Jaguars’ Hiring of Chris Doyle Called ‘Unacceptable’ by Fritz Pollard Alliance


An organization that promotes diversity in the N.F.L. on Friday criticized the Jacksonville Jaguars’ recent hiring of Chris Doyle, who left the University of Iowa’s football staff last year after a number of current and former Hawkeyes players said he had fostered a culture of bullying and racism.A statement from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which is named for the first Black head coach in the N.F.L., said the Jaguars’ decision to make Doyle their director of sports performance was “simply unacceptable.”“Doyle’s departure from the University of Iowa reflected a tenure riddled with poor judgment and mistreatment of Black players,” Rod Graves, the executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said in the statement. “His conduct should be as disqualifying for the N.F.L. as it was for University of Iowa.”Doyle, who was Iowa’s strength and conditioning coach, reached a separation agreement with the university in June, ending two decades of work there.The Jaguars announced on Thursday that Doyle had joined the staff of Urban Meyer, who was named Jacksonville’s head coach last month. Meyer, who won two college national championships as the head coach at Florida and one at Ohio State, has not coached since 2018 and has never worked in the N.F.L. before.The hiring of Doyle, who is white, comes at a time of intense scrutiny of the N.F.L.’s hiring practices and questions about whether minority candidates for coaching jobs have equal opportunities to be hired.“I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years,” Meyer said on Thursday when questioned about hiring someone who had been accused of mistreating Black athletes. Doyle was the strength coach at the University of Utah in the late 1990s, a few years before Meyer was hired as the head coach there.“Urban Meyer’s statement, ‘I’ve known Chris for close to 20 years,’ reflects the good ol’ boy network that is precisely the reason there is such a disparity in employment opportunities for Black coaches,” Graves said in the statement.Neither the N.F.L. nor the Jaguars responded to a request for comment on the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s statement.During a news conference last week, N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he was not satisfied with the rate at which coaches of color have been hired in the N.F.L., which has 32 teams.“It wasn’t what we expected,” he said of the diversity in the round of hirings after the 2020 season, “and it’s not what we expect going forward.”Of the seven head coaches hired since the end of the regular season, just two were nonwhite. Last year one of five head coaching jobs went to a minority candidate, and the year before just one in eight.Over the last three years 80 percent of head coaching jobs have gone to white candidates, though players of color made up 69.4 percent of the N.F.L. this season, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.After the Jaguars hired Meyer and General Manager Trent Baalke, who are both white, last month, Graves praised the organization for interviewing several minority candidates and for seeking input from the Fritz Pollard Alliance.“I cannot argue that the process didn’t meet the standard of fair, open and competitive,” Graves told The Florida Times-Union.The hiring of Doyle, however, raised issues beyond the N.F.L.’s commitment to diverse hiring.Before Doyle left Iowa, Emmanuel Rugamba, a former Hawkeyes defensive back, gave multiple examples of the coach demeaning players with negative racial stereotypes. Rugamba said in a tweet that one day after a Black player walked away from Doyle, the coach said, “Why you walking wit all that swagger I’ll put you back on the streets.”James Daniels, a Chicago Bears offensive lineman and a former Hawkeye, tweeted over the summer: “There are too many racial disparities in the Iowa football program. Black players have been treated unfairly for far too long.”Doyle also presided over an off-season workout in 2011 that resulted in the hospitalization of 13 players.

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Marty Schottenheimer, 77, Winning N.F.L. Coach With Four Teams, Dies


After working in real estate following his retirement as a player, he turned to coaching in the N.F.L. He spent two years as the Giants’ linebacker coach and then was their defensive coordinator in 1977. He coached the Detroit Lions’ linebackers for two seasons after that before becoming the Browns’ defensive coordinator. He succeeded Sam Rutigliano as the Browns’ head coach midway through the 1984 season, when they were 1-7.Relying on a power ground game featuring Earnest Bynar and Kevin Mack and the passing of Bernie Kosar, Schottenheimer took the Browns to the American Football Conference final following the 1986 and 1987 seasons, but they lost to the Denver Broncos each time in their bid to reach the Super Bowl.The first time, the quarterback John Elway led the Broncos to a tying touchdown after they took over on their 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter, the sequence that became known as “the drive.” The Browns were then beaten on a field goal in overtime.The next year, in a play that became known as “the fumble,” Bynar was stripped of the football just as he was about to cross the goal line for a potential game-tying touchdown with about a minute left. The Broncos took a safety and ran out the clock for a 38-33 victory.Schottenheimer’s 1988 Browns team went 10-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. At the time, his brother, Kurt, was the team’s defensive coordinator, and when the owner, Art Modell, insisted that he reassign his brother, Schottenheimer quit. He had also resisted Modell’s demand that he hire a new offensive coordinator, having filled that role himself when it become vacant that year.Schottenheimer was the first to admit that he was strong-willed.“Maybe I thought there was a pot of gold somewhere else to be found,” he said in his memoir, “Martyball!” (2012), written with Jeff Flanagan. “But I was stubborn, very stubborn back then. I’ve always been stubborn but much more so when I decided to leave Cleveland.”He then began a 10-season run as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, taking them to the playoffs seven times.

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Super Bowl Viewership Drop in Line With Wider Decrease for N.F.L. and Sports


Sunday’s Super Bowl was watched by just 91.6 million people on CBS, the lowest number of viewers for the game on traditional broadcast television since 2006. A total of 96.4 million people watched when other platforms — like the CBS All Access streaming service and mobile phone apps — were counted, the lowest number of total viewers since 2007.Still, the Super Bowl will surely be the most watched television program of 2021, and the N.F.L. is expected to see a huge increase in television rights fees when it signs several new television distribution agreements over the next year.After peaking at 114 million television viewers in 2015, television ratings for the Super Bowl have declined in five of the past six years. The 9 percent decline in television viewership from last year’s Super Bowl is roughly in line with season-long trends. N.F.L. games were watched this season by 7 percent fewer people than the season before.Many of the necessary ingredients for a bonanza Super Bowl were present. The game featured an intriguing matchup between the two most popular quarterbacks in football, Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. The weather Sunday was freezing across much of the country, which traditionally drives people inside to be entertained by their televisions. But the game itself failed to deliver, all but ending by the third quarter when the Buccaneers led, 31-9, with no fourth-quarter scoring or hint of a competitive game. Viewership is measured as the average of the audience watching at each minute of the game; the longer a game is competitive and viewers stay tuned in, the better.The N.F.L. joins almost every other sport in seeing viewership declines over the past year. The pandemic shut down the sporting world for months in the spring, and when games resumed they frequently lacked energy with few or no fans in the stands. Games were often played on unusual days or at unusual times, disrupting the traditional sports viewership calendar.

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The Crowd, the Quiet, the Cutouts: A Strange Year at the Super Bowl


Times Insider explains who we are and what we do, and delivers behind-the-scenes insights into how our journalism comes together.On Sunday, Benjamin Hoffman was at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., covering his 12th Super Bowl for The New York Times. His first, in 2009, was also in Tampa, But that might be where the similarities stop. Attendance for the game, a lopsided 31-9 win by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Kansas City Chiefs, was limited to a third of the stadium’s capacity, and the normal week of mega events was minimized to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. In a series of emails, Mr. Hoffman, a senior editor on the Sports desk, shared what the game was like from up close. Here is that edited exchange.You’ve covered previous Super Bowls. Those were usually preceded by days of events that gave the game its oversize feeling. What was it like when you arrived in Tampa this year?The entire week felt considerably different. Instead of spending Monday through Friday in hotel conference rooms with players, we were at home talking to them on Zoom. I arrived in Tampa on Friday — typically when a Super Bowl city has reached a fever pitch — and found it to have the feel of much earlier in the week. The various signs of a Super Bowl being in town — the blocked-off streets, the pop-up vendors, the N.F.L. gear being worn everywhere — were there, but the crowds seemed much smaller, and the media gatherings were nonexistent.Did you miss having face-to-face interviews with players and coaches?I think they did the best they could with the Zoom access to players, but nothing can really replicate the middle of a Super Bowl week when some of the media has cleared out and you find yourself in a room of players who would love to talk about the game rather than the off-the-wall questions they’ve spent the first few days of the week answering. The remote access also limited our ability to bounce around between players. A lot of the organic reporting that happens at Super Bowls just by being around people and events was impossible.How was it inside a Super Bowl with limited attendance? Did your senses pick up on anything in a less-than-packed stadium?The second I walked in I could tell just how few people were going to be there because the stands were already full of the corrugated plastic cutouts of fans. The people who were allowed in were spaced out.At first, the regulations about masks and distancing were followed closely, but that waned as the game started. By the second quarter, fans were milling around, many of them maskless, and they were treating the game like a tailgate party, which was pretty heavily influenced by it being the home team playing.The way The Times covers big sporting events has evolved. Online, a live briefing is updated constantly. How has the way a journalist works during the game changed?The live coverage has made everything more immediate, moving up the timeline on everything we do. Dave Anderson, the legendary Times sports columnist, had a famous line when an editor called him mid-game to ask what he was writing about. He said something along the lines of “it hasn’t happened yet.” We can’t work with a strategy like that anymore. We were writing everything as it happened and doing our best to make sense of all of it. In some ways it’s a lot easier — you’re largely writing about what’s in front of you — but the most difficult thing is the nagging feeling that there is a more pulled-back analysis that you’d like to be able to do but you just don’t have the time. Ben Shpigel largely detached to do that analysis, allowing others to do the more immediate stuff.As you mentioned, the Buccaneers won playing in their stadium, the first time that ever happened. Did it feel like a home game?Right up until game time I would have insisted the crowd was around 50-50, as Chiefs fans were being plenty vocal and the teams’ color schemes are fairly similar. But once they started playing it was apparent that it was a Buccaneers crowd. Their touchdowns were greeted with thunderous cheers, and in moments of surprising silence — a stadium that is two-thirds empty can really get quiet — you could hear fans shouting insults at [Chiefs quarterback] Patrick Mahomes. It had to be strangest for the players, because it was the Super Bowl, but in many ways it felt almost like a preseason game.Maybe the N.F.L. had timing and a structural advantage on its side. There are fewer games and less travel, for example. But are you surprised the league was able to play its entire season?The league got in all 256 regular season games and every playoff game, but there were some major compromises along the way that I’m not sure other leagues would have been willing to make. The most extreme was Denver having to play a game with a practice squad wide receiver at quarterback, but there were other issues, like the Browns playing the Jets with no wide receivers and the Saints playing a game with just one running back. The Steelers, thanks to an outbreak on the Tennessee Titans, essentially played the entire season without a bye week. So while I’ll absolutely credit the N.F.L. with working hard to make the season happen, I think they have perhaps overstated how smoothly the whole thing went.

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At the Super Bowl, the N.F.L.’s Social Message Is Muddled


The N.F.L. likes to project power and precision. Sideline catches are scrutinized with zoom lenses, first downs are measured in inches and Air Force jets fly over stadiums just as “The Star-Spangled Banner” reaches its peak.But when it comes to topics like race, health and safety, the league’s certainty dissolves into a series of mixed messages.That was the case on Sunday at the Super Bowl, the N.F.L.’s crowning game, which is typically watched by about 100 million viewers in the United States. The championship game provides the league a massive platform each year to promote itself as America’s corporate do-gooder, with the best interests of its enormous fan base at heart. That was harder to do this year as the country remained roiled by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has exacerbated festering political division and racial unrest, issues the N.FL. had to plow past to complete its season.On Sunday, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., the N.F.L. trumpeted its support for the fight against social injustice. The national anthem was performed by two musicians, one Black and one white. The poet Amanda Gorman, who wowed the country with her recitation at President Biden’s inauguration, read an ode to the three honorary captains — a teacher, a nurse and a soldier — frontline workers in different fields. The TV announcers spoke often of the work that the league and the players have done to battle racial inequities.Yet, moments later, when the Kansas City Chiefs took the field, the N.F.L. played a recording in the reduced capacity stadium of the made-up war cry that is a team custom. The prompt got fans to swing their arms in a “tomahawk chop,” an act that many find disrespectful and a perpetuation of racist stereotypes of the nation’s first people. Last week, the Kansas City Indian Center, a social service agency, put up two billboards in the city that read, ‘Change the name and stop the chop!”“At the start of the game it was all unify, unify, unify, and then there’s this racist chant,” said Louis Moore, an associate professor of history at Grand Valley State University who studies connections between race and sports. “Eight months after George Floyd, and you’ve done all this stuff, letting players put phrases on the backs of their helmets, giving workers a paid holiday for Juneteenth. They are putting a corporate Band-Aid on a problem instead of dealing with it.”Moore pointed to other inconvenient realities that were either dismissed, ignored or obscured by the relentless messaging.There was scant mention of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has not played since the 2016 season, when he began kneeling during the national anthem to shine a light on police brutality.That led to a sharp, viral rebuke on Twitter from the singer Mariah Carey.There was little talk of the league’s abysmal record hiring people of color as head coaches and general managers even as television cameras showed the Chiefs’ successful offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, who is Black and has been unable to land a head coaching position in multiple hiring cycles.Before the game, CBS Sports showed a segment that featured Viola Davis, the Academy Award-winning actress, saluting Kenny Washington, a Black player who in 1946 reintegrated the N.F.L., which had an unofficial color barrier for 13 years.Yet there was no discussion of a lawsuit brought by two former N.F.L. players who accuse the league of rigging the concussion settlement to make it harder for Black players to receive payments.The league spent considerable time lauding nurses and other health care workers on the front lines who have been helping fight the coronavirus. It had invited 7,500 vaccinated workers to the game, a signal to Americans that if you, too, get inoculated, you will be able to safely attend big events like the Super Bowl.Not discussed was that just hosting the Super Bowl could lead to a spike in the number of infections. Sure, the N.F.L. provided fans at the game with face masks and hand sanitizer, but little if any contact tracing was done to monitor exposure. Tracking infected fans will be made all the more difficult as people return to their homes in all corners of the country.The Super Bowl, American sports’ biggest party, is not confined to TV and phone screens. The week of events leading up to the game was a magnet for tens of thousands of fans who attended parties or flocked to Tampa’s bars and restaurants, often unmasked. In the aftermath of the home team’s victory, mask-less revelers took to the streets of Tampa, an utterly predictable scene that has followed other major championships. Many of the people who celebrated without regard to social distancing or other guidelines will expose others to the virus as they travel home.For all the N.F.L.’s feel-good words and gestures to this moment in American history at the Super Bowl, and its attempts to use football to try to bring the nation together, the league’s carefully crafted message risked being muddled by its actions.

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A Painful Lesson for the Chiefs: It’s Hard to Repeat as Champions


If the Kansas City Chiefs needed a reminder of how difficult it is to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they needed only glance across the field at Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.Brady won a record seventh Super Bowl on Sunday night as the Buccaneers dominated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on their way to a 31-9 victory in Tampa, Fla.He has appeared in 10 of the last 20 Super Bowls. But he has won two in a row just once, in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Like the New England Patriots in the 2017 season and the Seattle Seahawks in the 2014 season, the 2020 Chiefs failed in their bid to win a second straight title.“I think what makes it such a challenge is it is hard to win one Super Bowl,” Brady told reporters last week. “You cannot go buy a football team. You have to develop players.”The Buccaneers, coached by Bruce Arians, had a lot of young talent, but their roster was largely constructed in the off-season when they signed Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette and others.The Chiefs, though, seemed destined to repeat. They finished the regular season with an N.F.L.-best 14-2 record and were favorites heading into the Super Bowl. Their offense looked unstoppable with quarterback Mahomes, last year’s Super Bowl most valuable player, playing well.But before the game, Mahomes acknowledged that parity in the N.F.L. made it difficult for teams to repeat as champions.“I mean, literally, you could be the worst team in the league one year and work all the way up to the Super Bowl the next,” he said.The salary cap, which limits how much money teams can spend on player contracts, is a big reason for that parity. That wasn’t the case decades ago. The Green Bay Packers won the first two Super Bowls in the 1960s, and the Miami Dolphins and the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled repeat wins in the 1970s. (The Steelers did it twice.)Quarterback Joe Montana led the San Francisco 49ers to consecutive titles in the 1980s, and the Dallas Cowboys were repeat champions in the early 1990s. But since the N.F.L. introduced a salary cap in 1994, only the Patriots and John Elway’s Denver Broncos have repeated.As is often the case in the N.F.L., injuries can derail teams in an instant. The Chiefs struggled on Sunday, in part, because they were missing their two starting offensive tackles, including Eric Fisher, one of the best tackles in the game, who missed the Super Bowl after tearing an Achilles’ tendon two weeks ago.Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive guard who has a medical degree, opted out of the 2020 season to work in his native Canada to help combat the coronavirus. Tackle Mitchell Schwartz played only the first six weeks of the season before injuring his back.The Chiefs also faced a last-minute coaching change. Their outside linebackers coach, Britt Reid — the son of the head coach, Andy Reid — missed Sunday’s game after being involved in a car crash in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday night.The Buccaneers took advantage. They sacked Mahomes three times and pressured him on 29 of his 56 drop backs, according to ESPN Stats & Info, the most in Super Bowl history. Mahomes spent most of the game scrambling from defenders behind the line of scrimmage. He threw two interceptions, no touchdowns, and needed 49 passes to accumulate just 270 yards, most of them late in the game.Retaining a roster that has made it to three consecutive A.F.C. championship games will be difficult. The Chiefs are almost $18 million over next year’s salary cap, according to Over the Cap, an independent site that tracks N.F.L. contracts and salaries. A number of key players are free agents, among them receivers Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson, center Austin Reiter and defensive backs Daniel Sorensen and Bashaud Breeland.The Chiefs will face another hurdle: The salary cap, which is based on the league’s total revenue, was about $198 million this season. It could fall to as low as $175 million next season because the league lost billions of dollars in ticket sales during the pandemic.For their part, the Buccaneers will have an estimated $28.9 million in cap space, which will give them room to re-sign players and attract free agents.The Chiefs will, however, retain Mahomes, a transcendent quarterback who signed a 10-year contract last summer worth up to $500 million. At only 25, he has many years ahead — barring injury — to match Brady, Elway, Montana, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Bob Griese and Bart Starr as quarterbacks who have won back-to-back Super Bowls.After the game, a downtrodden Mahomes acknowledged the difficulty of winning in the N.F.L. “When we joined together we knew it wasn’t going to always be successful and we weren’t going to be able to win a thousand championships in a row,” he said. “We knew we would go through times like this, through adversity.”

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Tom Brady’s Super Bowl Win Is a Familiar End to an Odd Season


Mahomes had won 16 of 17 starts this season, but he and his team collapsed amid a deluge of penalties, drops and pressure from the Buccaneers, who, exploiting the Chiefs’ diluted offensive line, reveled in it, inflicted it, even embraced it. At halftime, Mahomes had 67 yards, and Kansas City trailed by 15 points, tied for its largest deficit of the Mahomes era, according to Pro Football Reference.The only other time Mahomes’s team had been behind by that many points across his three seasons as Kansas City’s starter occurred in October 2018, in a loss to Brady at New England. Brady spent two decades there, where he and Belichick were the immovable objects of the postseason, winning six championships as the most famous quarterback-coach tandem of this generation.What Belichick must have been wondering Sunday night as New England wept, watching Brady throw each touchdown to a former Patriots teammate — two to Rob Gronkowski, who came out of retirement for the chance to play again with his old pal, and one, just before halftime, to Antonio Brown.Brady’s time in New England will forever be a part of him, but now he wears a skull and crossbones on his helmet, can dress in shorts to practice in the winter and reports to a 68-year-old coach, Bruce Arians, who, coming out of retirement to coach the Buccaneers, represents the stylistic antithesis of Belichick. When asked recently about pursuing Brady during the off-season, Arians responded with a rhetorical question: “Do you sit and live in a closet trying to be safe, or are you going to have some fun?”Brady’s arrival in Tampa reflected a certain harmonic convergence, a confluence of foresight, audacity and serendipity largely alien to the Buccaneers, who hadn’t won a playoff game since capturing their only title in the 2002 season. Their quest was nicknamed Operation Shoeless Joe Jackson, a wink to the prophesy from the movie “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come.” Brady valued how General Manager Jason Licht had assembled a team that solved problems around him instead of asking him to solve them himself.

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Plethora of unique Super Bowl LV proposition wagers highlighted

Millions of gridiron football fans around the world will undoubtedly be tuning in tomorrow night to watch all of the action as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go up against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
Although most online sportsbooks are offering a plethora of markets on almost every aspect of this National Football League (NFL) championship contest, some others are reportedly opting for more unique routes with proposition wagers on markets as wacky as the length of the pre-game national anthem alongside an over/under on how many television advertisements broadcast during the match will feature a dog.
Sweatband suggestion:
These were just two of the 17 more unique proposition bets highlighted by the news domain at Insider.com on Wednesday as American football fans prepare to watch the ‘Chiefs’ and the ‘Bucs’ battle it out at the latter’s Raymond James Stadium. Other less traditional wagers purportedly involve whether anthem singer Eric Church will be wearing a leather jacket, the color of the headband being sported by star quarterback Patrick Mahomes (pictured) and if the broadcast will have any commercials for a Star Wars film.
Anthem abilities:
The singing of the national anthem seems to be a popular focus as the source also reportedly found sites offering odds on who will sing the last note of the tune penned by Francis Scott Key and whether any of the scoring drives from Sunday night will take less time to complete. There are purportedly also even more bizarre bets on which coach’s nostrils will be the first to feature in the broadcast, will the spread or total of the game be mentioned and how many times NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will be shown.
Half-time histrionics:
American broadcasts of Super Bowl LV are reportedly due to be fronted by NFL analysts Jim Nantz and Tony Romo with sportsbetting aficionados reportedly furthermore able to find odds on whether this latter expert will correctly predict one of the game’s offensive plays. Markets on what color liquid will be poured on the winning coach and what is to be the first song performed by half-time entertainer The Weeknd are likewise purportedly available as are bets on the shade of the Canadian singer’s jacket and whether he will be sporting gloves or head bandages.

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Why Some Women Don’t Want Antonio Brown in the Super Bowl


Get over it.That was the message Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown tried to convey this past week.The past doesn’t matter, he seemed to say. With the Super Bowl upon us, the only concern should be about his ability to catch passes on Sunday.Brown’s preferred talking points were his love for quarterback Tom Brady, his team’s drive to beat the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, and his comeback.That comeback did not involve an injury that eroded his electrifying talent on the field. Those skills have remained sufficiently intact for Brown, 32, to find a plush spot in the N.F.L., in spite of the history he did not want to discuss at a requisite pre-Super Bowl news conference.“I’d be doing a disservice if I talked about things that are not a focus of this game,” he said.Those things include withering verbal abuse aimed at the mother of three of his children and recorded on video. And an accusation of sexual harassment that was described in detail in a national magazine. And a looming lawsuit accusing him of rape, a claim that Brown has vociferously denied.Now, he is one win from a championship ring after off-the-field trouble sent his career into one of the most stunning tumbles experienced by a star athlete in recent memory.Tampa Bay gambled on him in a way that no other team dared, signing Brown to a one-year contract in October after he had been out of the game for a season and a half. The Buccaneers did not heed commentators who, looking at the pattern of trouble around Brown, said he needed time away from the league — possibly for good, but at least until his lawsuit was resolved.The team also chose to look past the #MeToo movement and its fundamental lesson: Women with stories of pain, and of powerlessness in their dealings with famous men, should be heard and taken seriously.Let’s remember that one in four women are subjected to abuse by intimate partners during their lifetimes, according to a government report. Let’s think of what they endure every time they see athletes like Brown, with unresolved accusations around them, take the field.Let’s listen to Brenda Tracy, who describes herself as the survivor of a 1998 gang rape by a group of men that included two Oregon State football players. The players weren’t criminally charged, but they were suspended by the coach for making “a bad choice.” Tracy became an advocate for abused women, working toward change by sharing her story with anyone who will listen. Colleges across the country have hired her to speak to their athletic teams.“I won’t be watching the Super Bowl this year,” she told me. “With Antonio Brown out there, it’s just too much.”Ahead of the big game, Brown characterized himself as a changed man — humbled, grateful, and in control. He spoke in quiet, careful tones. He gave the sense that he sees the accusations as a chance to prove that he can conquer adversity, mostly by catching Brady’s passes.“I want my legacy to be a guy that was persistent, a guy that never gave up, no matter the odds, no matter the hate,” Brown said.What he really wanted was to move on.Let’s not. Let’s look at the claims, made by a personal trainer named Britney Taylor, in the lawsuit.In court filings, Taylor said that Brown assaulted her twice in 2017. She also asserted that Brown raped her in 2018.Through his legal team, the wide receiver has denied the accusations. He has countersued, accusing Taylor of defamation. Brown and Taylor were involved in a “consensual personal relationship,” his lawyer said in a statement.It is important to remember that the court proceedings can still be avoided if the two parties reach a settlement. It is not a criminal trial, in which Brown would face the possibility of prison.But Britney Taylor isn’t alone.In a Sports Illustrated article, an artist made detailed accusations of sexual harassment by Brown. The wide receiver also once targeted the mother of three of his children with a profane tirade and then posted a video of the incident on social media.On Twitter in 2018, he threatened a reporter from ESPN’s The Undefeated who wrote an article about Brown’s thorny personal life and turbocharged social media use. Brown ended up apologizing through a statement: “It is not OK to threaten anyone, and I need to be better spiritually and professionally.”That year he also settled a lawsuit that accused him of throwing heavy furniture from his 14th-floor apartment and nearly hitting a toddler.Brown’s exasperating behavior as a teammate prompted the Pittsburgh Steelers to trade him to the Oakland Raiders in 2019. Just before the start of the season, the Raiders dumped him for similar reasons.He landed briefly in New England, early in Brady’s final season with the Patriots. The lawsuit accusing Brown of rape soon became public, followed by the artist’s accusations of harassment. His third employer of that year cut him loose.Brady, who said recently that he and Brown had “connected right away” in New England, endorsed Tampa Bay’s decision to bring the receiver aboard midway through this season. When Brown arrived in town, he initially lived in Brady’s home.Yet Brown and the Buccaneers seem like an odd pairing. The team has two full-time female coaches, and there were only eight in the entire league this season. The Women’s Sports Foundation has honored Coach Bruce Arians for supporting women in the N.F.L.But Arians proved that talent matters more than principle.Sadly, that’s too often the bottom line for male stars in major sports. If you are accused of abusing or harassing women and are easy to replace, your job is probably gone. It doesn’t take a conviction, trial or arrest. (See Jared Porter, the former New York Mets general manager who was fired after accusations that he had repeatedly sent inappropriate texts to a female reporter.)If you are a star, well, your entitlement is virtually unlimited.Brown signed with the Buccaneers just after completing an eight-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The reason for that penalty? He had pleaded no contest to burglary and assault charges after a dispute with a truck driver.He had every opportunity to express remorse for that incident this past week. He did not. So again, let’s listen instead to women, to people who won’t be in front of a huge global audience this weekend.Mindy Murphy runs The Spring of Tampa Bay, the largest shelter serving domestic violence survivors in Hillsborough County, home to the Buccaneers.When the N.F.L. tried to change its culture a few years ago, after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was caught striking his fiancée, Murphy helped conduct training with the Buccaneers on abuse.Now she feels disillusioned.Seeing Brown chase a Super Bowl ring is a “disservice to what survivors have experienced,” she said. “When a team in the N.F.L. says, ‘We are going to hire him, and he deserves a second chance,’ or they say, ‘We don’t know for sure what’s happened, because it happened behind closed doors,’ they reinforce the idea that it’s not a good idea to speak up.”Remember that while watching the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, and also remember Brown’s past.

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Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: A Battle of the Ages


Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes function within the same general constructs that have governed the N.F.L. for more than a century — playing on a field measuring 360 by 160 feet, accompanied by 21 other players, trying to gain 10 yards in four downs.Their approaches, though, are a gulf apart, with each quarterback at the pinnacle of styles that define the modern offensive era. Brady, 43, is a pocket passer extraordinaire, an archetype that is waning as teams try to build around dual-threat quarterbacks like Mahomes, 25, who can lead the dynamic offenses that have reimagined how football is played in 2021.For as much as either player seems to be a representative of their generation, a model to be copied, the truth is their singular brilliance cannot be replicated.Brady has won six Super Bowls — and appeared in three others — by shredding defenses with his arm, his eyes, his brain. Mahomes, though, captures what it means to play entertaining football in 2021. He deploys more arm angles than an octopus, dodges defenders with glee and can throw 60 yards off his back foot, skills he has displayed in a bid to become only the second quarterback to win two Super Bowls in his first four seasons.The other? Brady, of course.To understand their distinctive artistry ahead of Super Bowl LV, we evaluated the key points of the difference between how Brady and Mahomes attained their successes this season.Tom Brady flourishes inside the pocket. Patrick Mahomes wreaks havoc outside it.Today’s N.F.L. puts a premium on agile quarterbacks. Gone are the days when a passer could stand still in the pocket behind a protective wall of offensive linemen and not expect to be crushed by defensive linemen and edge rushers.The quarterbacks who flourish against pressure now either launch the ball quickly and with deadeye precision, like Brady, or they evade and elude like Mahomes, extending plays to create lanes to run or pass, stressing defenses with possibility.Mahomes’s improvisational aptitude means opponents don’t know whether he’ll run or pass — only that he can produce special outcomes with both. Defenses pressure quarterbacks to unnerve them and goad them into mistakes, but with Mahomes, the more chaos churns around him, the better he plays.“Once the play breaks down,” Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David said of Mahomes, “he finds a way to make the play happen again.”In the 2020 regular season and playoffs, Mahomes posted a league-best 126.7 passer rating when teams rushed with at least five players, according to the sports data service Sportradar. Against the blitz, Mahomes completed a greater percentage of passes than Brady did (67.3 to 58.9), and he also outshined him in yards per attempt (8.8 to 7.8) and touchdowns (14 to 12) while throwing no interceptions to Brady’s six.Outside of the pocket, Mahomes can throw from anywhere on the field, at any time, using an array of arm slots — sidearm flicks, underhand spirals, even left-handed. Plotted together, the locations from where he throws in the course of a game look like an unfinished paint-by-numbers, scattered from sideline to sideline. By contrast, Brady’s points of release clot in a central location — the pocket, where he is most comfortable and assertive.“I’m a fan of Patrick Mahomes,” Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen said, “but I don’t want Tom to play like him Sunday.”Brady’s throws travel far. Mahomes’s receivers do the same.Brady and Mahomes command the N.F.L.’s two most prolific and explosive passing offenses by targeting their teammates in completely different ways.The Chiefs prefer to maximize their fleet of pass-catchers by spreading out defenses, creating mismatches — and space — for their leading receivers, Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. Loaded with run-pass options, which prod defenders into hesitating or overcommitting because they can’t discern what’s coming, the Chiefs’ offense teems with creativity.Kansas City’s receivers always seem open, and by getting them the ball in space Mahomes enables them to run — and run and run. His average completion netted 5.8 yards after the catch (YAC), fourth in the league, and no matter which position Mahomes threw to, or how long the pass itself traveled, according to Football Outsiders and Sports Info Solutions, his passes led to significantly more YAC than Brady’s.One reason? The Chiefs excel at breaking tackles. Kelce — who ranked second in the league in YAC — broke 26 on receptions, while Hill had 17, according to Football Outsiders and Sports Info Solutions. The top Buccaneers receiver, Mike Evans, broke just seven tackles.The Buccaneers’ taller, refined receivers run their routes and beat their defenders at the moment they’re about to grab the ball, so a significant share of Brady’s passing yards are accrued when the receiver makes the catch itself. His 7.3 yards per reception at the catch ranked second in the N.F.L., according to Sportradar, echoing Coach Bruce Arians’s “no risk it, no biscuit” philosophy.Brady signed with Tampa Bay in March amid conjecture that he couldn’t throw deep regularly anymore. When Christensen, his new quarterbacks coach, watched film of him before the Buccaneers pursued him in free agency, he came away positive that Brady had the arm strength, and the downfield accuracy, to thrive in their field-stretching offense.Improving as the season progressed, Brady led the league in attempts, completions and touchdowns — and interceptions — on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air, according to Sportradar. However, Mahomes was more efficient downfield than Brady, completing a greater percentage of passes (36 to 34.1) with nine touchdowns and no interceptions.“We faced so many deep coverages with teams, where they’re taking way all our deep throws,” Mahomes said. “I had to learn when to just to take what’s underneath, and that’s something where I’ve kind of grown and matured.”Both Brady and Mahomes can change the game quickly.Three-tenths of a second. The difference is imperceptible to the naked eye but that’s how much more time, on average, Mahomes takes than Brady to throw the ball.Brady’s average release time of 2.4 seconds, according to Pro Football Focus, reflects what Arians called his “fast-twitch reactionary” brain. Before the ball is snapped, Brady anticipates defenses so well, and gets such outstanding protection from his offensive line, that he is able to get rid of the ball at the third-fastest rate in the N.F.L. among qualified quarterbacks (those who took half their team’s drop-backs) even as he throws deep passes regularly.Mahomes’s average release takes 2.68 seconds, but the Chiefs’ offense is loaded with plays meant for him to unleash the ball in under 2.5. When he does so, Mahomes completes 78.9 percent of his throws (to Brady’s 55.9) with a passer rating of 119.9 (to Brady’s 98.4).Those differences in delivery inform which routes Brady and Mahomes connect with in the passing game. The two share the same three most-frequent routes to throw to, according to Football Outsiders and Sports Info Solutions — curls, flies and outs — just in different incidences. Mahomes threw to curl routes 111 times this season, with Brady showing less impartiality among the three.But they then diverged, with Brady preferring digs and finding a greater variety of deep routes while Mahomes fancied mayhem, completing 45 passes when the designed play was a busted and he had to freelance. For Brady, broken plays didn’t even crack his top 10 most favored routes.“There’s no throw he can’t make, and there’s no throw he won’t make,” Buccaneers cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross said of Mahomes. “You think it’s not going to come your way and it will come your way.”Produced by Meg Felling and Dave Horn.

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