5 Big Stories in the NFL This Week
Wow, just as the playoff picture starts to come into focus, there’s an explosion of headlines involving: a coaching change; bad behavior on the field; a major injury scare; and good works in the community.
Here’s our list of “5 Big Stories in the NFL” heading into Week 14.
Ryan Kang via AP
New York Giants Fire Head Coach and General Manager
Are the Cowboys (6-6) walking into a trap game this Sunday when they travel to Met Life Stadium to take on the 2-10 Giants?
On Monday, the Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese. Defensive coordinator Steve Spanuolo takes over as interim head coach and Eli Manning is expected to be back in the starting lineup after being benched during Sunday’s loss to the Raiders in favor of Geno Smith.
Injury Scare for Steelers Linebacker in Monday Night Football Game
Early in the 1st quarter of the Steelers’ win in Cincinnati on Monday Night Football, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a back injury which required a trip to the hospital where he remains for observation.
Frank Victores via AP
Shazier lowered his head as he tackled Bengals receiver Josh Malone. Shazier was able to move his arms and hands, but his lower body was not moving. He was carted off the field on a back board. Everyone feared the worst. Teammates were told after the game that Shazier suffered a spinal contusion which included swelling.
Early Tuesday morning Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert announced: “Ryan’s injury will not require surgery as this time, and he continues to improve. He will stay (in Cincinnati) overnight to continue evaluations.”
Adrian Kraus via AP
Gronk Suspended for Sunday’s Game
Patriots superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski received a 1-game suspension from the NFL for a dangerous cheap shot on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White who was on the ground after intercepting a pass.
White, who was face-down, suffered a concussion when Gronkowski, leading with his forearm, launched himself into the back of White’s helmet.
It was a violent, dirty, bush league hit for which Gronkowski was penalized for unnecessary roughness but not ejected from the game. The NFL announced on Monday, however, that Gronk will have to sit out the Patriots-Dolphins game this coming Monday night. White is now in concussion protocol and his availability for Sunday’s Colts-Bills game will be determined later this week.
Gronk apologized after the game, but his explanation of feeling frustrated after the interception fell on deaf ears. It was a dirty play and there’s no question he should have been ejected from the game as well as suspended for at least the one game. He’s appealing the suspension, by the way.
If at First You Don’t Succeed
The Detroit Lions have not played at the Pontiac Silverdome since 2001. The stadium, which also served as home of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, has needed the wrecking ball for many years. A demolitions crew was set to bring down part of the building on Sunday morning. Thousands of onlookers braved frigid temperatures to watch the implosion. But some of the explosive charges failed to detonate…and like many of the Lions’ seasons inside the stadium, the event was a dud. The failure was due to wiring issues.
On Monday morning, the explosive crews tried again. And the upper levels of the old building were successful demolished.
The Lions’ current season is partially imploded. The Lions lost 44-20 at Baltimore on Sunday. The Lions are now 6-6, four games behind the Vikings in the NFC North. The Packers beat the Bucs on Sunday to improve to 6-6 and move into a second place tie with the Lions.
J.J. Watt Earns Major Award for Work After Hurricane Harvey
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Houston Astros second basemen Jose Altuve have been named co-Sportspersons of the Year by Sports Illustrated in recognition of athletic achievement as well as off-field sportsmanship.
Watt and Altuve, two sports heroes in the Bayou City, stepped-up to help their city recover after Hurricane Harvey’s devastating flood water ravaged the Texas Gulf Coast.
Eric Christian Smith via AP
Watt used social media to set a goal of $200,000 in donations. Within three weeks, donations totaled $37+ million.
Watt has not been able to play for the Texans since early October because of a broken leg, but his contributions to Houston extend beyond the gridiron. October was a huge month for Jose Altuve who lifted the spirits of the entire region as he led the Astros to a World Series win.