Category Archives: NFL

Austin Collie Reportedly Agrees to 1-Year Deal with San Francisco 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers have finally landed Colin Kaepernick another target.

According to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, Austin Collie agreed to terms with the team Friday after previously working out twice with the club:

There is no word on the financial terms of the deal. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported, however, it is a one-year pact:

Collie, 27, played each of his first four NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Drafted in the fourth round out of BYU, Collie has 173 receptions for 1,845 yards and 16 touchdowns in his career. He played in just one game last season with Indianapolis, catching one ball for six yards before going down with an injury.

The 49ers were looking to add a veteran target to their receiving corps. They also worked out former Jaguars receiver Laurent Robinson on Thursday, per Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee.

While San Francisco acquired Anquan Boldin this offseason with the impetus of giving Kaepernick an even greater number of targets on the field, injuries have left the depth chart depleted.

Top wideout Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles in May, and it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to suit up at all this season. Concern grew greater in camp this week when 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins, the man most likely to replace Crabtree on the outside, left practice with a hamstring injury, per Barrows. Jenkins was later joined on the sideline by Kassim Osgood, who also befell to injury.

Hi-res-7420836_crop_exact Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The situation has gotten so dire that top tight end Vernon Davis has been playing wide receiver for much of camp, as he told the Associated Press’ Joe Stiglich on Sunday:

I’m willing to step up and do whatever they ask me to do. They’ve been having me line up at wide receiver, pretty much all over the place. It’s a good thing that I get the opportunity to work with those guys because it not only helps me at the wide receiver position, it also helps me at the tight end position. My feet get quicker, my route-running is better.

While Collie will likely help out the 49ers’ depth should he stay healthy, there are major questions about his ability to do so.

His once-promising career with the Colts was cut short due to a series of injuries, mostly concussion-related. Collie was on pace for a Pro Bowl-level season in 2010 before taking a scary hit against the Philadelphia Eagles that November, taking a head-on collision as two defensive backs converged. He would return for just two more games in 2010 before suffering another scary concussion, this one putting him on the shelf for the remainder of the year.

While Collie would play 16 games in 2011, he wasn’t the same player. His numbers dipped to career lows, then he suffered a third concussion during the 2012 preseason. Missing the final 15 games of last season was not concussion-related, though, as he went down with a ruptured tendon in his knee during Week 3.

With Collie having been in twice for workouts, it appears the 49ers were pleased enough with his progress to bring him into the fold.

Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement top moments

CANTON, Ohio — The Pro Football Hall of Fame‘s enshrinement ceremony is one of the most magical and underrated nights in football. It’s a night for the junkies. For the men who shaped the game and all the fans who love it more than they probably should.

Seven men were enshrined in the Hall of Fame on Saturday: Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson, Larry Allen, Bill Parcells, Curley Culp, Warren Sapp and Cris Carter. Here were some highlights from all the speeches:

Allen’s speech surprises

Former Dallas Cowboys guard Larry Allen was well known for his taciturn style with the media.

“During my career, I didn’t talk that much, but I didn’t have to. I used my helmet,” Allen started his speech.

What followed was the most hilarious, surprising and memorable speech of a terrific night. It was the most honest. Allen’s message to his wife was an all-time classic.

“On our first date, she cooked for me. She cooked me two chickens, french fries, baked me a cake, and gave me a 40 ounce. I knew then, that was my wife right there,” Allen said.

Allen relayed how getting destroyed by Reggie White motivated him to get stronger:

“I got in that weight room and became the strongest man in the NFL. And I did it naturally,” Allen said, to laughs. “Once I benched 700 pounds, they tested me twice a week for the rest of my career.”

Allen was hoping that his bust would have a dip in it. It doesn’t, but the bust does have a scar. And Allen’s story about that scar says so much about him.

“I was protecting my little brother from the guy who was a little older than me. He ended up stabbing me,” Allen said. “Three months later my mother said, I’m not raising any punks, so she made me fight this guy. She said you will fight him until you win. First day, I lost. Second day, I lost. The third day, I finally won. That was one of the most valuable lessons I learned in my life, never to back down from anybody.”

Ogden begins the night with class

When you think Baltimore Ravens, you think of offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.

The franchise’s first draft pick was introduced by his general manager, Ozzie Newsome.

“I’ve often thought about that day back in 1996 when you drafted me instead of Lawrence Phillips,” Ogden cracked to Newsome. “I think that worked out well for everybody.”

Ogden’s speech was typical of everything we know about him: classy, light-hearted and smart. His support of former Ravens owner Art Modell was greeted with some boos in this Cleveland Browns-heavy area, but even that couldn’t take the huge smile off Ogden’s face. Ogden towered over his Hall of Fame teammates, and stands tall as a historic figure in his franchise’s history.

“I am so very proud to have been the Baltimore Ravens‘ first-ever draft choice, and I am so humbled to be the Baltimore Ravens‘ first-ever Hall of Fame inductee,” Ogden said.

Robinson makes impression to new audience

Green Bay Packers great Dave Robinson isn’t known well enough by today’s fans, but his speech Saturday night should help that.

“I have friends, family, and fans and everybody else that live just about 25 miles from here,” Robinson said. “But it took me 38 years to get here, and I tell you, I enjoyed every step of the way.”

Robinson clearly enjoyed every moment on stage, even if so many of his contemporaries couldn’t be there with him. The linebacker is one of nine siblings, and only one other one was alive to see him inducted.

“I don’t know if you caught it, but there’s been a lot of coaches in my life, and a lot of them have left here, so I don’t think anybody else wants to coach Dave Robinson. They don’t last long,” he said with a laugh. “There’s a lot of people looking down up there, my family and friends. And some of my friends may be looking up at me, but I just hope they’re all proud of me.”

Robinson played in an era under Vince Lombardi that we barely could recognize now. He and his wife moved to Green Bay at a time when there were no other black women in the entire town.

“There were rumors there was one black lady that lived in town, one in the whole city,” Robinson said. “I never met her. But the rumor was she was there. Yeah, I know. You’re thinking what I thought. She’s probably passing.”

Robinson had to wait so long for induction. But there was not a trace of regret on his face about it. He seemed so thankful to be included.

“I’m finally here. I’m here forever,” Robinson said. “I’m here now, they can’t get me out.”

Once a coach, always a coach

Bill Parcells still is coaching. His speech was full of thanks to those we’d expect who helped him along the way. But he just couldn’t help but try to motivate others in the crowd, starting with former assistant coaches like Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin.

“I just want to say I take pride in their individual accomplishments, and I’m looking for a couple more championships out of some of them, so let’s go,” Parcells said.

The Big Tuna knew that each player and assistant required different handling. Some needed to be watched more closely than others.

“The only thing I would ask them to do is when they put my bust in the Hall tomorrow, I’d like to be somewhere near Lawrence Taylor, so I can keep an eye on that sucker.”

Parcells had one of the longest speeches on a quick-moving night, and his most memorable passages were about the special nature of an NFL locker room.

“We’ve got happiness, we’ve got humor, practical jokes, hilarity, success, achievement. Then we’ve got that momentary time of exhilaration where you hoist that championship trophy over your head, and I don’t know what happens, but some mystical blood kinship is formed, and although it’s a fleeting moment, that kinship lasts for the rest of your life. …

“I wish all of American society could have experienced what I experienced in this place, because, ladies and gentlemen, it is a priceless, priceless education.”

Curley gets his due

Curley Culp is considered by some to be one of the greatest nose tackles of all time. He played primarily for the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers, and he finally was honored by the senior’s committee with induction this year.

“You know, this is an occasion that’s long been in my dreams and now lives in reality,” Culp said. “I cannot express how glorious a feeling this is for me and my family who have long hoped with me that this day would come. So to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame gives me joy and inspiration that would last the rest of my life.”

It’s a ‘Cane thing

Warren Sapp is the first Hall of Famer to have a bust with cornrows in it. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend’s speech largely was about where he came from, Plymouth, Fla. As Sapp called it, “the dirt.” Sapp, like so many players, talked about his high school and college coaches with reverence. He thanked Dennis Erickson, who coached him at the University of Miami, just for finding him.

“I want to thank coach (Erickson) for getting on a plane and flying up from Miami to Orlando, Fla., and getting on (U.S. Route 441) going North, and just like I told you, coach, drive until it gets real dark like you’ve gotten lost, then all of a sudden you’ll see the flashing lights and it’s going to say ‘Girls, Girls.’ It was just a little trucker stop, but I lived behind that trucker stop.”

Sapp had the first Rich Eisen mention in a Hall of Fame speech, going out of his way to thank his NFL Network teammates. Sapp’s most emotional moment came in thanks of his ex-wife. But his passion for football stood out more than anything else.

“I love this game. I love the passion of it. I sit here with the greatest among the great. As Michael Irvin said the other day, this is the Bible of football because you can read it, get inspiration, gain strength and look to tomorrow.

“This game is so great, there is nothing else I know and love that’s taken me from a dirt road to heights I’ve never even seen and now to a gold jacket. Oh, my goodness.”

A fitting end

Cris Carter had to go last. No one could follow his energy, his bombast, his love of family, his use of the third person. The former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver went through the people who mattered most in his life and punctuated his remarks to them with, “You’re going to the Hall of Fame with me!”

He thanked former Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan for releasing him at a time when his substance abuse problems were going out of control.

Carter said Ryan’s wife told the coach not to cut Carter because he “‘was going to do something special with his life.'”

“So Buddy Ryan and his wife, I thank you,” Carter said, “You’re going into the Hall with me tonight.”

Carter, Ohio-born and Ohio State-bred, capped the night with local flavor.

“Buckeye, Born and Bred, Now HOFer, even after I’m dead.”

Jeremy Maclin has torn ACL

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin tore his right ACL during Saturday’s practice, the team announced.

According to multiple reports, the injury occurred during 7-on-7 drills. In the early part of camp, players are still practicing in no-contact drills without pads.

Maclin stayed on the ground for several minutes while the club’s medical staff attended to his lower leg.

After getting to his feet, Maclin had to be helped to a motorized cart.

Maclin thanked fans for their support on Twitter.

The oft-injured Maclin, entering the final season of his five-year rookie contract, has played an entire season just once in his career.

After catching a career-high 10 touchdown passes in 2010, Maclin has combined for just 12 scores over his past two campaigns. He had 69 receptions for 857 yards and seven TDs last season.

The Eagles are in their first training camp under new coach Chip Kelly.

Dennis Pitta done for year

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta underwent surgery Saturday night and will miss the entire 2013 season after dislocating his hip in practice Saturday, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The injury occurred when Pitta collided with safety James Ihedigbo in the back of the end zone vying for a pass from Joe Flacco. Pitta lay prone for several minutes before being carted off the field.

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“Dennis has a dislocated hip. We’ll have to take a look at that and see exactly what it is,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after practice. “It’s a serious injury. He is going to be out for a while. He will not be in the Denver game and we’ll just have to play it from there to see how long it goes.”

Late Saturday night, a Ravens official said the club had no update from doctors or Pitta.

The Super Bowl champions begin defense of their title on the road against the Broncos on Sept. 5.

Pitta was preparing for his fourth season with Baltimore. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

In the playoffs, Pitta had 14 catches for 163 yards and three scores.

With Pitta gone, the Ravens are without two of their most productive receivers last year. Pitta’s 61 catches were tied for second with Ray Rice behind Anquan Boldin, who was traded to San Francisco during the offseason.

“Obviously, he was a very, very productive guy for us,” Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said of Pitta. “He made a lot of big plays last year. We’ll see what happens. But somebody is going to have to step up. We do have some capable guys all across the flanks. We do have some weapons. We’re just going to have to have some guys make some plays for us.”

With the Ravens looking for a replacement, an NFL source told ESPN that one option is former Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe.

“The ball is in his court right now. It’s his decision to make,” the source said.

The Ravens were reportedly considering signing Shiancoe even before the injury to Pitta. Shiancoe played in just four games last season with the Patriots, and did not have any catches.

In his first three NFL seasons, Pitta has 102 receptions for 1,075 yards and 10 touchdowns over 43 regular-season games.

What we learned from NFL training camps Friday

We didn’t expect Bill Belichick to open up Wednesday on the topic of Aaron Hernandez. The New England Patriots coach surprised us by delivering a message that thoughtfully conveyed his disappointment and sadness.

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We were reminded of Belichick’s candor Friday, when Aaron Rodgers faced the media for the first time at Green Bay Packers camp. The subject of Ryan Braun and his performance-enhancing drug use admission is nowhere near the level of what’s going on with Hernandez. Still, it’s clearly an unpleasant subject for the quarterback, who acknowledged he had been misled by a close friend.

“It doesn’t feel great being lied to like that, and I’m disappointed about the way it all went down,” Rodgers said. “He looked me in the eye on multiple occasions and repeatedly denied these allegations and said they were not true.”

Rodgers continued to answer questions about Braun until a Packers media liaison stepped in and asked reporters to move on. It wasn’t something Rodgers wanted to discuss, but he knew he had to.

Bill Belichick could relate.

Everything else we learned on Friday is below. And we broke down all the biggest stories on the Around the League Podcast Friday evening, coming soon on iTunes. …

Santonio Holmes is a huge question mark

Forget about Week 1. Santonio Holmes told reporters he’s not sure he’ll play at all this season. It’s another reminder of the catastrophic nature of his foot injury, which required two surgeries to correct. It’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be close to the same guy. Only the Jets.

The day in PED news

On the same day Rodgers addressed the mistakes of a friend, we learned that Washington Redskins defensive end Jarvis Jenkins — an ATL Making The Leap nominee — will be suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Jenkins said he was “shocked and confused” by the news. We’ve heard that before.

Adrian Peterson, meanwhile, said he’s certain players are using HGH today. We probably should get a test for that, huh?

Beware of the dreaded ACL monster

New York Jets cornerback Aaron Berry and San Diego Chargers linebacker Jonas Mouton saw their seasons end before they began after they were diagnosed with torn anterior cruciate ligaments. A cruel blow for two players who were clawing for roster spots this summer.

On a more positive note, A.J. Green‘s knee injury turned out to be only a scare.

Bryant McKinnie was allowed to practice (Yay!)

He didn’t finish. (Boo!)

A few things to watch

» Denver Broncos teammates are confident that linebacker Von Miller‘s four-game suspension will be lifted. An NFL source told The Denver Post that Miller did not test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or recreational drugs this year.

» Perhaps not surprisingly, Tim Tebow looked shaky throwing the ball at Patriots practice. He lined up with the receivers and running backs as well, a possible sign of things to come. “I think that we’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team,” Belichick said.

» The Jets and Arizona Cardinals are dealing with “offset” madness with cornerback Dee Milliner and guard Jonathan Cooper, respectively. Both first-round draft picks officially are holdouts.

» The Seattle Seahawks are hopeful wide receiver Percy Harvin can avoid surgery on his hip.

» Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak admitted it was a “little bit of a surprise” running back Arian Foster wasn’t cleared for the start of training camp. Foster strained his calf during a spring workout.

And now, a final word from Jim Harbaugh

“I got some scars,” the San Francisco 49ers coach said when asked about the hardest hit he took as a player. “Sometime I’ll have you over for a barbecue and I’ll strip my sleeves and show my scars. I usually do it about once a year for my neighbors. Feast my neighbors and talk about days gone by. But today’s not the day. You will be included for the yearly barbecue.”

As a guest or as the actual dinner?

Reports: Von Miller ban wasn’t for positive drug test

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As Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller prepares to appeal his four-game suspension for violating league policy, recent reports suggest his punishment wasn’t triggered by a failed drug test.

“He didn’t test positive for anything,” a person with knowledge of Miller’s situation told Lindsay H. Jones of USA TODAY Sports.

Mike Klis of The Denver Post also reported Friday that the 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year did test positive for performance-enhancing drugs or recreational drugs in 2013, per an NFL source.

There are other ways Von Miller could have triggered a ban. Skipping a counseling session or test, or repeatedly being tardy for tests can result in a suspension. Miller has been a part of the NFL’s substance-abuse program since testing positive for marijuana in 2011, his rookie campaign.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that Miller’s appeal is expected to be heard in mid-August, according to a person informed of the timetable. Miller has expressed confidence in that process from the start, saying Wednesday, “I don’t think I let my teammates down.”

“I just believe that what he says is right, and what believes is going to happen.” Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard told Jones. “I have his back 100 percent, no matter what happens. He seems quite faithful that he’s going to be it, and we’re quite faithful he’s going to beat it. There must be something to (his confidence). We don’t know what it is, but we believe in his confidence.”

The Broncos — and their fans — will find out next month if Miller’s appeal nets a reduced punishment. If these reports hold true, it’s easier to understand why Miller argues he’s done nothing wrong, of late, to hamper the locker room. The league’s final decision affects not only Miller, but a Broncos team that believes they’re Super Bowl-ready in 2013.

Tebow in first Pats practice

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Sick to their stomachs over Aaron Hernandez, Patriots fans may find it a relief to start talking about how much Tim Tebow does or doesn’t stink, and whether or not he’ll make the New England Patriots.

Tebow opened camp Friday, and more than one observer was unimpressed.

Curran, of Comcast SportsNet New England, was echoed by the New York Post’s Bart Hubbuch.

But Tebow caught passes from Tom Brady — good sign for a team missing top tight ends Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski — and showed he still could run it.

Tebow also showed he still could duck dangerous questions — about last season’s Jets disaster and the Hernandez case — as well as pray (for the families in the Hernandez case) and say the politically correct thing (though he didn’t mention being excited).

“I’ve got to keep improving every single day,” Tebow told USA Today. “We’ll go watch the film and we’ll get better from it. But I felt good about the practice.”

But coach Bill Belichick didn’t exactly give a vote of confidence to Tebow, who has a non-guaranteed, two-year contract.

“We’ll use Tim wherever we feel like he’s best for the team and I know that’s what he’s committed to doing as well, whatever that is,” Belichick told CBSBoston.com.

Will Hill suspended four games

New York Giants safety Will Hill has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the league announced Saturday.

This is the second time Hill has been banned by the NFL. Last season, Hill served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy. Hill said he took the attention deficit drug Adderall.

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Hill, 23, is eligible to return to the active roster on Sept. 30 after the Giants play the Chiefs. The second-year safety is eligible to participate in preseason practices and games.

The Giants are expecting stiff competition at safety in training camp. Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown are going to start but Ryan Mundy, Hill, fifth-round pick Cooper Taylor and Tyler Sash are all competing for roles and roster spots behind the two starters.

Giants backup wide receiver Brandon Collins was also suspended for the first four games of the season last month for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

The Giants have their first camp practice next Saturday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Ahmad Brooks won’t face charges

SAN FRANCISCO — The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office said Thursday it won’t pursue assault charges against San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks because of insufficient evidence in the case.

Assistant district attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery said that Brooks will not face prosecution after further investigation into allegations that Brooks repeatedly hit a teammate on the head with a beer bottle in a June incident.

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The district attorney’s office said early this month there was no arrest warrant for Brooks after one initially had been filed erroneously.

According to police, Brooks hit teammate Lamar Divens with the bottle three times and then punched him in the face during an early morning argument June 8. The alleged attack left Divens with a 3-inch cut on his forehead, according to police statements.

Police statements said Brooks, Divens and others had been drinking and went to a bar before returning to Brooks’ house. Divens pretended to throw Brooks’ keys in the grass, though he actually held onto the keys, prompting the attack. Investigators were told Brooks was intoxicated and had threatened to get a gun.

A memo released Thursday from the district attorney’s office in announcing the dismissal of the case states that Brooks and Divens had altercations at Brooks’ home in both May and June.

“I have reviewed the memo and agree with its conclusion,” district attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “Cases are not always what they first appear. The value to a thorough and deliberate investigation is a more complete picture of the facts. We cannot prosecute this case because we cannot prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 jurors. To file criminal charges when we do not believe we will obtain a conviction is wrong.”

The 29-year-old Brooks, a seven-year NFL veteran, started every regular-season game last season for the NFC champion Niners, who lost to Baltimore 34-31 in the Super Bowl. Brooks had 46 tackles, 6.5 sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles in his fifth season with San Francisco.

He was a third-round pick by Cincinnati out of Virginia in the 2006 supplemental draft.

Jahvid Best bridged concussion eras

ImageFor almost nine months, it has appeared a near-certainty that Jahvid Best would never play for the Detroit Lions again. So on the day that the Lions made it official and released him, we’re left to wonder: Would a player with Best’s medical history even be drafted in 2013?

Best’s series of concussions bridged two eras of NFL concussion protocol. When he was drafted in 2010, it was well-known that his college career at Cal had ended on a nasty head-first fall that left him unconscious on the field. NFL teams closely examined his medical records, and while some might have had concerns, few blinked when the Lions traded back into the first round to make him the No. 30 overall pick.

[+] EnlargeJahvid Best

AP Photo/Greg TrottJahvid Best played in 22 games for the Lions, who drafted him in the first round of the 2010 draft despite a history of concussions.

At the time, as we’ve noted, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said: “[A]ll our reports and everything else led us to believe that he had put that behind him and was no more susceptible than any other player.”

Schwartz’s sentiment reflected that of many in the NFL at the time. But as we all know, the tenor of thought on head injuries has changed dramatically since then. There have been studies that connected deceased former players to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. Thousands of former players have joined lawsuits against the NFL for its treatment of their head injuries, and return-to-play protocols have been enhanced and standardized throughout the league.

In 2010, few of us differentiated the risk between a concussion history and a chronic knee injuries. In 2013, I really wonder if a concussion like Best’s — he fell nearly 5 feet onto his head, was motionless on the field and said nearly two months later he still was not 100 percent — would remove a player from the draft board altogether.

In the end, the Lions got 22 games out of Best before his second and final NFL head injury. He said repeatedly last year that he was no longer having concussion symptoms, so it was not entirely clear what standards he and the Lions were using to measure his recovery and what further hurdles he faced before being cleared.

Regardless, this day has been inevitable since the Lions decided not to activate him from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list last fall. They moved on this offseason by signing free agent Reggie Bush to fill the scatback role they once envisioned for Best, but we should be careful about throwing him on the scrap heap along with the Lions’ other failed draft choices. This situation was unique, and if the Lions hadn’t drafted him in 2010, someone else would have. In 2013? I’m not so sure.