NFL Season Opener

By: Mitch Hughes

Sports fans across the country rejoiced this week as the NFL began its 46th season. The much-anticipated weekend provided fans with nonstop action with sixteen games spanning four days. Though things were just getting started, every game had its fair share of some serious play-making.

On Thursday, September 10, the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the New England Patriots for the first official game of the season. The game was preceded by a good deal of hype surrounding Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady who narrowly escaped a four-game suspension for his alleged role in the team’s “Deflate-gate” scandal in last year’s playoffs. The Super Bowl 45 champion Patriots went on to defeat the Steelers 28-21.

Sunday, September 13 brought with it the majority of the week’s excitement as 13 of the 16 games were played. The Miami Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins 17-10. The Indianapolis Colts fell to the Buffalo Bills 14-27. The New York Jets had a 31-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Houston Texans 27-20. The Carolina Panthers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-9. The St. Louis Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks 34-31 in a very thrilling game. The Green Bay Packers outplayed their conference rivals, the Chicago Cubs 31-23. The Detroit Lions fell to the San Diego Chargers 33-28. The Arizona Cardinals beat the New Orleans Saints 31-19. The Denver Broncos defeated the Baltimore Ravens in a close game. The Oakland Raiders suffered a bruising 13-33 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Tennessee Titans trumped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-14 and the Dallas Cowboys mounted a big comeback to defeat the New York Giants 27-26.

Monday’s games were just as unpredictable as the previous days. The Philadelphia Eagles fell to the Atlanta Falcons 24-26 and the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 20-3. This weekend provided NFL fans with the first real glimpse of how their favorite team will likely perform this season, but the NFL is often as unpredictable as it is exciting so one shouldn’t be too joyful or too concerned because a team’s luck can change in a moment’s notice.

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The NFL Suspends Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson

by Jackie Thompson

On November 18, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodwell suspended the Minnesota Vikings running back, Adrian Peterson, without pay for the remainder of the 2014 season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Earlier in September, Peterson turned himself in east Texas after beating his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch in order to dole out discipline, according to his lawyer. The child suffered cuts and bruising to thighs, back, and one of his testicles.

“A grand jury, having indicted this case, looked at the injuries that were inflicted upon this child and determined that discipline was not reasonable,” Montgomery Country Assistant District Attorney, Phil Grant, said on September 13. Peterson was indicted on a felony charge of child abuse.

The running back’s charges came at tough time for the NFL because of the Ray Rice case, in which a video of the Baltimore Ravens’ player punching his then fiancée, Janay Palmer, was released. Rice faces an indefinite suspension from the NFL as well. The organization was heavily criticized for their very public and irresolute handling of the case.

Critics emerged again on to condemn NFL Commissioner Goodwell’s decision. According to ESPN, Peterson’s attorney Rusty Hardin declared that the decision has cost Peterson his career and that, “It wasn’t child abuse. Nobody that knows him and his children believes he ever intentionally hurts his children.”

In a letter to Peterson, Goodwell defends his decision and expresses concern that Peterson does not “fully appreciate the seriousness” of his actions. “You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct,” the letter said, “When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but…defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you…may feel free to engage in similar acts in the future.”

The Minnesota Vikings claimed running back Ben Tate off waivers on same day  to fill Peterson’s void, only a day after Tate was dropped by the Cleveland Browns.

Colts’ Owner Jim Irsay Arrested

by Emily Engle

Late on Sunday, March 16, Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay was arrested in northern Indianapolis on suspicion of intoxicated driving after he consistently drove slowly, stopped in the middle of roads, and failed to signal turns.  While pulled over, he failed multiple sobriety tests and his vehicle was discovered to contain multiple prescription drugs when it was searched.  Irsay was taken to jail that night, but was released Monday afternoon at 1:30 pm after he posted bond with $22,500 cash.  His court appearance is tentatively set for March 26.

Though he was arrested, formal charges have not yet been filed by the Hamilton County prosecutors’ office.  If charged, Irsay faces 4 felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor of driving while intoxicated.  The felony charges, if he is convicted, each carry a potential sentence of up to 3 years, though actual jail time for Irsay is unlikely, due to his lack of relevant criminal record and the past typical practice in the county.

Beyond legal repercussions, though, Irsay could face penalty from the NFL.  As a team owner, the NFL’s personal conduct policy applies to him as well and he will be “subject to league discipline.”  His team, though, released a statement on Monday announcing that they support him, but they refused to say more until more facts are certain.  Irsay is the seventh Colts player or official to be arrested since January 2010.  In a similar past incident, Detroit Lions’ president Tom Lewand was suspended by the NFL for 30 days, fined, and assigned community service, after he pled guilty to driving while impaired.

Happenings like this are not at all uncommon for Irsay.  He has had a “long history of substance abuse” and has publicly spoken about using drugs and alcohol since he was a teenager.  His troubles have largely come from a genetic predisposition to substance abuse and an incredible amount of wealth and free time.  In 1984, he held an infamous press conference at an airport while obviously drunk as he swore at reporters on live TV.  In 2002, he acknowledged a dependency on painkillers after a difficult surgery, but he claimed to have overcome the problem.  And just recently, in December 2013, Irsay tweeted that he hadn’t consumed alcohol in 15 years.  Sources close to him know this to be untrue.  They’ve recognized for years that he is again struggling with drugs and they have been trying to get him into rehab, but Irsay has refused all help.  Recently, as well, they’ve said he has had an “increasingly gaunt physical appearance” and significant weight loss.  Friends have been quoted that he “desperately needs help” and that they hope this is a “wake-up call” for him.

Irsay was named the Colts’ general manager in 1984.  He succeeded his father as the owner in 1997, after his father’s death.