NFL

NFL AM: Eric Berry Cleared To Practice

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Chiefs Eric Berry cleared to practice:

The Kansas City Chiefs made an announcement late Tuesday night that is very likely the best news we’ve reported in one of our NFL AM pieces.

“UPDATE: After several rounds of thorough tests, Eric Berry has been cleared for Wednesday morning’s #ChiefsCamp practice.”

While the initial diagnosis for Berry’s Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was that the cancer was “very treatable,” there was plenty of concern for Berry’s future in the NFL.

Director of the Emory Lymphoma Program at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, Christopher R. Flowers, released a statement through the Chiefs as they set out to try and cure Berry’s cancer.

“This is a diagnosis that is very treatable and potentially curable with standard chemotherapy approaches,” Flowers said. “The goal of Mr. Berry’s treatment is to cure his lymphoma and we are beginning that treatment now.”

The goal at that moment, had nothing to do with football. Instead, the only concern was returning Berry to a life without cancer. His football career would have to wait, as nobody knew how chemotherapy would affect Berry. If Berry’s football career was to continue, it would have to wait for another day.

That day is today. Berry will join his teammates on the practice field for the first time since his diagnosis, having beaten cancer, and with a whole new prospective on life, and likely football.

Berry is a three-time Pro-Bowler, and has been an ascending player and one of the more exciting and skilled safeties in football since being drafted fifth-overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Berry and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid will address the media about Berry’s triumphant return after Wednesday’s practice.

Roger Goodell upholds Tom Brady’s Four-Game suspension:

After taking his sweet time, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

It was no surprise that Goodell upheld the suspension he levied on Brady, after the commissioner refused to allow someone else to handle the appeals process. However, what was a surprise was the allegation that Tom Brady had the cell phone that Ted Wells had requested the records from, destroyed.

Destroying a cell phone certainly doesn’t make Brady look any more innocent, and it clearly shows a concerted effort not to cooperate with the investigation.

The Patriots and their fans would argue that Brady shouldn’t have had to supply his cell phone to Wells to begin with, but New England fans should know as well as anyone that innocent people don’t destroy physical evidence (See Hernandez, Aaron).

Goodell issued a 20-page decision detailing every misstep by the Patriots and Brady.

“The most significant new information that emerged in connection with the appeal was evidence that on or about March 6, 2015 — the very day that he was interviewed by Mr. (Ted) Wells and his investigated team — Mr. Brady instructed his assistant to destroy the cellphone that he had been using since early 2014, a period that included that AFC Championship Game and the initial weeks of the subsequent investigation,” Goodell wrote.

“During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.”

The NFLPA will appeal the commissioners’ decision, and issued a fiery statement in Brady’s defense, calling Goodell upholding the four-game suspension an “outrageous decision.”

“The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors,” the NFLPA said in a statement.

This is obviously just the beginning of the Brady – NFL saga, as the appeal and the court of public opinion are still in the balance.

“We are extremely disappointed in today’s ruling by Commissioner Goodell,” the Patriots said in a statement. “We cannot comprehend the league’s position in this matter. Most would agree that the penalties levied originally were excessive and unprecedented, especially in light of the fact that the league has no hard evidence of wrongdoing. We continue to unequivocally believe in and support Tom Brady.

“We also believe that the laws of science continue to underscore the folly of this entire ordeal. Given all of this, it is incomprehensible as to why the league is attempting to destroy the reputation of one of its greatest players and representatives.”

It’s understandable that the Patriots are frustrated by the penalty for what is a pretty minor infraction, but as is often the case, the cover-up was worse than the crime, and the Patriots are frankly naïve if they don’t understand why others look their way with a crooked eye.

This isn’t the first time they’ve left themselves open to questions about whether or not they’re trying to stack the deck.

The assumption that the NFL wants to destroy Brady’s reputation is laughable. The league can’t give the impression that they won’t penalize great players because of who they are, but it’s unquestionable that the league’s approach to marketing is to celebrate their all-time greats.

This is the NFL, not the WWE. The National Football League isn’t in the business of creating heels.

Todd Gurley passes physical, will start Rams camp on active roster:

When Todd Gurley tore his ACL less than nine months ago, there was concern it would cause the Georgia Bulldogs back to fall out of the first round of the NFL draft, and possibly even cause the tailback to miss some of his rookie season.

The St. Louis Rams, who selected Gurley 10th overall, alleviating the first concern, announced via their website that the latter would be unlikely as well.

As late as a week ago, it was widely expected that the rookie back would start Rams training camp on the non-football injury list, but that will not be the case, as Gurley will begin camp on the active roster after passing his physical.

The Rams are very excited to get Gurley on the field, but when you select a tailback as high as 10th-overall (Gurley and Melvin Gordon were first backs taken in Round-1 since 2012), there needs to be some career longevity to justify it. St. Louis may want to build their offense around Gurley and a strong rushing attack, but the team must not rush Gurley into action and cause him to re-injure that knee.

Adrian Peterson returned from an ACL injury a couple of years ago, and set the world on fire. As we’ve witnessed both before Peterson’s injury and since his return, AP isn’t like everyone else. While players are returning from ACL injuries faster than ever, very few have returned with anywhere near the kind of success that Peterson did.

Many players don’t feel like themselves again until the second year returning from a torn ACL. For that reason alone, the Rams should take it slowly with Gurley, and rely heavily on capable second-year back Tre Mason, especially early in the season.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.