INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts are saying goodbye to their starting running back from the past three seasons and are expecting to have franchise quarterback Andrew Luck back with the team when offseason workouts begin in the first week of April.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard met with Frank Gore and told the likely future Hall of Famer that they don’t plan to re-sign him.
“We had a discussion. We had it multiple times during the season. Frank knows we’re at the point where we need to get younger, and I want to give Frank a chance to see what’s out there and see if he finishes in a place he wants to finish it,” Ballard said. “He’s a first-ballot Hall of Fame player. He likes it when you’re honest with him.”
The Colts’ decision isn’t surprising. Gore will be 35 years old in May, and the Colts are in the process of making a youth movement with their roster.
Gore said at the end of last season that he planned to play a 14th season in the NFL while knowing there was a possibility that it wouldn’t be with the Colts.
He arrived with players like Andre Johnson, Todd Herremans and Trent Cole in the spring of 2015 with the thought they would be the final pieces for the Colts to make a run at the Super Bowl after they reached the AFC Championship Game the previous season.
Not only did Gore fail to reach the Super Bowl with the Colts, but he failed to make the playoffs with them in his three seasons. Gore and Luck, who was one of the main reasons the former 49er signed with Indianapolis, played just 22 games together because of injury problems to the quarterback.
The Colts didn’t have team success with Gore, but the running back had individual success. He rushed for 2,953 yards and 13 touchdowns while starting all 48 games during his three seasons. Gore became the Colts’ first running back to rush for at least 1,000 yards in a season since 2007 when he tallied 1,025 yards in 2016. He is only 76 yards shy of passing Curtin Martin for fourth place on the NFL’s career rushing list.
“Hall of Fame back, passionate,” Ballard said. “In just three years, even though most of his career was in San Francisco, he left an impact on the locker room and people like I’ve never seen another player do.”
Ballard and new coach Frank Reich said they are working under the impression that Luck will be with the team when it starts its offseason workouts the week of April 2. Luck, who had right shoulder surgery in January 2017 and missed all of last season, still has not thrown a football, but Ballard hopes the quarterback will be throwing within the next couple of months.
“I think we’ll get there during April and May to where we’re all seeing the progress we want to see,” Ballard said. “Talking to him and talking to the doctors, we’ve all ruled out surgery. I think it’s at the point where we have to make sure. You have to remember that he played for two years banged up. Then he had this whole year off.
“Taking a year where you’re not every day working the motion, it takes time to get back. When is that point? I wish I could give you a date. There’s no drop-down date. Can’t do it. I know this, I believe in the kid. I believe in where he’s at mentally, and he’s going to do some really good things going forward. He’s in a good place.”
Luck’s only practice time since Week 17 of the 2016 season was on a limited basis in October before the team gave him a cortisone shot and shut him down due to soreness in the shoulder. He spent about six weeks in the Netherlands getting rehab on his shoulder and is currently in California working with throwing experts. Luck has used weight balls to work on regaining strength in his shoulder.
The Colts, despite Luck’s long layoff, continue to believe he will be back for the 2018 season.
“Do I have any doubt that he’s going to be ready? No, I don’t,” Ballard said.
Buffalo Bills GM — ‘No rush’ on extension for QB Josh Allen despite mutual interest
Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Beane said he had spoken with the NFL’s MVP runner-up from a season ago about extending his contract, which is entering the fourth year of Allen’s rookie deal. However, Beane said he doesn’t expect a deal to get done until at least after next week’s draft, and perhaps well into the spring or summer.
“There’s no rush, we’ll have some kind of conversation,” Beane said. “Listen, we would love to get Josh extended. No doubt. It has to be a number that works for him and works for us. That’s been my conversation with them and they know the same. We’re all on the same page. Josh wants to be here.”
Allen emerged as one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks last season, passing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2020, adding eight rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown while leading the Bills to an AFC championship game appearance.
The Wyoming product has made it clear that he wants to play out his career in Buffalo and didn’t seem deterred by
“When it happens, it happens,” Allen told NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt earlier this month. “They will iron out the details and if we can get to something soon, I’d obviously love to be locked down in Buffalo for a very long time. It’s a place that I call home, I love being there.”
Allen would represent Beane’s largest extension of his tenure with the Bills, after successfully extending left tackle Dion Dawkins and cornerback Tre’Davious White last offseason. The former Carolina Panthers assistant GM likened his current situation to the one he faced in Carolina with then-quarterback Cam Newton.
“We tried in Carolina to get Cam Newton done at this time and it didn’t work,” Beane said. “We just weren’t on the same page with his agent on where the value is to where we saw it. So we said, ‘Hey, no hard feelings, we’re all on the same page here.’ We pushed pause. He played that season and then after that season we got it done pretty quick that next offseason.
“We were all on the same page. I guess what I’m saying is you can’t force it. It happens when it happens.”
Beane previously said Allen’s extension will likely follow the same timeline as White, who was extended in early September 2020. Either way, it appears Allen’s next contract is not a matter of “if” but rather “when.”
“If it happens this year, great,” Beane said. “If it doesn’t, I’ll be very positive that we’ll get it done next year.”
Jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd murder
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter by a jury Tuesday for his role in the murder of George Floyd last May outside of a local convenience store.
Floyd’s death, and the video which showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes, became a catalyst for the sports world’s racial and social justice movement last summer.
A jury of six white, four Black and two multi-racial jurors deliberated nine hours over two days — five hours on Monday; four hours Tuesday — before rendering a verdict. ABCNews.com has full coverage of the decision.
Chauvin faces a 40-year maximum sentence for the second-degree murder conviction, a 25-year sentence for third-degree murder and a 10-year sentence for second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd’s death led to nationwide protests and prompted athletes throughout the sports world to speak out on social and racial injustice. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson traveled to Minnesota the week Floyd died and said “I’m hurt, I’m angry, but I ain’t scared” in an emotional speech alongside fellow NBA players Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie. Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics drove 15 hours to march at a protest in Atlanta.
NBA and WNBA players spoke out frequently, and both leagues resumed their seasons with “Black Lives Matter” painted on the court. “Through peaceful protest, we must demand strong leadership at all levels that is equally committed to achieving true social justice,” the Women’s National Basketball Players Association said in a statement the week of Floyd’s death.
As news of Floyd’s death spread, LeBron James posted a Twitter message with a photo of Floyd alongside an image of Colin Kaepernick and wrote “Do you understand NOW!!??!!??” Magic Johnson tweeted “How many times do we have to see Black men killed on national television?” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr tweeted “This is murder. Disgusting. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with US????”
A group of NFL players, including Patrick Mahomes, appeared in a Twitter video that started with “It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered. How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players? What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality?” and asking “What if I was George Floyd?”
When the NFL season opened in September, the Minnesota Vikings honored Floyd’s family at their opener with a moment of silence and silencing the team’s signature Gjallarhorn in his honor. The league had every team play “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” often called the Black national anthem, before season openers, and players wore the name of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black men and women killed by police on the back of their helmets.
Tennis player Naomi Osaka wore the names of seven Black people killed by police on her mask at every US Open match. When a reporter asked her what message she wanted to send, she said: “Well, what was the message that you got was more the question. I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”
Floyd was killed on May 25 after Minneapolis police officers responded to a call shortly after 8 p.m. about a possible forgery at a corner grocery. Floyd, saying he was claustrophobic as officers tried to put him in a squad car, ended up handcuffed and face-down in the street.
Chauvin used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck as bystanders shouted at him to stop. Bystander video shows Floyd crying “I can’t breathe” multiple times before going limp. He was pronounced dead at a hospital at age 46.
Police initially issued a statement saying Floyd died of a “medical incident.” Bystander video was posted online the next day, and in the face of growing protests in Minneapolis and nationwide, police said the FBI would investigate. Chauvin and three other officers were eventually fired as Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for criminal charges against Chauvin.
Chauvin, age 45 and a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis police force, was arrested on May 29 and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The charges were later upgraded to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
As protests in Minneapolis and around the country grew, the county medical examiner ruled on June 1 that Floyd’s heart stopped as police restrained him and compressed his neck, noting Floyd had underlying health issue and listing fentanyl and methamphetamine use as “other significant conditions.”
At trial, prosecutors argued that Chauvin was responsible for Floyd’s death by keeping a knee on his neck. The defense argued he died because of drugs in his system and pre-existing health conditions.
Three other officers were also arrested and will stand trial together this summer.
NFL, Players Association approve first position-specific helmet design for OL, DL
The NFL and NFL Players Association have approved a position-specific helmet design for the first time since they began regulating equipment for players, representatives for both groups confirmed Tuesday.
The helmet, known as the VICIS ZERO2-R TRENCH, was built for offensive and defensive linemen and is ranked No. 2 on the league’s 2021 safety rankings. The helmets are equipped with bumpers on their front and upper sides, where NFL engineering studies showed are a common point of contact for linemen who absorb concussion-causing contact, according to Dr. Ann Good, a senior engineer at BioCore and a consultant to the NFL.
The league and union have been ranking helmets based on proprietary safety data since 2015, using lab tests designed by BioCore, and began banning the lowest-performing helmets in 2019. The primary goal was to drive down reported concussion totals among players, which peaked at 281 during the 2017 season. The 2021 ratings, distributed to teams Tuesday, added three models to the prohibited list and six to a category called “not recommended.”
Approximately 18% of players finished the 2020 season using one of those nine helmet models. But Dr. Kristy Arbogast, an engineering consultant for the NFLPA, said her expectation is that almost all of them will move to a better-performing helmet in 2021. In each of the past two seasons, 99% of NFL players have used a helmet recommended by the NFL/NFLPA ratings.
The NFL hasn’t publicized its complete concussion data from last season. But Jennifer Langton, the league’s senior vice president of health and safety innovation, said that reported concussion rates over the past three seasons (2018-20) are 25% lower than in the previous three seasons (2015-17).
“With these results,” Arbogast said, “we were able to demonstrate [to players] that the use of a lab test in ranking helmets and prohibiting helmets were relevant to [players’] game experience. We showed that by moving up the [ranking], players could really take an active role in their safety.”
It remains to be seen how many linemen will switch to the model built for them this season, but it is the first step in the NFL’s goal of spurring manufacturers to produce models for each position group. Dr. Jeff Crandall, the chair of the NFL engineering committee and the co-founder of BioCore, said there has been some “baseline testing” of models designed for quarterbacks. A model is likely to be finalized for future seasons, possibly in 2022, once an analysis is done of new technology the NFL is adopting for coach-to-quarterback communications.
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