) Saints star running back Alvin Kamara and Colts defensive back Chris Lammons each have been suspended for three regular-season games by the NFL because of their involvement in a February 2022 fight in Las Vegas.
The NFL released its decision on Friday, two days after Kamara was excused from training camp to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Kamara and Lammons pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges last month in a deal with prosecutors in Las Vegas that avoided trial and potential jail time.
Kamara has been one of New Orleans’ most productive players as a rusher and receiver since being named offensive rookie of the year for the 2017 season.
Speaking after practice Friday, but before the suspension had been announced, Kamara was contrite and expressed a desire to make wiser decisions going forward.
“I never want to be involved in something where someone gets hurt or severely injured or anything. Poor judgment on my end, definitely a bad decision,” Kamara said. “I was completely wrong, embarrassed the Saints, embarrassed my family, my mother. Embarrassed myself.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough,” Kamara continued. “I’ve lost a lot throughout this ordeal. I’m definitely not looking for any pity and not looking for somebody to give me a pat on the back and say, ‘It’s OK.’ I know what I did. … And I definitely take responsibility. That’s part of being a man and growing. From here, I just got to make the right decisions and make the right choices.”
Noting that he was out at 5 a.m. when the fight occurred on the eve of that season’s Pro Bowl, Kamara said he’d begun making a series of unwise choices well before the altercation and would have been better served by following former NFL coach Tony Dungy’s advice to players that they not to stay out past midnight.
Kamara thanked Goodell for meeting with him on Thursday and said his visit went well.
“I think we got accomplished what we needed to get accomplished,” he said. “Happy I got a chance to do that.”
But Kamara declined to go into detail about what he discussed with the commissioner. Goodell has not commented on the meeting and NFL communications staff also have declined to comment.
Kamara played throughout the 2022 season while the NFL waited for a resolution to his and Lammons’ court case.
The two players were accused, along with two other defendants, of beating Darnell Greene Jr., of Houston, unconscious following an altercation that spilled out of an elevator and into a hallway.
Kamara and Lammons pleaded no contest on July 11 to misdemeanors and agreed to each pay just more than $100,000 toward Greene’s medical costs. The plea agreements came in conjunction with a settlement of a civil case Greene filed. Financial terms of that deal remain undisclosed.
Under the NFL’s player conduct policy, the league office may issue suspensions for conduct that is “illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL.”
A conviction is not required for the NFL to suspend a player. The league reserves the right to take an independent view of available evidence, which in Kamara’s case, includes security video of the fight.
In 15 games last season, Kamara gained 1,387 yards from scrimmage – 897 rushing and 490 receiving. He scored two TDs rushing and caught two scoring passes.
For his career, Kamara has 8,888 yards from scrimmage (5,135 rushing, 3,753 receiving) and has scored 71 TDs (49 rushing, 22 receiving).
Before Friday, Kamara had not done any interviews since training camp began last week because he wasn’t ready to publicly revisit his trouble in Las Vegas.
“It’s hanging over you,” Kamara recounted. “Obviously, it’s self-inflicted. But nonetheless, it’s still something that’s, you know, it’s like a dark cloud. … It’s hard to kind of enjoy some of the smaller things.”
Now, Kamara said, he’s comfortable – for the first time in about a year and a half – opening up publicly about past mistakes and moving forward productively.
He said he felt like he “just had like a little boost in practice. I just felt better, like a weight was off.”
CHIEFS DE CHARLES OMENIHU SUSPENDED 6 GAMES FOR VIOLATING PERSONAL CONDUCT POLICY
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) Chiefs defensive end Charles Omenihu was suspended Friday for the first six games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy following an alleged domestic violence incident in January.
Omenihu was playing for the 49ers when police were called to his San Jose home for a report of domestic violence, according to the San Jose Police Department. A woman who said she was Omenihu’s girlfriend told officers that he had “pushed her to the ground during an argument,” though there were no visible injuries and she declined medical treatment.
Omenihu has participated in the entire offseason program with the Chiefs, who signed him to a two-year deal that could be worth up to $20 million to help replace departed pass rushers Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap. Omenihu remains eligible to participate in the Chiefs’ three preseason games but cannot play until Week 7.
Omenihu started three games and appeared in 17 for San Francisco last season. He had 4 1/2 sacks.
SEAHAWKS RECEIVER DEE ESKRIDGE SUSPENDED 6 GAMES FOR VIOLATING PERSONAL CONDUCT POLICY
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Dee Eskridge was suspended Friday for the first six games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy following a domestic violence incident last offseason.
Eskridge will be permitted to participate in all preseason games and practices but will have to leave the team before the start of the regular season. He will be permitted to return to the active roster on Monday, Oct. 23, following Seattle’s Week 7 game against Arizona.
Eskridge’s representatives released a statement Friday saying that he had been arrested on misdemeanor charges following an incident with his child’s mother in February, and that Eskridge — whose first name is D’Wayne — has entered into a therapy program where the charges will be dismissed following completion.
“Dwayne entered into an agreement whereby the misdemeanor charges will be dismissed in 12 months when he completes domestic violence moral recognition therapy. Dwayne has already enrolled in and has begun therapy. Dwayne has not been convicted of any crime. He entered into this agreement because it is in the best interest of his family. Dwayne deeply regrets any embarrassment this incident has caused his family, the Seahawks and the NFL,” the statement said.
In a statement, the Seahawks say they are following “league and law enforcement protocol.”
Eskridge was a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2021 draft, but he has struggled to stay on the field because of injuries. He played in 20 of 34 regular-season games in his two seasons and has a combined 17 receptions and one touchdown. Eskridge was in line to be the No. 4 wide receiver in Seattle’s offense this season after the team drafted Jaxson Smith-Njigba in the first round.
SAINTS CAREER SACKS LEADER CAMERON JORDAN AGREES TO 2-YEAR EXTENSION
METAIRIE, La. (AP) New Orleans Saints career sacks leader Cameron Jordan has agreed to a two-year contract extension that could keep him with his only NFL club through a 15th season.
“Luckily, I don’t think I’ll ever have to see myself being anything other than black and gold,” Jordan said Friday at a news conference attended by his wife, four children and father Steve Jordan, a former Pro Bowl tight end with Minnesota.
Becoming a pro football star in New Orleans “has become an extension of who I am,” Jordan added, noting that “all our friends that have become like family throughout the years” live in the area.
A first-round draft choice out of California in 2011, Jordan is entering the final season of a three-year, $52.5 million extension he signed in 2019. The eight-time Pro Bowl defensive end’s contract for the next two seasons is reportedly worth $27.5 million.
While it’s common for NFL stars seeking contract extensions to hold out, the 34-year-old Jordan participated fully in the first seven practices of training camp. Only when his deal was done did he finally accept a veteran’s day off from practice Friday.
“For me, it’s all about: What can I do to get better? What can I do to hone my craft? This is the time period to do so,” Jordan said. “This is what I look forward to. I’m looking to hone my craft and inflict some damage.”
Last season, the 6-foot-4, 287-pound Jordan led the Saints with 8 1/2 sacks, giving him a career total of 115 1/2, eclipsing Pro Football Hall of Famer Ricky Jackson’s 115 with the club.
In 12 seasons, Jordan also has 15 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries and two interceptions, one for a touchdown.
“He just demonstrates everything that we’re about,” said coach Dennis Allen, a former Saints defensive coordinator who still calls the defense during games. “He still plays at a very productive rate.
“I still think he’s the best well-rounded defensive end in our league in terms of just being able to play the run and rush the passer,” Allen added. “And there’s still plenty of snaps in that guy.”
Meanwhile, Jordan has been extraordinarily durable, missing just two of 194 career regular-season games. He has not missed any of the Saints’ 11 postseason games during his career.
“When I got drafted, I was like, ’All right, I got to make a Pro Bowl,’” Jordan said.
“After that it has all been lagniappe,” Jordan added, using a Louisiana French Creole word for a bonus, or extra gift. “I know one mode and that’s to go as hard as I can.”
The new contract overlaps the next Super Bowl to be played in New Orleans after the 2024 season, and Jordan mentioned that he was hoping to have the rare opportunity to play for a championship in his NFL home.
Jordan also reflected on numerous school visits and other community service efforts that strengthened his ties to New Orleans, and noted how the Saints, including owner Gayle Benson, had supported and participated in such projects.
“That’s been a reason why I wanted to stay in the building,” Jordan said.
And Jordan said he appreciated public comments Saints general manager Mickey Loomis made this past offseason about wanting him to finish his career with the Saints.
“When the love is reciprocated,” Jordan said, “it feels good.”
BENGALS LB LOGAN WILSON 4-YEAR EXTENSION WORTH UP $37.25 MILLION, PERSON FAMILIAR WITH DEAL SAYS
(AP) — Linebacker Logan Wilson has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals worth up to $37.25 million, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t announced the deal.
Wilson, a third-round pick in 2020, has averaged 112 tackles over the past two seasons. He has seven interceptions, 4 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles in three years.
The Bengals have given Wilson and defensive end Trey Hendrickson extensions. Quarterback Joe Burrow is next. He’s due to receive what may end up being the richest contract in NFL history.
CARDINALS SIGN RB MARLON MACK TO 1-YEAR CONTRACT
The Arizona Cardinals signed veteran running back Marlon Mack to a one-year contract on Friday.
Financial terms were not disclosed for Mack, who joins a running back room in Arizona that features James Conner. It also has Keaontay Ingram, Corey Clement, Ty’Son Williams and rookie Emari Demercado.
Mack, 27, played in eight games last season split between the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. He logged five snaps on special teams with the 49ers before totaling 16 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown and eight catches for 99 yards and a score with the Broncos.
Mack ran for a career-best 1,091 yards with eight touchdowns in 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts. He has rushed for 2,568 career yards and 21 touchdowns in 55 games (23 starts) for the Colts, 49ers and Broncos. He also has 65 career receptions for 547 yards and three scores.
Also on Friday, the Cardinals released long snapper Jack Coco.
Coco, 24, played 17 games last season with the Green Bay Packers. He was released by the Packers on May 8 and signed with the Cardinals on July 25.
TEXANS PLACE C SCOTT QUESSENBERRY (KNEE) ON INJURED RESERVE
The Houston Texans placed starting center Scott Quessenberry on injured reserve Friday.
Quessenberry is reportedly out for the season after sustaining a torn ACL and MCL on Thursday during training camp practice at Houston Methodist Training Center.
Juice Scruggs is in line to start in place of Quessenberry, who started 16 games last season for the Texans. The 28-year-old Quessenberry has played in 79 career games (26 starts) with the Los Angeles Chargers and Houston.
Also on Friday, the Texans signed offensive lineman DJ Scaife to their 90-man roster.
Scaife, 23, had signed with the Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers since going undrafted out of Miami this year.
EAGLES LB PATRICK JOHNSON EXITS PRACTICE WITH LEG INJURY
Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Patrick Johnson was carted off the field during Friday’s practice.
He went down during a drill and grabbed his left leg before being helped to the cart.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported it was a potentially season-ending knee injury for the third-year player.
Johnson, 25, has played primarily on special teams since the Eagles drafted him in the seventh round in 2021.
He has recorded 28 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 33 career games (two starts).
FALCONS CB JEFF OKUDAH CARTED OFF FIELD
Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah was carted off the field with an apparent leg injury at Friday’s practice.
The severity of the injury was not immediately known for Okudah, who was defending wide receiver Frank Darby during a 1-on-1 drill.
Okudah was the No. 3 overall pick by the Detroit Lions in 2020 out of Ohio State, where he was the first Buckeyes cornerback to earn unanimous All-America honors.
The Lions’ offseason signings of projected starters Cam Sutton and Emmanuel Moseley made Okudah expendable and Detroit dealt him to Atlanta in April for a fifth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Okudah, 24, is entering the final season of his four-year, $33.5 million rookie contract and will be eligible for free agency after the season.
Okudah played in just 10 games (seven starts) combined in his first two seasons, slowed as a rookie by hamstring and core muscle injuries. He suffered a ruptured Achilles on the first day of the 2021 season.
In 2022, he played in 15 games (all starts) and tallied 73 tackles, seven passes defensed, an interception, a forced fumble and his first NFL touchdown.
BEARS SIGN TE MARCEDES LEWIS
Tight end Marcedes Lewis will play his 18th season as a member of the Chicago Bears, agreeing to a one-year deal on Friday.
Lewis, 39, was a first-round pick in 2006 and spent the past five seasons with the Green Bay Packers after 12 years in Jacksonville.
Last season, Lewis caught six passes — two for touchdowns.
By playing in Year 18, Lewis becomes the only tight end in NFL history to play beyond a 17th season (Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten).
Regarded as a top blocking tight end, Lewis knows the roots of the Chicago offensive scheme from his time in Green Bay with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
Former Packers tight end Robert Tonyan, also now a member of the Bears, was Lewis’ teammate in Green Bay.
Lewis has played in 251 career games (221 starts) with 432 catches for 5,084 yards and 39 touchdowns in his career.
SEAHAWKS RUNNING BACK GROUP TAKES ANOTHER HIT AS ROOKIE KENNY MCINTOSH SPRAINS KNEE
SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Seahawks rookie running back Kenny McIntosh suffered a sprained knee in the team’s mock game on Friday night, another hit to a position group thinned by injuries early in training camp.
McIntosh was injured when he was pulled down awkwardly early in the second half of the scrimmage. He walked off the field on his own before being taken into an examination tent by the team’s medical staff.
McIntosh emerged after several minutes and later had a large wrap placed around his left knee. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he didn’t know about the severity of the injury.
McIntosh was one of two injuries sustained during the scrimmage. Undrafted rookie defensive back Andrew Whitaker from Division III Washington University left on a cart with a knee injury after getting hurt during a punt.
“We’ll see how those guys come out of their tests and all. We’ll check them out tomorrow,” Carroll said.
McIntosh is the bigger worry because of depth concerns.
Starter Ken Walker III has been slowed the past week by a groin injury and Seattle has no intention of rushing him back before the start of the regular season. Rookie second round pick Zach Charbonnet missed a handful of days of practice with a shoulder injury, but returned to practice on Thursday. Even veteran Deejay Dallas is a little banged up with a sore ankle, Carroll said.
“We have a bunch of guys on the roster right now. Fortunately, it’s not too much of a burden yet,” Carroll said. “Charbonnet is coming back. He’s fine, so we’re excited to see that. (Walker) he’s not going to be out for a long time.”
McIntosh, a seventh-round pick out of Georgia, flashed for Seattle both in the offseason program and in the early days of training camp as the injuries created more opportunity for him to work with the starters. McIntosh seemed to be working into a role as a possible third-down back for Seattle early in the season because of his ability as a pass catcher and was likely to get a significant amount of work in the preseason opener against Minnesota next Thursday.
Earlier this week, Carroll called McIntosh one of the highlights of camp.
“I want to take advantage of each and every opportunity I get to go out there and show the coaches my capabilities,” McIntosh said earlier this week. “I want to show them that I’m smart enough and physical enough to get the job done.”
NFL RESPONSE TO CONGRESSWOMAN INCLUDES CALL FOR MORE FEDERAL ATTENTION TO ILLEGAL GAMBLING
The NFL has responded to a Nevada congresswoman’s inquiries about the league’s gambling policies with a letter that includes a call for lawmakers and law enforcement to pay additional attention to illegal gambling and put more resources toward combating it.
The NFL’s letter to U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat who is co-chair of the bipartisan gaming caucus, highlights the league’s recent efforts to increase education for its approximately 17,000 players, coaches, team personnel and others about the league’s gambling rules.
“There is no higher principle at the NFL than safeguarding the integrity of the game,” NFL vice president of public policy and government affairs Jonathan Nabavi wrote in the letter, which is dated Friday and was obtained by The Associated Press. The league also pointed to its relationships with integrity monitoring services to help identify and address violations of its policies.
But while those efforts are geared toward the legal sports betting market, the letter said, the NFL believes “Congress and the federal government have a unique role to play in bringing enforcement actions against illegal operators” and noted that it has been “working to highlight the importance of federal engagement in this area.”
“We believe that additional attention and resources are needed from lawmakers and law-enforcement to address the illicit sports betting market, which still has the power of incumbency,” Nabavi wrote.
In her June 15 letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Titus asked the league for a rundown of its policies following a rash of recent gambling-related suspensions by the league.
“When players get suspended and coaches get fired, that means the system is working. The goal, however, should be to stop these bets before they are placed,” Titus wrote.
On Friday, Titus released a statement critical of the NFL’s response to her request, saying it didn’t provide an answer on the number of active investigations the NFL has into suspicious sports betting activity.
“With legal sports betting on the rise, it is more important than ever to maintain the integrity of games for players, bettors, and bookmakers,” Titus’ statement said. “That’s why I wrote all the leagues asking for information on their internal policies concerning betting, including education and enforcement. It’s very disappointing that the NFL has declined to answer our questions and instead pivoted to illegal sports betting generally in their response. It makes one wonder what they are trying to hide.”
She also reached out to the leaders in the NBA, MLB and NHL as well as the NCAA and other leagues. In the NCAA’s response to Titus last month, NCAA President Charlie Baker reported it has found 175 infractions of its sports-betting policy since 2018 and has 17 active investigations.
The NFL’s response focused on its own policies.
The NFL prohibits employees and players from betting on their own games. In addition, players and personnel are not allowed to engage in gambling in NFL facilities, disclose any nonpublic NFL information, enter a sportsbook during the NFL season, or maintain any social, business or personal relationships with sports gamblers.
But they can place non-sports wagers at legally operated casinos and horse or dog racing tracks on their personal time, including during the season.
Over the past two years, 11 NFL players have been suspended for gambling policy violations.
The causes have ranged from players who placed wagers on their own teams while not participating to players who have not abided by the league’s prohibition on betting on sports while at team facilities.
FORMER BROWNS QB JOHNNY MANZIEL REVEALS IN DOCUMENTARY HE TRIED TO COMMIT SUICIDE AT END OF ‘BENDER’
CLEVELAND (AP) Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel revealed in an upcoming documentary that he tried to commit suicide after being cut by the team in 2016.
Manziel, who was drafted by the Browns in 2014 following a wildly successful college career at Texas A&M, said in the Netflix documentary “Untold: Johnny Football” that a drug addiction contributed to his downfall.
Manziel said he lost 40 pounds after going on a “$5 million bender.” He was also in legal trouble at the time on charges he allegedly hit and threatened his then-girlfriend.
At his low point, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner tried to end his life.
“I had planned to do everything I wanted to do at that point in my life, spend as much money as I possibly could and then my plan was to take my life,” Manziel said in the documentary, which is scheduled to be released next week. “I wanted to get as bad as humanly possible to where it made sense, and it made it seem like an excuse and an out for me.”
Manziel said when he pulled the trigger the gun malfunctioned.
“Still to this day, don’t know what happened. But the gun just clicked on me,” he said.
Manziel was released by the Browns in 2016 after playing 14 games in two seasons.
The 30-year-old tried several comebacks but never returned to the NFL.
BEARS GREAT STEVE MCMICHAEL, WHO HAS ALS, IN INTENSIVE CARE WITH SEPSIS AND PNEUMONIA
CHICAGO (AP) — Steve McMichael, a star defensive tackle on the Chicago Bears’ famed 1985 Super Bowl championship team who has ALS, was in intensive care because of sepsis and pneumonia, his wife said Friday.
Misty McMichael wrote in an Instagram post that her husband was hospitalized on Thursday night.
McMichael spent 13 of his 15 seasons with the Bears and was an All-Pro in 1985 and 1987. He played in a franchise-record 191 consecutive games from 1981 to 1993 and ranks second to Richard Dent on the Bears’ all-time sacks list with 92 1/2. His final season was with Green Bay in 1994.
McMichael is one of 12 players whose final appearance was no later than 1998 in the mix to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next year. That list will be whittled down to as many as three by the selection committee, and the finalists will be part of the 2024 class if they are supported by at least 80% of voters next January.
Whether he was terrorizing opponents or discussing the Bears on sports talk radio, the man known as “Ming The Merciless” and “Mongo” after the character in “Blazing Saddles” who knocked out a horse, remained a prominent presence in Chicago long after his playing days ended. He also spent five years in professional wrestling in the late 1990s.
REPORTS: COWBOYS GIVE S MALIK HOOKER 3-YEAR, $24M EXTENSION
The Dallas Cowboys awarded safety Malik Hooker a three-year extension worth up to $24 million, multiple media outlets reported on Friday.
Hooker’s deal will include an $8 million signing bonus and $16.5 million guaranteed, according to the reports.
Hooker, 27, is entering his third season with Dallas after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts, who made him the 15th overall pick of the 2017 draft.
Hooker matched his career high with three interceptions last season and made a career-best 62 tackles over 16 games (six starts) with the Cowboys. In 67 career games (44 starts), he has tallied 230 tackles, 11 interceptions, 16 passes defensed and three fumble recoveries.
The Cowboys have locked up three important defensive backs to long-term deals this offseason. After signing safety Donovan Wilson to a three-year, $21 million deal in March, they gave two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Trevon Diggs a five-year pact worth $97 million last month as training camp began.