Tommie Harris: My greatest loss

    Former OU standout Tommie Harris (91) began his NFL career with the Chicago Bears. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)


    Players Tribune

    Feb. 16, 2017

    We had just stepped off the plane in Austin when the guy slipped me his card.

    “If you ever need anything,” he said, “don’t hesitate to call.”

    I didn’t really think anything of it. I got a lot of cards passed my way during my career. It’s part of being an NFL player. Financial advisors, entrepreneurs, salesmen of all kinds — it didn’t matter what they were selling or what kind of business they were in, they’d drop me a card. When you have money, everybody wants a piece.

    This card came from a guy who owned a private jet company. We had happened to sit next to each other on a flight from Chicago and we started talking.

    It was February 10, 2012, four days before Valentine’s Day. The jet guy had told me about his business, and I had told him about my NFL career and how the last year had been tough. After three Pro Bowls and a trip to the Super Bowl with the Bears, they released me. I caught on with the Colts, but was cut just a month later. Then I signed with the Chargers, where I spent the 2011 season as a fill-in guy — not the kind of role I had played in Chicago. Now, I was a free agent, looking to extend my NFL career.

    I also told him about my family. About my three-year-old son, Tyson, and my four-month-old daughter, Tinsley. About my wife, Ashley, who had gone back home to Oklahoma to finally have a routine medical procedure that she had been putting off. I was on my way to my hometown of Killeen, Texas, to visit my sister before flying to Oklahoma to meet Ashley for Valentine’s Day, our first as a married couple. We had been married 40 days earlier, on New Year’s Day.

    Despite being uncertain about my future in the NFL, I was the happiest I had ever been.

    When we got off the plane, the jet guy and I shook hands and went our separate ways. As I made my way to baggage claim, I got a phone call from an Oklahoma area code.

    “Tommie,” the voice said, “you need to get to Oklahoma right now.”


    “Your wife has stopped breathing.”

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    NFL Draft grades: Wait a minute, no one failed?



    April 29, 2017

    If you are reading this, you know I like to pick things apart. Drafts, situational coaching and players -- you name it.

    But somehow, as I did the grades for this year's NFL Draft, I had to stop for a second because I think many teams did a good job handling their board.

    I didn't give out one "F" this year. I handed out five "A" grades.

    What is wrong with me? Call me Mr. Softy.

    The five teams that earned "A" grades in my mind were the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers and -- surprise, surprise -- the Cleveland Browns.

    As chic as it has become to rip the Browns, there is no denying they did a great job with their draft. They had a lot of picks and made the most of those picks, with the only knock being trading back into the first round to take Michigan safety/hybrid player Jabrill Peppers. That was a reach, but they did a nice job the rest of the way.

    They ended up with three first-round picks, landing Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, Peppers with the 25th pick and Miami tight end David Njoku with the 29th pick. They moved up to get both Peppers and Njoku thanks to extra draft picks they acquired in recent years.

    If second-round quarterback DeShone Kizer is a hit -- and he is talented -- the Browns will look back on this draft as the one that turned around the franchise. That's how good their draft was this year.

    Maybe all those analytics work after all. Or maybe they finally got somebody who can simply put on the tape and find good football players.

    Now here are the rest of the grades:

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    NFL relocation: The winners and losers


    USA Today

    March 28, 2017

    The latest round of NFL stadium drama all began in 2013, when the owner of the St. Louis Rams bought 60 acres of prime estate near the Los Angeles airport.

    What happened next was like a high-stakes game of musical chairs – three teams trying for two spots in L.A. By the time the music stopped on Monday, three cities were left standing empty-handed – St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland.

    But who really won in the end? And is the NFL better off as a business after three teams recently decided to relocate to other cities?

    A look at the winners, losers and future rounds of NFL market intrigue, according to experts consulted by USA TODAY Sports:

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    Dissecting the winners and losers from the NFL Combine

    Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett (Photo by Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)
    The Washington Post

    March 6, 2017

    Each week, The Washington Post’s Mark Maske provides in-depth NFL analysis with “First and 10,” a dissection of the league’s most important developments.

    First and 10: March 6

    First: Winners and losers at the combine

    1. John Ross’s speed | 2. Three-way trade | 3. Cap room
    4. No Jimmy Garoppolo trade? | 5. Expanded playoffs
    6. Competition committee odds and ends | 7. Giants’ spending
    8. Hits on Deshaun Watson | 9. John Lynch’s experience | 10. Sean McVay and Jared Goff


    INDIANAPOLIS — This was the center of the NFL universe for the past week.

    Just about all the key front-office decision-makers and coaches from every NFL team were here to assess draft-eligible college players at the league’s scouting combine. Agents were on hand for an NFL Players Association seminar and might have sneaked in a conversation with a team or two. Members of the competition committee discussed prospective rule changes and held their annual player-safety meeting with NFLPA representatives.

    It in many ways sets the tone for the remainder of the offseason. Here are a few quick thoughts on some of the winners and losers from the week.


    John Ross … The University of Washington wide receiver became the king of the 40-yard dash, clocking 4.22 seconds to break the combine record previously held by Chris Johnson at 4.24 seconds. It didn’t win Ross his own island, since Adidas promised that prize only to a record-breaker wearing its brand of shoes and Ross was wearing Nike. But it certainly made everyone in the league take notice.

    Here’s the thing: Ross can play. He isn’t a track guy who can’t catch. He was thought to be a likely first-round pick even before his exploits this past weekend. Now, one has to wonder if a team with a selection in the upper half of the first round will become fixated on his game-breaking speed.

    Myles Garrett … The Texas A&M pass rusher did nothing to change the notion that he is a very viable option for the Cleveland Browns with the draft’s top overall choice. He ran his 40 in 4.64 seconds. He had a vertical leap of 41 inches. He had 33 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press so he’s plenty strong as well. Just as everyone knew Ross is fast, everyone knew Garrett is wildly athletic. But it never hurts to reinforce it.

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    Peterson allowed to roam free after Vikings let him go

    Photo by The Associated Press
    Pro Football Talk

    Feb. 28, 2017

    The Vikings have decided to allow former NFL Most Valuable Player and Oklahoma All-American running back Adrian Peterson to roam free.

    The team announced they would not pick up the option on his contract for next year, making the veteran running back an unrestricted free agent next week.

    “Adrian is an important part of the Minnesota Vikings organization,” Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. “We will continue to have conversations with his representatives and leave our future options open while determining what is best for both parties moving forward.”

    Not paying Peterson $18 million next season was an easy decision, as he’s 31, only played one full season in the last three and is coming off knee surgery.

    But it’s still a big Band-aid to pull off for a guy who meant so much to the franchise. The statement alludes to some chance of a return, but he’s already been dropping hints about future destinations, or at least places he’d be interested in.

    When asked last month about other Peterson would like to play for last month, he mentioned the Giants, Texans and Buccaneers and it seems his eyes are still on one of those teams.

    The move that would seem to be of the most direct interest to Peterson would be the release of Rashad Jennings, which leaves the Giants with Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen at running back heading into the busier segments of free agency. If the Vikings ultimately take the same route with Peterson that the Giants took with Jennings, it would likely lead to a lot of speculation about Peterson landing in New Jersey.

    Check out this report from Cameron DaSilva of Fox Sports on the top seven teams that should go after AD.

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    Brady seals status as greatest QB ever in Super Bowl LI

    Tom Brady 2017 Superbowl

    Sports Illustrated

    Feb. 7, 2017


    Inside the Patriots’ locker room on Sunday night, Tom Brady sits down at his locker, at once surrounded and alone. He’s oblivious to the teammates who are passing around a bottle of whiskey, emptying its contents in deep gulps, while others spray champagne until bubbly drips from their beards.

    It’s late at NRG Stadium in Houston as the quarterback unstraps the brace around his left knee, tugs off his sweat-drenched championship T-shirt and pauses for 30 seconds that seem to last forever. This brief meditation suggests that he’s channeling some inner Zen to process what just happened: the first overtime and largest comeback in Super Bowl history, his fifth NFL championship, even the awkward congratulatory handshake with Roger Goodell, the commissioner who suspended him for the first four games of 2016 over a bunch of (possibly) underinflated game balls.

    There’s only one problem. Brady cannot find his jersey—the standard white number 12 that in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, against the Falcons, could have been a wizard’s cloak. Brady set championship game records for most passes (62), completions (43) and passing yards (466) in New England’s 34–28 triumph. He accepted the MVP award. And then—poof!—the jersey vanished like Atlanta’s second-half defense. “Someone f------ stole it,” he says, grabbing a patterned gray suit and wading through the crowd toward the showers.

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    Ranking all 51 Super Bowls

    Ranking of Best Super Bowls
    Photograph by Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports

    Feb. 5, 2017


    Where does New England's 25-point comeback fit among the best Super Bowls of all time? John Clayton puts all 51 in order from best to worst.

    1. Super Bowl LI
    New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 28
    Houston, Feb. 5, 2017

    This game had it all: It was the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history -- the Patriots once trailed by 25 -- led by Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history, who threw for 466 yards. It gave Bill Belichick and Brady their fifth championship in seven trips, and it cemented the Patriots as one of the league's top dynasties.

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    Why so defensive, John Elway?

    John Elway hires Vance Joseph
    Denver Post

    Jan. 14, 2017

    Time will tell if Denver Broncos general manager John Elway chose wisely in selecting Vance Joseph as the team’s new head coach. Given his wondrous history with the franchise – which includes six Super Bowls, three Vince Lombardi Trophies, a Hall-of-Fame selection, nine Pro Bowls and a collection of local car dealerships – more success likely awaits Denver’s longtime savior.

    When hiring a coach, a team can either play to its strength or its weakness. Elway played to his team’s strength, which is why he chose Joseph, a defensive assistant coach for 12 NFL seasons and fresh off his one-year stint as defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins.

    Defense is why Denver claimed Super Bowl 50 over the 17-1 Carolina Panthers last season. Let’s face it, without that defense, the Broncos’ record this season would have been somewhere around 4-12 rather than 9-7.

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    NFL Picks: Cowboys, Chiefs vs Packers, Steelers

    Playoff Picks: divisional round steelers chiefs cowboys packersCHRIS BURKE
    Sports Illustrated

    January 13, 2017


    Most people who follow the NFL religiously will tell you that this is the best weekend of the season. It’s the eight best teams (more or less) fighting it out over two days to reach the conference championships.

    Wild Card Weekend, as we all saw last week, can fall apart quickly if the low seeds aren’t up to par, while next week, there are only two games on the docket. This is the final semi-full weekend of football until college and pro teams reconvene late in the summer.

    Saturday’s action (Seattle at Atlanta, Houston at New England) could be interesting. Sunday’s matchups are just about everything football fans could ask for.

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    Broncos Name New Head Coach

    Vance Joseph New Denver Bronco head coachJeff Legwold
    ESPN Senior Writer

    January 12, 2017


    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The second time was a charm for Vance Joseph.

    Joseph, who interviewed for the Broncos' head-coaching job in 2015 when the team hired Gary Kubiak, is the team's choice to be the 16th coach in franchise history, it was announced Wednesday.

    The deal is for four years, and Joseph will be introduced at a news conference on Thursday.

    Joseph, 44, just finished his first season as the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator. The Dolphins were defeated 30-12 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild-card round Sunday

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    New Pacific Pro Football League Details

    The Pacific Pro Football League announced Wednesday its intention to begin play next winter. The development program for players who graduated high school but aren't currently playing in college is expected to feature four teams playing under professional rules. reported information provided by the league, which includes former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey as well as Tom Brady's agent, Don Yee, among the founders, stated the average salary will be around $50,000, with 50 players on each roster.

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    Neal: Falcons are 'Focused on the Now'

    Atlanta Falcons at WorkAndrew Hirsh

    November 23, 2016

    While the Falcons currently sit in first place, the coaches and players are staying focused on short-term goals and avoiding any chatter from the outside.

    Fresh off their bye and in good health, the Falcons returned to practice Monday to begin preparations for their next opponent, the Arizona Cardinals. Atop the NFC South with a 6-4 record, Atlanta is garnering lots of attention as a legitimate playoff contender. Inside the walls of Flowery Branch, however, the players aren’t thinking about what could happen in January.

    Instead, they remain concerned with the work that’s right in front of them.

    “We just got to stay together, take it day by day, focus on today, focus on this practice we’re going through and continue to get better each day,” SS Keanu Neal said. “Just embrace the opportunity and continue to work. Not looking too far to the future, just looking at the now, focused on the now and doing right longer.”

    The Falcons kept this mindset during their week off, as head coach Dan Quinn issued a “club-wide” challenge to find ways to improve. Quinn made sure to connect with his players over the break to discuss this challenge, and by staying productive away from team headquarters, the Falcons were able to hit the ground running on Monday to kick-start a productive week.

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