ABERDEEN, N.J. — Police in New Jersey say a former NFL player threatened someone with a sword during an argument at a youth sports event.
John “Charlie” Rogers Jr. turned himself in to Aberdeen police Monday and was charged with making terroristic threats, stalking and weapons offenses. The Asbury Park Press reports that Rogers was released.
Police say the incident happened at an Oct. 5 meeting for a youth basketball travel team at Matawan-Aberdeen Middle School. Investigators say the 42-year-old Rogers threatened someone with the sword.
Earlier this year, police said Rogers left a threatening voicemail for the parent of a youth football player. Rogers was fired from his job as the offensive coordinator at St. John Vianney High School after the tape was made public.
Rogers was a standout at Matawan Regional High School and attended Georgia Tech. He played five years in the NFL.
General manager John Dorsey will lead the search for the next Cleveland Browns coach, a team spokesman confirmed Wednesday.
The next coach will replace Hue Jackson, who was fired Oct. 29, one day after a loss in Pittsburgh. The final decision on selecting the coach will be made by Dorsey and owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, with Dorsey’s recommendation weighing heavily.
The decision is significant because Jimmy and Dee Haslam led the search to hire Jackson, and Haslam assisted Joe Banner in the search to hire Mike Pettine and Rob Chudzinski. For a variety of reasons, chiefly not enough wins, none of the coaches lasted three years.
Dorsey’s experience in scouting and player personnel give him strong contacts throughout the NFL and in college football. He has not commented yet on how he might go about the search.
In a best-case scenario, the right coach could bring the team together for future success.
The team’s future organizational structure after the new hire has yet to be determined. Haslam previously had it where the coach and GM/VP reported to him. Having the coach report to Dorsey would be an option.
NEW YORK — Giants owner John Mara is unhappy about all aspects of his team’s 1-5 start, and he definitely didn’t enjoy star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.‘s televised interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson two Sundays ago.
“I wish he would create the headlines by his play on the field as opposed to what he says and what he does on the field,” Mara said during a break at the NFL owners meetings here Tuesday. “I think he needs to do a little more playing and a little less talking.”
Beckham signed a five-year, $90 million contract extension with the Giants shortly before the season started.
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN that included rapper Lil Wayne, Beckham vented his frustration over the team’s slow start and the way the offense was functioning, and he even had some comments that didn’t reflect well on starting quarterback Eli Manning. At the time of the interview, the Giants were 1-3. They have lost both of their games since then and are 1-5 for the second season in a row.
“I’m still embarrassed being 1-5,” Mara said. “I can’t stand up here and make any excuses about that. You are what your record says you are, as a wise man once said, and there’s nothing I can say to make people feel better about that. I’m suffering just as much as our fans are, probably more.”
Mara voiced confidence in first-year head coach Pat Shurmur and first-year general manager Dave Gettleman, saying, “I have confidence that we have the right guys in the building to get it to work.”
Asked about his embattled quarterback, Mara seemed to choose his words very carefully.
“I think when you’re 1-5, it generally means that everybody needs to play better, so he’s not alone,” Mara said. “I still… we still believe in him, but everybody needs to do their jobs in order for us to be successful, and right now that’s not happening. I know he’s the punching bag right now, but a lot of guys need to play better when you’re 1-5.”
Mara said he has no regrets about passing on a quarterback and selecting Penn State running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, in spite of Manning’s struggles and the fact that four quarterbacks were selected among this draft’s top 10 picks and five in the first round. Barkley has played brilliantly for the Giants, ranking sixth in the league with 438 rushing yards on 84 carries and ninth in the league (tied for first among running backs) with 40 receptions. He has 373 yards on those 40 catches and two receiving touchdowns to go with four rushing touchdowns.
“We took the best player in the draft,” Mara said. “I’m thrilled with what he’s accomplished so far, and I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
The Giants’ next game is at home Monday Night against the Atlanta Falcons, another disappointing NFC team whose record is 2-4. Mara was asked whether he sees any reason to believe the Giants’ season can turn around.
“I think we’re getting some guys back healthy this week, and hopefully that will give us some more spark,” Mara said. “I think we have more talent on the roster than 1-5, but what does that mean? We’re 1-5.”
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With a four-game losing streak in hand, a pile of mistakes to go around, a meltdown of the team’s run defense with a smattering of bad breaks, Denver Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said Monday it is time to see a team “fighting for our lives” Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Broncos lost Sunday, 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams, Denver’s fourth consecutive loss since a 2-0 start. The Broncos continue to create plenty of their own troubles with penalties and turnovers that have cost them games, including penalties that cost the Broncos seven points Sunday as well as a Case Keenum interception deep in Rams territory that cost the Broncos at least another three points.
Elway, who labeled the team “soft” last November during what eventually became an eight-game losing streak, was asked on the team’s radio partner, Orange and Blue 760, Monday afternoon about the team’s current state of affairs.
“At some point in time we have to play better football…we’re still making the mistakes we shouldn’t make to beat good football teams like the Rams,” Elway said. ” …[It’s] disappointing, that’s for sure.”
Elway then later closed out the roughly eight-minute interview with “hopefully we can…take a mentality into that Thursday night game where we’re fighting for our lives.”
Moments later that prompted a question to coach Vance Joseph in his usual day-after-game media gathering if he took Elway’s comment as Joseph having to fight for his job.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Joseph said. “That’s every coach in this league every week, if you don’t feel that way you’re missing something. So, if we were…5-1 I would feel that way. That doesn’t motivate me, I’m already motivated to win games and fix our football team.”
Joseph also said Monday that “our margin for error is very small,” Joseph said. “We can’t make the normal football mistakes, for example Sunday our offense would have had 10 more points without the penalties … right now, where we are, we cannot make mistakes.”
Elway said the Broncos are going to dig themselves out of the current situation given “there isn’t a magic switch, a magic answer” and that “even though we’ve got a lot of players playing well, we’re not playing well as a team.”
Keenum is tied for the league lead in interceptions, with eight, as the Broncos defense is last in the league in run defense, allowing 161.3 yards rushing per game with 593 rushing yards allowed in the last two games combined (323 rushing yards by the Jets in Week 5 to go with 270 rushing yards by the Rams on Sunday).
“We’ve gotten very soft in there … we’re not playing very well inside,” Elway said.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Baltimore Ravens have had tremendous success against rookie quarterbacks.
But the Ravens don’t see Baker Mayfield as your average rookie quarterback.
Heading into Sunday’s game at Cleveland, Baltimore defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale gave a lofty compliment to this year’s No. 1 overall pick.
“I already told the defense this, I think Baker Mayfield is this generation’s Brett Favre or John Elway, if you will,” Martindale said Thursday. “This guy knows where he wants to go with the ball, and he’s very accurate. He’s got a quick release, and he’s really playing well.”
Why would Martindale compare a quarterback with two games of experience to two of Hall of Fame quarterbacks?
“The kid’s confidence and swag,” Martindale said. “When he comes out there, he thinks he’s standing on top of the mountain. He’s making plays to show he’s standing on top of the mountain.”
In two games, Mayfield has passed for 496 yards, throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions (81.2 passer rating).
On Sunday, Mayfield will face the Ravens and the NFL’s No. 2 defense, which has a history of dominating young passers. Under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 15-5 against rookie quarterbacks.
“Baker Mayfield is pretty advanced,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s not, I don’t think, a rookie in the true sense. He seems like he has a really good feel for the game.”
MINNEAPOLIS — During a final respite from the NFL grind 5,000 miles away from his new life in Minnesota, John DeFilippo gazed out at the splendor of the Amalfi Coast atop one of the highest peaks in Positano, Italy.
The Vikings offensive coordinator savored this time, which would be among his last football-free moments for months. It was easy to get lost staring at the beautiful azure sea and colorful buildings stacked atop each other among the vibrant villages that lined the southern Italian coast.
His phone buzzed, taking him from his moment of reverie back to the present. It was Tony Sparano, the Vikings offensive line coach who sent a text message letting DeFilippo know he put several practice scripts on his office desk to review once he was back from vacation.
DeFilippo smiled and sent back a response, complete with a photo that resembled a postcard.
“I guarantee my view is better than yours.”
The two coaches corresponded throughout the summer, exchanging ideas they had for the Vikings’ offense and training camp. It wasn’t always about football. They bonded over their background as East Coast Italians who grew up in similar ways. Sparano, a devoted father of three, shared his excitement about his daughter’s July wedding. DeFilippo, an avid golfer and dog lover, enjoyed delivering a snapshot into his life away from football.
DeFilippo felt refreshed. Those eight days in Italy were exactly what he needed before tackling the biggest challenge of his career. He couldn’t wait to hit the ground running once he was back stateside, eager to work with one of his mentors for the first time since they served on the Raiders staff six years ago.
But he never got that chance.
Losing a great friend
On the morning of July 22, DeFilippo had a voicemail from head coach Mike Zimmer. DeFilippo was running late for an appointment and didn’t have time to listen before getting in his Jeep and driving off.
Minutes later, his world came to a hard stop.
His wife Kari called him hysterically crying. Over the phone, she delivered the news: Sparano was gone. His 56-year-old friend and colleague died in his kitchen that morning from arteriosclerotic heart disease. His wife, Jeanette, found him unconscious as they were about to leave for church.
The details about the next few minutes, hours and days blur together. DeFilippo remembers turning the car around and speeding home. All he could think about was Sparano’s widow and children.
On his way, he phoned Zimmer, the gravity of what was waiting for him on his voicemail sinking in. Zimmer relayed the information again. Two coaches connected through the same person (Zimmer coached with Sparano in Dallas from 2003 to 2006) were left to sort through this unimaginable grief.
Hearing the news all over hit home twice. DeFilippo couldn’t believe it. He didn’t want to believe it.
No one could have prepared for a loss of this magnitude. There’s no playbook, no script for how to handle such an immense tragedy. He not only lost his closest confidant on the coaching staff, DeFilippo lost a great friend.
In a season with the magnifying glass over DeFilippo more than at any point of his career, the 12-year NFL coach will be forced to go through the year without his right-hand man.
How he gets through this will be among his greatest struggles, carrying the lessons he learned from Sparano each step of the way.
Sparano was an important resource for the Vikings when they hired DeFilippo, being the only coach on staff who had a prior working relationship with the new offensive coordinator. He could speak to “Flip’s” reputation for developing quarterbacks, having seen it firsthand in Oakland in 2014.
In his second stint as the Raiders QB coach, DeFilippo was tasked with developing then-rookie Derek Carr. Sparano, who took over interim head-coaching duties four games into the season, wanted Carr to be glued to DeFilippo’s side.
“Flip is not afraid to spend the time,” Sparano said in June. “He’ll stay in there endless hours, and that’s a good thing if you’re finding the solutions, if you’re finding answers out.
“He brought some things to Derek that I think a young quarterback can hang his hat on, things Derek gravitated to. Certainly, he was the voice to Derek.”
The two seasons (2013-14) Sparano and DeFilippo spent in Oakland shaped their work dynamic in Minnesota. To DeFilippo, the relationship between the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach benefits most from open-ended dialogue and collaborative efforts.
“Whenever I had an issue I went and shut Tony’s door and said ‘Tony, how do I handle this? What do you think of this?’” DeFilippo said.
Sixteen years Sparano’s junior, there’s no one DeFilippo felt closer to on staff.
“I think Flip knows me enough to trust me in the things that I’m doing there,” Sparano said in June. “You can get line coaches in this league that are afraid to change and afraid to do something different and they’re stuck in their ways one way or the other. I’ve sat in every seat, and Flip knows that.”
An advocate for ‘Flip’
The easiest thing DeFilippo could have done this offseason was to stay in Philadelphia.
“And a lot of times — 99 percent of the time — the easiest thing to do in the NFL is not always the right thing to do,” DeFilippo said.
He has become one of the hottest names in coaching circles across the NFL. Heralded for his innovative offensive mind and proven track record of developing young quarterbacks, from Carr to Carson Wentz, DeFilippo’s future as a head coach is considered inevitable.
In January, DeFilippo interviewed for head coaching jobs in Chicago and Arizona. Two days after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, the Vikings reached out and wanted him as their offensive coordinator.
Had he stayed in Philadelphia to continue coaching quarterbacks (and with the prospect that he might have taken over offensive coordinator duties last minute after Frank Reich left for Indianapolis), the beat would have drummed on for DeFilippo. He was in the perfect situation to pick up where things left off in search of another title.
But something kept driving him to chase another challenge, one he has yet to master.
“I think, from Flip’s standpoint, he wanted to get back into that “I want to be the playcaller” role and have that responsibility of 45 guys before you take on, potentially down the road, 90 of them this time of year,” Sparano said in June.
When DeFilippo was hired by Cleveland for his first offensive coordinator job, he leaned heavily on Sparano in preparing for the interview. Sparano, who was the coach of the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011, had been part of the hiring process before. His path happened in reverse, having been a head coach before he was a coordinator.
“He was an unbelievable resource for me because at the end of the day, there are very few people out there that you know have your best interest in mind,” DeFilippo said. “And he never made me feel like I was unprepared.”
His time in Cleveland calling plays for a 3-13 team was marred by ups and downs. He always thinks about three specific plays he wished he called differently.
“One was not being aggressive enough,” DeFilippo recalled. “One was being a little too aggressive. And the other one was going back where we were on the field and the team we were playing that had a ton of speed. Kind of dipping back into the well to run a play a second time that we got 9 yards on it early in the game.
“You tend to be overcritical of yourself,” he said. “I think that’s what drives you. You’re never going to be perfect, but you strive for that every single day. We’re going to die chasing it. We’re going to die chasing perfection.”
That mindset has caused DeFilippo to burn the candle at both ends early in his time in Minnesota. He lives (and might even claim he thrives) off an average of four hours of sleep a night in-season and survives on copious amount of caffeine. Need proof? Lined against the front of his office are stacks of Diet Coke cases. An entire fridge reserved for diet Red Bull is tucked underneath his desk.
Sparano understood the steady obsession. Having that drive afforded him a 19-year career in the NFL.
He also understood the importance of work-life balance, which he often preached to DeFilippo even if Sparano didn’t always heed his own advice.
“I think Tony was such a steady guy. I think that’s how we’re going to approach this thing — to be steady every day and go out and do the best we can.”
“We’ve had a couple talks where I’ve just said to him, ‘Hey, get the heck out of there and go home and rest. Go home, rest, see your wife, walk the dogs, do whatever it is you guys do,’ but at the same time I know that he’s a stickler for the details and being right,” Sparano said in June about DeFilippo. “You just have to pace yourself because it’s a long grind.
“When you’re taking on something different — and I don’t want to underplay coaching quarterback, obviously it’s critical — but you’re dealing with three guys as opposed to 45 guys and handle the plan every day, and the script, and the game planning and then calling the game and all that stuff, you just got to pace yourself a little bit.”
Driven to fulfill the dream he has had since he was 10 years old, DeFilippo won’t cater to the idea of Minnesota being his last stop before jumping into the head coaching ranks. He repeatedly defers to his sole focus being on the job he has, wanting to be the best offensive coordinator in the NFL.
His challenge is no small task, armed with an $84 million quarterback in Kirk Cousins and a team with Super Bowl aspirations. But his journey in Minnesota is more than just preparing for his next step. It’s about growing from the things that went wrong his first time he was a playcaller and building something stable, sustainable and that he can be proud of.
“I think that’s critical,” Sparano said. “He was critical on himself about his first time around in Cleveland on the things he thought he did well, and the things he thought he could improve on. If you can look yourself in the mirror like that as a young coach and understand some of those things, I think that you have a bright future ahead of you.”
Sparano’s influence is everywhere
A month after Sparano’s death, DeFilippo isn’t displaying his usual energetic demeanor. Today he’s drained, mentally and physically, wearing a worn look on his face.
He wasn’t allowed the necessary moments to grieve through this real-life nightmare. Sparano, he said, would have wanted him and the rest of the Vikings coaches to continue getting ready for the season. It’s the way these coaches are wired, seeking some semblance of normalcy amid an arduous routine with hellish hours and demands.
But it’s never easy.
The challenges are among the few constants for coaches in this ever-transient lifestyle. DeFilippo’s short list includes an 0-10 start in Oakland in 2014, followed by Johnny Manziel’s self-destruction that sparked the end of his NFL career in Cleveland a year later. The Eagles lost their franchise quarterback to a torn ACL in Week 14 last season. DeFilippo had to get Foles ready to win a Super Bowl.
Like he preaches to his quarterbacks, DeFilippo aims to be prepared for the worst and shocked when it doesn’t happen. But that tactic and the others he has used to get through football hardship don’t apply here. The way he’s navigating these challenges is the only way he knows how.
“I’m just fortunate that I’m a pretty mentally strong guy,” DeFilippo says, his voice growing quiet and trailing off. “Just take it one day at a time. It’s not easy. This job’s hard enough.”
Sparano’s gruff grumble no longer resounds on the practice field, nor his tough love demeanor, as Zimmer remembered, of “poking a stick at the guys and then putting his arms around them” on display in position meetings. Yet there’s not a day that goes by when his name isn’t uttered in the offensive staff room.
DeFilippo leans on Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko, who were named co-offensive line coaches. They pick up where Sparano left off by building upon the continuity he formed with his guys over the past two years.
What DeFilippo carries with him from Sparano are more than just memories. His influence is stamped all over this offense. During the initial install, the Vikings took one of the main protections used in Philadelphia and altered it in a way to best suit their personnel.
“It was Tony’s idea,” DeFilippo said. “A great idea.”
His death motivates this team to honor him with a successful season, but the Vikings know the best tribute to Sparano is to play up to his standards. A man who brought his “A-plus game every single day” didn’t get there by swaying from who he was.
A man whose relentless work ethic, passionate demeanor, guidance and friendship is missed every single day.
“I think Tony was such a steady guy,” DeFilippo said. “I think that’s how we’re going to approach this thing — to be steady every day and go out and do the best we can.”
The Jets are carrying only Darnold and Josh McCown on their 53-man roster. The plan was to keep undrafted rookie John Wolford on the practice squad, but they decided to change when Webb became available.
Wolford was released.
Webb didn’t play a single snap as a rookie and was active for only one game. He received a majority of the second-team reps in training camp, behind Eli Manning, so it was a stunner when they decided to release Webb in favor or rookie Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney.
General manager Mike Maccagnan saw Darnold play in person for the first time while scouting Webb during a USC-Cal game on Oct. 27, 2016. Maccagnan flew to Cal to scout Webb, who was draft-eligible, but a member of the USC staff told the GM before the game to keep an eye on the Trojans’ freshman quarterback.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Undrafted rookie Kaare Vedvik would be kicking in the NFL this season if not for the head injuries he suffered in a late-night incident on Saturday, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
Baltimore City Police said Vedvik was found at approximately 4 a.m. ET on Saturday suffering from “upper body injuries” but could not confirm how his injuries occurred. Vedvik, 24, a native of Norway, was sent to Maryland Shock Trauma and is now listed in stable condition.
“It was disappointing for him because I think it cost him a chance to kick in this league,” Harbaugh said Monday. “He would’ve had a shot. There were plenty of trade talks.”
Vedvik was 8-of-9 (89 percent) on field goals in the preseason, hitting a 56-yarder in Thursday’s preseason finale. He repeatedly hit long field goals in training camp, but he didn’t have a shot to make the Ravens because of Justin Tucker, the most accurate kicker in NFL history.
Teams were showing interest in Vedvik entering the final preseason game, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Harbaugh visited Vedvik in the hospital on Sunday, along with vice president of security Darren Sanders.
“He told what he could remember what happened. it’s not up to me to get into the details of that,” Harbaugh said. “He’s trying to remember as best he can. I think they’re trying to piece some of it together based on some video stuff.”
Vedvik’s face remains swollen and was “kind of stitched up,” Harbaugh said.
“We’re just grateful and I think he’s very thankful that he’s OK,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to be fine. That’s the most important thing.”
The Ravens will keep Vedvik on the non-football injury list. He can train at the team facility once he recovers.
Vedvik will also serve as a lesson to the younger players.
“My dad said, ‘Nothing good ever happens after midnight.’ And it was well after midnight,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’ll be talking to the young guys next year. Be a little smarter. Be more aware of your surroundings. Don’t be by yourself. Understand that there are people out there that have maligned intentions, especially when you’re a young guy and maybe even if you’re a Raven football player.”
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was one of six speakers Thursday at a memorial service in Phoenix for Sen. John McCain, who died of brain cancer last Saturday at 81.
Fitzgerald, who spoke before former Vice President Joe Biden, used the moment to share a lighthearted comparison between him and his friend McCain.
“Many people might wonder what a young African-American kid from Minnesota and a highly decorated Vietnam War hero-turned-United States senator might have in common,” Fitzgerald said. “Well, I thought of a few. I’m black. He was white. I’m young. He wasn’t so young. He lived with physical limitations brought on by war. I’m a professional athlete. He ran for president. I run out of bounds. He was the epitome of toughness, and I do everything I can to avoid contact. I have flowing locks, and, well, he didn’t.”
Fitzgerald said that while he and McCain were from very different worlds, they developed a meaningful friendship. He said it was the perfect example of what made McCain an iconic figure.
Fitzgerald said McCain celebrated differences and championed humanity. He said McCain didn’t judge individuals on the color of their skin, their gender or their bank accounts, but by the merit of their character and content of their hearts.
Fitzgerald also discussed his need to visit Vietnam to see what McCain endured as a prisoner of war.
“I wanted to see the places where the will of John McCain was tested and forged,” Fitzgerald said. “I saw the lake. I walked the steps. I sat in the cell. And the ordeal that my friend survived became all the more real.”
Fitzgerald was asked by Cindy McCain, the senator’s widow, a couple of months ago to speak at the service. Former Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez and former Coyotes forward Shane Doan also served as pallbearers. McCain was an avid sports fan and became friends with many of the athletes in the area.
About 3,500 people packed a Phoenix church for the service. There will be a viewing for McCain at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before a memorial service Saturday featuring former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. McCain will be buried Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Fitzgerald’s tribute will come before that of former vice president Joe Biden. The Cardinals will play their final preseason game later that night against the visiting Broncos.
McCain had a strong connection to Fitzgerald and the Cardinals. He attended Cardinals games and made an appearance at training camp before the 2017 season. Fitzgerald became friends with the senator, penning a tribute to him last Christmas and visiting him this year.
Rest in peace to an American hero, statesman, servant of the people, and dear friend. Godspeed Senator McCain. My prayers for Cindy and the beautiful McCain family. pic.twitter.com/Tj87Hb8MtY