The mailbag is back! It went on a brief hiatus while I was traveling, and even though I still am now, I wanted to get your questions answered!
Most NFL players do amazing work in the community and don’t get arrested. Why don’t the league and PA simply agree in the next CBA that players who hit women/kids don’t get to play in the NFL? — @AES64
I’m glad you sent this in. The first part of this is absolutely true. The high majority of NFL players are excellent husbands and fathers. They do outstanding work in the community that deserves to get more attention than the bad apples. Sadly, good deeds don’t grab the headlines and therefore aren’t covered as much.
Now to answer the question. The answer is complicated and I’ll try to unpack the layers. I’ll start here: There won’t ever be a rule prohibiting NFL players from employment for hitting women or children. First, innocent until proven guilty is the standard to overcome here, and the NFL isn’t equipped to make that determination.
I’ve long argued the NFL should stay out of investigations, as it never seems to get them correct. The NFL should allow law enforcement to handle them, then render judgment off those investigations. The NFL does not need guilt to suspend, as it’s proven before. However, you’d need guilt to permanently ban players and very few of them end up being found guilty of these crimes in court. You can infer guilt based on evidence but again, that’s not the job of the NFL to determine it.
Also, as I’ve discussed with the Tyreek Hill situation, your talent can outweigh your problem until the problems outweigh the talent. His talent is such that teams will employ him after the Chiefs release him, unless more evidence is unveiled and/or he get’s charged and convicted of a crime. As it stands now, law enforcement has declined to press charges and even though there is damning audio, the NFL shouldn’t be banning players for life because Hill might have done something atrocious.
The solution is for NFL decision makers to take a stand on their own and not give contracts to players with incidents of abuse toward women and/or children. I don’t think we need an absolute rule. We need the leaders of franchise to ignore the talent of the player and focus on the person. I hope that can happen.
Who’s your surprise playoff team in the NFC and AFC this year? — @JoRo_NFL
The Panthers were 6-2 before Cam Newton’s shoulder got hurt, then upgraded the OL and DL in the draft. The Packers continued to build up their defense and now have a new offense for Aaron Rodgers. While it’s just the offseason and I don’t take too much away from quotes, Rodgers seems super excited to be in this new system.
But both those teams don’t strike me as a surprise team. Neither would the 49ers, who are ready for a run with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo.
The surprise in the NFL would the Dallas Cowboys winning their conference, as might (yes might at the moment) be my prediction for the NFC. While I’m not sold on Dak Prescott as an elite quarterback, the rest of the parts are excellent. Zeke Elliott and Amari Cooper are game changers. Randall Cobb was a terrific second-wave signing. Jason Witten is back and so is center Travis Frederick. The Cowboys sorely missed him last season. Plus, the defense was ninth in DVOA and returns the core of that group.
The surprise AFC team is the Steelers. Yes, since the Browns are currently the favorite to win the division, that would make the Steelers a surprise team. Everyone is counting them out and I don’t understand it. You have a Hall of Fame QB who is motivated to show everyone he can play without Antonio Brown, a veteran offensive line that’s outstanding, and a defense that can rush the passer and just added Devin Bush at linebacker.
And they’ve all done it before! They know this feeling. They know what it takes. As I said before, this might be the first time in forever they have the real motivation of people doubting them. I can’t wait to see it.
Do you think some people around the media/league are uncomfortable with a Jewish franchise QB, or am I overthinking this? — @BirgTron
I’ve gotten this question multiple times, so I figured I’d answer it once and for all. I feel I’m qualified to answer this because I’m Jewish. I could be naïve, but I don’t think the criticism of Josh Rosen has any anti-Semitic tinge to it. Rosen often has said Judaism isn’t a big part of his life.
The criticism of Rosen often comes from his coaches, who don’t like a player intellectually challenging them. Remember how his coach at UCLA, Jim Mora, made a stink about Rosen wanting to know “why?” all the time. Now, Rosen has admitted fault in the past for his personality and how his attitude might offend. These are the “issues” with Rosen, not his religion.