Mr. Townsend and the Polish Prince: An American Story of Race, Redemption, and Football.

Mike Gastineau’s new book Mr. Townsend & the Polish Prince: An American story of race, redemption, and football, written with Joe Purzycki, tells the remarkable story of Joe Purzycki, the first-ever white head football coach at a historically black college, and Nelson Townsend, the athletic director who had the courage to hire him.

In November of 1980, Delaware State College lost a football game to Portland State University by the outrageous score of 105 to 0. In the wake of that loss, athletic director Nelson Townsend decided to hire Joe Purzycki as Del State’s new coach. Purzycki was well-known throughout the state of Delaware.

He had been an all-American football player at the University of Delaware and had won a championship as coach of one of the largest high schools in the state. He was young, charismatic, and in Townsend’s eyes the perfect man for the job.

There was only one problem. He was white.

Delaware State is one of dozens of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in America. No HBCU had ever hired a white head football coach until Townsend hired Purzycki in 1981. The news was not well received.

Students staged angry protests, players boycotted his first meeting, 17 scholarship players quit, Purzycki’s office was vandalized, he received death threats, and the student newspaper derisively nicknamed him “the Polish Prince.”

Townsend and Purzycki stayed loyal to one another through two tough seasons as Purzycki slowly turned Delaware State’s football fortunes around. One of the players who helped was a guy who arrived as a transfer at the start of Purzycki’s second season. He was quiet, maybe even shy, and he was so small that both the coach and the AD were worried that he could handle college football. In this excerpt from the new book “Mr. Townsend & the Polish Prince, they not only find out that he could handle college ball, they even eventually learn his name.

From Chapter 22

                               Townsend finished his lunch and began walking across campus on a hot afternoon in the summer of 1982. He needed to get back to his office for a meeting with a student who wanted to transfer to Delaware State and play football.

The player and his parents were visiting Dover to check out the campus and meet with Townsend to see what needed to be done. As he got close to his office, he squinted his eyes to make out three people coming from the opposite direction.

“John?” he asked. “Alice? Is that you?”

Indeed, it was. John Taylor and his wife Alice had been Townsend’s classmates at Mary N. Smith High School on Virginia’s Eastern Shore in the 1950s. They exchanged hugs and hellos and laughed the way you do when you unexpectedly bump into someone you haven’t seen for a long time. Eventually, Townsend asked them what they were doing at Delaware State.

“This is my son, JT,” Taylor said. “He’s transferring here this fall and we’re supposed to meet the athletic director and the football coach.”

Townsend laughed at the series of coincidences unfolding in front of him. “I’m the athletic director,” he said as he introduced himself to JT. “Let’s head over to the office and I’ll introduce you to Coach Purzycki.”

His friend’s son was small and as they all talked, Purzycki and Townsend exchanged glances of concern as to whether he was big enough to play college football. He had attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte in 1981 but had been cut from the football team during the preseason, which was another red flag. Still, Purzycki was not in a position to turn away players: He needed all the help he could get.

They returned to Townsend’s office and began the paperwork for JT to become a Hornet. When Nelson asked him why he had decided to transfer he explained that he had become homesick and he thought Del State would be a better fit.

John and Alice Taylor’s son hadn’t even planned to go to college. He got a job driving a truck for a liquor warehouse right out of high school. A few months in, he realized he was hanging around his client’s establishments a little too frequently.

“I need to get out of here,” he told his father, “or I’ll end up no good.” His year in Charlotte with the Golden Bulls had been a bust athletically but he got good grades and was able to transfer into Delaware State. The NCAA ruled him eligible to play in the sixth game of the 1982 season, but he could begin practice immediately.

He had been undersized his whole life and the equipment he was issued at Delaware State hung on his body like a trench coat on a toddler.

“My head was so small that I could almost spin my helmet completely around,” he said. “My shoulder pads were way too big, and my pants sagged the way kids began wearing them in the 1990s.”

The first time he walked onto the field for practice he heard other players laughing at him. They also laughed at Ace Comer who took one look at the new guy and piped up, “Who the hell is this reject?”

Soon enough they found out. Taylor was a quiet, likable guy who showed tremendous ability from the start. “You could tell when he walked on the field that he was something special,” said Steven Holiday.

Assistant coach Walt Tullis decided that the J in JT stood for Jake. And Jake Taylor began working with the Hornets’ scout team during practice.

One day, with Purzycki watching, the scout team ran a play that called for Taylor to run a slant from the left side. He ran the route, caught the pass, put a move on his defender, and sped upfield untouched.

“I come back to the huddle and they called the same play to the other side,” he said. “I did the same thing. Caught the ball, put a move on a guy, and ran away from everybody.”

“I remember his speed was just different,” said safety James Niblack. “He’d get on you and he’d pass you. He was small and quiet off the field. But something happened when he put pads on. He became a different animal and he got stronger and faster. It was like he flipped a switch. He was true to his craft and you could tell he was going places. I remember right away thinking he’d make it to the next level.”

Linebacker Mike Colbert remembered something else about Taylor. After watching the new guy scamper past everyone on the defense, Colbert decided to put a stop to it. On the next play, Taylor caught a pass and Colbert zeroed in on him.

“He was a skinny, scrawny little guy,” said Colbert, who would lead the MEAC in tackles that year. “But he was like running into a brick wall. He was the hardest player I ever tried to tackle. He was a beast out there, he was so strong. He was the best player I ever saw.”

Taylor’s debut as a Hornet came during homecoming against Virginia State. Del State trailed 14-7 in the fourth quarter when he got his chance.

“I came into the huddle,” Taylor said, “and Rod Lester (the quarterback) looked at me and said, ‘we’re gonna run that slant pass you like.’”

Just like he had done with the scout team, Taylor caught the ball, made a move and rolled into the end zone for a touchdown to pull the Hornets to within one with about a minute to play. Suddenly, Purzycki was in position for back-to-back wins for the first time as a college coach and he wanted to go for it.

“I don’t want to tie this game,” he yelled at Billings. “I want to win it. Let’s go for two!” Billings concurred that was the right move.

Purzycki shifted into Dutch Uncle mode: “Now Herky, I need a two-point play … and it better be good.”

“I’ve got a two-point play,” Billings replied. “I don’t know how good it is, but I’ve got one.”

It was good enough to work this time (“Barely,” Billings admitted) and lifted Delaware State to a second consecutive victory and third of the season.

The Wilmington News Journal referred to the hero as “seldom-used freshman Jake Taylor,” which was accurate although to be fair, he had only recently become eligible. The touchdown was his first on offense since his days as a pee-wee football star in the Pennsauken Youth Athletic Association (he had been a defensive back in high school).

He would catch three more passes that season and by the end of the year informed everyone that they had been calling him the wrong name all season. For some reason, Tullis got it in his head that Taylor was named Jake.

“Coach,” he said one day in practice. “My name isn’t Jake. It’s John. I’m John Taylor.”

As in John Taylor, who would go on to spend nine seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, earning two Pro Bowls and three Super Bowl rings, and catch the game-winning pass in Super Bowl XXIII in 1989. THAT John Taylor. The one who would be selected to the NFL’s all-decade team in the 1980s.

 

                            Taylor would go on to play four years at Delaware State and establish numerous school records. He still holds the record for receiving yards in a game at the school (223 vs St. Paul’s in 1985) and is third all-time at Delaware State in career receiving yards. Both of those notes are made more remarkable considering Taylor played for a team that ran the Wing-T offense and focused more on running than passing. The two players ahead of him on the all-time list had 201 and 160 receptions in their careers. Taylor rolled up 2426 yards on just 100 career receptions.

Mr. Townsend & the Polish Prince: An American story of race, redemption, and football can be purchased at Amazon.com or requested from your local bookseller.

View the Youtube video of Coach Purzycki talking about the book here.

Shurmur non-committal on Eli Manning as Giants’ starter

Shurmur non-committal on Eli Manning as Giants' starter

Clamoring for

Shurmur non-committal on Eli Manning as Giants’ starter

Clamoring for first-round pick Daniel Jones is intense in New York, and Giants head coach Pat Shurmur did nothing to douse fans ready to see Eli Manning unseated as the starting quarterback.

Speaking Monday at his post mortem press conference after the Giants fell to 0-2, Shurmur didn’t commit to Manning as the starting quarterback for Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1).

“He’s been our starter to this point. I’m not ready to talk about that,” Shurmur said Monday afternoon, adding that the Giants would talk about “everything” moving forward.

“I think that’s fair at this point. To this point what we’ve done hasn’t been good enough.”

Jones was selected with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He sparkled in the preseason, setting up a potential in-season conflict with Manning. Jones was 29-for-34 passing for 416 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions over four preseason games.

“The motivation is to win. Nothing more than that,” Manning said at his locker Monday after being informed of Shurmur’s message. ” … Nothing changes.”

After a loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Shurmur did not want to consider Jones as part of the game plan against the Buccaneers this week. But he shifted course again Monday.

Manning credited the Bills for causing the Giants into long third downs.

“When you’re 0-2, there’s pressure on everybody. You can’t have that affect you. I’ve got to make better throws, better plays, find ways to convert on third downs. That’s the quarterback’s job,” Manning said Sunday, adding that there is some frustration with the team starting 0-2.

“It’s not how you want to start. We’ve got to keep fighting, find ways to play better football. I know we can play better. i know we can do better than what we are,” he said.

Manning was without wide receivers Sterling Shepard (concussion) and Cody Latimer, who entered concussion protocol on Sunday.

“I thought a couple receivers, new guys who’ve been here just a couple of weeks, made some plays,” Manning said.

–Field Level Media

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Saints QB Brees leaves with thumb injury

Saints QB Brees leaves with thumb injury

Saints QB Brees leaves with thumb injury

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees left Sunday’s game against at Los Angeles Rams in the first quarter with an apparent right thumb injury.

Brees hit his right hand on Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald’s right hand while following through on an incomplete pass to Jared Cook on third-and-8 midway through the quarter. He went to the sidelines and tried a couple of throws before getting the thumb taped.

The team officially called it a hand injury and deemed Brees questionable to return.

Teddy Bridgewater entered with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter, and Brees remained on the sideline watching without a helmet.

Brees opened the game 3 of 5 for 38 yards and an interception before leaving.

The 40-year-old has missed just one game due to injury since joining the Saints in 2006, which came in 2015 due to a shoulder issue. He has missed just two other contests of a possible 210 with the Saints, both while resting in Week 17 with the team’s playoff position secure.

–Field Level Media

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WR Bryant targets mid-October return to NFL

WR Bryant targets mid-October return to NFL

Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant hopes to

WR Bryant targets mid-October return to NFL

Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant hopes to resume his NFL career next month.

The 30-year-old veteran tore his right Achilles tendon last November during a practice with the New Orleans Saints.

On Saturday, NFL Network’s Jane Slater shared a video clip of Bryant working out and catching passes.

“Healthy, moving fast and explosive,” receivers coach David Robinson said of Bryant, who hasn’t caught a pass in the NFL since 2017.

“I’m way better than I was before I went to the Saints last year,” Bryant told Slater. “Mid-October is when I’m going to be trying to get back in the league.”

A first-round pick in 2010, Bryant caught 531 passes for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns in 113 games over eight seasons with the Cowboys. He made three Pro Bowls and had three 1,000-yard seasons.

Cut by Dallas in April 2018, Bryant signed with New Orleans on Nov. 8 but landed on injured reserve with the Achilles injury two days later.

–Field Level Media

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Vikings visit Packers seeking NFC North edge

Vikings visit Packers seeking NFC North edge

The Green Bay Packers

Vikings visit Packers seeking NFC North edge

The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings rode stifling defenses to Week 1 victories. On Sunday at Lambeau Field, they’ll battle for early control of the NFC North.

“We know that they’re flying high right now,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of the Vikings, who pounded Atlanta 28-12 in their opener. “They just put a thumping on a really good football team. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

While the Packers have a new coach in LaFleur, it’s the Vikings who have a vastly different approach to offensive football under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and assistant head coach and offensive advisor Gary Kubiak.

Last season under former coordinator John DeFilippo, the Vikings had the fourth-highest pass percentage (64.4 percent) in the NFL. After Week 1 of this season, they have the highest run percentage (79.2 percent). Kirk Cousins threw only 10 passes against the Falcons.

Dalvin Cook ran roughshod behind the Vikings’ revamped offensive line and their new zone scheme. He rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. With rookie Alexander Mattison chipping in 49 yards, the Vikings piled up 172 rushing yards.

“Dalvin, No. 1, he’s a great person,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s a very, very hard worker. He’s a great leader. And then secondly, he’s got outstanding quickness. I’m amazed at his feet — just the way he can scoot through a hole, the way he can pick up his feet, the way he can accelerate, the vision he has and he’s a physical runner.

“You know, quite honestly, he’s always been pretty good. I think the maybe the area he’s improved the most in is catching the football.”

While Minnesota looked sharp in all three phases against the Falcons, Green Bay beat Chicago 10-3 behind a powerful performance by its defense. The Packers, however, will face a bigger challenge against Cook, Cousins and receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.

“I was with (Cousins) in Washington (from 2012-13),” LaFleur said. “If you let him sit back there and have time, he’s going to pick you apart.”

To start 2-0 for the first time since 2015, the Packers are going to need more from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers was just 18 of 30 for 203 yards and one touchdown against the powerful Bears defense. He struggled handling Chicago’s pressure, which is the calling card of Zimmer’s defense.

Zimmer, in fact, has had as much success against Rodgers as any coach in the NFL. The Vikings are 5-1-1 in their last seven games against the Packers, although Rodgers missed one of those and left another early with an injury.

“He’s had our number many times, as well,” Zimmer said. “I don’t really take much stock into that because each week’s a different week, and each game that we play him is always a tough, competitive game.

“He’s a great quarterback, a great leader, can throw the ball anywhere, and the game’s never over until that final gun goes off with him. It’s a sleepless week for me.”

Rodgers isn’t getting a lot of sleep, either, as he goes from facing last year’s top-ranked scoring defense to 2017’s top-ranked scoring defense.

“He’s a great coach,” Rodgers said. “I have a ton of respect for Mike Zimmer and what’s he’s done in this league. I love his demeanor. I have a lot of respect for him and the way him and his staff have gone about their business over the years.

“He obviously presents a really difficult challenge and an even greater challenge when you look at the personnel he’s got to work with, the number of Pro Bowlers on that side of the ball. It’s a tough week. You definitely think about all the different things they can do.”

–Field Level Media

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Bills bullish on 2-0 start, Giants plot Saquon strategy

Bills bullish on 2-0 start, Giants plot Saquon strategy

Bills bullish on 2-0 start, Giants plot Saquon strategy

Not since 2014 have the Buffalo Bills experienced a 2-0 start, and already it’s safe to wonder what in the name of Fred Jackson is happening in upstate New York.

Favored to beat the New York Giants in Week 2, the Bills have the Cincinnati Bengals up next before a Week 4 game with the vaunted New England Patriots, the AFC East warden for most the past two decades.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott reminded his players that Week 1 wasn’t all that pretty. It took 14 points in the fourth quarter and an inept New York Jets kicking game to get to 1-0 after trailing 16-0. It’s the kind of narrative McDermott is planning to spin all week, as the Bills aim to prove their legitimacy, and McDermott leads a fight for respect for what he views as a rising threat in the AFC.

“This is Buffalo man, we don’t get no credit,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said. “We have no reason to think we’re going to win the Super Bowl, because we don’t get any credit outside of here anyways. We’re going to continue to work just like Sean preaches every day.

“We’re not complacent, we understand that it’s going to be a day by day thing. We made mistakes in practice and learn from those before we even get out there on Sunday. So let’s continue to work. No complacency here.”

Buffalo’s run defense brought it against the Jets, allowing 68 yards on 21 carries. But the lead back in the Giants’ backfield is nearing a league of his own. Saquon Barkley had only 11 carries and four receptions last week at Dallas, as the Cowboys put the game out of reach before halftime, but he totaled 139 yards.

The Bills also recorded four sacks in the opener.

Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said the Bills are emphasizing getting everyone to the ball — and moreover, getting tacklers to Barkley.

“We like to emphasize swarm tackling every week so you don’t have to overemphasize when you play an elite talent like Saquon,” Alexander said. “The only way you can get him down is by populating the ball.

“They love getting him (outside) on corners, he has a great spin move, great stiff arm and great burst, so we have to have a lot of guys just swarming to him, because he will make guys miss, and that second and third guy coming in has to clean him up.”

Buffalo is lining up with Frank Gore behind Josh Allen again, but rookie Devin Singletary had 70 yards on four carries last week, flashing the burst that helped the Bills decide LeSean McCoy was expendable. Singletary isn’t making waves about his spot on the depth chart, and said he’ll take every day he can get sharing the running back room with Gore, who had 11 carries for 20 yards last week.

Singletary is recognized for his make-you-miss agility in the open field. Gore recently told Singletary to chill with the wiggle and square up to run in a straight line.

“Coming from college and to the league — to him — I could cut out some of the cuts that I’m making and instead get vertical and trust my speed up, that’s what he means by that,” Singletary said.

The Giants’ depth-chart drama could soon revolve around their QB scenario. Although rookie Daniel Jones fumbled again in mop-up duty in Dallas last week, the prospect of New York beginning the season 0-2 could invite calls for the Giants to turn to Jones over Eli Manning.

Manning and head coach Pat Shurmur said the Giants are stressing urgency over panic.

“There is always urgency, you have to understand the difference between stressing and forcing, and urgency,” Manning said.

Shurmur is unsure if two key starters will go Sunday. Guard Kevin Zeitler (shoulder) and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) might not know their status until Friday, Shurmur said.

In Week 1, Manning found a reliable outlet in tight end Evan Engram, but he expects the Bills to work to take him away this week.

“He can run, he catches, he did a great job in the blocking game,” Manning said. “I think he’s so much more comfortable in the offense, and it’s his second year in the offense and he is doing a great job.”

–Field Level Media

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Falcons’ 1st-rounder McGary returns to practice

Falcons' 1st-rounder McGary returns to practice

Atlanta Falcons rookie offensive lineman Kaleb McGary,

Falcons’ 1st-rounder McGary returns to practice

Atlanta Falcons rookie offensive lineman Kaleb McGary, returning from a heart procedure, went through his first full practice Monday and could play in the team’s final preseason game on Thursday night.

McGary, the No. 31 overall pick in the 2019 draft, mostly worked with the second team at right tackle early in camp before undergoing cardiac ablation on July 31, a procedure designed to correct heart rhythm issues.

The team said McGary previously had two similar procedures, which are considered minimally invasive. NFL teams were aware of his condition before the draft.

“It’s awesome,” he told reporters Monday about being cleared to practice. “It’s been really boring just having to sit in meetings and not getting to do anything in practice. The little bit of gratification you get throughout is gone. It’s been really awesome getting to play again.”

The 6-foot-6, 306-pound McGary played his college ball at Washington and twice was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection. He also won the 2018 Morris Trophy as the conference’s top offensive lineman.

Coach Dan Quinn said he had anticipated McGary to compete for the starting job if healthy throughout camp, and it’s unclear how quickly the rookie can make a move or if he’ll play Thursday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Part of getting ready to play is participating fully in practice and having the confidence to do that,” Quinn said. “We’ll take him all the way through today and tomorrow, but as far as the first day goes, he definitely hit all of the markers that we were hoping to hit. He looked good and felt (like) himself out there, so that was important.”

–Field Level Media

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Packers release former second-round pick S Jones

Packers release former second-round pick S Jones

Packers release former second-round pick S Jones

Safety Josh Jones’ time with the Green Bay Packers has come to an end.

Jones took to social media on Sunday morning to declare that the Packers have informed him of his release. The team made the move official later Sunday, waiving Jones with a non-football illness designation.

“It’s been real Green Bay. The Packers just informed me of my release,” Jones wrote on Twitter.

Jones, who went public in the offseason with his request to be traded, was in for a reduced workload after former Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos signed a four-year contract in March. The Packers also moved up in the 2019 NFL Draft to select former Maryland safety Darnell Savage in the first round.

The 24-year-old Jones recorded 126 tackles, three sacks and an interception in 29 career games since being selected by the Packers in the second round of the 2017 draft. He collected 55 tackles and one sack last season.

Jones hasn’t practiced with the team since Aug. 11 because of an undisclosed illness.

–Field Level Media

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Reports: Lions extend DT Harrison for 1 year, $11M

Reports: Lions extend DT Harrison for 1 year, $11M

The Detroit Lions signed nose tackle

Reports: Lions extend DT Harrison for 1 year, $11M

The Detroit Lions signed nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison to a one-year extension worth $11 million, multiple outlets reported Wednesday.

Harrison, who skipped offseason workouts but reported to training camp without a new deal, had two years remaining on his contract, worth $7 million in 2019 and $9.25 million in 2020. He is now under contract through 2021.

The 30-year-old was acquired by Detroit from the New York Giants before the trade deadline in October, in exchange for a fifth-round pick. He racked up 50 tackles, 3.5 sacks and seven quarterback hits in 10 games with Detroit after totaling 31 tackles, no sacks and one QB hit in seven games with New York.

Harrison has at least 55 tackles in each of his six seasons as a starter in the NFL, including 315 over the last four years. He has led all NFL interior defensive linemen in tackles in each of the last four seasons.

Named first-team All-Pro in 2016 with the Giants, Harrison has nine sacks and 22 QB hits in 102 career games (95 starts).

–Field Level Media

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QB Rosen lets out frustrations over Cardinals deal

QB Rosen lets out frustrations over Cardinals deal

QB Rosen lets out frustrations over Cardinals deal

Now that Josh Rosen has made his move for a fresh start with the Miami Dolphins, the 22-year-old quarterback who experienced a disappointing rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals is ready to start talking. Well, more like trash talking.

Appearing Tuesday on the “The Rich Eisen Show,” Rosen let out his feelings about the organization that gave up on him in favor of grabbing Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“I love everyone in that building with the exception of maybe one or two guys,” Rosen said on the radio show. “I mean, the only thing that truly did kind of frustrate me through this whole process is, like, I still haven’t heard from my old GM (Cardinals general manager Steve Keim). Like, I didn’t talk to him for months before, didn’t talk to him … after.”

If Rosen was upset about being let go by the Cardinals, it had more to do with how it was done than why it was done.

“I was literally in Arizona until the one minute before the draft, I got a call from (new Cardinals coach) Kliff (Kingsbury) saying that they were about to draft Kyler, but I mean, not for a millisecond was I shying away from competition,” Rosen said.

“I have the utmost respect for Kliff. I don’t slight anyone for making business decisions that they think is best for them and their family, but I just really appreciated how he kind of acted like a man and was very respectful, he was wishing me the best. He called me even the day after the draft wishing me good luck, and I wished him good luck. I even gave Kyler a call, sent him a text that said, ‘Good luck, wishing you the best.'”

Keim traded Rosen, the No. 10 overall pick in 2018 out of UCLA, for the 62nd overall pick this year, which the Cardinals used to select receiver Andy Isabella, and a 2020 fifth-round choice.

“For the most part, I’m just ready to put that whole chapter behind me and keep pushing on and playing football,” Rosen said.

Rosen, 22, went 3-10 as a starter for Arizona last year. He completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 2,278 yards with 11 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

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Seahawks sign free agent QB Smith

Seahawks sign free agent QB Smith

The Seattle Seahawks are giving journeyman quarterback

Seahawks sign free agent QB Smith

The Seattle Seahawks are giving journeyman quarterback Geno Smith a shot at backing up the NFL’s highest-paid player.

Seattle signed the 28-year-old on Wednesday and said he will compete with former Denver Broncos first-round pick Paxton Lynch to back up starter Russell Wilson.

The New York Jets’ second-round selection in 2013, Smith joins his fourth NFL team. He was 12-18 as a starter over four seasons with the Jets, lost his only start with the New York Giants in 2017, and attempted just four passes with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018.

In 40 career games, Smith has completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 6,182 yards with 29 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. Smith has also rushed for 661 yards and seven scores.

Lynch, 25, was 1-3 as a Denver starter and completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 792 yards with four touchdowns and four picks. The Broncos cut him last September, and he signed with Seattle in January.

Last month the Seahawks signed Wilson, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, to a contract extension through 2023 that averages $35 million per season.

–Field Level Media

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Broncos, CB Harris agree to new contract

Broncos, CB Harris agree to new contract

Cornerback

Broncos, CB Harris agree to new contract

Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. ended his dispute with the Denver Broncos by agreeing to a new one-year contract on Tuesday.

The deal will allow Harris to still be a free agent following the season. He had been seeking to be paid in the neighborhood of $15 million annually on a multi-year deal.

Harris, a four-time Pro Bowler, was scheduled to make $7.9 million in base salary in 2019 as the final season of a five-year, $42.5 million deal. KUSA-TV reported that he will instead have a base salary of $12.05 million.

“We have a lot of respect for Chris as a player and for everything he’s meant to our organization,” Broncos general manager John Elway said in a statement. “This contract adjustment recognizes his value to our team and the high expectations we have for Chris as a Bronco this season and hopefully for years to come.”

Harris, who turns 30 next month, has 19 interceptions and 80 passes defensed in 123 games (105 starts) over eight seasons with the Broncos. He also has forced five fumbles and posted four fumble recoveries.

Last season, Harris intercepted three passes, returning one for a touchdown. His season was limited to 12 games due to a broken right lower leg in early December.

The 5-foot-10, 199-pound Harris was an undrafted free agent signed out of Kansas in 2011.

–Field Level Media

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Report: Rams reducing Gurley’s role in 2019

Report: Rams reducing Gurley's role in 2019

Report: Rams reducing Gurley’s role in 2019

All-Pro Todd Gurley likely won’t be the workhorse out of the backfield for the Los Angeles Rams this season.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Rams are going to incorporate a number of running backs into the game in 2019, including Darrell Henderson, their third-round draft pick in April.

“The days of Todd Gurley just being the straight-up, every-down bell cow are probably over, just based on his knee, his age, the position, the amount of carries he’s had.” Rapoport said. “…This is a team that is clearly ready to spread the ball around.”

Gurley, entering his fifth season, has carried the ball an average of 260.5 times in each of his first four seasons. In 2018, he missed the final two games of the regular season but still ran 256 times – good for fourth in the NFL. He turns 25 in August.

The running back saw limited action in the NFC championship game and in Super Bowl LIII, carrying the ball just 15 times combined. He hasn’t participated in on-field workouts during offseason practices.

“Of course, Gurley’s knee, the wear and tear on that knee, the surgically repaired knee, is something that everyone knows has been concerning to the team for some time,” Rapoport said. “All they really want is for Gurley to come back when the season begins when it’s really time to go to be 100 percent. What they don’t want is to have all those questions they had leading up the Super Bowl repeat before Week 1.”

–Field Level Media

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PGA Tour adds Bermuda to 2019-20 schedule

PGA Tour adds Bermuda to 2019-20 schedule

The PGA Tour added the island of Bermuda to the 2019-20 schedule, with the Bermuda Championship making its debut from Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2019.

On Tuesday, the tour announced a five-year agreement through 2023 with the Bermuda Tourism Authority as the title sponsor

PGA Tour adds Bermuda to 2019-20 schedule

The PGA Tour added the island of Bermuda to the 2019-20 schedule, with the Bermuda Championship making its debut from Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2019.

On Tuesday, the tour announced a five-year agreement through 2023 with the Bermuda Tourism Authority as the title sponsor of the tour’s first annual event on the Caribbean island.

The tournament held at the Port Royal Golf Course will feature an anticipated field of 120 players and a $3 million purse, with 300 FedExCup points awarded to the champion.

“We are excited to add the Bermuda Championship to the PGA Tour beginning next season,” executive vice president Ty Votaw said in a statement. “Bermuda is an appealing year-round destination, and the players will love visiting in the fall, plus we will be hosted by an outstanding golf course. It promises to be a wonderful opportunity to showcase Bermuda — a beautiful island destination that embodies genuine hospitality — to the world.”

The Bermuda Championship will be played the same week as the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China.

–Field Level Media

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‘Pacman’ jones retires from NFL

'Pacman' jones retires from NFL

Cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones announced his retirement

‘Pacman’ jones retires from NFL

Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones announced his retirement from the NFL after 12 seasons.

The Tennessee Titans selected Jones with the No. 6 overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, and he played in 30 games over his first two seasons. He also played for the Dallas Cowboys (2008), Cincinnati Bengals (2010-17) and Denver Broncos (2018).

The Broncos signed him before the season and released him after he played in seven games.

Jones, 35, has a history of arrests and was plagued by legal issues throughout his career. The NFL suspended him for the 2007 season following a shooting at a Las Vegas strip club that left a man paralyzed. A member of Jones’ entourage was identified as the shooter.

He played the 2009 season in the Canadian Football League.

Jones retires with 17 career interceptions and 522 tackles. He also returned 192 punts for 1,944 yards and five touchdowns, and gained 3,232 yards on 125 kickoff returns.

–Field Level Media

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Brady’s heir? Patriots draft Auburn QB Stidham

Brady's heir? Patriots draft Auburn QB Stidham

Jarrett Stidham became the 10th

Brady’s heir? Patriots draft Auburn QB Stidham

Jarrett Stidham became the 10th quarterback drafted by the New England Patriots since the franchise selected Tom Brady with the 199th pick in 2000.

Stidham, 22, was a two-year starter at Auburn after transferring out of Baylor during the program’s sexual assault scandal. He passed for 36 touchdowns and 5,952 yards in 27 games with the Tigers. The Patriots drafted him 133rd on Saturday and the fourth-round pick will be under contract for four years. He left school with one year of eligibility remaining.

“He’s like a coach on the field. From a coach, you’re on the sideline, and you trust the guy, you give him more freedom,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.

Brady, 42, is in the final year of his contract but says he’s not near retirement. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer’s contract also expires after 2019.

Stidham completed 64.3 percent of his passes and averaged 8.5 yards per attempt. He’s regarded as a heady passer who fits best in a pro-style system at 6-2, 218 pounds.

–Field Level Media

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Detroit Lions draft review

Detroit Lions draft review

Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions draft review

Detroit Lions draft review

1 (8). T.J. Hockenson, TE: 6-5, 251, Iowa

2 (43). Jahlani Tavai, LB: 6-2, 250, Hawaii

3 (81). Will Harris, S: 6-1, 207, Boston College

4 (117). Austin Bryant, DE: 6-4, 271, Clemson

5 (146). Amani Oruwariye, CB: 6-2, 205, Penn St.

6 (184). Travis Fulgham, WR: 6-3, 215, Old Dominion

6 (186). Ty Johnson, RB: 5-11, 210, Maryland

7 (224). Isaac Nauta, TE: 6-3, 244, Georgia

7 (229). PJ Johnson, DT: 6-4, 334, Arizona

Grade: C+

The Lions have been known to reach a tad under GM Bob Quinn — some work out great, like wideout Kenny Golladay — and Tavai and Harris both fit that trend. Both are good players who probably could have been had later on. Still, Hockenson was a great way to start, and Bryant — who fits Matt Patricia’s scheme perfectly — and Oruwariye were nice gets later on.

Best pick: Hockenson played just two years in college but is ready-made for the NFL. He’s already a great blocker who should improve as he adds strength. He shows route-running savvy and sticky hands to be a third-down threat right away, and also has the speed to threaten the seam.

Upside pick: Oruwariye is inconsistent in coverage and mostly poor as a tackler, but he has fantastic tools. At 6-foot-2, he moves fluidly and tested with 4.47 speed and explosive numbers in the vertical (36.5″) and broad jumps (120″). He could thrive with a bit of coaching.

–Field Level Media

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VP Williams: Redskins looking hard at quarterbacks

VP Williams: Redskins looking hard at quarterbacks

Washington

VP Williams: Redskins looking hard at quarterbacks

Washington Redskins senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams made it clear on Monday that the team is still seeking an upgrade at quarterback after trading for Case Keenum last month.

The Redskins, who hold the 15th pick in Thursday’s first round, have been connected to some of the draft’s top quarterback prospects and also to Josh Rosen, whom the Arizona Cardinals could trade if they draft Kyler Murray first overall.

“Case has done a good job over the last couple of years where he’s been, and you know, we needed a quarterback and was able to trade for Case,” Williams told reporters. “But that does not put us out of the realm of picking a quarterback if there’s one there that we like at 15. We don’t know who’s going to be there at 15. We’ve got some guys we do like, and if those guys are there, that’s the discussion that has to be had.

“I’m sure that would come up as a possibility that would happen, with a lot of other players in this draft that could help us. We’ll look at it from that standpoint too. It all depends on the board. Who’s highest on the board at that particular time? If that quarterback is the highest, then we’ve got to pick him. Nine out of 10, it’s going to be the quarterback [if he’s the highest-rated]. But if it’s not, that’s a discussion.”

Washington visited with three of the four consensus top quarterbacks — Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones — while Murray canceled his visit to D.C. The Redskins have also met with Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham and Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson.

Washington acquired Keenum from the Broncos in March for a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks, with the Broncos contributing a portion of Keenum’s salary. He is due just $3.5 million this season.

The Redskins also have Colt McCoy. Incumbent starter Alex Smith’s future is in doubt after he sustained a compound fracture in his leg last year and had multiple surgeries to deal with complications.

–Field Level Media

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Veteran TE Watson might change mind on retiring

Veteran TE Watson might change mind on retiring

Veteran TE Watson might change mind on retiring

Tight end Benjamin Watson, who in December announced he would retire when the season ended, is considering coming back for a 15th NFL season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Watson, who has played four of his previous five seasons with the New Orleans Saints, including last season’s run to the NFC Championship Game, could come back if the circumstances line up correctly, Schefter reported, citing league sources.

In December, Watson said, “It’s time. It’s time to be done. I’m going to finish strong.”

The 38-year-old Watson, a first-round draft pick (32nd overall) of the New England Patriots in 2004, has played 195 games, with 530 receptions for 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns. In 12 postseason games, he has 22 catches for 234 yards and three scores.

Watson’s wife, Kirsten, is expected to give birth to twins next week, and the couple have five children already.

After six seasons in New England (2004-09), Watson played for Cleveland (2010-12), New Orleans (2013-15) and Baltimore (2017) before returning to the Saints.

–Field Level Media

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NFL 2019 schedule hits Wednesday

NFL 2019 schedule hits Wednesday

The NFL will release the 2019 schedule Wednesday night during a televised show on NFL Network, the league announced Tuesday.

The unveiling begins at 8 p.m., and it comes one week before the NFL Draft, which starts April 25.

The NFL previously

NFL 2019 schedule hits Wednesday

The NFL will release the 2019 schedule Wednesday night during a televised show on NFL Network, the league announced Tuesday.

The unveiling begins at 8 p.m., and it comes one week before the NFL Draft, which starts April 25.

The NFL previously announced that the season will kick off Sept. 5 with a game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, a storied rivalry to commemorate the league’s 100th anniversary.

The NFL released the preseason schedule last week.

–Field Level Media

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Kisner, Kuchar advance to Match Play championship

Kisner, Kuchar advance to Match Play championship

Americans

Kisner, Kuchar advance to Match Play championship

Americans Kevin Kisner and Matt Kuchar survived tight matches on Sunday morning in the semifinals to advance to the championship competition of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas.

Kisner defeated Francesco Molinari of Italy 1-up in the first semifinal while Kuchar outlasted Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, also 1-up, in the second final-four match.

Kisner and Kuchar will square off in the title match on Sunday afternoon, while Molinari and Bjerregaard will play in the all-European consolation match.

After competing under mostly warm and benign conditions for the three days of pool play at Austin Country Club and then in wind and drizzle on Saturday for the Round of 16 and quarterfinals on Saturday, the four golfers remaining in the field for the semifinals teed off with chilly temperatures in the low 40s on Sunday morning.

Kisner and Molinari, the reigning British Open champion, traded wins on holes early on throughout their match and were all square after a birdie by Molinari on the par-3 seventh. Kisner took the lead with a birdie on the par-5 12th, and expanded his advantage to 2-up when the Italian bogeyed the 14th.

Molinari then birdied the 16th and 17th holes to knot the match again. Kisner won the match with a par on the 18th when Molinari three-putted from 27 feet.

Kuchar never trailed in his match but also never led by more than 1-up against Bjerregaard, who beat Tiger Woods on Saturday on their final hole to advance to the semifinals.

Bjerregaard squared the match with a birdie on the par-4 15th before Kuchar took the lead for good with a birdie on the par-5 16th. Both players birdied the short par-3 17th, and the American closed out the match with a par on the last.

Twelve of the 16 players that earned berths in the Round of 16 were from counties other than the United States, with a record eight of those players coming from Europe. The quarterfinals featured four Americans, three Europeans and one golfer from South Africa.

–Field Level Media

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