The 5 Most Notable NFL Player Holdouts

The 5 Most Notable NFL Player Holdouts

A few high-profile players are holding out in an attempt to cash in.

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There are a handful of players in the NFL who are currently holding out of offseason practices for their respective teams. These players want a lucrative long-term contract extension or an adjustment to their current contract that pays them more money. Many of these players are well-known across the league and consistently perform at a high level, so this has created interest among NFL spectators and teams. Here are some of the most notable holdouts of the 2018 offseason:

1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers' star running back has been in contract standoffs with his team since the 2016 offseason. Pittsburgh placed the franchise tag on him for the second straight year, and the two sides failed to come to an agreement on a long-term deal. Bell was reportedly seeking nothing less than $14.5 million per season, even though this amount is $6 million more than the annual salary of the previous highest-paid running back in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons' Devonta Freeman.

However, the Los Angeles Rams shocked the rest of the NFL by signing Todd Gurley to an extension that will pay him $15 million per year, resetting the NFL running back market. Bell noticed this and praised the Rams' decision. The sixth-year veteran will play under the franchise tag again, and the Steelers stated they will attempt to work out a long-term contract with Bell again next offseason.

2. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Julio Jones is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Atlanta's most notable offensive stalwart received a five-year $71.5 million contract extension in 2015, but he is holding out in hopes of receiving an adjustment to his already sizable contract that will result in a pay raise. The wide receiver market exploded this offseason as Jones quickly found himself overtaken by his peers. He is widely considered to be a top 3 NFL receiver and wishes to be paid like one. Jones has stated that he wants to play his entire career in Atlanta, so why else would he be holding out?

3. Aaron Donald, DE, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams' defensive end has been one of the most disruptive players in the NFL since he arrived on the scene. The 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is entering a contract year and wishes to be given a high-level contract that matches his elite production. With teammates Gurley and Brandin Cooks receiving massive extensions and taking up significant cap space in the foreseeable future, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Rams to negotiate a proper compensation for Donald.

4. Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders

Khalil Mack has established himself as one of the premier edge rushers in the NFL, a one-man wrecking crew and the Oakland Raiders' best defensive player by a wide margin. Like Jones, Mack has stated that he wants to play with his current team for his entire career but seeks to be rewarded handsomely for his production. Mack has racked up 70+ tackles and 10+ sacks for three straight seasons, so it is no wonder he craves a lofty contract extension.

5. Earl Thomas, FS, Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks' perennial All-Pro free safety has held out of offseason activities while sending messages to teams like Oakland and the Dallas Cowboys to acquire him. There are few safeties like Thomas in the NFL and he wants financial security for the future, so Seattle has to either give him the contract extension he desires or trade him to another team and receive valuable compensation.

Will they cash in, or will their efforts be fruitless?

It seems that we will soon find out.

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Just Because You Can Throw A Ball Does Not Mean Your Rape Is Admissible

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

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I wish rape didn't seep into every sphere of my life. But, like ink, it has.

Interpersonally, my childhood friend was gang-raped by members of the University of North Texas basketball team. As uncovered in an investigation, her circumstances were not isolated, unlike what it says in UNT's initial statement. I am proud to know my friend. I am proud to stand with her. However, I am ashamed at the situation and the commonness of her suffering among students just like me, on college campuses.

Politically, Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, promotes new fortifications for students accused of sexual assault. Basically, the rules would reduce the legal classification of harassment while offering protections for those accused of wrongdoing. In my emotions, I firmly believe in the American ideal of being "innocent until proven guilty". However, even in a crime so entrenched in emotions, I must look at facts. Facts say that the falsification rate of rape is the same as most other crimes, somewhere around 5%. Therefore, I believe that DeVos' proposal would tilt investigations in favor of the committer and significantly lessen the number of victims who would have the assurance to come forward and tell his/her story. In a campus-setting, where 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted, her "solution" adds gasoline to a country-wide fire.

Educationally, Brock Turner, a swimmer at Stanford University received just six months in county jail after being found guilty of five felonies, all of which amount to him raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. In defense of the light sentence, the judge said, "the more time (Turner spends) in jail, the more severe impact" on his future, who wanted to go to the Olympics. Never mind the future of the victim.

First off, rape culture, a sociological concept in which sexual assault is pervasive and normalized, exists. And while it exists everywhere, I can only speak with any authority on the campus setting, where hook-up culture is both catalyzed and camouflaged. Here, the area that needs the most treatment is in the locker room, on the court, or on the field.

Student athletes are proportionally the greatest perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

While a tiny 3% of male students are athletes, male student athletes are responsible for almost a fifth of sexual assaults on campus. And that is just the events that are reported, (just so you know, about 3 out of 4 go unreported). However, the NCAA has no policy that lessens a student's athletic eligibility in the face of sexually violent behavioral patterns. If you have allowed these numbers to simmer in your mind, you can see that this is unacceptable.

Why are university athletes more likely to commit sexual assault?

Most experts make cultural and institutional arguments.

Culturally, student athletes are not seen as "normal" students – rather, they provide a service to the college. Where most students get something from the college, student athletes give to the college, and we should be so lucky to have them grace us with their presence. It is a part of the status quo: high-status students on campus are athletes, especially males who play the most popular sports, like football, basketball, or baseball. These students carry social privilege.

Obviously, athletes are not naturally ethically worse than other students. I am simply saying that absolutely no one is immune to the culture that surrounds him/her, and we have a weird culture.

On average, athletes are more likely than other students on campus to buy into the cross-cultural concept of robust masculinity, which, in extreme cases, can lead to increased sexual aggression. Don't just take it from a non-athlete like me. Even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, an NBA champion and a former UCLA basketball player, declared the cultural privilege from which he benefited.

"I'm especially aware of the culture of entitlement that athletes feel... they strut around campus with the belief that they can do no wrong."

I am not going to sugarcoat the point that we all know well: football players are comparable to celebrities on campus, which has dangerous implications for a certain untouchability in mindsets.

Institutionally, colleges are as inclined to protect the perpetrator over non-athletic peers. A Senate report concluded that administrators tend to do three actions to protect their athletes, and therefore, their brand.

1. Higher-ups at the school discourage victims from reporting to police outside of the university. In this method, they let the campus police "handle it" and not report to less-biased city forces.

2. Admins downplay an assault's severity, making it less 'criminal', more unintentional and of an event to "move on from".

3. The athletic department can work with the administration and strategically delay proceedings while athletes finish their season.

If these three things are not enough as far as systemic ethical transgressions go, when athletes are found responsible for sexual assault, they may face small consequences.

Just to pull an infamous example from my home state of Texas, Baylor University continues to wrestle with how to deal with battery; I don't need to go over the sheer amount of claims that they were conscious and compliant to most allegations of assault involving their student-athletes.

So, not only is our mindset messed up, but the administration who is supposed to protect us is similarly bungled.

Obviously, athletes are not bad people, only people that are subject to their environment and protected by their talent. But crime is crime. The unnamed victim of Brock Turner said it well as she argued that being "an athlete at a university should not be an entitlement to leniency, but an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law" no matter your status.

Throwing a ball does not make someone above the rules.

Yes, I realize that my words have become trite. Scary articles, documentaries, and books about the sheer magnitude of sexual crime in college abound. But I see my seemingly-repetitive diction more as a reflection of our fallen collegiate system, rather than of myself.

With my article, I only ask that you keep fighting for victims like my childhood friend, for the classmate who sits next to you in lecture, for yourself. This institutional and social discrepancy of "athletics above all else" happens at more universities than I had the breath to mention.

Your first step is taking a searing examination at the failure of American universities to grapple successfully with campus rape in the systematic pattern of protecting student athletes more than other students. The next steps follow naturally. Take part in the activism at your school, encourage survivors, and productively confront the problem. Fear not, the policies will change with your effort.

Politics aside, we are in a time for you to continue speaking the truth, even if your voice trembles.

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5 Things To Take Away From The 2019 Sugar Bowl

The 2019 Sugar Bowl was a test of mental strength between the Texas Longhorns and the Georgia Bulldogs. In the end, the Longhorns held on to win 28-21, yet there aren't too many reasons to fret over this shocking upset.

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1. Sidelined Defense 

Georgia struggled to run a pressure defense on Texas Quarterback Sam Ehlinger, but this was not unexpected. Georgia was missing star DB Deandre Baker, who sat out to preserve his stock in the 2019 NFL Draft, OLB D'Andre Walker who was tending a groin injury, and DL Jordan Davis who was fighting a back injury.

2. Offensive Fighters 

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While multiple injuries plagued the Bulldogs this season, many who had issues should be at full capacity by the start of the 2019 season. These include some current starters, such as brick wall Offensive Linemen Ben Cleveland and Cade Mays. There are also some who started the season hindered by an injury, such as 5-star RB Zamir White who suffered an ACL injury in the pre-season. Also missing from action was freshman all-purpose back James Cook, a large weapon in the slot and sideline sweep plays. This nearly made the Georgia run game one dimensional and leads to another large factor in the failure to launch in UGA's usual offensive prowess.

3. RUN THE BALL... or maybe not

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The Georgia running game has always been a staple of the team's offensive success. The Sugar Bowl was an opportunity to capitalize on a Texas defense who has been known to miss tackles. The Georgia run game was shut down, only amassing 72 yards total. Partially due to preparation by the Texas defense, this stoppage also had lots to do with a lack of confidence that may Georgia rushers usually come equipped with. D'Andre Swift fumbled twice in the game, and even one misstep such as a lost fumble can shoot a young back's confidence. Elijah Holyfield was also stuffed at the line through all but 5 rushes on the day. A player who has been very overlooked by the media and limelight alike has been Junior Brian Herrien, who, while only gaining 17 yards on the ground, scored Georgia's first touchdown of the night, and fought for yards on every carry he was afforded. With a healthy future for James Cook and Zamir White and both Herrien and Holyfield reportedly returning for their senior seasons, this team's rushing attack should only get better.

4. The Future

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Georgia has another top 5 projected recruiting class to add onto the already young roster. This includes five committed 5-star players such as 1st ranked recruit in the nation DE Nolan Smith, 1st ranked ILB Nakobe Dean, 1st ranked center Clay Webb who was flipped from his home state Alabama team, 2nd ranked DT Travon Walker, and top 10 WR Dominick Blaylock. This fills in gaps left by stars such as center Lamont Gaillard, DE Jonathan Ledbetter, WR Terry Godwin, and LB D'Andre Walker.

5. A Show of Class

Head Coach Kirby Smart made it very clear to the public this season that he was not satisfied with a game won with extraneous penalties, and this showed as the Bulldogs totaled 0 penalties through the first half, and only 3 for the game in total. Towards the end of the game during the Georgia offense's last drive, Texas had 2 different cornerbacks disqualified for obvious targeting calls, and though Georgia was visibly upset and stood up for one another, there was a show in class by the team that exemplified what Bulldawg Nation strives for: respect. They knew by that time that the more focused team came to play, and seemed to run more efficiently when this occurred, with two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

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