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2014 NFL Scuttlebutt
Johnny Manziel: Johnny Manziel is an undersized rookie quarterback out of Texas A&M whose collegiate heroics and highlight reel scrambles made him must-see TV. Now on the Cleveland Browns, Manziel's every move has been documented and discussed by sports media pundits around the country. "Johnny Football" has his own celebration, commercial deals and is becoming a brand, but he is currently backing up a career journeyman named Brian Hoyer.
Roger Goodell: Roger Goodell, the NFL's commissioner, is always in the headlines. Nobody is benefitting from America's love of football like he is; in 2014 he made over $44 million running the league. The man in the middle of every NFL conversation, Goodell is often at the front of controversy. He is currently enforcing a flawed disciplinary system and has received plenty of criticism for it—he suspended Ray Rice for two games after a domestic assault charge, but has suspended players twice that amount of time for failing a drug test. Goodell is pushing for a more streamlined version of the game, one that is safer for its players and more entertaining for the fans. People question his sincerity about player safety—he is a proponent of extending the 16 game schedule be to 18 games, something that certainly wouldn't help lower injury rates.
Michael Sam: Michael Sam made history when he became the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL. Originally thought to be a 2nd or 3rd round talent, Sam's poor workouts before the draft dropped him all the way to the 7th round, where he was picked by the St. Louis Rams. From there, the media coverage only grew. Sam was in talks with The Oprah Winfrey Network to film his experience with the Rams and he was the top story on ESPN, regardless of the day. All the hype failed to get Sam a place on the roster, though; he was cut by the Rams and has subsequently signed with the Dallas Cowboy's Practice Squad. Jerry Jones never shies away from a chance at a story.
Ray Rice: Ray Rice's ongoing saga was the only thing that could compete with Johnny Football and Michael Sam this summer. Rice was arrested in Atlantic City after video footage surfaced of him dragging his unconscious fiancé out of an elevator. He apologized publicly before being lightly slapped on the wrist with a two game suspension. Criticism rained down on Commissioner Goodell, and he admitted weeks after that he didn't handle the situation properly. In light of the situation, the NFL has increased the severity of punishment for any incidents of domestic violence. Footage from inside the elevator was released on September 8th, confirming that Rice punched his fiancé in the face and knocked her out. Public outcry increased tenfold, demanding a stricter punishment. The Ravens and the NFL took swift action, as Ray Rice has been released and suspended indefinitely.