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The Darkest of NFL Dark Horse Coaching Candidates

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Black Monday is quickly approaching and the National Football League will likely have multiple coaching vacancies heading into 2019 once again. The Cleveland Browns have already fired their former head coach, Hue Jackson, and rumors swirl around teams like the Jets, Broncos, Cardinals, Ravens and Packers regarding their front men.

It’s become customary that some candidates that get interviewed, or even hired, raise some eyebrows from fans and media personalities alike.

A number of NFL assistant coaches, and college coaches alike, could be surprise hires for a franchise in 2019.

Byron Leftwich, offensive coordinator, Arizona Cardinals-

While Byron Leftwich’s experience as an offensive coordinator will hardly be half an NFL season by the end of 2018, his presence has been felt by the Arizona Cardinals.

Leftwich took over for Mike McCoy after a horrendous start to the season and their offensive production immediately saw a spark. Josh Rosen, who struggled mightily in his first few NFL starts under McCoy, has played much better under the Bruce Arians disciple. David Johnson, coming off of a major injury, has actually been able to move the football with Leftwich calling the plays.

With only two years of NFL coaching experience, and not even a full season as a coordinator, the former first round quarterback may be two or three years out from getting serious consideration as a head coaching candidate. His work with Rosen, however, and Arizona’s offense as a whole could garner him a look or two after the season. His career is trending towards this position down the line.

Urban Meyer, head coach, Ohio State Buckeyes-

Urban Meyer’s tumultuous year as the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes seems to be coming to a head. After the Zach Smith saga, Meyer’s subsequent suspension and multiple disappointing performances from the team, Meyer may be on his way out of Ohio State University by his own accord or from the decision makers in Columbus.

With the Ohio State job being one of the most decorated and coveted in the country, Meyer likely wouldn’t take a job at a smaller school right away. Meyer could take some time off from coaching as he did when he ‘retired’ from the Florida Gators or look for a chance to coach at the highest level.

Meyer has turned around multiple collegiate programs and won National Championships at Florida and Ohio State. He’s accomplished about as much as he could as a collegiate coach. While he hasn’t coached in the NFL in any capacity, his past accomplishments would garner interviews from franchises looking for a new leader if he chose to make himself available.

George Edwards, defensive coordinator, Minnesota Vikings-

When speaking of potential head coaching candidates in Minnesota, most immediately mention offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as a prime candidate to be promoted. DeFilippo’s track record speaks for itself but he isn’t the only member of that staff deserving of an opportunity to run the show.

George Edwards, who has coordinated Mike Zimmer’s defense since 2014, has been a major part of the Vikings’ ascension to the best, most consistent, defensive unit in the National Football League.

While Zimmer calls the defensive plays, being the play caller hasn’t always been a prerequisite for a head coaching opportunity in the past (Brad Childress is an example of this). Edwards called the defensive plays as coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, so he has experience calling plays. While his stint in Buffalo was ultimately a failure, Edwards has rebuilt his reputation as a staple on Zimmer’s staff and another team could look to bring some of that success to their franchise.

Teams could use Zimmer against Edwards, however, as much of the defensive success in Minnesota is attributed to him and his scheme. Edwards, while a part of said success, would have to alleviate some of those concerns during the interview process.

Steve Sarkisian, offensive coordinator, Atlanta Falcons-

Perhaps the most accomplished name on this list outside of Meyer, Sarkisian would be a shoo-in candidate for a head coaching gig if it wasn’t for his off-the-field concerns.

Sarkisian’s drinking and prescription medication abuse problems came to light in 2015 while he was the head coach of the USC Trojans. Sarkisian reportedly showed up to practices games intoxicated. He was replaced by Clay Helton on a permanent basis after that season. After a short stint with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Sarkisian joined the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 in an attempt to further his career and rebuild his reputation.

Sark’s first season in Atlanta failed to meet expectations but he’s helped Matt Ryan rebound into one of his best seasons as a professional. He’s also managed to keep his offense explosive despite multiple injuries at the running back position and a rookie wide receiver in his starting lineup. If Sarkisian can prove his past transgressions are behind him, a team desperate for a top offensive mind could give him a chance to run the show. His coaching background and experience fit what currently trends as a ‘hot coaching candidate.’

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Raiders’ Antonio Brown Threatens ESPN’s Ryan Clark

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Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown doesn’t appreciate the constant comments made by former Steelers teammate and current ESPN analyst Ryan Clark, and is threatening to handle it physically should he sees him.

Brown made his threat public, directed towards Clark on Twitter.

Brown is no stranger to making threats, and stirring up drama, especially on social media, and FOX Sports host Skip Bayless added his own hot take to the fire.

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Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill Not Facing Child Abuse Charges

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Kansas City Chiefs star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, or his fiancee will not face charges, as the Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney’s office has declined charges against the pair, according to ESPN.

However, there is a wrinkle as District Attorney Stephen M. Howe said that although he believes that a crime occurred, the evidence in the case doesn’t clearly establish who committed the crime.

Back on March 14th, Overland Park, Kansas officers were called to Hill’s home to investigate an alleged battery in which a juvenile was a victim, police reports indicated.

While Hill was not listed in the report, his fiancee Crystal Espinal was listed under “others involved.”

The Kansas Department of Children and Families has been investigating the alleged battery.

“This office has reviewed all the evidence compiled by these agencies and has declined to file charges against Tyreek Hill and Crystal Espinal,” Howe said on Wednesday during a news conference.

“We are deeply troubled by this situation and are concerned about the health and welfare of the child in question. We believe a crime has occurred. However, the evidence in this case does not conclusively establish who committed this crime.”

This wasn’t the first incident involving the Hill residence as officers were called to the home on March 5th to investigate a report of child abuse or neglect.

In that situation, Hill was named on the police report, but the Overland Park police closed the case three days later when prosecution was declined.

Hill could still face discipline from the NFL, such as a fine and/or suspension.

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Denver Broncos

Broncos’ Von Miller Avoids Charges for Bloody Shark Photo on Instagram

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Denver Broncos superstar linebacker Von Miller will not face charges for catching and posing with a bloody hammerhead shark back in 2018, according to documents from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (h/t Deadspin).

Miller came under fire for a controversial photo posted on his Instagram story last year showing him with the bloody shark.

According to Florida Law, catching and releasing in this particular scenario would be fine, as long as the shark was “immediately returned to the water free, alive, and unharmed.”

Per TMZ Sports, Miller and the group pushed the shark back overboard after catching it, and the compilation of Miller’s Instagram story shows that process as well as the shark swimming away.

Despite that, and as Deadspin’s story points out, the picture doesn’t exactly 100% convince that the shark was “unharmed”.

According to USA Today, the boat Miller was on was called ‘Spellbound’ and the owner and operator of the boat were not as fortunate as Miller in regards to the investigation.

“Owner and operator were charged under the Magnuson-Stevens Act for fishing for sharks without the proper permit and for failure to release a shark in the manner that will ensure maximum probability of survival. A $2,000 NOVA was issued.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission classifies hammerhead sharks as a Group 3 shark, and harvesting them in state waters can be met with a second degree misdemeanor.

In the state of Florida, second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to a $500 fine and 60 days in jail, as determined by a judge.

Miller defended himself following the post, claiming that the shark didn’t die; “Everybody knows that I hunt and fish. It’s what I do” Miller said (h/t ESPN).

“But I also believe in conservation. I’m not just out there going crazy. We followed the rules. I did everything I was supposed to do.”

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