Due to an exciting variety of football outcomes this week, there was a lot to talk about this morning: Nick Foles’ record-tying seven passing touchdowns; the Seahawks needing overtime to beat the winless Bucs; the Patriots hanging the most points ever on the Steelers with 55; the Dolphins’ walk-off safety against the bungling Bengals on Thursday night; overtime victory for Washington; and the mercurial Jets’ triumph over the Saints. Regrettably, many of these highlights are being overshadowed by off-the-field misfortunes and missteps.
For one thing, head coaches are dropping like flies.
Saturday afternoon, out on the golf course during his week off, Broncos head coach John Fox experienced dizziness and was taken to the hospital, where it was discovered that he needed to have surgery straightaway. Fox will undergo aortic valve replacement surgery and will be away from the Broncos indefinitely, leaving former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio with the interim job.
If there was ever a good time for something like this to happen this has to be it. The Broncos will have had a full week to adjust coming off of the bye and it seems Fox will be back in plenty of time for the playoffs. In the meantime, Peyton Manning and Del Rio should suffice as the brains of the mile-high operation.
Last night in Houston, in an unsettling moment captured on national television, Gary Kubiak collapsed as he trotted off of the field and to the locker room at halftime. Like Fox, Kubiak experienced dizziness and some lightheadedness. Early diagnoses point to dehydration, but crumbling to the turf and grimacing could be indicative of something worse. Tests are still ongoing and Kubiak’s return is indefinite.
In addition to misfortune, missteps have also muddied Sunday’s NFL waters, starting with Jags’ WR Justin Blackmon’s season-ending suspension for yet another violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. Despite a rap sheet that included a DUI during his time at Oklahoma State, Blackmon was drafted fifth overall last year and showed plenty of upside in his rookie campaign, having finished the season with 865 receiving yards for an abysmal team.
Coming into this season there was hope Blackmon would continue to progress, but he was suspended as early as May for the first four games for substance abuse. Since returning from suspension, Blackmon showcased much of the same talent, racking up 415 yards over four games. But now he’s in danger of becoming the NFL’s latest version of Charles Rogers: a talent wasted in rehab.
And to cap all of this off, a developing story out of Miami is getting bleaker by the day. Starting right tackle Jonathan Martin left the team last week after the “O-line made fun of him and he snapped,” the original ESPN report read. Martin was granted leave by the team to deal with what has categorized both as “an illness” and “emotional issues.” Days later, a fuller picture is coming into focus—this appears to be no mere playground prank.
Fellow lineman Richie Incognito seems to be the chief tormentor. Original reports revealed that Incognito convinced Martin to contribute $15,000 to help finance a trip for a group of Dolphins to Las Vegas last summer that Martin didn’t even attend.
Since then Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports has learned that the Miami Dolphins and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have been notified that Incognito “sent Martin text messages and left him voicemails that are both threatening and racially charged in nature.” Today, snippets of transcripts detail what was said; Incognito’s history is also available for review.
The Dolphins have responded by suspending Incognito for “conduct detrimental to the team” and a formal investigation by the NFLPA is taking place.
The whole situation has detracted from the Dolphins’ wild win against the previously burgeoning Bengals, and added to the football-unrelated intrigue and adversity that sullied an otherwise gripping weekend of America’s Game.