With 2016 training camps resuming this week, the National Football League is officially back in full swing again. Here is a look at the top stories from around the NFL:
NFL clears Peyton Manning of PED allegations
The NFL issued a statement today clearing future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning of any wrongdoing related to the performance-enhancing drug allegations that were raised by one specific news organization last season. Below is the NFL's statement:
"Following a comprehensive seven-month investigation into allegations made in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America, the NFL found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with or used HGH or other substances prohibited by the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, it was announced today.
The Mannings were fully cooperative with the investigation and provided both interviews and access to all records sought by the investigators.
Initiated in January, the investigation was led by the NFL's security and legal teams with support from expert consultants and other professionals. The investigation involved witness interviews, a review of relevant records and other materials, online research, and laboratory analysis and review.
Separately, the NFL's investigation continues into the documentary's allegations made against other NFL players, which involve different lines of inquiry and witnesses."
Manning capped off a superlative career with a storybook finish last season -- a Super Bowl victory. This latest exoneration should clear any lingering taint on his otherwise legendary career.
NFL reinstates Browns' Josh Gordon on conditional basis
Evidently their recent meeting together was quite productive because Commissioner Roger Goodell notified Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns today that he has been reinstated to the NFL on a conditional basis.
Gordon may join the team at training camp and participate in meetings, conditioning work and similar activities. Once arrangements have been confirmed regarding Gordon's clinical resources in Cleveland, he will be permitted to participate in all preseason activities, including practices and games.
Although Gordon will be allowed to resume working with the team, he still will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, but will be eligible to return to the team beginning Monday, October 3. During this suspension, Gordon may participate in team meetings and other activities, but may not attend or participate in practices or games.
The four-game suspension is certainly an upgrade for the Browns, as Gordon previously had been suspended indefinitely since February 2015 without pay for multiple violations of the NFL-NFLPA Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
In a letter to Gordon today, Commissioner Goodell wrote:
"As we discussed at our [July 19] meeting, as Commissioner, I want nothing more than to see you turn your circumstances around and succeed. Countless others including your agent, teammates and coaches, Mr. Haslam and the leadership of the organization, the Program professionals and Jim Brown also have pledged to provide you with every resource at their disposal. But as you acknowledged, ultimately, your future is your responsibility. I have every belief that you can make the right choices, but it will be up to you to do so."
Having the playmaking Gordon back in the fold should be a major boost to the Cleveland offense this season, as new quarterback Robert Griffin III will need all the help he can get.
49ers name Tom Gamble Assistant GM
The San Francisco 49ers announced that Tom Gamble has been named assistant general manager.
“Tom is an accomplished talent evaluator who grew up around the game of football,” said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. “Having spent the last 28 years of his life in the NFL, his wealth of experience has been invaluable to our organization for almost a decade. Tom is a hard-working professional and more importantly a good man. We are excited he will continue to play an integral role in the development of our team.”
Gamble returned to the 49ers in January of 2015 after spending the previous two seasons (2013-14) as the Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel. He originally joined the 49ers in 2005 and spanned eight seasons with San Francisco including his last two as the director of player personnel (2011-12).
While working closely with Baalke, Gamble oversaw both the college and pro personnel efforts of the 49ers. As the 49ers director of pro personnel from 2005-10, he monitored every NFL roster with an emphasis on scouting talent of upcoming pro free agents, while also maintaining continuous depth of personnel on the team’s roster.
Gamble, who enters his 29th NFL season and 10th with the 49ers, has an extensive resume, which includes work in college and pro personnel, contract negotiations and a stint in the coaching ranks.
During his time in the NFL, Gamble has helped build 12 playoff teams – two with San Francisco, five with Indianapolis, and five with Philadelphia. Prior to his arrival in San Francisco, Gamble served as a college scout for the Colts from 1998 through the 2005 draft, under veteran NFL executive Bill Polian.
Vikings tackle Phil Loadholt retires
The Minnesota Vikings have placed veteran offensive tackle Phil Loadholt on the Reserve/Retired List after being informed of his decision to retire from the NFL. Loadholt had battled injuries in recent seasons, and had difficulty with an Achilles injury that caused him to miss last year.
“I first want to thank the Wilf Family for the wonderful opportunity they gave me seven years ago," said Loadholt. "There’s a lot of people to thank – Rick Spielman, Rob Brzezinski, George Paton, Scott Studwell and all the personnel people. My head coaches – Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier and Mike Zimmer. My position coaches – Pat Morris, Jim Hueber, Jeff Davidson and Tony Sparano. The entire Vikings support staff and most important – the Vikings fans and my teammates. This chapter in my life is closing and I look forward to seeing what the next one brings. I’ll always love this game and the opportunity to do something I dreamed about since I was seven years old. But, my body is telling me it’s time to hang up my cleats.”
Loadholt played 7 seasons for the Vikings after being selected in the second round (54th overall) in the 2009 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Loadholt started 15 regular season games and both playoff contests, helping the Vikings reach the NFC Championship Game and earning All-Rookie honors.
“Phil means a lot to this team and the community," said Rick Spielman, Vikings General Manager. "He was a big part of the success we had on the field in his time here and we always knew he came prepared and played hard every week. Phil was one of our core guys, a cornerstone for this team, and embodied the principles that we have been building here. He did things the right way, spent his whole career with us and proudly represented the Vikings. We thank Phil for what he’s done for the franchise and wish him the best in the future.”
Loadholt started all 89 games he played in for the Vikings ranking him ninth in club history for career starts by an OT. Loadholt was the Vikings recipient for the Ed Block Courage Award for 2015 after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury during the preseason.
New policy to enforce concussion protocol
The NFL and NFLPA today announced an agreement to enforce the NFL Game Day Concussion Protocol and discipline clubs that violate it.
Under the new policy, the NFL and NFLPA will follow a strict and fair process to investigate incidents and determine appropriate discipline, including club fines and possible forfeiture of draft picks.
The NFL and NFLPA, in conjunction with their medical advisory committees, implemented the NFL Game Day Concussion Protocol to address the diagnosis and management of concussions. The parties consistently review the Concussion Protocol to ensure that players are receiving care that reflects the most up to date medical consensus. The new policy sets forth disciplinary action against a club should a member of its medical staff or other employee fail to follow the Concussion Protocol.
According to the policy, the NFL and NFLPA will each designate a representative to monitor the implementation of the protocol and investigate potential violations. The investigation will not reach medical conclusions; it will only determine whether the protocol was followed.
Following the investigation, the NFL and NFLPA will review the findings to determine if a violation occurred and, if so, to recommend the proper disciplinary response. If the parties are unable to agree, the matter will be brought to a third party arbitrator. After conducting a thorough review, the arbitrator will issue a report to the Commissioner, NFLPA Executive Director and the involved parties.
As jointly agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA, the Commissioner retains absolute discretion in determining penalties for violations of the concussion protocol. Potential disciplinary action includes:
A first violation will require the club employees or medical team members involved to attend remedial education; and/or result in a maximum fine of $150,000 against the club.
Second and subsequent violations of the concussion protocol will result in a minimum fine of $100,000 against the club.
In the event the parties agree that a violation involved aggravating circumstances, the club shall be subject, in the first instance, to a fine no less than $50,000. The Commissioner shall determine appropriate discipline for subsequent violations involving aggravating circumstances.
In the event that the Commissioner determines that the club's medical team failed to follow the protocol due to competitive considerations, the Commissioner may require the club to forfeit draft pick(s) and impose additional fines exceeding those amounts set forth above.
NFL Network and RedZone coming to PlayStation Vue
NFL Media today announced it has reached an agreement with Sony Interactive Entertainment for national distribution of NFL Network and NFL RedZone on PlayStation™Vue, the pioneering Internet-based live TV service. NFL Network and NFL RedZone are scheduled to launch in time for kickoff of the NFL's regular season on PlayStation Vue, which is available on popular TV-connected and mobile devices.
"The NFL is constantly looking to serve our fans premium NFL content where and how they want to see it," said Hans Schroeder, Senior Vice President, Media Strategy, Business Development, & Sales for the NFL. "We're excited to offer NFL Network and NFL RedZone through PlayStation Vue, an innovative platform that will provide fans yet another option for keeping up with the Network's 24/7 NFL coverage and catching RedZone's action-packed Sunday afternoon experience."
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services