NFL players. Stripper. Booze. Blood. Brawl. Cops. TMZ.
Those are your taglines for the NFL’s latest off-field incident of infamy.
It started out as a celebratory night at the Opera, but not even the Marx Bros. would dream up this.
Late Sunday night a busload of Baltimore Ravens players -- mere hours after they thumped the visiting Houston Texans -- celebrated the 34th birthday of offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie in TMZ-alerting fashion.
The Ravens partied both on the bus and at the Opera Ultra Lounge, one of the hippest hip hop clubs in downtown Washington.
According to TMZ, a brawl erupted on the bus in the wee hours of Monday. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones was hurt after a stripper named Sweet Pea smashed a ginormous booze bottle on his head, and Jones was “bleeding everywhere,” according to TMZ’s anonymous sources.
Jones hasn’t played since Week 1, when he sprained a knee in Denver. Now he has a sore head. Otherwise he’s apparently fine.
Cops came but didn’t arrest anyone, as no one on the bus would cooperate.
Not a particularly shining moment for anyone. The irony is that all this bad news happened when the players, apparently, endeavoured to party somewhat responsibly by renting a bus, rather than piling into a convoy of sports cars and driving themselves to the club.
An embarrassment nonetheless.
“I’m not very impressed,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said on Monday. “It’s not something that we want to be known for.
“I think it’s not something those guys want to be known for. It’s nothing to be proud of. I’m kind of disappointed in that sense.”
Harbaugh himself celebrated a birthday on Monday, his 51st.
He did not rent a bus.
COROLLARY: Speaking of alcohol-drenched bad publicity for Harbaugh-coached players, the San Francisco 49ers placed LB Aldon Smith on the reserve/non-football-injury list, while he cleans himself up in rehab. He could be gone for a month or longer.
BIG LOSS FOR BEARS: Chicago has lost defensive tackle Henry Melton for the year. He blew out his left ACL late in the Bears’ impressive 40-23 at Pittsburgh on Sunday night.
The injury likely will cost Melton millions. The Bears had slapped the franchise tag on Melton in March. He’d been hoping to have another strong year, in the hope of landing a lucrative deal next spring.
Nate Collins fills in.
TWENTY-PERCENT TIP?: Hope you’re not reading this on a full stomach.
Cardinals S Rashad Johnson had the tip of his left middle finger sheared off -- serious -- at New Orleans on Sunday. He thinks it happened merely by jamming it into the Superdome turf.
When trainers took off Johnson’s blood-soaked glove, ta-da! The tip of his finger -- above the last knuckle -- remained in the glove. (Barf bag sold separately.)
Johnson underwent emergency surgery to shave down the exposed bone. Doctors did not reattach the finger tip and had no plans to do so. They merely sewed up the skin overtop the bone. (P’cack.)
Incredibly, Johnson is listed as day-to-day.
“It’s just a matter of pain tolerance,” Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said.
KEEPING UP WITH JONES: Adam (Pacman) Jones, perennially known to police, ran afoul of the law again early Monday. He refused a sobriety test as a passenger in a car driven by someone charged with DUI. Jones’ offence is officially a misdemeanour for disorderly conduct, for those keeping track at home.
URINE TROUBLE AGAIN, VON: Rounding out one crazy-ass news day in the NFL, in August suspended Broncos LB Von Miller attempted to conspire with an NFL-contracted drug-testing-company employee to swap a clean urine sample for his polluted one, USA Today reported.
The NFL suspended Miller for six games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
The New Orleans Saint defence. Rob Ryan -- Rex’s twin brother -- is the NFL’s coordinator of the year so far. His new 3-4 defence has surrendered 38 points in three games, and only 21 in the past two. Last year’s awful Saints defence allowed 40 in the opener alone. All Drew Brees and the Saints need is for the D to be average to probably reach the playoffs, yet it’s been better than that.
The San Francisco 49ers defence. All those Pro Bowlers, at every level -- well, minus Aldon Smith now. But its “vaunted” status is no more. It’s mediocre, and has been since just before Christmas. The numbers don’t lie: San Fran surrendered 42 points to Seattle in late December, averaged 30 against in the playoffs, and is allowing 28 per game so far this season.
The football gods have punished another coach who turtled at crunch time with a small lead. Last week: Ron Rivera of the Panthers. This week: Mike McCoy of the Chargers, who ran it on 3rd-and-9 at San Diego’s 36 with 2:25 left at Tennessee. I woulda had Phil Rivers pass for the first down. Instead: punt, Hail Mary, loss, 1-2.
Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett did his struggling rookie QB EJ Manuel no favours against the Jets. Rex Ryan dialed up a variety of engulfing pressures, yet Hackett kept calling slow-developing pass plays for Manuel, who got sacked eight times and hurried on almost every long dropback.
The Texans coulda jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in Baltimore, driving twice to the Ravens’ 10. Both times they settled for field goals, keeping the offensively wobbly Ravens in the game. Baltimore later seized all momentum and won 30-9.
GOAT OF THE WEEK -- Jonathan Franklin, RB, Packers
The third-stringer had stepped up nicely against the Bengals with 100 yards, subbing for injured Eddie Lacy and James Starks. But his fumble on a potential game-clinching drive was returned for the winning points in Green Bay’s 34-30 loss at Cinci.
HERO OF THE WEEK -- Brian Hoyer, QB, Browns
Gotta hand it to the fifth-year journeyman. A week ago he was third-stringer. On Sunday in his first start for the Browns -- the team he adored while growing up in Cleveland -- Hoyer completed clutch passes, including a last-minute TD pass to beat the Vikes.
ZERO OF THE WEEK -- Co-winners: 49ers GM Trent Baalke & head coach Jim Harbaugh.
It was their joint decision to play LB Aldon Smith against the Colts, after Smith’s DUI arrest on Friday, his second in three years. Bad call, bad optics, from every angle.
FIVE STORIES TO WATCH
1. Steelers, Giants, Redskins and Vikings are 0-3.
So are the Jaguars and Bucs, but that ain’t news. The other four teams had legit playoff aspirations which are now all but torn asunder. Which team shakes up its roster first? Do the Vikes bench Ponder? Do the Steelers fire offensive plastermind Todd Haley? And what CAN Coughlin or Shanahan do? Stay tuned.
2. Multiple crises in San Francisco
First the Aldon Smith debacle, from ownership to management to the coaching staff on down to the troubled, rehab-headed linebacker himself. There’s also the defence stumbling, Colin Kaepernick bumbling and Frank Gore grumbling. A short week and trip out of town to St. Louis on Thursday might be just what the 1-2 club needs.
3. Monday night showdown -- Dolphins at Saints
That’s right: 3-0 Miami plays at 3-0 New Orleans next Monday night. Sweet. The Dolphins D-line is a mess of injuries right now, and it’s probably only because Atlanta’s offence had as many walking wounded that Miami rallied to beat the Falcons. This stage could serve as QB Ryan Tannehill’s national coming-out party if he sizzles.
4. NFC North showdown game No. 1
Looks like the division this year will be decided by the round-robin between the Bears (3-0), Lions (2-1) and Packers (1-2). Game 1 is on Sunday in Detroit, between the Lions and Bears. Adding spice is Detroit’s loss of left DE Jason Jones for the year. His replacement? Manitoba native Israel Idonije, who was a Bear for a decade until signing in the off-season with the Lions.
5. The potential end of the universe
You think I’m joking. Tony Romo faces off against Phil Rivers -- two veteran quarterbacks with all that talent, yet probably more blown games and more mind-blowingly dumb throws than any passers in NFL history. What will happen when their teams line up against one another in San Diego? Find a bomb shelter and assume the fetal position.
Would you believe that the four teams in everybody’s favourite punching bag, the AFC East, have combined for more victories than any other division in the league? Yup: nine. The Pats and Dolphins are 3-0, Jets 2-1 and Bills 1-2. Against teams outside the division they’re a combined 6-0.
St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. He was supposed to come in and help revive a poor Ram defence, invigorate a putrid offence and, especially, help former No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford become a first-rate NFL QB. Progress or regress after 19 games? Tough call.
On the hot seat
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. It’s not his fault Pittsburgh’s offensive line is a mess. But he’s doing little effective with Big Ben, a decent receiving corps and a couple of hard-nosed if unflashy runners. Is head coach Mike Tomlin above whacking a coordinator in-season? Nope. He fired the ST coordinator early last year. Team needs a shakeup, badly.