Chat with Ashley Fox
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Ashley Fox (3:02 PM)
Good afternoon. Incredible news day today with Aaron Hernandez getting charged with murder. Let's talk about it.
Hi Ashley, with Aaron Hernandez being released by the Pats, all reports, and "people close" to the situation are saying to expect the worst right now and that things aren't looking good. Do you see any NFL team having the gall to put a claim in on Aaron?
Ashley Fox (3:04 PM)
I can't imagine any team will put in a claim for Hernandez, given the six charges he faces, including murder. The Patriots had to know the charges were coming, given how swiftly they acted this morning.
Martin (New York, NY)
I think we need to applaud the way the Patriots organization were so quick in order to cut Hernandez a very productive player for them. I'm not so sure other teams would have distanced themselves as swiftly as the Pats did. Clearly Robert Kraft and others in the organization care about employing solid citizens and the image the organization has in the public.
Ashley Fox (3:06 PM)
I think that's true, but it is also true that the Patriots chose Hernandez twice: First when they drafted him and then when they re-signed him. He had red flags in his background that they overlooked because of his talent and what he brought to the football field. Given what's transpired this afternoon, they really had little choice but to release him.
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, with the arrests of Aaron Hernandez and that Wescott rookie from Cleveland, that makes (as I understand it) 29 NFL players arrested so far this offseason. A co-worker friend told me that averages to 1 arrest every 5 days. Might this recent trend empower teams to value character of their rosters like never before? Even if an NFL player had superstar talent, all could be lost due to a pronounced character flaw. Your thoughts?
Ashley Fox (3:10 PM)
I'm not sure what the numbers are exactly, Al. But this is the time of year that teams fear the most. I think teams in general value character, but this is a results-oriented business and most feel like they can work with a player to maximize his potential in all facets of his life. Players have all sorts of resources at their disposal, from the team, from the league, from the players association. Teams often are willing to take chances of players with character issues if they can contribute to the team. I really don't see that changing.
Steve (Framingham, MA)
With the Patriot's release of Aaron Hernandez, will they look to other teams for another tight end?
Ashley Fox (3:14 PM)
I would expect that New England will look for help wherever they can find it. And let's not forget that they don't know for sure what Gronkowski's status will be. It is quite possible that their two starting tight ends for Week 1 will be Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui. That's a significant drop off in talent from Hernandez and Gronkowski. It also puts more pressure on Amendola. I'm sure the Patriots wish they hadn't let Welker go to Denver.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Ashley, you can add Aaron Hernandez to the list of professional athletes keeping it real. REAL STUPID!!!!! My prayers go out to the family and friends of the victim. Will these guys ever learn you have to leave your past behind?
Ashley Fox (3:17 PM)
Let's not forget the victim and his family and friends. Thanks for mentioning that. Their worlds have been turned upside down, too.
Ashley, in light of all the off-season arrests and trouble the players are getting into, do you think the NFL and NFLPA will look into amending the CBA as far as allowing more time at the facilities? It just seems to me that these players have too much free time on their hands and are making terrible decisions...
Ashley Fox (3:19 PM)
I'd be interested to know if the number of incidents have increased since the new CBA was implemented. But I do know that coaches certainly agree with your premise. They'd rather have the players at their facilities more, for a number of reasons including that they need more time to coach them. But that is the deal the NFL and the NFLPA agreed to and that the players, particularly veterans, pushed for. I'd be surprised if the players would give that up, particularly given the financial concessions they made to get the increased time off.
Do you see Tebow becoming the Hernandez type TE? Coming out of the backfield like he did last year.
Ashley Fox (3:21 PM)
I really don't. Tebow doesn't want to play tight end. He doesn't know how to run routes or catch the ball. The Patriots didn't bring him in to play tight end. If anything I think they'll look for guys on the street after final cuts come at the end of August.
Ashley Fox (3:23 PM)
Sorry, I got bounced offline for a sec.
Ashley Fox (3:23 PM)
No bail for Hernandez, by the way.
Is there any suggestion of a motive in the murder?
Ashley Fox (3:25 PM)
I didn't hear the full arraignment, but I don't know if the prosecutor suggested a motive or if they have an alleged murder weapon. It sounds like they have a lot of other circumstantial evidence.
Ashley - have you ever met Aaron Hernandez? What was your impression of him before the news?
Ashley Fox (3:27 PM)
I've interviewed him in a group setting after games, but I don't know him.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think Jake Ballard can regain his pre-injury form and become a major factor the Pats in the passing game for Tom Brady?
Ashley Fox (3:30 PM)
The Patriots will certainly hope so. And he will have an opportunity now. Can he do it? He hasn't played in over a year. But he is only 25, so he's got time on his side. And he will have a pretty good quarterback working with him. So there's that.
The Boston Globe is reporting that Hernandez "orchestrated" the "execution" of Lloyd, according to the prosecution.
Ashley Fox (3:30 PM)
What do you expect out of the "new look" Eagles this year?
Ashley Fox (3:33 PM)
It is difficult on a day like today to gracefully pivot to football questions, but here we go. I expect the Eagles will have an uptempo offense that tries to move the chains quickly and wear down teams by being better conditioned. Of course, the big question is which quarterback will be running the offense? We don't know that yet, nor do I think Chip Kelly knows that yet. This will be a full-out quarterback competition in training camp that likely won't get resolved until after the second preseason game, if that soon.
Ashley Fox (3:34 PM)
One of Hernandez's attorneys just told reporters outside the courthouse: "Aaron is fine."
Terrell Owens (The Crib)
Ashley, I have new reality show with Metta airing real soon. Get your popcorn ready. And do you think someone will take a flyer on me this offseason? Or is it time to move on?
Ashley Fox (3:35 PM)
Very nice. Read my piece from today about the 2004 Eagles team. And then move on.
How many starts will Geno Smith get this season?
Ashley Fox (3:38 PM)
Let me look into my crystal ball: 6 1/2. I don't know. That's the other big quarterback battle to watch in training camp, and like the Eagles I think this one will also go through camp. What Russell Wilson proved in Seattle last year was that he was noticeably better than the other guys the Seahawks had. It was pretty obvious he was a dynamic talent. That's what Smith needs to prove in camp, that he's considerably better than Sanchez.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Is the Aaron Hernandez situation another sad case of a pampered athlete thinking he's above the law, and the rules don't apply to him? Can you shed any light the 2007 incidents, as well as his time in Gainesville? Was he perceived as a trouble maker? And were there any other incidents that happened, but did not result in arrest? Sad for a young man to lose his life, and another to be locked for the remainder if convicted.
Ashley Fox (3:42 PM)
I don't know all of the details about the other incidents involving Hernandez, but there were red flags in his background. And I don't know what he thought about the law applying to him, but clearly it does. He pleaded not guilty but he also did not get bail. It is sad all the way around. It has been a surreal day, that's for sure.
BIG BOY (DALLAS)
WE HERE IN DALLAS LOVE HIM ALOT
Ashley Fox (3:42 PM)
Al (Wausau, WI)
Ashley, what's your opinion of Desmond Bishop signing with the Vikings?
Ashley Fox (3:47 PM)
I liked it. The Vikings sure love themselves former Packers, don't they? Bishop gives them even more depth at linebacker. And I liked what he said after the signing, that he wanted to go against Aaron Rodgers twice this season. He's going to have to switch positions, given Minnesota's scheme, but I don't foresee that being a big issue.
My top 4 teams in the NFC are 1) Atlanta, 2) Seattle, 3) Green Bay, 4) San Fran what do you think?
Ashley Fox (3:50 PM)
I might tinker with the order of those four, but I agree those are the frontrunners heading into the season. I'd probably go: 1) San Francisco, 2) Atlanta, 3) Green Bay, 4) Seattle. I talked to Matt Ryan a few weeks ago, and he really thinks the Falcons are as stocked as they've been since he's been there. I agree.
Why is the NFL so dead set on expanding to Europe? Seems like a logistical nightmare, especially for West Coast teams.
Ashley Fox (3:51 PM)
One word: Money. It would provide a new revenue stream. But you're right, the logistics would be tough, for whatever team is based there and for the opposing teams. And I would think that the European team -- based in London or wherever -- would be at a significant competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting free agents. Players aren't going to want to play there.
GiantsBlue (Richmond Va)
Whats your predictions for the NFC east?
Ashley Fox (3:55 PM)
I think it's wide open, isn't it? It is so hard to predict with RGIII coming off his injury and the Eagles being such a mystery under Kelly. I don't see Philadelphia going from worst to first this season. If I had to rank them going in at this point -- and it is still only June -- I'd probably go: New York, Washington, Dallas, Philly. But I think it's as wide open as it's been in the division in a while.
Keenan (Atlanta, GA)
Does Osi Umeniyora register at least 10 sacks this season in Atlanta?
Ashley Fox (3:56 PM)
That would be huge for the Falcons if he did. They desperately need a better pass rush than they had last season. They have to be able to get to the quarterback and get off the field. If they could've done that last season, they very well might have gotten to the Super Bowl. We will see how much Osi has left. A change of scenery might help him a lot.
With the landmark decisions by the Supreme Court today, do you think this will motivate more gay athletes to come out?
Ashley Fox (3:57 PM)
It won't hurt, that's for sure. The culture in sports continues to change. It is only a matter of time before an NFL player comes out.
JR (Tampa Bay)
Ashley, do you think the Pats are starting to panic about their receiving situation? Brady can cover some holes, but he doesn't have a lot to work with.
Ashley Fox (3:59 PM)
I would certainly be concerned if I were them. Brady makes his teammates better, for sure, but there's only so much he can do. Belichick loves to have receivers in camp. There are like 47 on the roster now. He'll try to find a few who can play.
Ashley Fox (3:59 PM)
Alright, thanks guys for joining me. Enjoy your week.