Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
Antonio Brown‘s time in Oakland may not be long, the Colts are playing the wrong kind of games, and the NFL drops the pretense when it comes to gambling. All that and more in this week’s 10-Point Stance.
1. Marriage trouble
If there is one thing we have learned from the Antonio Brown helmet saga, it is this: There’s little chance Brown will be with the Raiders long.
Yes, it’s true, no one can see into the future (yet). Maybe Brown has one of those life-altering moments, like realizing Star Trek is the greatest show ever made, and decides he’s going to live a calmer NFL life.
That seems unlikely. What is more probable is that Brown’s eventful training camp (which began with him injuring his feet reportedly after cryotherapy treatment and continued this week with his threat not to play unless he could wear his old helmet) is (already) the beginning of the end of the Brown era in Oakland.
It may not end this year. It may even last two. But that’s about it. And that, some in the league think, is only because Brown is due approximately $15 million in guaranteed money this season and $17 million next year.
It’s simply common sense, argue the Brown naysayers. If the season hasn’t even started yet, and Brown is already being Brown, what is he going to be like once the season actually gets underway?
What if Derek Carr is Derek Carr and throws passes intended for Brown into the stadium seats? What if the Raiders start the year 1-3?
(What if my grandma was POTUS, dopey 10-Point guy? you might respond. Shut up about your what-ifs, dude.)
That’s a lot of what-if scenarios, sure. Yet if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the mercurial four-time All-Pro receiver, it’s that Brown is very much into Brown. Brown will likely always Brown. And that’s why, as The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami wrote late last week, it feels as if “[Brown] and the Raiders are counting down the days until he becomes an ex-Raider.”
He doesn’t handle team adversity well, which isn’t a good sign for a team that may need several years before it starts winning again. If anything, the recent volatility Brown demonstrated over his helmet shows the immense challenge the Raiders face. There’s no telling what will irk their star receiver. It’s hard enough building a roster that can win. It’s really hard when you have to manage one personality separately from the other 52 players.
This was always going to be coach Jon Gruden’s challenge. It always will be as long as Brown is a Raider.
Which may not be long.
2. The cold truth
We’ve heard lots of jokes and stories about athletes and their adventures in cryotherapy chambers. Here’s one more.
Willie Anderson, the 10th overall pick by Cincinnati in the 1996 NFL draft, was a four-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman and one of the toughest players I ever saw. Recently, he tweeted at me about his own awful moment in a cryotherapy machine:
Willie Anderson @BigWillie7179
@mikefreemanNFL I got burn on my lower back by that machine . No Joke! Don’t ever go in there wet from any kinda of sweat . It will freeze and burn bad! I went to ER!
The ER. As in the emergency room.
Be careful out there, everyone.
3. The Colts are playing games again
Michael Conroy/Associated Press
In last week’s 10-Point Stance, I mentioned that teams were highly skeptical quarterback Andrew Luck would be ready for Week 1. They weren’t working from medical records but a collective hunch based on how the Colts have relayed news about Luck injuries before. It’s still possible Luck will be ready to play on Sept. 8 and throw for 400 yards and three touchdowns.
However, what Colts owner Robert Irsay said this week about Luck only gives credence to what teams believe. Irsay said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Luck is dealing with a “small little bone” injury, per The Athletic’s Stephen Holder.
It was known that Luck already was out with a calf injury, but this is the first anyone has mentioned a bone problem. (On Monday, general manager Chris Ballard told reporters Luck is dealing with a high ankle issue.)
If this really is merely an “issue,” this may not be a serious setback (although Ballard did add that Luck would not play at all in the preseason), but that’s not the point. There is always something about Luck’s injury status that we don’t know. Plenty of teams hide injuries (especially involving stars). It’s also true that teams don’t have to disclose injuries before the regular season begins.
This is still problematic. Luck isn’t a backup guard (no offense to backup guards). He’s one of the league’s biggest stars, and the games the Colts are playing with his status hurt the credibility of the team and the league.
Remember, Irsay said Luck would be fine for the 2017 season, and what happened? Luck didn’t play a game.
Hiding injuries isn’t new. It’s a plague in the league. But the Colts are taking it to an extreme that threatens whatever little confidence anyone has left in the system.
4. The Trent Williams saga continues
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
One of the ugliest holdouts in recent memory continues in Washington as offensive tackle Trent Williams remains out of camp. And there’s no sign the dispute—which touches on myriad issues Williams has with the team, from salary to medical staff—will end anytime soon.
Williams is one of the top offensive linemen in football and was expected to be a key part of the team’s plans with rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins—protecting the No. 15 overall pick’s back once he gets into the starting lineup, which could be sooner than later.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Washington is telling inquiring teams Williams won’t be traded, but it’s also true some teams believe Washington will eventually trade Williams because it may not have a choice. The situation has grown increasingly bitter and shows few signs of coming to an end.
5. The NFL’s big bet
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Something happened recently that you may not have heard about, but it is one of the most important, and historic, moves the NFL has ever made.
The NFL for years has partnered with a data-gathering firm called Sportradar AG, which distributed statistical information to the media and other entities. But Eben Novy-Williams of Bloomberg reports the NFL is now going to use the company to provide gambling data to legal sports betting operators in this country and overseas.
This is a huge deal. In essence, this is the NFL’s first step toward publicly embracing gambling.
While the league has long accepted that wagering happens, it has heretofore been on a more covert level. Injury reports, pregame show picks, etc. Now, since gambling on sports is legal almost everywhere, the NFL doesn’t have to be shy. There are billions of dollars involved in gambling, and it is going to secure its portion of that bag.
You would expect no less from the NFL. Or, really, any sports league.
6. King of New York
If you had to pick one player this summer who has dominated camp like almost no other, it would be Giants running back Saquon Barkley.
He had a spectacular sideline grab at a recent practice, and if there was any doubt about who the leader of the team is in the wake of Eli Manning’s advancing age, this should answer that:
NFL UK @NFLUK
Leader. Legend in the making!
@saquon taking charge at @Giants Training Camp is our #MondayMotivation https://t.co/YbPtc27rHf
Barkley just keeps getting better in every conceivable way an NFL player can get better.
Imagine if he were on a good team.
7. The secret to his success
It’s no secret Patrick Mahomes is a special talent. But here at 10-Point headquarters, we have been shouting until we are blue in the internet face that Mahomes isn’t a star simply because he’s athletic (which is a big part) or because he has a strong arm (which is also key) but because of his accuracy.
This angle from the Chiefs Twitter account of a Mahomes pass is a little hard to see, but it still shows you how good Mahomes is at throwing into tight windows:
Actually, he’s not good at it. He’s terrific at it.
And he’s likely to only get better with each passing game.
8. Fast learner
Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins wasn’t spectacular against Cleveland in his NFL debut. He was 8-of-14 for 117 yards and two interceptions.
Yet, the potential was clear. There were plays like this one that showed his ability to move and (almost) hit a moving target:
Louis Riddick @LRiddickESPN
Hate 2 of the decisions D Haskins made that resulted in INT’s. He’ll get that corrected. Love how he has worked hard on his accuracy on the move and his pocket mobility. This here was close to being “special”… https://t.co/qgNC01jtSL
He does things that are difficult to teach, which is why some NFL teams were extremely high on Haskins. And we’re not just talking about the athleticism. Haskins processes information quickly and learns from his mistakes.
You could almost see Haskins growing play to play in his first preseason game. It’s that kind of learning curve that should give Washington tons of hope for the future.
And when was the last time you could say that about Washington?
9. Market forces
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
So Michael Lombardi, a former team executive now working at The Athletic, believes Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is “nuts” to turn down an offer of $30 million a year: That take is extremely NFL management. I mean, the tweet is so NFL management it just broke up a union.
But is it really that hard to believe Prescott would turn down that kind of offer when Carson Wentz will earn $17 million this season and $39 million next year?
The market value is the market value. Wentz and Prescott are comparable. Check the numbers yourself. And unlike Wentz, Prescott hasn’t spent a large part of his career hurt.
The market in today’s NFL says Prescott probably is a $30-40 million QB, and there’s nothing “nuts” about that.
10. Darryl Drake will be missed
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press
The first time I met Darryl Drake was about 12 years ago. He was the receivers coach in Chicago, and we spoke after a training camp practice. The interview was supposed to last 10 minutes. It lasted an hour.
Drake loved football. I mean, really loved it. The only thing he adored more were family and friends. He was the consummate teacher and professional. And he excelled at explaining some of the more complex aspects of offensive football in simple terms.
Over the years, Drake built an army of friends in the NFL. It’s difficult to put into words how immensely respected he was.
That’s what made it even more sad this week when the Steelers announced that Drake, who had been the Steelers receivers coach since January 2018, had died suddenly at the age of 62.
To say he will be missed is an understatement. The NFL won’t be the same without him.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.