Connect with us


Snyder’s status, Watson’s ban, Flores’ lawsuit hang over NFL

Source image:

Nothing, it seems, can slow the NFL’s overwhelming and ever-growing popularity, no matter how poor the play, how inconsistent the officiating, how shaky the concussion protocols — and no matter how many significant, unsavory off-field issues loom as the season enters its second half.

There are multiple ongoing investigations of Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder, including one by the District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, who filed a civil consumer protection lawsuit Thursday against the team, Snyder, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell. There is the impending return of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson from an 11-game suspension negotiated with the league after about two dozen women filed civil suits accusing him of sexual misconduct. And there is the pending racial discrimination lawsuit brought by Pittsburgh Steelers assistant Brian Flores.

When Goodell testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in June in connection with its look at Snyder, his prepared statement included this vow: “I have been, and remain, committed to ensuring that all employees of the NFL and the 32 clubs work in a professional and supportive environment that is free from discrimination, harassment or other forms of illegal or unprofessional conduct.”

Those are the sorts of things at play with these three matters, which are the kinds of stories about bad acts and bad actors that surely make some folks uncomfortable cheering for a certain team or plunking down cash that supports a sport as a whole. Still, that does not seem to make a difference when it comes to professional football, which has proved to be impervious over the long run to whatever negative publicity comes its way.

Remember the lawsuits about brain injuries brought by former players? How about the whole Donald Trump vs. Colin Kaepernick to-do? Or the domestic violence cases involving Ray Rice, Tyreek Hill and Adrian Peterson?

Yet the NFL remains No. 1.

Since the start of this season, NFL content — games and studio shows — ranked no worse than first and second, sometimes even holding spots 1-7, each week in the Nielsen company’s list of most popular prime-time TV programs.

Then there’s this: Through Week 9, 27 of the 32 teams are drawing more spectators per home game so far in 2022 than they did to the same point of last season. Two of the others maintained the same attendance by extending sellout streaks.

Here is a look at where things stand with regard to Snyder, Watson and the lawsuit filed by Flores:


This will remain in the news unless and until Snyder actually goes through with selling a majority stake in the Commanders or his fellow owners vote him out.

Both of those outcomes seemed rather unlikely until last month. First, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said there was “merit” to removing Snyder, who has been accused of groping a team employee and of overseeing a workplace in which women were frequently harassed and demeaned. Two weeks later, the Commanders announced the hiring of a financial services firm to “consider potential transactions,” and a team spokesperson said, “We are exploring all options.”

Hanging over Snyder, and the sport, are no fewer than four inquiries, including by the NFL itself and by Congress, into sexual or financial improprieties during his losing-on-and-off-the-field tenure. No one knows how long those might last; Goodell said there was no timeline for the league’s investigation, its second focused on Snyder.


Barring an unexpected development, Watson will return to practice next week with the struggling Browns and appear in his first NFL game in 23 months on Dec. 4, against his former club, the Houston Texans.

Accused of harassing, assaulting or touching massage therapists during sessions, Watson settled out of court with most of the women after signing a deal with the Browns worth $230 million, the largest guaranteed contract in league history.

His return to the field could drum up the type of reception — on the road, at least — that Watson heard at Cleveland’s first exhibition game, back in August at the Jacksonville Jaguars: He was loudly booed, and some spectators chanted vulgarities in his direction.

Regardless of how Watson himself is greeted, his presence could be seen by some critics as another instance of the NFL and its teams failing to care enough about women.


Shortly after being fired by Miami as its head coach, Flores — who is Black — sued the Dolphins, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and the NFL in Manhattan federal court on Feb. 1, saying the hiring practices for coaches and general managers are “rife with racism.”

“My sincere hope is that by standing up against systemic racism in the NFL,” Flores said in a statement released by his lawyers that day, “others will join me to ensure that positive change is made for generations to come.”

Flores later was brought aboard by Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin to work with the club’s inside linebackers.

Steve Wilks, recently promoted to interim coach of the Carolina Panthers, and former NFL assistant Ray Horton became co-plaintiffs in April.

It’s unclear how and when this will all unfold. The case is stuck in procedural matters at the moment as Flores, Wilks and Horton aim for a jury trial, while the league hopes to go to arbitration, with Goodell or someone he designates overseeing the matter.

In the meantime, the NFL has made incremental changes to its hiring process and the “Rooney Rule,” the kind of updates that previously were tried, without much effect on the disparity between the number of Black players (more than half of the league) and number of teams with minority head coaches (seven of 32).

A reminder of the history and the sentiment that prompted Flores’ suit came just this week, when Irsay chose Jeff Saturday, a former player with zero coaching experience beyond the high school level, to replace the fired Frank Reich as head coach of the Colts.


AP Sports Writers Will Graves in Pittsburgh, Stephen Whyno in Washington and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at


AP NFL: and


Continue Reading


Report: NWSL to expand in Boston, Utah and California

The National Women’s Soccer League is close to expanding by three teams, which will be in Boston, Utah and the San Francisco area, according to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal.

The women’s pro league previously indicated it would add at least two teams by 2024. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, reported that the franchises in northern California and Utah are set to start play next year, with Boston to join at a later date.

The NWSL did not confirm the report in a statement Saturday to The Associated Press, saying: “We remain engaged in our expansion process and are excited about our prospects. When we have news to share, we will do so.”

The NWSL has 12 teams, after Angel City in Los Angeles and the San Diego Wave joined the league last year.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the Boston and Bay Area groups will pay about $50 million in franchise fees. The Utah team will pay a reduced fee because of a previous agreement struck when the Utah Royals folded in the 2020 season.

Before the NWSL draft earlier this month, league commissioner Jessica Berman said it would be “somewhere between days and months, more like weeks, when we’ll be in a position to share information” about an expansion.

“What I can say is that I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities we have in front of us,” she added.


AP soccer: and

Continue Reading


Former MVP Candace Parker to sign with champion Aces

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former two-time MVP Candace Parker announced on social media Saturday that she would sign with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces.

Parker spent the past two seasons playing for her hometown Sky, leading Chicago to the WNBA championship in 2021. She also won the 2016 title playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

She posted on Instagram that Chicago would always be her home, but “my family’s home is on the west coast.

“To play for a championship close to home is the perfect situation for us. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey this summer in Las Vegas.”

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday, and the Aces can’t comment until then.

Parker, a 6-foot-4 forward/center, adds to an already loaded lineup that includes reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, who also won the league’s top award in 2020. Wilson also was last season’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chelsea Gray was MVP of the WNBA Finals and Kelsey Plum MVP of the All-Star Game. Wilson, Plum and Jackie Young were All-Star starters.

Parker and Gray were teammates on Los Angeles’ 2016 title team.

The Aces traded one of their key pieces, two-time Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby, to the Sparks on Jan. 21, creating speculation Las Vegas was creating salary cap room to sign a big-name player.

Parker, the 2020 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2016 Finals MVP, certainly fits that bill. Even at 36 last season, she averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists for the Sky.

“Candace has done so much for our franchise in her time here,” Chicago coach and general manager James Wade said in a statement. “I understand her reasons for wanting to be closer with her immediate family. We wish her nothing but the best. She will always be a part of the Sky family. We will celebrate her time here as she deserves.”

Losing her is a big blow to the Sky, who made the semifinals in last season’s playoffs before losing in five games to the Connecticut Sun. Kahleah Copper is the only starter under contract for next season, so the Sky could head into a rebuild.

“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to win a championship in my hometown and parade down the same streets I watched the Bulls parade down as a young girl first falling in love with the game of basketball,” Parker posted.

Parker joins the Aces at a time the Women’s National Basketball Players Association said it wanted that organization investigated regarding allegations that Hamby made after being traded. She posted on Instagram she was “lied to, bullied, manipulated, and discriminated against” because she is pregnant with her second child.

The Aces still have not commented on Hamby’s allegations.


AP sports: and

Continue Reading


Estrada, Hofstra end No. 18 Charleston’s 20-game win streak

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — This season, Hofstra has been a one-man show. This time, Aaron Estrada had some help as the Pride ended the nation’s longest winning streak.

Estrada scored 25 points, but just two in the second half, while Darlinestone Dubar added 18 as Hofstra had four players in double figures to knock off No. 18 College of Charleston 85-81 on Saturday — ending the Cougars’ 20-game win streak.

“That’s a really big for our program,” Hofstra coach Speedy Claxton said. “To beat a nationally ranked team on their home court when they’ve got it rolling like they do speaks volumes about our kids.”

Claxton saw a team effort to take down the hottest team in the country.

“It wasn’t just Aaron,” Claxton said. “He had a great first half, but we had other guys step up and make baskets or get rebounds when we really needed them.”

The loss ended Charleston’s spotless run that began after losing to then-top-ranked North Carolina on Nov. 11.

Hofstra, the CAA’s leader in field-goal shooting, used that to move past Charleston in the second half as it made 18 of 32 attempts. The Pride led 76-69 with 6:10 to play before the Cougars cut it to two points on Ryan Larson’s foul shots with 2:02 to play.

But Charleston managed just two free throws after that and missed all four 3-pointers they tried.

This is the second straight season the Pride have beaten a Top 25 team. A year ago, Hofstra defeated then No. 24 Arkansas 89-81. The Pride’s only other victory against a Top 25 team came against Southern Illinois in 1976.

Hofstra (15-8, 8-2 Colonial Athletic Association) beat the Cougars (21-2, 9-1) at their own game — 3-point shooting. The Pride were 11 of 22 from 3-point range and overall shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half.

Estrada, who had 23 points in the opening half, shredded the Cougars defense at will. Estrada was 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

“Estrada is a great player, hit a bunch of tough shots, especially in the first half,” Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said. “Hofstra is a very, very talented team. It’s not just Estrada. They were better than us tonight.”

Then Estrada took over. The CAA’s leading scorer at 21.1 points a game scored 16 of the next 24 points for the Pride, including four 3-pointers.

Ante Brzovic’s dunk at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 46-44 advantage at halftime.

Tyler Thomas had 17 points and eight rebounds for Hofstra.

Brzovic finished with 18 points to lead the Cougars.


Hofstra: The Pride are on a roll in 2023. winning seven of their past eight games, including three in a row.

College of Charleston: The Cougars chances of receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large bid took a major blow with the loss to the Pride. Despite having the nation’s longest win streak for three months, Charleston will most likely have to win the CAA Tournament in March to advance to the NCAAs.


The Cougars’ 20-game win streak wasn’t the only streak to end on Saturday. College of Charleston played 14 of its first 23 games at TD Arena to start the season and were a perfect 13-0 at home before facing the Pride. Charleston’s 13-game home win streak included three wins in the Charleston Classic. The Cougars became the first mid-major program to win the ESPN event, beating Virginia Tech 77-75 in the championship game. Charleston will finish the season playing four of their final eight games on the road.


Charleston’s first loss in nearly three months might drop the Cougars from the national rankings. They have been part of the last four rankings, entering at No. 23 before reaching No. 18 this past week.


Hofstra returns home to play Towson on Thursday night.

College of Charleston starts a two-game road trip at Drexel on Thursday night.


AP college basketball: and and

Continue Reading