September 18, 2018 / 8:03 PM / 3 months ago

NFL notebook: Football Hall of Fame members want benefits, pay

The newly formed players-only Hall of Fame Board, made up of Pro Football Hall of Fame players, is threatening a boycott of enshrinement ceremonies unless the members receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes a share of NFL revenues.

FILE PHOTO: Former NFL player Eric Dickerson arrives at the 2nd Annual NFL Honors in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 2, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Former Rams running back Eric Dickerson is the chairman of the board created to represent the pursuit of health care and a piece of the NFL’s massive revenue pie.

The Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has undergone an enormous construction project in recent years — Hall of Fame Village, aided by a huge sponsorship deal with Johnson Controls — that includes a retirement center for players, who would receive health care on the premises. The project also included a new stadium and will bring multiple football fields for youth participation initiatives.

In the letter, Hall of Fame members reference Major League Baseball’s lifetime health coverage afforded any player who serves a single day on a big-league roster, and point to the established $620 million “Legacy Fund” as one of the NFL’s “cynical public relations ploys that fail to help those who desperately need it.”

—Former No. 1 draft pick Jameis Winston has one game remaining on his season-opening suspension, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson is already saying he wants Ryan Fitzpatrick to keep the job.

“He’s playing on fire right now,” Jackson said of Fitzpatrick on the NFL Network. “With the way the team is rallying behind him and just playing lights-out football, you have to kind of honor it. You can’t take the hot man out. You got the hot fire right now. It’s like NBA Jam. We used to play NBA Jam - whoever got that hot fire shot, you got to keep shooting, man.”

Tampa Bay is 2-0 behind veteran quarterback Fitzpatrick, who is 48-of-61 passing (78.7 percent) and leads the league with 819 yards. The 35-year-old has thrown eight touchdown passes against just one interception, and his 151.5 passer rating also leads the league. Jackson has caught three of those touchdown passes and leads the league with 275 receiving yards.

—Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warned of placing great expectations on wide receiver Josh Gordon before he has time to settle in with New England. The Patriots traded a conditional fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns to acquire Gordon on Monday.

“You know, I hate to make projections and expectations. That’s not fair,” Brady told Jim Gray on Westwood One on Monday night. “I’ve never met Josh personally, just like I hadn’t met some of the guys that have come in the last couple weeks. So we’ll see how it goes this week and hopefully he can work hard, put the team first and end up helping us in any role that he can find for himself on the team.”

After missing training camp to enter a rehab facility at the University of Florida as a preventive measure, Gordon caught a touchdown in Week 1. But he ran out of chances with the Browns, who parted with the troubled wide receiver following multiple suspensions and repeated violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

—Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has become the virtual poster boy for the roughing the passer penalty in the NFL’s latest instructional video for officials. NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron is packing Matthews’ roughing penalty, questioned by Packers coach Mike McCarthy and almost universally on social media channels Sunday, into a video distributed to league officials this week.

Referee Tony Corrente made the right call, Riveron said, when Matthews was flagged for taking Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins to the ground and landing on him with his weight. A strikingly similar play in the Jaguars-Patriots game ended with Tom Brady on the ground but no yellow flags were tossed.

After the game, Corrente provided his explanation. “It has nothing to do with the rule of full body weight,” Corrente said. “It has nothing to do with helmet to helmet. He picked the quarterback up and drove him into the ground.”

—San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster, Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones and New York Jets wide receiver ArDarius Stewart are among the players returning from two-game NFL suspensions this week.

Foster served a suspension for violations of league policies on personal conduct and substance abuse. The 49ers have a two-day roster exemption, ending Wednesday, before being required to clear a spot for him on the 53-man roster.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Jones would be with the team Wednesday when Green Bay returns to the practice field. Jones was suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Stewart was suspended for performance-enhancing drug use. He had six receptions for 82 yards in 15 games as a rookie in 2017.

—Brice Butler is back with the Dallas Cowboys, who continue to search for the right combination at wide receiver.

Slideshow (9 Images)

Adding Butler gives the team seven wide receivers on the 53-man roster. Safety Tyree Robinson was released to make room on the roster.

Butler had 43 catches and six touchdowns in 36 games after being acquired in 2015. Butler spent three seasons with the Cowboys before he was released in the offseason and drew fire in Dallas for going on FS1 to vent his frustrations with the franchise.

—Field Level Media

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