The NFL’s endless aggravation raged through an offseason marked by more crime and punishment, rules violations by owners, and the never-ending “Deflategate” saga.
The latest black eye came from Pro Bowl defensive end Sheldon Richardson, who addressed his recent drug suspension by telling his teammates and coaches as they reported to training camp that “they don’t have to worry about my name being in the news again.”
A short time later, reports surfaced of Richardson being charged with resisting arrest and multiple traffic violations in an incident in Missouri this month. Police clocked him going 143 mph and found a loaded gun in his Bentley and a 12-year-old boy among his passengers.
The anguish won’t end when the Eagles and Colts become the last teams to report to camp over the weekend. Tom Brady’s lawsuit seeking to overturn his four-game suspension will hang over the league until a resolution is reached.
Still, it’s time to turn the nation’s sporting attention back to the field.
“I think there’s a lot of positivity going on in the league,” Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “It’s just that 10 percent that’s negative, that’s the news. That’s what people want to see and want to read. Unfortunately, that’s not what you want as a league.
“So, right now it’s good to start football. That’s what fans want to see: guys on the field making plays. So, it’s a good thing that football is back.”
He’ll find no arguments from the league office.
Just a month after Commissioner Roger Goodell handed him the Super Bowl MVP trophy, Brady refused to hand over his cellphone when the NFL delved into allegations the Patriots surreptitiously used underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game.
Brady sued the league after Goodell upheld his four-game suspension this week, with the commissioner ruling the NFL’s biggest name destroyed his cellphone to obstruct the inquiry by investigator Ted Wells.
Judge Richard Berman, who has been assigned to the case, told all sides to “tone down their rhetoric,” and wrote, “The earth is already sufficiently scorched, in the Court’s view.”
Brady’s suspension is the enduring footprint of an offseason in which the shield was sullied on a seemingly daily basis.
This after a 2014 season marked by domestic abuse cases that placed the names Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy in the spotlight for their off-field misbehavior.
Goodell declared at his annual state-of-the-league address that the NFL had made “enormous progress” on social issues after the incessant barrage of disturbing developments in 2014. Yet, this offseason featured a steady stream of player arrests, drug suspensions and owners getting penalized for violating various rules.
Also in the headlines:
-Former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
-Hall of Famer Warren Sapp was fired from his TV gig after allegedly assaulting two women.
-John Bowlen, the son of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, a marketing employee with the team and a potential successor to his father, was arrested after allegedly pushing his girlfriend against a bathroom wall.
The draft was marked by prospects Shane Ray and Randy Gregory watching their stock slip over marijuana issues.
La’el Collins, another potential first-rounder, fell out of the draft entirely because of a police probe that turned up no involvement by the former LSU offensive lineman in the shooting death of a woman he knew. He eventually signed with Dallas.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, with a hefty list of his own difficulties, went No. 1 to Tampa Bay.
Less than a week after all the hugs and handshakes of draft weekend, two prized picks suffered season-ending knee injuries.
Defensive end Dante Fowler, the third overall pick, blew out his left knee on the first day of Jacksonville’s rookie minicamp. Twenty-four hours later, tight end Jeff Heuerman, Denver’s third-round selection, tore his left ACL covering a kickoff.
On July 4, two players were injured in fireworks mishaps.
The Buccaneers placed cornerback C.J. Wilson on the injured reserve/retired list while he recovers from losing two fingers on his right hand. The New York Giants, however, have no firsthand knowledge about the extent of the hand injuries Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sustained in his fireworks accident in Florida.
The Giants pulled a long-term contract offer after his accident. Co-owner John Mara said the Giants are aware of reports Pierre-Paul had a finger amputated in the accident and fractured a thumb, but the team has not been able to verify that because they haven’t been allowed to examine him.
“I don’t know how many fingers he has,” Mara said.