Chat with Ashley Fox
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com NFL columnist Ashley Fox stops by to chat.
Fox joined ESPN.com in 2011 after 11 years as a writer and columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she covered the National Football League, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia 76ers. She also has worked at the Louisville Courier-Journal and Sports Illustrated. A North Carolina native, Fox lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband, daughter and son.
Send your questions now and join Fox on Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (1:01 PM)
Greetings everybody. Thanks for joining me today. Let's get started.
firstname.lastname@example.org (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Ashley, You feel the NFL should be more concerned about Michael Sam's playing ability than about his homosexuality. First, I am all for it, but its the media and yourself that's writing these articles and pushing it down the publics throats. The media knows what it's doing, keep pushing the gay rights agenda until there is total acceptance. Craig Manke
Ashley Fox (1:03 PM)
I'm not sure your question, Craig. I'm not pushing the gay rights agenda down anyone's throat. Given that Michael Sam came out publicly and will become the first openly gay player in the NFL, it is a topic worth discussing. And yes, I do think that it should be more about his playing ability, but I'm not naive enough to believe that everyone will view him simply as a football player.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Ashley, Which Seahawk players won't be returning to Seattle in 2014 because they'll be released ?
Ashley Fox (1:05 PM)
Well, according to our Adam Schefter, Sidney Rice will not be returning. The Seahawks will be releasing him. It's not a huge surprise. Rice is due nearly $18 million over the next two years and has been plagued by injuries during his time in Seattle. He tore his ACL mid year and wasn't part of Seattle's Super Bowl run. Plus, they are pretty deep at receiver. So that's one guy who won't be back.
Ed (Queens Village)
Is it time to eliminate franchise tags?
Ashley Fox (1:07 PM)
I hear that, Ed, but the franchise tag is part of the collective bargaining agreement the players agreed to, so it is not going anywhere. The players hate it, even though the money is huge for the one year. Most players would rather have the security of a long-term deal that includes guaranteed money in the form of a bonus.
I think what Craig is saying is that the media REALLY wants Sam to be a great player. Most people are of the opinion that if he can play then great he belongs in the NFL. If not then see ya. We all knew there were gay players in the NFL. Its just now we know who one is. But it certainly seems like the media wants keep pushing this dialogue when the general public is ho-hum about it.
Ashley Fox (1:09 PM)
That could be, that the general public is ho-hum about it. I don't care if Sam is a great player or not. I hope he gets a fair shot based on his football ability. That's what any player deserves. And you're right, if he can play then he belongs and if not he will be looking for other work.
I know itll never happen because the NFL has no real integrity at the end of the day, but I wish they would send a real message to its players and its fans by suspending Ray Rice for a minimum of 1 year, with mandatory classes on anger management and respecting women. Then he can file for reinstatement. They preach all kinds of moral codes and talk about protecting the "integrity" of the shield, but this "man" hit a woman so hard that she lay unconscious on a hotel floor, and I bet his punishment is a fraction of what players get for PEDs, and that is fundamentally wrong. The rules of life should always trump the rules of the football field, and there is no place for this kind of behavior in any sport. That video gave me the chills, and I don?t even want to see the supposed video of him actually hitting her.
Ashley Fox (1:12 PM)
The video is horrible. I don't know what happened that night, so I don't want to speculate. But your point is well taken. There should be consequences for behavior. Add DUI in there. It is going to be really interesting to see how the Ray Rice situation plays out and what the league and/or the Ravens do by the way of punishment. You can believe everyone will be watching, and the people at the league office know that.
What NFL team was the most fun to watch in your opinion during the 2013 season?
Ashley Fox (1:14 PM)
I think ultimately when I look back on 2013, the way Seattle played really all year, particularly with the physicality on defense, will be the lasting image. It sounded corny at the time, but their whole brotherhood theme was real. Those guys really believed in each other and played for each other, and it showed. That they thumped Denver, the greatest offense of all time, the way they did really was a fitting end to their season.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
I respectfully disagree...I think most people do care if Sam is good or not. The NFL has tried to market the individual players, and I personally care about a players background. I cheer for my team, but I also appreciate people like Fitz and the humanitarian work he does. I rooted for Tebow because I thought he had a great story. And I'll cheer for Sam to make an impact because I don't know much about him, but I know it took a lot of courage to do what he did.
Ashley Fox (1:17 PM)
Thanks for the perspective, Scott. I agree it took tremendous courage for him to do what he did. Kudos to him. And I don't think I said people don't care if he's good or not. If he's not good, he won't make it. If he is, he will.
Joe (new orleans) [via mobile]
Are you surprised Gregg Williams is a DC? I would of sworn he would never coach again. I remember even you wrote an article saying he was done. Was bountygate an overreaction?
Ashley Fox (1:18 PM)
I am surprised, but the NFL gives second chances to everyone, so maybe I shouldn't be. And yes, I thought at the time, given the circumstances, that he would have a hard time coaching again in the league. I was wrong.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Ashley, Peyton Manning turns 38 years old in March, he needs 12,351 passing yards to pass Brett Favre. If Peyton maintains his average of 4,330 per season he'll need 3 years to do it, will he be around the NFL when he's 41 and beyond if he stays heathy?
Ashley Fox (1:21 PM)
I will trust your math there, Rich. I don't put anything past Manning, but I do know that given what he went through to make it back to playing, he has thought about the other side. He can see the finish line. He is as cognizant of his place in the history of the game and certainly cares about legacy. He's love to have that record. But I'm not convinced that he will be playing long enough to get it. He is year-to-year now as it is.
So Manziel is under 6' and only 205lbs. I know he's electric and a winner but I can't see him holding up at the NFL level. Everyone will point to Brees and Wilson as undersized guys but Manziel relies on his legs much more than they do. And what's the success rate of under 6' QBs? It's terrible. How can any team justify taking him top 5?
Ashley Fox (1:24 PM)
He's a shade under 6 feet. There's a long history in the NFL of not taking quarterbacks that size in the first round of the draft. But as we know, this is a quarterback driven league, and a team that doesn't have a good one rarely has success. Will a team take him in the top five? I don't know, but I wouldn't count it out.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Who do you think Seattle selects with their first pick in the draft? Is their a certain position(s) the Seahawks will focus on?
Ashley Fox (1:25 PM)
It is impossible to predict who will still be on the board when Seattle picks, but I know they will take the best player available. They have done a great job in recent drafts and have prototypes for every position. That's why they could roll out corners who all basically had the same body type and not miss a beat.
Michael Vick will be wearing a _____________ uniform in 2014?
Ashley Fox (1:28 PM)
That's a great question, Jim. Oakland, maybe. I'm not ready to rule out Philly, either, but I know that Mike wants an opportunity to be a starter. He isn't against having to compete for the job, but he wants to have a chance to start again. I think he will get that chance, because there are enough teams with instability at the position. But as we all know, injuries and turnovers have plagued him in recent years, so those will be factors working against him.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Jeff Fisher is the only guy that would take Gregg Williams don't you think? Like Tebow, you only need one to like you.
Ashley Fox (1:28 PM)
I'll disagree with Scott in Colorado...nobody will care about Sam unless he's drafted by the team you root for. If he impacts the game on the field then fine so be it, but there will be a lot of players/fans out there who are glad he won't be on their team. If he's good on my team then we found someone who we won't have to replace in a year or two, if he's not good, well if he's on my team then I don't care what happens to him. That's how many people will view it.
Ashley Fox (1:29 PM)
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the Vikings can turn things around quickly with Zimmer at the helm, and Norv Turner at OC where he belongs? I know this is dependent on them drafting/signing the right QB, so what is your outlook on Minnesota?
Ashley Fox (1:31 PM)
It is dependent on them finding the right quarterback. But there are pieces there for Zimmer/Turner to work with. They've got speed and talent on offense. Zimmer is a proven defensive coach, creative and a terrific motivator. And Turner is best suited as an OC. So I think the outlook is good, but whenever there's a coaching change, it usually takes time (Kansas City and Philly being the obvious exceptions this past season).
If Rice is cut (which I doubt, Baltimore tolerates poor character) how quickly does someone else pick him up? I'd say about 1.5 hours.
Ashley Fox (1:32 PM)
I'm not sure it would take that long.
What are the chances of the Patriots landing Larry Fitzgerald this offseason?
Ashley Fox (1:35 PM)
I don't think that's going to happen. Cardinals GM Steve Keim addressed that at the combine yesterday, saying it never got beyond the speculation stage and they never got a call from New England. But I do think Belichick realizes that he has to give Brady more to work with than he had last year. That was apparent throughout the season and particularly in the playoff loss to Denver. Brady is a great quarterback, but he's not a magician. So I think you will see New England upgrade the receiver position to give Brady more help.
Do you think New Orleans Can wi a nfl title again?
Ashley Fox (1:37 PM)
Of course. They need to continue building their defense, which is where I would think they will focus in the draft. Give Rob Ryan more playmakers to work with. Remember, it was just a year ago that they had a historically awful defense. So there remains work to do there. But yes, with Brees and Payton, the Saints will always be a contender.
Kevin (Reno, NV)
Are you buying Jimmy Graham's franchise tag argument?
Ashley Fox (1:39 PM)
I was in Bristol earlier this week, and that certainly was a hot topic. I don't necessarily buy it. He's a tight end. They line him up on the outside because he's such a matchup problem, not because he's a receiver. But this is what the CBA has given us. Guys are concerned about their wallets, as they should be, so he wants to be paid accordingly. I think he's got a decent argument on paper if you go by snap counts and formations, but the reality is he's a tight end.
Charles (Columbus, OH)
Where does Josh McCown end up next season?
Ashley Fox (1:42 PM)
There will be a market for him, given what he did when Cutler was injured. I know the Bears would love to have him back, but I don't know that that's realistic. He would be a nice bandaid for a team that either drafts a quarterback this year who needs some seasoning or has a young guy who's not quite ready. Cleveland maybe. Minnesota. Oakland. Houston. There are teams that have a need, so McCown, like Vick, should get a shot.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Well there you go. Some people only care about what happens on the field. My point is that saying most don't care what happens off the field is simply not true. We've talked about Ray Rice, and it has had nothing to do with if he rebounds next season. Eric in Chicago may not care that Cutler acts like a turd, but I do. I also like B-Marsh because he has shown the courage to shed light on mental illness..my $.02
Ashley Fox (1:43 PM)
There you go.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Do you think someone really overpays Eric Decker? I think teams are savvy to the fact he's a strong #2. I could see a situation like James Jones last year, where it was assumed he would get paid and he returned under a modest contract...
Ashley Fox (1:45 PM)
As for Decker, yes, I think someone will overpay for him. I wrote earlier this week that sometimes in free agency, a player's best option from a career/playing standpoint is to stay with the team that drafted him. I think that's the case for Decker. He is a solid No. 2, not a No. 1, and he's playing with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. But he wants to get paid, and you can't blame him for that. After back-to-back 1,000-yard, 80-plus catch seasons, someone will throw money at him. He would help New England. Philly, too, depending on what the Eagles decide to do with Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper.
I turn the channel or the dial anytime I hear Richie Incognito or Michael Sam and I'm not the only one. I think it's time the media let it rest. The media keeps saying its what everyone is talking about but it's really just what all the media is talking about.
Ashley Fox (1:46 PM)
That's a fair point.
will the eagles bring back maclin and cooper?
Ashley Fox (1:47 PM)
I think they'll bring back one. Probably not both. If I were running the team, I would focus my attention on Maclin. The negative against him is he's missed 20-something games in five years and is coming off a second ACL tear in his right knee. But when he is healthy, he is their most reliable receiver and would be a great fit in Chip Kelly's offense. In my opinion, it would be easier to find another Cooper than another Maclin.
Would u release demarcus ware if your the cowboys?
Ashley Fox (1:52 PM)
I said this on Insiders earlier this week, Jerry Jones is a terrific salesman, but even he would be hard pressed to sell 2014 as a potential Super Bowl season if he released one of the three best pass rushers of the last decade. But there is little doubt that Ware is on the decline. He's coming off the worst season of his career. And he is a huge cap hit. Releasing him isn't going to ease that a whole lot. Ware has said he's not open to taking a pay cut. That leaves really two options for the Cowboys: Keep him or cut him. I'd probably keep him given their lack of depth and talent on the DL.
Ashley, do you feel all has been forgiven with Riley Cooper? I mean we don't hear anything about his mishap anymore so just curious what you might be hearing from other NFL players/personnel about it. Did his play make a lot of people forget about what he said? Racism, sexuality, beating your significant other are all major problems not just in the NFL but everywhere. Thanks.
Ashley Fox (1:56 PM)
I don't think people have forgotten what he said/did. I will say, again, that he handled himself well after the fact. He apologized multiple times. And to his credit he played very well this season when he got the opportunity. But when a team considers whether to sign him, that will be a issue they will discuss. Can he fit into their team? Would he be accepted? You have to ask those questions.
Martin (New York, NY)
Do you expect Eli Manning to turn it around or is this going to be a long rebuild for the Giants?
Ashley Fox (1:59 PM)
Those are two separate questions/issues. Eli has to cut down on the turnovers. That's been a big problem, even before this season. So that's No. 1. And the Giants have building to do on both sides of the ball. Offensive line is an issue. Defense, too. But I do think Manning has more good years left. He needs some help. I thought last season he was pressing a lot because he had to do so much.
Ashley Fox (2:00 PM)
Alright, guys. Thanks for the questions and conversation. CC, Otto, Scott, et al, appreciate your participation. Have a great weekend.