A day after Nike unveiled an ad campaign featuring controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick, there was no shortage of reactions.
“I think it’s a terrible message,” President Donald Trump, speaking to The Daily Caller, said of Nike using Kaepernick to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign. “Nike is a tenant of mine (in a building at 6 East 57th St. in New York). They pay a lot of rent.”
When discussing the matter further, Trump said he doesn’t like Nike’s decision but also respects the company’s right to hire the spokesperson it chooses.
“As much as I disagree with the Colin Kaepernick endorsement, in another way — I mean, I wouldn’t have done it,” Trump said. “In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it.”
—Days before his expected return after a 20-month absence, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck opened up about the dark moments he went through during his drawn-out recovery from shoulder surgery.
“I was a sad, miserable human,” Luck told the Indy Star. “I was not nice to myself, nor was I nice to anyone else. I was a miserable SOB to be around. I was nervous. I was scared.”
After initially injuring his shoulder in Week 3 of 2015, Luck opted not to have surgery after that season, but a procedure became necessary a year later after he struggled to make it through 2016. He had surgery in January of 2017 and then admittedly rushed his recovery in hopes of playing in 2017 despite battling pain in his shoulder all the while. “I convinced myself I could force things to happen, and I paid for it,” he said.
—Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters he has not been in contact with Le’Veon Bell this week and does not know when the running back will return to the team.
“I hadn’t thought about it,” Tomlin said when asked if he expected Bell to report Wednesday. “We’ll see. ...When he gets here, that’s when we’ll start quantifying all Le’Veon Bell-related things: his overall readiness, the amount of time that we have between his arrival and our next competition, etc., etc.”
Tomlin added he doesn’t have a specific deadline in mind for Bell’s arrival in order to play in Sunday’s opener at the Cleveland Browns, saying that will depend on what sort of shape Bell is in when he shows up.
—Sam Darnold told reporters “it’s an amazing feeling” to know he’s the starting quarterback of the New York Jets, but despite all the excitement, he isn’t getting carried away.
“It’s awesome and I’m really happy to be the starting quarterback, but I also know that I’ve got to go out there and do my job,” Darnold said, meeting the media a day after head coach Todd Bowles announced the No. 3 overall pick would take the reins in the opener against the Lions.
At 21 years, 97 days old, Darnold will become the youngest opening-day starting quarterback in NFL history. The feat is not lost on the rookie, but he also said it reminds him of work to be done. “I mean, yeah, it’s cool,” he said. .”.. I think that’s more of just affirmation of knowing that I’ve got a long way to go.”
—Doug Pederson delayed making the call at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles because last season’s starter, Carson Wentz, is close to being medically cleared.
Pederson, who named Nick Foles the starter for Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday in the opening game of the 2018 NFL regular season, said Tuesday he didn’t decide on Foles until Monday despite reports last week that pointed to Foles.
Wentz continues to practice on a limited basis but has not yet been cleared for contact. He’s recovering from surgery on his left knee in December necessitated by an injury against the Los Angeles Rams. “He’s in a great spot,” Pederson said.
—Pederson officially ruled out wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and Mack Hollins (groin), and the team re-signed wideout Markus Wheaton — who spent training camp with the team — to provide depth for Thursday’s opener.
Jeffery is “week to week” as he recovers from shoulder surgery, while Hollins sustained “a little bit of a minor setback,” Pederson said. Also missing practice was defensive end Michael Bennett (knee), whose status for Thursday is unclear after he was not on Monday’s injury report. Running back Jay Ajayi (foot) returned to a full practice after being limited on Monday.
To make room for Wheaton on the roster, tight end Richard Rodgers (knee) was placed on injured reserve.
—New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski told reporters he’s “super satisfied” with his adjusted contract and relieved to have it out of the way as the regular season begins.
Gronkowski, who had $4.3 million in incentives added to his deal last week, was asked if he was frustrated by the lucrative extensions signed by superstars around the league — including Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald and Julio Jones — that have been borne out of holdouts.
“I’m super satisfied with my situation,” Gronkowski said. “If I wasn’t, I would try to pull a move like they did. It works out — they get rewarded for holding out — but I’m not frustrated at all or anything. I’m super satisfied and just ready to go.”
—Patriots left tackle Trent Brown is expected to return to practice Wednesday and play Sunday after missing Monday and Tuesday with an excused absence, according to an ESPN report.
Brown, 25, was acquired in a trade during April’s draft from the San Francisco 49ers and has spent the whole offseason starting on Tom Brady’s blind side.
The team also re-signed recently released offensive lineman Brian Schwenke and reportedly waived wideout Amara Darboh, who was claimed off waivers earlier this week. According to an NFL Network report, Darboh is having surgery Tuesday, although it’s unclear what kind of surgery. He missed the preseason with hip and collarbone injuries.
—Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel is expected to miss the team’s season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday after undergoing a small procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat, according to a report from NFL Network.
Samuel was absent from practice Tuesday. Panthers coach Ron Rivera offered no details when speaking to reporters, saying Samuel is “dealing with a medical issue.”
“He saw the doctor today, so we’ll wait to see what the doctor has to say,” Rivera said. Samuel had missed practice Sunday because he was sick, but Rivera was not sure if the issues were related.
—Quarterback Davis Webb, released by the New York Giants, was signed to the practice squad of the New York Jets.
Webb will be paid a full salary as if he were on the 53-man roster, NFL Network reported. He made $600,000 with the Giants last season.
Quarterback John Wolford was released from the practice squad to make room for Webb, who was cut by the Giants in favor of rookie Kyle Lauletta and Alex Tanney.
—The Miami Dolphins listed both Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore as starting running backs on their official depth chart, with Drake’s name listed first.
Head coach Adam Gase has said he hopes to get Drake 15-20 carries and six to eight targets per game, but Gore is expected to work in as well, and perhaps draw the occasional start.
Elsewhere, the Dolphins are signing former New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden and cutting center Travis Swanson in a corresponding move, according to a Miami Herald report. Swanson was signed on Monday after being released by the Jets at final cutdown. Bolden is primarily a special-teams contributor who was among the Patriots’ final cuts.
—The Kansas City Chiefs announced a contract extension for offensive lineman Cameron Erving.
Terms were not announced, but multiple reports said it is a two-year extension worth up to $15.7 million based on playing-time incentives, with $6.45 million guaranteed. Erving, a former first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, was entering the final year of his contract after his fifth-year option was declined and was set to make $1.72 million this year.
Erving, 26, has played in 42 games (21 starts) through three seasons, seeing time at all five positions up front. He saw action in 13 games (four starts) in his first year with the Chiefs last season, playing right guard and left tackle.
—The Arizona Cardinals and State Farm have agreed on an 18-year naming rights commitment that results in the team’s home venue becoming State Farm Stadium, the Cardinals announced.
The Cardinals’ home venue has been known as University of Phoenix Stadium since its inaugural season of 2006. The team expects much of its rebranding to be in place by its season opener against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
University of Phoenix will remain connected to the Cardinals as the team’s official education partner.
—The Detroit Lions signed running back Donnel Pumphrey to their practice squad. A 2017 fourth-round pick of the Eagles, Pumphrey was released during final cuts.
Pumphrey rushed for an FBS-record 6.405 yards at San Diego State from 2013-16.
—Field Level Media