Sunday, October 4, 2015

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According to the New York Post’s celebrity gossip section, Page Six, minority owner David Mandelbaum’s son has been charged with domestic assault and has entered a pre-trial intervention program. As far as I can tell, the son, Michael, does not own any share in the Vikings. SINow also has a story on this.

Honestly, Mandelbaum is not really associated with the Vikings, but the story has been slowly accelerating throughout the day, so there might as well be something on it here. It looks like things will build for the Vikings, and though there is honest criticism on how they’ve handled the latest controversy, it may not be fair to rope this one in with it.

Michael Mandelbaum has reportedly entered a pre-trial intervention program similar to the one Ray Rice entered (both were in New Jersey at the time of their incidents). Michael Mandelbaum handles the legal affairs for his family, but not the Vikings.

The Wall Street Journal and the New Jersey Star-Ledger both have reported that Mandelbaum has been charged with domestic assault for pushing his wife down the stairs. Per the Wall Street Journal:

The divorce proceedings began in 2013, after Ms. Mandelbaum got a temporary restraining order over a Dec. 19 incident at their Warren, N.J., home.

A police report filed in court said that an officer found Ms. Mandelbaum at the bottom of a staircase in a semiconscious state. Mr. Mandelbaum told the officer, according to the report, that she slipped while walking down the stairs and hit her head.

Later, Ms. Mandelbaum told paramedics, according to the report, that she was arguing with Mr. Mandelbaum when he had “grabbed and pushed her, causing her to lose her balance and fall.”

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Mandelbaum will be entering the pretrial intervention program that the New York Post mentions, where charges will be dropped upon completion.

After the Ray Rice controversy, the pretrial intervention program came under fire in New Jersey, and there’s currently a proposal to change who would be eligible for the program, limiting out those accused specifically of aggravated assault. Both Rice and Mandelbaum were charged with aggravated assault in the third degree.

The Mandelbaums’ role as minority owners became prominent after the stadium debate after the Wilf family lost a 21-year-old court case over charges of fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty and were required to pay out over $80 million of damages. Mandelbaum was subject to a financial review by the Minnesota Sports Facilities authority in order to assess the Vikings’ ability to pay their end of the stadium deal after the lawsuit news came down. Again, Michael is not said to own any share in the Vikings.

The Wilfs are said to own over 80 percent of the Vikings, with three other minority owners—Mandelbaum, Alan Landis and Reggie Fowler—own the rest. Mandelbaum has ownership over a number of assets, including a share of Vornado Realty Trust worth more than $500 million. Michael Mandelbaum is contesting the divorce on the grounds that the two were never legally married in the twenty-years after their marriage ceremony.

Though charged in January for an event that occurred in December, it looks like the story is gaining momentum now because Mandelbaum just entered the program while the NFL is currently hanging under the cloud of the same problem among their players.

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The Vikings have announced they have signed former Grand Valley State wide receiver Charles Johnson to the 53-man roster, taking Adrian Peterson’s former spot. This moves the Vikings to six receivers and keeps them at four running backs (including Felton). The announcement:

The Vikings have signed WR Charles Johnson to the 53-man roster off of the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad. Johnson joined the Browns from Green Bay’s practice squad on October 12, 2013. He went through training camp and the preseason with the Browns in 2014, appearing in all four preseason games, totaling six catches for 65 yards. Johnson, a 7th-round pick (#216 overall) by Green Bay out of Grand Valley State, played under Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner and Quarterbacks Coach Scott Turner in Cleveland last season.

Charles Johnson is seen by many as a height/weight/speed guy, and he is indeed quite the athlete. At his Pro Day (held at his school but organized by the Great Lakes conference, not his school) he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at 215 pounds (the expected time for an NFL player at 215 pounds is 4.62), standing at 6’2″. He also had a vertical leap of 39.5″. This piece at Rotoviz tries to put his measureables into context:

We’ll get to the production in a second. The real reason Johnson landed on anyone’s radar was his pro-day where he skyrocketed (literally) into elite company. If you combine his Vertical Jump and his Broad Jump numbers, you get 172.5”. Fewer than 8% of wide receivers eclipse the 170” figure and even fewer do it at 6’2’’ and in the 215-225lb range. Consider this rarified class of historical freaks:

HOLY COW! What an impressive workout! But what if I told you that his production was equally amazing? Consider how he stacks up to other wide receivers that came from similarly obscure college teams:

V-Jax, Miles Austin, and Marques Colston have all posted elite seasons in the NFL. As you can read here, I think Brian Quick will soon join that class of premium receivers. So the only riddle left to solve is Grand Valley State WR Charles Johnson.

Though he was productive at GVSU, Gil Brandt does bring up a good point:

Johnson does have a red flag, having bounced around between different schools. He initially went to Eastern Kentucky, where he was suspended. He then attended Antelope Valley Community College (Calif.) in 2008, took a season off in 2009, and was at Grand Valley State starting in 2010

His ProFootballFocus grades in the past two preseasons have been -3.9 (with Green Bay) and -2.2 (with Cleveland). He caught no passes in the 2013 preseason on four targets and had one drop. In 2014, he caught six passes on ten targets for 65 yards, with one drop. One pass targeted at him was intercepted. He has yet to appear in a regular season game. It should be noted that the Browns have a well-known lack of depth and he couldn’t make their 53-man roster.

There isn’t much in the way of a scouting report on him, so instead consume this highlight reel:

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Last year, the New Orleans Saints were one of the best teams in football no one ever talked about. Finishing the year ranked fourth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, the Saints were one of the few teams that fielded a top-ten offense and defense by nearly any measure: DVOA, points, opponent-adjusted points, yards per play, and so on.

Though it was a down year (for them) offensively, they were still a dangerous team—one that normally rode the tails of a masterful offense driven by Drew Brees and designed by Sean Payton—now with the support of a Rob Ryan defense and all that entails.

Unfortunately as the Saints’ season has unfolded, they’ve seemingly fallen apart on defense while their offense has dragged the team forward, a surprising development given their free agency profile; they added more than they lost.

The defense lost Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins, which sounds worse than it was: Roman Harper played just over 350 snaps for them and Jenkins was the most underperforming member of the unit… unless you count Tom Johnson, who they also got rid of. Though it would have been interesting to see how the defense would fare with Will Smith, his departure also couldn’t really be considered a loss given the fact that he didn’t play in 2013.

To make up for those minimal losses, they added a top-tier safety in Jairus Byrd, and in Smith’s absence Junior Galette was promoted to a full-time starter last year, gaining a nice four-year contract from the Saints this year for his troubles.

Adding three draft picks and two undrafted free agents to the defense should help with its depth, too.

But for all the benefit the New Orleans Saints got on paper for their defense, it still has yet to pay dividends. They’ve given up the second-most points in the NFL, and though one of those teams are the high-flying Falcons, the other are the offensively anemic Cleveland Browns.

All that said, that doesn’t make it an easy matchup for the Vikings.

In order to have a chance against a team that is far better than their record, Minnesota will have to put together a game plan that takes the defense seriously and has answers for their potent offense.


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According to the Star Tribune, Hennepin County is seeking protection for Adrian Peterson’s child:

Hennepin County filed a court petition Friday seeking protection forAdrian Peterson’s 4-year-old son after his alleged abuse by the Vikings running back.

The petition asked a judge to approve a safety plan for the child, including that Peterson not have any unsupervised or unauthorized contact with the child, and that he cannot use any “corporal punishment and/or physical discipline.”

The county also asked for any proceedings in the child protection matter be postponed until Peterson’s criminal charges are resolved.

The child’s mother has been “fully cooperative” with Hennepin County child protection and has not allowed any contact between Peterson and the boy, following a request made by the county, the petition said.

According to the petition, Peterson admitted during interviews with child protection and law enforcement authorities in Texas that he twice hit his 4-year-old son, once with a belt and once with a switch.

The belt detail is new to me (the child in previous interviews with the police referenced the belts, but this is the first I’ve heard Peterson mention them), but nothing is out of the ordinary here. The mother has cooperated with the request. According to Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman, this was automatically triggered as part of an investigation:

“State law requires us to file an action in child protection court when charges are filed in criminal court alleging serious injuries against a child living in Hennepin County,” Freeman said. “Our own internal investigation has revealed that the injuries were serious enough to meet the legal threshold and, as a result, we have filed a Child in Need of Protection and Services petition (CHIPS) in Hennepin County District Court this afternoon. Due to state privacy laws, as well as the understandable desire of the mother to protect her child’s privacy, we will not comment further on this petition.”

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In the wake of the coverage of the multiple incidences of domestic violence among NFL players, the NFL has announced a multi-year, multimillion dollar commitment to the National Domestic Violence hotline.

The Ray Rice video saw a large increase in calls the hotline received in a short period of time, highlighting a problem that programs like the hotline suffer from: resources. Last year, the hotline didn’t have enough staff to answer 77,000 calls. The hotline’s press release below:

AUSTIN, TEXAS – The National Domestic Violence Hotline (the Hotline) is pleased to announce that the National Football League (NFL) has committed to providing significant resources to the organization that will allow the organization to virtually answer every call, chat and text from domestic violence victims, survivors, their loved ones and even abusers for the next five years.

“We have never had the funding needed to meet the demand for our services from those seeking help with domestic violence and dating abuse. Last year, because of this lack of resources, more than 77,000 calls went unanswered. Recent domestic violence incidents involving NFL players pushed the capacity of our organization to unprecedented levels,” said Katie Ray-Jones, president and chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “Because of this long-term commitment by the NFL to provide The Hotline with much-needed resources, our services will finally be accessible to all those who need us when they bravely take the first step to find safety and live a life free of abuse.”

Immediately following the release of video last week showing former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancé in an elevator, the Hotline’s call volume increased by 84% and has remained higher than normal with spikes happening after each new report about domestic violence charges against NFL players. As the controversies continue, the Hotline has been unable to answer nearly 50 percent of the calls, chats and texts.

“Our decision to enter into a long-term partnership with the NFL will help us immediately increase our ability to hire additional advocates, improve our infrastructure and provide more education about domestic violence that affects one in four women and one in seven men in their lifetimes,” said Maury Lane, chair of the board of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “It is important that we answer their calls.”

Of those who reach out to the Hotline for help, 95% are experiencing emotional and verbal abuse including degradation, insults, humiliation, isolation, stalking, and threats of violence against themselves and their children and loved ones. Often, the abuser threatens suicide. More than 70% are experiencing severe physical violence and say they’ve been slapped, choked, punched, pistol whipped and beaten. This physical abuse has resulted in bruises, cuts, miscarriages, broken bones. Nearly 10% of those reaching out to the Hotline for help have experienced sexual violence. They’ve been raped, exploited, sexually coerced, even forced to get pregnant in order to keep them tied to their abuser.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a non-profit organization established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Operating around the clock, confidential and free of cost, the Hotline provides victims and survivors with life-saving tools and immediate support. Callers to the hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) can expect highly trained advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in more than 200 languages. Visitors to can find information about domestic violence, safety planning, local resources, and ways to support the organization.

The Hotline relies on the generous support of individuals, private gifts from corporations and foundations and federal grants. It is funded in part by Grant Number 90EV0407/03 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/ Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, a division of the Family and Youth Services Bureau in the Administration for Children and Families. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Administration for Children and Families or the U.S. Department of HHS.

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