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It worked out for the best. Carmichael used his size to outjump and overpower defenders, catching more passes for more yards and touchdowns than any player in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles.The gentle giant then waited patiently for three decades before he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of last year’s special centennial class.“About 10 years ago, I was laying in bed just thinking about things, wondering why I’m not in the Hall of Fame, why this and why that,” Carmichael said. “And I stopped and said: ‘Harold, you’ve been blessed, man.’ I felt God was saying to me just wait, be patient. This is very special because God put me in this position to be in the centennial class. We’re in a special class and that’s very exciting, and the patience that I didn’t have, God put it in my life to be patient, be courageous and just believe, have the faith. And I kind of started believing that I’m going to get in here.”It’s been a long journey for Carmichael, who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and attended William M. Raines High School. Carmichael briefly played the trombone in the school’s band until one day at practice he couldn’t figure out what to play.“It was embarrassing,” he said. “I walked out and saw the basketball team practicing and went out for the team.”Carmichael had skills on the court despite his dribbling issues. He tried out for football as a freshman and sophomore but couldn’t make the team.“I couldn’t get past the calisthenics,” he said.Carmichael eventually made the football team as a junior and played quarterback and safety as a senior.“I got hit more than anybody because my offensive line was terrible,” he said. “I threw one touchdown pass and ran a broken play in for a touchdown. That was it.”Carmichael also joined the baseball team his junior season and played third base. He said he had a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a senior but forgot to bring his cleats.He walked-on at Southern University and played center on the basketball team, threw the javelin and discus for the track and field team, and moved to wide receiver on the football team.“When I saw Harold, I figured he was a basketball player and what is he doing out here?” said Mel Blount, a teammate at Southern who became a Pro Football Hall of Fame safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “But then after you see him run routes and catch the football, you see he’s a tall receiver. The thing about Harold is he was different, he knew he was different, and if that ball was anywhere in his zone, he’s going to catch it.”Carmichael never led his college team in receptions and didn’t think about playing in the NFL. He figured the 1971 NFL draft ended after the first six rounds because the rest of it wasn’t televised. Then he got the call from his agent that the Eagles had selected him in the seventh round with the 161st overall pick.Carmichael caught 20 passes in each of his first two seasons. After the Eagles traded Pro Bowl wideout Harold Jackson to the Rams following the 1972 season, Carmichael got a chance to start. He had 67 receptions for 1,116 yards and nine TDs in 1973, making the first of four Pro Bowl appearances.In 1979, Carmichael set a then-NFL record by catching at least one pass in 106 consecutive games. The game against the Cleveland Browns at Veterans Stadium was stopped to celebrate the accomplishment and Carmichael received a 12-foot trophy. The trophy was later loaned to the Hall of Fame and Carmichael hasn’t seen it again.“I’ve been there a couple times and it’s not there anymore. I wonder if they used that as firewood,” Carmichael joked.He extended the streak to 127 games the next season and helped the Eagles win the NFC championship that year. But they lost to the Raiders in the Super Bowl.Carmichael finished his career with 590 catches for 8,985 yards and 79 TDs. All but one catch for 7 yards came with the Eagles. He played two games for the rival Dallas Cowboys in 1984.“I wonder if I would’ve been drafted (now) because everybody is looking for those 4.2 guys, and I was nowhere near that,” he said. “I had to make good of my size, putting myself between the football and a defensive player. That’s how I kind of got around without that speed, trying to catch anything that came close to me — within 3 yards of me — with these long arms.”Next month, Carmichael will use those longs arms to put on his gold jacket in Canton.“To be inducted,” he said, “to get that gold jacket, and get that bust and get that ring is very exciting for me.”———More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL
Four NFL teams remain under 50% vaccinated less than two weeks from the start of training camp, a person familiar with the vaccination rates told The Associated PressBy ROB MAADDI AP Pro Football WriterJuly 16, 2021, 2:29 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleFour NFL teams remain under 50% vaccinated less than two weeks from the start of training camp, a person familiar with the vaccination rates told The Associated Press.Washington, Indianapolis, Arizona and the Los Angeles Chargers had the four lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the league as of Thursday, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, because the league hasn’t released the numbers.Pittsburgh, Miami, Carolina and Denver have the highest vaccination rates and are among seven teams that have achieved at least 85%. About 70% of players have been vaccinated. Teams on the lower end of the vaccination table face potential competitive disadvantages.The NFL doesn’t plan to cancel any games this season, the person said.In a memo sent to clubs last week and obtained by the AP on Thursday, the NFL, in conjunction with the NFLPA, updated protocols to allow teams traveling to joint practices to have their daily maximum of Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals. The traveling party will be either 100 or 140, depending on the club’s vaccination percentage. The club must limit the number of individuals traveling on the team transportation to 85 but may travel additional Tier 1 and Tier 2 staff up to the applicable daily Tier limits separately to attend the practice.Also, beginning at the start of training camp, teams will be required to develop a method to visually identify fully vaccinated Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals.Utilizing color coded wristbands or credentials are recommended but clubs are free to implement other methods.Last month, the NFL and the players’ union updated protocols to loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated players and to encourage others to get the vaccine.Unvaccinated players must continue to get daily testing, wear masks and practice physical distancing. They won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates, can’t participate in media or marketing activities while traveling, aren’t permitted to use the sauna or steam room and may not leave the team hotel or interact with people outside the team while traveling. Vaccinated players will not have any of those restrictions.
Troy Vincent wrapped up the NFL’s three-day General Manager Forum and Quarterback Coaching Summit with a passionate plea to anyone who still thinks there aren’t worthy Black candidates for head coaching positionsBy ROB MAADDI AP Pro Football WriterJune 24, 2021, 6:31 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTroy Vincent wrapped up the NFL’s three-day General Manager Forum and Quarterback Coaching Summit with a passionate plea to anyone who still thinks there aren’t worthy Black candidates for head coaching positions.Vincent praised Houston Texans assistant coach Pep Hamilton, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and several other coaches who gave impressive presentations during this week’s webinar.The league held its inaugural GM Forum, named after Ozzie Newsome, on Monday and followed up with its fourth annual QB Coaching Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday. There are only four Black GMs and three Black head coaches in a 32-team league where about 70% of the players are minorities.Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, New York Giants owner John Mara and Buffalo Bills owner Kim Pegula participated in the GM Forum.Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II participated in the coaching sessions.“I’ve always said that it would be good to have owners at the table, and I think we’ve finally got guys at the table and they got an opportunity to see first hand,” said Doug Williams, the first Black QB to win a Super Bowl and Black College Football Hall of Fame co-founder. “My thinking is they’re going to feel a lot better about hiring somebody that doesn’t look like them because of what they can do and what they know and the fact that they can coach. I do feel good about that. I’m looking forward to it.”I don’t know how many jobs will come open next year, but I do believe the guys that were on there and some of the guys that weren’t on there are going to go and say: ‘Hey, man, we’ve just got to change our thinking and go with the guy that can do the job.’ I feel good about it.”Vincent added that more owners weren’t scheduled because of a crowded three-day agenda.“They understand the importance of why this inclusiveness is important for the game,” he said.Each team had representation from at least an owner, president, general manager or head coach during the three-day events. Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke Tuesday and answered questions from aspiring head coaches.Bieniemy took questions from attendees Wednesday following a recorded session featuring him and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Bieniemy has been the coordinator of one of the league’s most prolific offenses, but hasn’t received a promotion despite several interviews over the past three years.Many point to the failure of teams to hire him as emblematic of a major problem for a league that preaches diversity but has only three Black head coaches.“We all realize the important thing about coaching in this league is winning and having the best candidate,” said James “Shack” Harris, who was 18-4 as a starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams in 1974-75. “And what we all are saying is some of the best candidates are some of the coaches that are here. When you look at Eric Bieniemy, I was listening very closely. For Eric not getting a job and for people to say something about the interview, I just don’t see it. He’s an impressive individual, he’s winning.”And I think those are some of the things that we have to see change.”———More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL
NFL players must decide by July 2 if they plan to opt out of playing this season due to COVID-19 concernsBy ROB MAADDI AP Pro Football WriterJune 24, 2021, 12:23 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNFL players must decide by July 2 if they plan to opt out of playing this season due to COVID-19 concerns, though voluntary opt-outs will not be paid any stipend this year.In a memo sent to clubs Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press, the league and the NFL Players Association agreed that only high-risk players will receive a stipend of $350,000. Voluntary opt-outs got a $150,000 stipend in 2020.To qualify as a high-risk, a player must have opted out last season and have an effective contract executed before Oct. 1, 2020, or have been newly diagnosed with a CDC-defined higher-risk condition. Rookies wouldn’t be eligible unless they were diagnosed with a high-risk condition after signing a contract.A total of 67 players opted out last year before vaccines were available.The contract for any player who opts out will toll at the end of the year and all provisions of the 2021 contract will become applicable to 2022. For players under contract beyond 2021, all subsequent years will be extended.The NFL and the players’ union also agreed that fully vaccinated players who have a per game roster bonus are eligible to receive that bonus even if they miss a game because of a COVID-19 diagnosis.———More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL
Long before Usama Young’s father co-starred with him in a Super Bowl commercial, he influenced his love for footballBy ROB MAADDI AP Pro Football WriterJune 19, 2021, 4:31 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleLong before Usama Young’s father co-starred with him in a Super Bowl commercial, he influenced his love for .“The other day we were talking about our heroes and I was talking about how my dad taught me how to tackle, just be fearless and look the opponent in the eye and don’t put your head down,” said Young, a safety who played for the Saints, Browns and Raiders between 2007-15.“I played with that fearlessness. And I think my dad pushing me every day, being able to be at my game, praying with me before every game, and him being able to see my last game before he passed away, that meant the world to me.”Young sold lemonade during NFL games in Washington as a kid. His father, Leroi Young, got him the job and helped him regain it when he was fired a couple times. Before New Orleans beat the Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl, the league featured the father-son in a television ad.“That was amazing,” Usama Young said. “He kept reminding me: ‘You ever thought after getting fired you’d be here today shooting a commercial?’ He said that only God could write this story.”“He helped me keep everything in perspective,” Elias said. “He had a really difficult life with some extreme challenges and so he approached every day that no matter what you did, love people, love what you’re doing and give it your all.”He didn’t care if I played football or if I played chess. He was just like: ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated, work as hard as you can and live every moment to the fullest.’ And that was the real life lesson I took from him.”Both Young and Elias pass on the wisdom learned from their fathers with other NFL players in their current roles. Elias is the NFL’s senior director of player engagement and Young is a member of the NFL’s player engagement staff. They work closely with the league’s fatherhood initiative for players.“It’s truly a brotherhood to celebrate how valuable fathers are in their families’ lives, in the community and how being a father is just something that we can’t take for granted,” Young said. “We understand how valuable we are. Now that I am a father, I see why my dad pushed me so hard. I see why my dad didn’t let me give up.”The initiative celebrates past and present players and the positive influence paternal relationships have on families and communities. Throughout the year, the staff provides parenting resources, support, events and creating opportunities for peer-to-peer learning among fathers inside the league.“The message is to encourage, empower and equip guys,” Elias said. “We give them the tools to be able to reach out and build that relationship (with their children) and encourage them to do it right.”Young, who has a 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, stressed the importance of leading by example, staying poised during adversity.“Children watch our every move,” Young said. “How we can lead by example as fathers, that’s of the utmost importance.”———More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL
The NFL is holding its inaugural General Manager Forum next week in an effort to increase minority hiring in front officesBy ROB MAADDI AP Pro Football WriterJune 18, 2021, 7:01 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe NFL is holding its inaugural General Manager Forum next week in an effort to increase minority hiring in front offices.The forum, named after Ozzie Newsome, will be held virtually on Monday ahead of the fourth annual Quarterback Coaching Summit. There are only four Black GMs and three Black head coaches in a 32-team league where about 70% of the players are minorities.“I think it’s critical and I’m glad that the league is being intentional about doing it, because all of this work needs to be intentional,” longtime NFL executive Scott Pioli said of the GM forum. “In the history of our country, what we’ve done is we have … groups of people that have intentionally marginalized folks. So now what we need to do is intentionally create programs and opportunities for people from marginalized groups to advance. So the fact that they’re doing this now or we’re doing this now as part of the NFL to help people advance and get exposure and get educated and become better and be mentored is a fantastic initiative by the league.”Pioli is among a list of speakers that includes Newsome, a Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end and the first Black GM in league history.Pioli began his career in the NFL as a pro personnel assistant with the Browns in 1992, a year after Newsome joined Cleveland’s front office. They worked six seasons together in Cleveland and Baltimore. Newsome became Baltimore’s GM in 2002. By then, Pioli was New England’s vice president of player personnel.“I have a tremendous Ozzie Newsome story to share with the group next week when we talk about this and to talk about not only the relationship between the head coach and the general manager and owner, but all three of those relationships, because those are three independent relationships of very influential and powerful people with great skills and abilities that have to collaborate,” Pioli said.Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, New York Giants owner John Mara, Buffalo Bills owner Kim Pegula and Black College Football Hall of Fame co-founder James “Shack” Harris also will speak during Monday’s sessions.The participation of owners is noteworthy because ultimately they have final say in hiring.“It’s really important for us because they’re the ones who are doing the hiring and the genesis of both events is just making sure that hiring individuals are aware of the talent that’s out there so participating in this event allows for that networking to happen, even if it’s virtual,” Holloway said.Pioli, who won three Super Bowls as a personnel boss with the Patriots, said owner involvement in hiring varies from team to team. He also worked for the Jets, Chiefs and most recently served as assistant GM for the Falcons from 2014-19.“Some owners take more ownership, so to speak, in the process than others but it does come down to the owners,” he said. “Decisions about who they listen to is what’s most important. Are they listening to their general manager or are you listening to a family member or are they listening to the president or someone on the business side? So there’s a lot of people with information coming to the owners, helping them make that decision, which is why this is really important now, too, because generally speaking and historically is most people in those positions of power look like me and they look like the owners. So they, generally speaking, don’t have a great deal of proximity or circle of friends outside of people that don’t look like them. So very often the people that are brought to owners or the people that are talked about with owners are people that look like them.”The two-day coaching event follows the GM forum and features various topics including how to build a coaching staff and winning culture, the qualities of a head coach, as well as provide networking opportunities for career advancement.Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Chiefs coach Andy Reid, Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Steelers President Art Rooney II are among the speakers scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.Arians won a Super Bowl last season with the most diverse staff in league history. Tampa Bay has three Black coordinators and two female assistants.———More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL
The NFL and its players’ union have updated COVID-19 protocols to loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated players and to encourage others to get the vaccineBy ROB MAADDI AP Pro Football WriterJune 16, 2021, 9:03 PM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleThe NFL is almost back to business as usual — for vaccinated players.The NFL and NFL Players Association have updated COVID-19 protocols to loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated players and to encourage others to get the vaccine.Unvaccinated players must continue to get daily testing, wear masks and practice physical distancing. They won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates, can’t participate in media or marketing activities while traveling, aren’t permitted to use the sauna or steam room and may not leave the team hotel or interact with people outside the team while traveling.Vaccinated players will not have any of those restrictions, according to a memo sent to teams on Wednesday that was obtained by The Associated Press.Media access to the press box, field and sidelines, locker room and postgame interview room will be available only to media members who are fully vaccinated.Several players have expressed concerns about receiving the vaccine. The updated protocols give them more incentive to get it.Players can be fined up to $50,000 for violating protocols.Washington pass rusher Montez Sweat said last week he “probably won’t get vaccinated until I got more facts and that type of stuff, but I’m not a fan of it at all.”Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold previously said he didn’t plan to get the vaccine.“Obviously, they agreed to those terms for a reason,” Darnold said about the new protocols. “A lot of smart people came up with those restrictions and obviously they are there for a reason. In terms of my decision (on whether) to get vaccinated, I’m just going to keep that to myself. For me, it’s a personal decision that I’m going to make between me and people around me. So I’m just going to keep it within me and my tight circle. Those decisions are being made by very smart people and people that know what they’d doing obviously.”Teams have brought in experts to discuss the vaccine with players and staff.“They’re doing a great job of continuing to educate us and giving us resources and then kind of giving us the option to make that informed decision with where we’re at personally and go from there,” Minnesota Vikings wide reciever Adam Thielen said.Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert was asked if other players have spoken to him about the vaccine because he was a biology major at Oregon.“I haven’t talked to too many people about it,” he said. “There’s a small group of guys that have been vaccinated, and I’ve been vaccinated. I thought if it’s available to be able to do all these things, it would help me in the long run. I think it’s better for everyone, but it’s up to everyone. So it’s their opinion. I think it’s a tough situation regardless, but nobody’s asked me too much.”The vaccine has been a big issue for the Buffalo Bills throughout the offseason, with coaches and management pushing for vaccination to ease restrictions and players not wanting to talk about it.“We feel like we know that in our country and around the league where and how things are improving, and to me there’s a direct correlation to people getting vaccinated,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “I would like to continue to see our team move in that direction, continue to move an increased number of people that are getting vaccinated. … It’s good to have the guys here, but I think the reality of our situation is that now — but also for sure come the fall, training camp — protocols are going to continue to be enforced, in particular for those who are unvaccinated as it relates to the masking and the different things that are in place. Just trying to be real about it and make sure people understand what normal is gonna look like, in particular for those who are unvaccinated come the fall.”———AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell and AP Sports Writers Steve Reed, Stephen Whyno, John Wawrow and Joe Reedy contributed to this report.———More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL