Up in Flames: JPP Loses Finger

Evan Silva ranks the Top 100 Free Agents for the 2016 NFL offseason
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On the season premiere of Ballers, Dwayne Johnson’s character offered this piece of advice: “If it drives, flies or floats … lease it.”

Now I’m curious to hear The Rock’s stance on fireworks.

Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul pulled out all the stops for his 4th of July bash in Miami. He even stuffed a U-Haul full of pyrotechnics.

It did not end well. Word got out Sunday that a fireworks mishap had sent Pierre-Paul to the hospital. Giants brass arrived on the scene shortly after. Team officials were denied access to Pierre-Paul’s hospital room and eventually left town without seeing him.

While the Twittersphere was desperately hunting for clues, running back Rashad Jennings told NJ.com Pierre-Paul was “doing well” before teasing us with this juicy cliffhanger: “people will know more soon.”

Well, now we do. According to medical records obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Pierre-Paul underwent surgery to amputate his right index finger. The injury isn’t career threatening but it was a big enough red flag for the Giants to pull their $60 million contract offer. With an extension off the table, Pierre-Paul will now play under the Giants’ one-year, $14.8 million franchise tender, which he has yet to sign.

Playing without a digit certainly puts Pierre-Paul at a disadvantage, but it has been done before. In fact, Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson lost the tip of his left middle finger two seasons ago and only sat out two games. Pierre-Paul is also dealing with a fractured thumb that could take six weeks to heal. According to reports, he should be out of the hospital within 2-or-3 days.

Pierre-Paul wasn’t the only player to suffer a fireworks-related injury this week. Buccaneers cornerback C.J. Wilson lost two fingers Saturday while shooting off fireworks in his hometown of Lincolnton, North Carolina. The 25-year-old logged just 27 snaps on defense last season with all of those reps coming against the Saints in Week 17. Wilson was a fringe player to begin with. Making the team out of training camp will be even tougher after this setback.

Have we reached a point where fireworks have to be addressed in player contracts? It sure seems like it. Stick to sparklers, guys.

Tottenham, NFL agree on 10-year deal

Tottenham Hotspur, a fixture in the English Premier League, has plans to build a new stadium. When it opens in 2018, the NFL will be among its first visitors.

The NFL reached a 10-year deal with Tottenham on Wednesday, assuring that at least two NFL regular season games will be played there every season from 2018-2027. The state-of-the-art stadium boasts two playing surfaces with a retractable grass field on top of artificial turf. At 61,000 occupants, it will be smaller than the average NFL stadium but much larger than Tottenham’s current home field at White Hart Lane, which seats about 36,000.

Meanwhile the NFL has no plans to abandon Wembley Stadium, where three games will be played later this season. Wembley has hosted at least one game every season since 2007 with three last year and two in 2013. After 2015’s slate of games, London will have hosted 14 contests in a nine-year span.

The NFL’s International Series began as an experiment but has grown into something much bigger. The last five games in London have all drawn at least 80,000 fans, which suggests this is more than just a passing phase. It took a while but London seems to have developed a real fondness for America’s favorite sport. With all the money it’s bringing in, the NFL won’t be leaving England any time soon.

Richardson, McClain Face Four-Game Bans

With OTAs and minicamp over, last week was a snooze-fest in the NFL. That left me with barely anything to write about. I still crunched out 1,800 words but there wasn’t much to go on. Heck, my lead story was DeSean Jackson whining about something that happened a year ago.

So naturally, 20 minutes after I posted last week’s Bump and Run, the NFL announced three high profile suspensions. Those suspensions would have filled half my column. But fear not, I’m here to address them now. Since Raymond Summerlin already did an excellent job tackling the Antonio Gates’ suspension and its fantasy significance (I see you, Ladarius Green), let’s focus on the other two.

Jets Pro Bowl defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was handed a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Last season Richardson received PFF’s second-highest grade for a 3-4 defensive end. The only player who graded higher was J.J. Watt and that doesn’t count because he’s a cyborg from another dimension. So essentially, Richardson was the best human at his position last season.

Four games isn’t a life sentence but it’s cause for concern. With Buffalo coming off a rare winning season and the Patriots as potent as ever (you know they’ll go 3-1 without Tom Brady), the Jets can’t afford to have a game-changer like Richardson shelved for 25 percent of their schedule.

Richardson’s absence is especially interesting because it opens up playing time for first-round pick Leonard Williams. Richardson and stud defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson are both nearing the end of their contracts and with all the money New York spent on free agents this offseason, they won’t have enough to keep both of them (from the sound of it, neither is willing to take a hometown discount). If Williams lives up to his massive hype, he could make one of the two expendable.

Dallas linebacker Rolando McClain was also hit with a four-game suspension related to substance abuse. The ban marks another chapter in his bizarre career. Exiled from Oakland, McClain hung up his cleats at age 23 only to join the Cowboys a year later. He broke out in 2014, receiving the seventh highest inside linebacker grade from Pro Football Focus. This won’t help McClain’s stock with free agency waiting for him in 2016. Assuming the suspension stands, McClain will cede his inside linebacker spot to veteran Jasper Brinkley, who posted 75 tackles in 16 games for the Vikings last season.

AFC Quick Hits: Titans QB Zach Mettenberger reignited his beef with J.J. Watt by making fun of his Texans letterman jacket. In response, Watt tweeted, “A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep.” Do you have a death wish, Zach? … Buffalo wide receiver Marquise Goodwin will compete at the Pan-American Games in Toronto on July 21-22. He finished fourth in the long jump at the U.S. Championships in Oregon last month … Who knows if Terrelle Pryor’s switch to wide receiver will actually work, but at least he has good mentors. The NFL tweeted out a picture of Pryor training with Randy Moss and Antonio Brown. Those guys know a thing or two about catching pigskins … Florida native Andre Johnson was hoping to sign with Miami this offseason. One problem: the Dolphins never called him … Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu recently uploaded a video of himself drilling a 60-yard field goal at practice. He’s coming for you, Mike Nugent … Troy Renck of the Denver Post expects Montee Ball to see between seven and eight carries a game this season. Fantasy owners should target Ball as a handcuff for C.J. Anderson … With red zone favorite Julius Thomas gone, the Broncos will turn to a tight end by committee featuring Owen Daniels and Virgil Green. It’s not ideal, but Peyton Manning has a way of making things work … The NFL Supplemental Draft will be held on Thursday. Seven players are eligible this year including Clemson tackle Isaiah Battle and West Georgia defensive end Darrius Caldwell … Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell shed his walking boot recently and should be a go for the start of training camp. The 28-year-old set career-highs in catches (74), receiving yards (953) and touchdowns (seven) last season … Colts punter Pat McAfee will try his hand at standup comedy Saturday at the Palladium in Carmel, Indiana. Proceeds from the show will go to McAfee’s charitable foundation, which provides scholarships for families of active military members.

NFC Quick Hits: One of Tony Romo’s fans sent him a wedding invitation. Romo wasn’t able to attend but he sent over an autographed photo with his RSVP. Peyton Manning did something similar last year. Sending athletes “wedding invitations” isn’t the most subtle way to go about getting your memorabilia, but it is effective … Brett Favre, who also discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn, is now taking credit for the Colts’ relatively smooth divorce from Peyton Manning: “In my opinion, I think the Indianapolis-Peyton separation was handled correctly simply because they had seen the Packers and Favre separation not go so well.” Not everything is about you, Brett … Panthers QB Cam Newton paid a visit to Australia this week. While he was there, he trained with the Richmond Tigers of the Australian Football League … Packers TE Andrew Quarless was arrested last weekend for discharging a firearm in public. When the police showed up, he tried to hide his gun in a plant. It didn’t work … The Cowboys appeared to be on the verge of signing Dez Bryant to a seven-year, $100 million extension last weekend but sources told PFT’s Mike Florio Wednesday that “nothing is going on” … A Marshawn Lynch biopic had been in the works but it looks like we’ll never get to see it. Lynch’s agent Doug Hendrickson called the film “terrible” and said it will “never be released.” The film’s producer, Mario Bobino, is no longer on speaking terms with Lynch … Seahawks running back Christine Michael might be fighting for his roster spot this summer. The coaching staff has been impressed by Thomas Rawls, an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan … Victor Cruz expects to play in the preseason. The Giants wideout/salsa dancer missed most of last season with a torn patellar tendon … Odell Beckham had the highest-selling jersey in the NFL last month. The Giants receiver was also featured in ESPN’s Body Issue. So were Colts offensive linemen Anthony Castonzo, Todd Herremans and Jack Mewhort … Former Eagles and Redskins QB Donovan McNabb was recently arrested for DUI in Arizona. It’s his second drunk driving arrest in 18 months … Former Falcons defensive end John Abraham turned himself into authorities last week in Brookhaven, Georgia. He’s facing battery charges for an incident that took place at a strip club last February … Saints coach Sean Payton expects Nick Toon’s snaps to go “way up” this season. The 26-year-old caught 17 passes for 215 yards in 2014 … Retired running back Marcus Lattimore said he was “shocked” when the 49ers drafted him in 2013. I don’t know what’s worse, Jim Harbaugh drafting a player with chronic knee problems or that brutal interview he gave with Colin Cowherd last week … Wednesday a federal judge upheld the decision to cancel the Redskins’ trademark registration. Judge Gerald Bruce Lee quoted Allen Iverson in his ruling: “Just as Allen Iverson once reminded the media that they were wasting time at the end of the Philadelphia 76ers’ season ‘talking about practice’ and not an actual professional basketball game, the Court is similarly compelled to highlight what is at issue in this case—trademark registration, not the trademarks themselves.” Well played.

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