Australian rugby star and former 49ers player Jarryd Hayne has denied allegations of rape which were made in a civil filing yesterday. Hayne is accused of raping a woman in December 2015, when he was getting a shot as a running back and a kick returner with the 49ers. His lawyer Ramy Qutami said he “unequivocally and vehemently” denied any wrongdoing: “Mr Hayne and his management are aware of recent media speculation in relation to a civil complaint filed in the United States of America making certain allegations in relation to an event which allegedly occurred in 2015 whilst playing for the San Francisco 49ers. Mr Hayne has not been served with any proceedings or formal complaint relating to the incident. Mr Hayne previously addressed a complaint made to the District Attorney’s office in the County of Santa Clara, California in 2016 and the District Attorney did not proceed any further with the matter due to insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations. Mr Hayne provided all reasonable assistance to the District Attorney with that investigation”. Hayne returned to rugby after his lone season with the 49ers, and played for Fiji in the 2016 Olympics.
Kirk Cousins has been willing to bet on himself, by playing on one-year franchise tags rather than taking long-term offers. But his physical security is no greater than his fiscal security this year, as Washington’s offensive line injuries have left him taking a number of shots he hasn’t had to endure in the past. Cousins said during an interview: “The hits have added up this year. It’s been a tougher year from that standpoint. I guess it’s part of the deal when you lose some offensive linemen, when you have a bit of a revolving door at some different positions, but it’s part of the game, part of playing the position and you try to take pride in standing in there and getting hit and getting back up, and you know that’s a big part of this game and this position. I would say that in the position I’m in, the team has made a great investment in me, and the best way that I can provide a return on investment is to be out there and be healthy. First and foremost, before trying to play at a really high level, I got to take care of my body and work really hard so that every single Sunday I can go out there to the best of my ability and that’s the first step in trying to provide a return on investment for this team”. He’s been sacked 38 times in 14 games this year, after just 26 in 2015 and 23 last year. Only Jacoby Brissett, Matthew Stafford, and Josh McCown have been sacked more often this season. Cousins said acting on a tip from Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer: “I definitely think about injury and the risk, and every one of us takes a huge risk every time we step out there, but I’ve always made the decision to get that insurance policy and protect myself, so that if anything did happen, I basically can be compensated as if I was still playing. That was actually a tip I got from Max Scherzer, because I reached out to him. He was in a similar position in his career, and he said the minute I made that decision to get that insurance policy, once I could step across the white lines, all I had to focus on was winning. And that’s the position I’m in: I can go out there and just focus on winning football games because of what the insurance policy does for you”. Scherzer eventually got a seven-year, $210 million contract (because baseball), and Cousins’ shot at the long-term pot of gold will come again this offseason.
Deshaun Watson knows what the next few months entail. He tore the ACL in his left knee during his freshman season at Clemson, returning to the field five months later. Watson said: “There’s no timeline from ACLs Tuesday. People give you five, six, seven, eight months to come back. It’s just whenever we feel it’s right. But I know for sure I’ll be back next season”. Watson tore the ACL in his right knee in practice Nov. 2. He had surgery six days later. The Texans are 1-6 since Watson’s injury, with Tom Savage and T.J. Yates replacing him. He added: “For me not to be out there, it always burns me. But at the same time, I kind of look at it in a positive way where I can sit back and see it as a fan and from a coach’s perspective”. Watson recently tweeted his support for Bill O’Brien and reiterated that he hopes the Texans keep the coach despite the team’s struggles this season: “Just being real and showing how I feel. That saying, ‘If it’s not broke, why fix it.’”
When Dallas unleashes Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday, workload won’t be an issue. Demarcus Lawrence says the Cowboys’ star running back is “ready to get the ball 80 times” against the Seahawks in his return from a six-week suspension. He said: “You can tell he missed it so much. We also miss him a lot. Just to have that enthusiasm, all his running around and his playfulness and joy in this locker room”. Elliott spent his time away working out alone in Cabo. Photos of the runner sprinting along an emerald sea reveal the fittest version of Zeke the NFL has ever seen. Dez Bryant said: “He looks skinny. He [does] look slimmer. It makes his head look even more bigger. He looks damn good, and I know he’ll be ready to play”. The Cowboys have run the ball well with Alfred Morris and Rod Smith over the past few games, but Elliott’s return opens up an offense that now forces defenses to stop one of the game’s premier backs. The question is one of timing. With just two weeks left in the season, the 8-6 Cowboys are hanging on for dear life, needing to win out for a chance at the playoffs. That mission also requires the Lions to drop a game and the Falcons or Panthers to lose twice. Tall order, but the return of Zeke gives Dallas a significantly better chance to handle their side of the bargain.