Live From The Chip Kelly Press Conference: “This Is Not a Football Decision”

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly made it clear this morning that the decision to possibly reinstate Legarrette Blount has nothing to do what he can do on the football field. Instead, he is wholly concerned in the character of his senior tailback.

Curious timing? Yes. But Kelly made the right move.

Curious timing? Yes. But Kelly made the right move.

Kelly announced that if Blount adheres to strict behavioral and academic “ladders”, there is a possibility he will gain an opportunity return against Stanford on November 7th.

“This is not a football decision, this is a human being decision. It’s about that individual,” Kelly said Friday. “And he’s got a lot of things he’s got to do.”

Under NCAA guidelines, Blount’s punch of Boise State player Byron Hout would have warranted just a one or two game suspension. But it’s what Blount did before and after the punch that proved to Kelly that Blount needed a major character improvement.

It is no secret that Blount has had off the field issues before, as he was previously suspended over the offseason and has had troubles with his academics. Those issues, combined with Blount’s actions leaving the field at Boise State, forced Kelly to make a swift decision to suspend him for the entirety of the season.

So that raises the question, why would Kelly suspend Blount for the remainder of the season if he had plans for a possible reinstatement? Wouldn’t an indefinite suspension be more appropriate for the future credibility of Kelly and the Oregon athletic department?

Not according to Kelly.

“Legarrette needed to understand there was a finality to it. I only used strong language to show LG the importance of the situation.”

Say what you will. Kelly flip-flopped. Kelly wouldn’t be considering a reinstatement if the Ducks were out of the BCS and Pac-10 races. Kelly isn’t experienced enough to make such a difficult decision.

But from sitting in the first row at the press conference this morning, I could see the honesty, integrity, and thoroughness in which Kelly handled the situation.

After the initial suspension, Kelly had no plan to reinstate him. He even expected Blount to pack his bags and take off back home. But Blount stepped up, took responsibility and stuck around. He even reached out to Kelly on September 4th, asking for Broncos head coach Chris Peterson’s phone number so he could call and apologize.

Two weeks ago, Kelly saw a possibility for reinstatement. The fact that Blount continued practicing with the team, while working on his off the field issues proved to Kelly his desire to remain a part of the Oregon football program.

Which is why after speaking with Tony Dungy, John Gruden, Harry Edwards, and several other notable NFL authorities, Kelly decided if Blount can do what he has put in place for him, he deserves a chance to play again.

But Kelly was very sure to emphasize that this is no guarantee.

“There’s a distinct possibility he’ll never play football here again,” Kelly said. “But the ball is in LeGarrette’s court.”

Kelly justified his change of heart on the suspension by saying, “if I only suspended Blount for 4 games, I couldn’t change it to 12. But this way, if he proves he deserves it, he can be reinstated, with the approval of Larry Scott.”

Which is also no guarantee. Kelly has not talked to Scott, the Pac-10 commissioner, but feels whatever he rules will be the correct decision.

Personally, I feel Kelly handled this excellently. He sent a message to Blount, and the rest of the team, that this behavior will not be tolerated. He also has given Blount a chance to earn back his reinstatement, something I feel Kelly will judge very carefully.

And now the ball is in Blount’s court to prove that he deserves a chance to come back and represent the University of Oregon as a football player.

According to Kelly, “discipline is about behavioral improvement, not about punishment.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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Live From The Chip Kelly Press Conference: “This Is Not a Football Decision”

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly made it clear this morning that the decision to possibly reinstate Legarrette Blount has nothing to do what he can do on the football field. Instead, he is wholly concerned in the character of his senior tailback.

Curious timing? Yes. But Kelly made the right move.

Curious timing? Yes. But Kelly made the right move.

Kelly announced that if Blount adheres to strict behavioral and academic “ladders”, there is a possibility he will gain an opportunity return against Stanford on November 7th.

“This is not a football decision, this is a human being decision. It’s about that individual,” Kelly said Friday. “And he’s got a lot of things he’s got to do.”

Under NCAA guidelines, Blount’s punch of Boise State player Byron Hout would have warranted just a one or two game suspension. But it’s what Blount did before and after the punch that proved to Kelly that Blount needed a major character improvement.

It is no secret that Blount has had off the field issues before, as he was previously suspended over the offseason and has had troubles with his academics. Those issues, combined with Blount’s actions leaving the field at Boise State, forced Kelly to make a swift decision to suspend him for the entirety of the season.

So that raises the question, why would Kelly suspend Blount for the remainder of the season if he had plans for a possible reinstatement? Wouldn’t an indefinite suspension be more appropriate for the future credibility of Kelly and the Oregon athletic department?

Not according to Kelly.

“Legarrette needed to understand there was a finality to it. I only used strong language to show LG the importance of the situation.”

Say what you will. Kelly flip-flopped. Kelly wouldn’t be considering a reinstatement if the Ducks were out of the BCS and Pac-10 races. Kelly isn’t experienced enough to make such a difficult decision.

But from sitting in the first row at the press conference this morning, I could see the honesty, integrity, and thoroughness in which Kelly handled the situation.

After the initial suspension, Kelly had no plan to reinstate him. He even expected Blount to pack his bags and take off back home. But Blount stepped up, took responsibility and stuck around. He even reached out to Kelly on September 4th, asking for Broncos head coach Chris Peterson’s phone number so he could call and apologize.

Two weeks ago, Kelly saw a possibility for reinstatement. The fact that Blount continued practicing with the team, while working on his off the field issues proved to Kelly his desire to remain a part of the Oregon football program.

Which is why after speaking with Tony Dungy, John Gruden, Harry Edwards, and several other notable NFL authorities, Kelly decided if Blount can do what he has put in place for him, he deserves a chance to play again.

But Kelly was very sure to emphasize that this is no guarantee.

“There’s a distinct possibility he’ll never play football here again,” Kelly said. “But the ball is in LeGarrette’s court.”

Kelly justified his change of heart on the suspension by saying, “if I only suspended Blount for 4 games, I couldn’t change it to 12. But this way, if he proves he deserves it, he can be reinstated, with the approval of Larry Scott.”

Which is also no guarantee. Kelly has not talked to Scott, the Pac-10 commissioner, but feels whatever he rules will be the correct decision.

Personally, I feel Kelly handled this excellently. He sent a message to Blount, and the rest of the team, that this behavior will not be tolerated. He also has given Blount a chance to earn back his reinstatement, something I feel Kelly will judge very carefully.

And now the ball is in Blount’s court to prove that he deserves a chance to come back and represent the University of Oregon as a football player.

According to Kelly, “discipline is about behavioral improvement, not about punishment.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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NFL Power Rankings (continued)

With the NFL season starting tonight, I figured it might be a good idea to finish off my rankings before the season gets underway.

21 – Bills – Firing the offensive coordinator before the first game of the season usually isn’t a good sign. Figure in a three game suspension for Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch and the potential for a T.O. blow-up, things could get ugly in Buffalo (and Toronto).

Prediction: 7-9.

Wait a second, that's not Marshawn Lynch!

Wait a second, that's not Marshawn Lynch!

Fantasy player to watch – Lee Evans – Has been a number two WR trapped in a number one WR’s body. With the addition of T.O., the deep threat should see a lot more single coverage.

20 – Broncos – The Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos all can’t go 4-12. It would be a statistical phenomenon. That’s why, despite the awful Jay Cutler fiasco this off-season, I’m buying Belicheck-disciple Josh McDaniel to put together a high-flying offense in the Mile High city. A five-game stretch against Dallas, New England, San Diego, Baltimore and Pittsburgh could be their undoing.

Prediction: 7-9.

Fantasy player to watch – Knowshon Moreno – Every year there is a rookie RB who goes nuts. The former Georgia Bulldog couldn’t have landed in a better spot than Denver, where anybody can rush 1,000 yards.

19 – Texans – The Texans are the Tampa Bay Rays of the NFL. Loaded with athletes and top picks, but just can’t put it together. This year will be no different, as Brian Cushing won’t be able to stop the run all by himself.

Prediction: 7-9.

Fantasy player to watch – Matt Schaub – Has always put up great numbers when he’s been healthy, is this the year he finally stays on the field for 16 games?

18 – Redskins – Love the defense. Love the addition of Albert Haynesworth. Love Clinton Portis as a fantasy sleeper. Don’t love the division. Put them in the NFC West and they’re 10-6, but that could be said about a lot of teams.

Prediction: 8-8.

Fantasy player to watch – Clinton Portis – He’s one of those guys who drops in drafts because you know what you’re getting with him – even though it’s 1,500 yards and 10 TD’s a year.

17 – 49ers – Can’t justifiably have them any higher than this. Love what Singletary is doing in San Francisco, but at least until Crabtree signs, the offense is too one-dimensional.

Prediction: 8-8.

Fantasy player to watch – Josh Morgan –Showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie year. With a more stabilized situation at QB, Morgan will emerge as Hill’s favorite deep threat.

16 – Panthers – If you watched any of Jake Delhomme’s spectacularly bad, five INT performance in the playoffs last season, you can’t take Carolina seriously.  How far can the running game carry them?

Prediction: 8-8.

Fantasy player to watch – Jonathon Stewart – Have to give love to my former Ducks. J-stew was awesome last year in a limited role, look for a more equal timeshare with Williams this season.

15 – Packers – It all depends on how well the defense adjusts to the new 3-4 scheme; the offense will be there. If the Packers can contain the run, there’s a good chance playoff football will return to Lambeau field.

Prediction: 8-8.

Fantasy player to watch – Aaron Rodgers – I don’t know how many people realize he threw for over 4,000 yards and had a 28:13 TD/INT ratio. Pretty good for a first full season.

14 – Saints – Is there a more fun team to watch than the Saints? Drew Brees makes the NFL look like a video game. Unfortunately, so does their D. Maybe Malcom Jenkins is the answer.

Prediction: 9-7.

Fantasy player to watch – Marques Colston – The favorite target of a quarterback who will throw for 4,500+ yards? Sign me up.

13 – Ravens – How will they handle the departures of Rex Ryan and Bart Scott on defense? Lewis, Suggs, Reed and Ngata still make up a pretty formidable nucleus. Joe Flacco needs to build on solid rookie campaign for the team to make the playoffs.

Prediction: 9-7.

Fantasy player to watch – Ray Rice – The Ravens have always been a run-first team and it looks like Rice will get the majority of the workload. 75% of fantasy success is opportunity.

12 – Cardinals – Still the best team in the NFC West, but that isn’t saying much. Card fans must pray for Warner to stay healthy, because they won’t go anywhere without him.

Prediction: 9-7.

Fantasy player to watch – Anquan Boldin – Gets overlooked because he plays next to the best WR in football, but any player who breaks his face and then grabs nine passes and two scores two weeks later is an absolute beast.

11 – Bears – Cutler is the first legit QB in the Windy City since Jim McMahon. Too bad Cutler’s best WR was a DB two years ago. Could be a frustrating year with expectations so high.

Prediction: 9-7.

Fantasy player to watch – Greg Olsen – I have an uncanny obsession with Miami Tight Ends.

10 – Cowboys – Maybe getting rid of T.O. is just what Dallas needs to get back to the playoffs. Must hope Roy Williams can revert to his 2007 form with the Lions. Never a good thing, though, to be counting on former Lions.

Prediction: 9-7.

Fantasy player to watch: Roy Williams – Severely underrated after difficult time adjusting following the trade.

9 – Giants – Loss of Plax makes Eli Manning a below-average quarterback. Concerns on defense and one-dimensional offense will keep the Giants from returning to the promise land this season.

Prediction: 9-7.

Fantasy player to watch: Ahmad Bradshaw – The Giants will have to run to be successful this year; Bradshaw slides into the spot Derrick Ward had last year as lightning to Jacobs’ thunder.

8 – Falcons – I learned my lesson last year after doubting Matt Ryan. He is for real. Emergence of Roddy White and the Tony Gonzalez acquisition only make Ryan more dangerous.

Prediction: 9-7.

Fantasy player to watch: Tony Gonzalez – Will be amped up now that he’s finally on a contender again. Amazing what a winning environment can do for a player.

7 – Eagles – Top 3 defense will miss the late Jim Johnson. With the workload Westbrook handles each year, you have to wonder when he will break down. But until then, the offense will have plenty of firepower.

Prediction: 10-6.

Fantasy player to watch: DeSean Jackson – McNabb will throw plenty, and Jackson has become his favorite target. Must rid stupid me-first attitude.

6 – Colts – Huge hole left by the sudden departure of Tony Dungy. Coach-on-the-field Peyton Manning will be more important than ever this season. O-line needs to step up big time.

Prediction: 10-6.

Fantasy player to watch: Anthony Gonzalez – Increased role in the offense and third year in the league will lead to a breakout season.

5 – Titans – It’s amazing what laying off the Tequila will do for you. If career fizzles out in the NFL, Lendale White will have one waiting for him in the weight loss industry.

Prediction: 10-6

Fantasy player to watch: Nate Washington – Quietly was very solid for the Steelers, now number one WR in Tennessee.

4 – Vikings – Despite my hatred for Brett Favre, the combination of AD (I’m on your side Oklahoma) and the defense make this team a sleeper Super Bowl contender.

Prediction: 11-5.

Fantasy player to watch: Bernard Berrian – Berrian is a deep threat. Favre loves to throw deep. With defenses needing to stack eight in the box, this is a match made in heaven.

3 – Chargers – Yes, I know what happened the last time the Chargers had this much hype, but with so much talent and their division so weak, they can go 10-6 without breaking a sweat. I think they do better.

Prediction: 12-4.

Fantasy player to watch: Vincent Jackson – With LT getting old and Rivers coming into his own, the Chargers have shifted their focus to the passing game.

2 – Steelers – Probably should be number one but my man crush on Tom Brady is too big.

Prediction: 13-3

Fantasy player to watch: Willie Parker – Has been so overrated that he is now underrated. Mendenhall will not steal his touches.

Yes, this is the best player in the NFL.

Yes, this is the best player in the NFL.

1 – Patriots – It’s almost unfair how veterans in their twilight years go to New England on the cheap. Oh and that Brady guy is back at full strength. I like their chances.

Prediction: 14-2.

Fantasy player to watch: Wes Welker – How do you not love a 5-8 white WR? With Brady back, you can count on 100 receptions.