Attorney Gloria Allred on Wednesday joined those calling for changes in the way the NFL investigates and punishes players accused of assault and domestic abuse, saying commissioner Roger Goodell ignored previous complaints lodged against Brandon Marshall.
At a news conference in Atlanta, Allred was joined by a friend of and the father of Rasheeda Watley, who alleged in 2006 that she was abused by Marshall, who at the time was a receiver for the Denver Broncos.
All three detailed how Watley had complained to the NFL after numerous police reports and at least one arrest involving Marshall, but said she got no response from Goodell.
In 2008, Marshall was suspended for three games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, but the suspension was reduced to one game and an additional game check. He denied ever abusing Watley in a 2009 interview with "Outside the Lines."
No new allegations were made Wednesday, though Allred said she would write to the NFL with her proposed changes.
"We want the NFL to get it right," Allred said. "It's long overdue for the NFL to get it right."
Marshall, 30, currently plays for the Chicago Bears
"No, that is totally untrue," Ryan said in a conference call with the Chicago media. "That was one of the biggest ... that's a joke. He wasn't that way at all."
Holmes spent four seasons with the Jets (2010-13) before signing in August with the Chicago Bears as a replacement for Marquess Wilson, who suffered a fractured clavicle during training camp. With the Jets, Holmes caught 146 passes for 2,168 yards and 16 touchdowns, but he came under fire toward the latter portion of his tenure after signing a five-year contract coming out of the NFL lockout in 2011 worth $45 million.
One New York Daily News report, citing anonymous sources back in January 2012, quoted a player saying Holmes is "a cancer. It's like dealing with a 10-year-old."
Facing a 17-point deficit against the San Francisco 49ers, the Bears had to look to pass more, but when they did run it wasn't pretty with Matt Forte rushing for just 21 yards on 12 carries. A week earlier, Forte was effective with 82 yards in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, but he got just 17 carries.
It doesn't get any easier in Week 3 against the New York Jets, who have allowed the fewest rushing yards (105) in the NFL this season. Is there reason to be concerned about the Bears' running game or is it all part of the game plan from week to week? Our panel weighs in on that and more:
Fact or Fiction: The Bears' running game is a concern after two weeks.
Jay Cutler scrambled for 25 yards, so I think it's OK to call it concerning. But there's no reason to panic. Keep in mind, the Bears aren't exactly a power running team. They rely more on running outside the tackles with Forte. The ground game isn't the bread and butter of the offense. The Bears are a pass-first team. That's just the way it is. Also, fullback Tony Fiammetta hasn't been available yet this season due to injury and a release before re-signing. Maybe Fiammetta helps when he's on the field against the Jets roughly 15-20 percent of the time.
Jon Greenberg: Fiction. It's just the way it is. I don't think Trestman is ever going to call a completely balanced game, run-pass wise. It'll always be slanted toward the pass with Cutler. After the opening loss against Buffalo, I asked Forte if he wanted more touches, and he admitted 17 carries was a little low, but that he'll get his touches on short passes ("extended handoffs"). He caught eight passes against the Bills. Those numbers dropped to 12 and 5 against the Niners. I'd like to see the Bears get more creative on runs -- San Francisco showed a few cool wrinkles Sunday night -- and more importantly, give him a few drives where he can really carry the load. Too often he was running on first down, getting stuffed because it was so obvious, and then the Bears went to the pass. But there were drives where they really tried to get him the ball. In the 13-play, 80-yard drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters, he touched the ball six times, four passes and two runs. But he only gained 18 yards, 11 coming on one pass. Long said he was frustrated in their run-blocking, so maybe Trestman was wise to spread the wealth.
Fact or Fiction: Charles Tillman is the best defensive back in Bears' history.
Jon Greenberg: Fact. It's so tough to judge between eras, but given Tillman's singular effect on the defense -- his ability to create takeaways -- and his team records in interception return yards, defensive touchdowns and interceptions returned for touchdowns, let's agree to call him that. Add to that, his 36 interceptions and 42 forced fumbles, he's got a great case. Tillman's had a fantastic career, if it's over.
Fact or Fiction: There won't be much of a dropoff on the defense with rookie Kyle Fuller replacing Tillman.
Jon Greenberg: Fiction. That's tough to say after two games. Check out the Bears' schedule, Fuller will have some difficult receivers to cover if the Bears throw him to the wolves and Megatrons of the league. The Bears are lavishing praise on him, and his two-pick game against the Niners augur good things to come. Fuller looks like an All-Pro, and he's got young legs, but while Tillman was getting older, experience is often a cornerback's greatest weapon. Tillman had seen it all and his instincts let him gamble for those punch-outs. The Bears would be better off with three strong cornerbacks.
Fact or Fiction: Special teams will cost the Bears at least one win this season.
Jon Greenberg: Fact. This group is awful. Disorganized and sloppy. Whither Dave Toub? Oh yeah, he's in Kansas City. It's not just coaching, it's the caliber of players in the group, and that's on GM Phil Emery and the coaches. The Bears cut Shaun Draughn after he committed two penalties on special teams and missed a block that led to a blocked punt. So it's not like the Bears aren't aware of the problem. So yeah, unless they can find some players on special teams, I think they could lose a game because of it.
The moves come in response to the Bears placing cornerback Charles Tillman on the season-ending injured reserve, as well as to the club’s struggles on special teams during its win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers.
The Bears also added defensive tackle Roy Philon to the practice squad.
A third-year veteran, Frey spent all of the 2013 season as the team’s primary nickel corner. But he struggled throughout the season due to a broken bone in his hand and failed to force a single turnover. Frey started six games, producing 62 tackles and two pass breakups, in addition to generating five quarterback pressures.
Frey spent his rookie season (2012) and the first two weeks of this season on the practice squad. It’s unknown whether the Bears plan to make Frey the starter at nickel for Monday night’s matchup against the New York Jets, and it’s likely the club is continuing to explore options at the position.
Because of Tillman’s injury, the Bears will move rookie Kyle Fuller into the starting lineup to play opposite Tim Jennings. Still, the club seeks a proven player to take snaps from the slot corner position, as the Bears spend approximately 50 percent of the time executing out of substitution packages.
Ross, meanwhile, spent the bulk of last season on the practice squads of the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs after the former signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona State.
Ross played in 26 games at Arizona State with 14 starts, and he caught 55 passes for 864 yards and seven touchdowns while also contributing as a return man (779 yards and two touchdowns).
"I was embarrassed," Long said.
Bears coach Marc Trestman worded his thoughts a tad more delicately, but the fact remains the offense -- after averaging 4.8 yards per rushing attempt in the season opener -- took a major step backward running the ball against the 49ers.
Obviously several factors played into the performance, most significantly, a 17-point deficit in the second quarter, which put the team into passing mode. Still, when Chicago ran against the 49ers, it averaged just 2.7 yards per attempt, with Matt Forte finishing with 21 yards on 12 attempts.
"Very poor in our run game performance," Trestman said. "We're gonna throw that away, and try to work off where we got started in the Buffalo game, and try to continue progress and get better there. [San Francisco is a] very difficult defense to run against. But nonetheless, the tape has certainly shown us we have some work to do. It got our guys' attention, which is a good thing."
The club's rushing aspirations become more difficult Monday night on the road when the Bears face the New York Jets, which boast the league's to run defense. Jets opponents averaged 2.8 yards per attempt and 52.5 yards per game on the ground. New York's defense is one of just seven units in the NFL which still hasn't given up a rushing touchdown.
The longest run surrendered by the Jets this season was 12 yards.
"We need to run the ball," Long said. "I know we got the win on the road, and it was big. I'm sure everybody else in our room will echo that. So will Matt. You need to run the ball in the National Football League, and we'll be better at that."
Chicago certainly needs to be Monday night to prevent New York from making it one dimensional, which in turn would allow the Jets to pin back their ears and come after quarterback Jay Cutler. If the Bears can string together success on the ground against the Jets, the playbook opens up and allows them to attack with all the weapons at their disposal as opposed to relying solely on Jay Cutler and the receivers to make the offense go.
Long attributed the offense's problems running the ball to simply "techniques, different looks." But ultimately, Long said there's no excuse for Chicago's inability to run the ball effectively.
"You run the ball. You grab the guy in front of him. You move him, and the running back has an opening," Long said. "It's hard to break that down any simpler than that. [The Jets] pose another challenge for us. When you can break through walls like those, you become stronger as a unit. I feel like it's an opportunity for us. It's a mountain. We've got to climb it, and we've got to put our flag in the top of it. We're gonna figure out a way to run the ball against the Jets."
Balancing out the run-pass ration might help (83 passes to 35 runs so far this season), as well as bringing back fullback Tony Fiammetta. Fiammetta missed the opener due to a hamstring injury. Then the team -- reeling from injuries along the offensive line and receiver -- cut the fullback last week as it adjusted the roster to compensate. The Bears brought Fiammetta back on Monday, and Trestman is hopeful he can help spark the rushing attack as Forte's lead blocker.
"He certainly could [help]," Trestman said. "Tony Fiammetta is an excellent player, and we haven't had a chance to utilize him because of the hamstring injury. Very, very good as a lead back. I know Matt likes running with Tony leading the way."
ESPN's Power Panel, which is comprised of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities, handed down the most dramatic drop last week in the Power Rankings to the Bears. But this time around, the group gave the Bears some love, ranking them at No. 11. Yet they still rank just second in the division behind the Green Bay Packers (No. 8).
The Detroit Lions checked in at No. 18, falling five slots from 13th. The Minnesota Vikings rounded out the division No. 26 after a 17th ranking last week.
Bears receiver Brandon Marshall felt pundits panicked after the club's season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills in which the club allowed 193 yards rushing.
"It felt like 60 percent of Chicago, of Illinois, started panicking," he said Monday during "The Brandon Marshall Show" on ESPN 1000. "It felt that [the feeling was], 'Our season's over.'"
In the loss to the Bills, the Bears reeled off 427 yards of offense, but committed a trio of turnovers which led to points by the opponent.
Chicago appeared to be headed down a similar road against the 49ers, as it trailed 17-0 late in the first half. The truth is the score should've been even more lopsided. Still, the Bears rallied to score 21 unanswered in the fourth quarter.
Marshall led the charge with a trio of scoring receptions, and Bears coach Marc Trestman considered the win against the 49ers one his team can build on moving forward through the schedule. At 1-1, the Bears play two of their next three on the road, with a home matchup sandwiched in between against the Packers.
"As I told the team, as you go through this marathon of a football season, you're going to have opportunities to gain some backbone," Trestman said. "I think this really helped us and will help us [moving forward]. The bottom line is we'll go back to work. That was the message in the locker room is the reason we're able to get to this point is we went back to work last week [after the loss], focused on each and every day in practice. We're going to do the same thing. We're going to get some rest. We've got an extra day of rest this week with the Monday night game [against the New York Jets], and we're going to go back to work and try to get better as a football team, one day at a time."
That’s not the way to think regarding a player of Tillman’s ilk. But reality is reality.
Tillman, meanwhile, was playing on a one-year contract worth $3.25 million, and he signed that late after free agency proved fruitless.
Moving forward, the Bears can't afford to pay starter's money to three corners, especially with Jay Cutler's monstrous salary and potential extensions coming down the pipe for several players such as Brian de la Puente and Alshon Jeffery, just to name a couple.
Tillman certainly deserves to finish his career in Chicago. But with the corner set to turn 34 before the start of the 2015 season, it’s unlikely the Bears bring him back at a salary he wouldn’t find to be a slap in the face.
When Tillman hits free agency, he likely won’t be looking to break the bank. But he’ll definitely feel he’s worth more than a veteran minimum type of deal, which is probably what the Bears will offer given Tillman’s age, recent injury history, and the emergence of Fuller, who picked off a pair of passes Sunday in the club’s win at San Francisco. Besides that, if the Bears did decide to bring back Tillman for another season, would it be as a starter? Would he feel comfortable taking on the role as the nickel corner?
It’s sad to be pondering all this with emotions still raw, fewer than 24 hours after Tillman’s latest setback.
But that’s the reality we’re faced with; one in which special players such as Tillman always leave on someone else’s terms.
“He’s one of our leaders on this team, and much needed,” receiver Brandon Marshall said during his radio show Monday on ESPN Chicago 1000. “It’s sad for the city, it’s sad for our team, it’s sad for him.”
It truly is.
Tillman was correct in saying it’s not the end of the road, because it isn’t. Once Tillman rehabs from this injury, he’ll still be a player capable of starting and playing at a high level in the NFL.
But the problem is this team, even before Tillman’s injury, has already moved on. If Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester have taught us anything, it’s the fact the Bears -- like every other team in the NFL -- always moves on.
A six-year veteran, Fiammetta serves primarily as a lead blocker for Matt Forte, and has run the ball 11 times for 26 yards throughout his career, while also producing 130 yards on 12 catches in 50 games with 24 starts.
Fales, meanwhile, joined the Bears as a sixth-round pick out of San Jose State.
Over two seasons at San Jose State, Fales started in 25 games, throwing for 8,382 yards and 66 touchdowns with 22 interceptions. Fales has impressed the staff enough throughout his brief tenure with the Bears, that he would likely develop into a potential backup to starter Jay Cutler.
With the Bears placing cornerback Charles Tillman on the injured reserve, it's expected the club in the coming days will make more roster moves.
When Chicago Bears cornerback and civic hero Charles "Peanut" Tillman left Sunday night's game with what would later be determined as a ruptured right triceps muscle, teammates approached him in appreciation and homage.
A screenshot showed him apparently tearing up; it went viral. Bears fans love Tillman, and he would later go on Twitter and thank the fans for their virtual well-wishes. A Peanut without his shell.
While Tillman faded into the sideline, rookie Kyle Fuller, drafted to be his replacement as the playmaking franchise corner, picked off two fourth-quarter passes in San Francisco 49ers territory that turned into touchdowns as the Bears shocked the NFL, and certainly Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area, with a 28-20 comeback victory.
It was Fuller's moment, and not a small amount of people made "passing the torch" comments in the press box.
"I told him that he needs to have Hall of Fame on his mind," Marshall said. "There is no fear. He has a great skill set. But his attitude is amazing. You'd think he's been in the league for five or six years."