Giants S Will Hill suspended for substance abuse

New York Giants safety Will Hill has been suspended for the second time in his short NFL career as the league announced on Saturday that he will sit out four games for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

He was previously suspended four games on Oct. 8, 2012 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Hill was undrafted in 2011 due to a combination of immaturity and his use of illegal drugs, namely marijuana, after deciding to leave Florida Gators following his junior season. He reportedly came a long way to fix that negative reputation over the year he missed and was signed by the Giants in the 2012 offseason after impressing the team with his character off the field and ability on it.

He claimed his former suspension was for using Adderall, a drug prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“I accept full responsibility for this situation and it won’t happen again,” he said in an official statement at the time. “The Giants have given me a great opportunity when nobody else would, and I don’t take that for granted. I feel badly this has happened.”

Hill played 12 games during his first season in the league, registering 38 tackles (29 solo, two for lost yardage), with two forced fumbles and two pass defenses.

He will be eligible to participate in all of New York’s training camp activities and preseason games but will not be able to begin in-season practices until he is reinstated to the active roster on Monday, Sept. 30.

Should he still be with the team at that time, Hill will have been suspended for eight of his first 20 NFL games.

He is entering the second season of a three-year, $1.44 million contract.

Hill’s former teamamtes with the Gators – Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden and New England Patriots linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham – have each been suspended once since 2010 for using performance-enhancing drugs.

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Patriots set to sign Gators QB Tim Tebow

Just over one month after being waived by the New York Jets, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow has found a home with the team that always seemed like the best fit for his unique talents and personality. According to multiple media reports, Tebow will sign with the New England Patriots on Monday and be in uniform for the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.

The Patriots are acquiring Tebow as a quarterback, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, and have already waived third-stringer Mike Kafka in order to bring the former Heisman Trophy winner into the fold. New England had previously looked to trade back-up signal caller Ryan Mallett, who just happens to wear Tebow’s No. 15, earlier in the offseason.

Joining the Patriots, Tebow reunites with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft while serving as head coach of the Denver Broncos.

“The thing that really makes this unique and gives it real potential is the presence of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels,” Werder reported Monday on SportsCenter. “He believes he has the ability to teach mechanics to quarterbacks. He was undergoing that process with Tebow on a daily basis in Denver his rookie year.”

Ironically, a Yahoo! Sports report from May noted that New England head coach Bill Belichick “hated” Tebow as a football player. Four days ago, Belichick emphatically refuted that report to ESPNBoston.com.

“Every single player has strengths and weaknesses but regardless of that, for anyone to have represented that is the way I feel about Tim Tebow is completely untrue, baseless and irresponsible. It is unfortunate that something so inaccurate was reported,” he said.

In fact, Werder explained on SportsCenter that this move had been discussed by the two parties and under consideration for a long time.

“One of the things the Patriots wanted to see before they agreed to do this deal with Tebow was they wanted to see him maintain a low-key presence throughout the offseason. And to the extend he could control that, he certainly delivered on it.”

Tebow barely contributed to the Jets in 2012, seeing the field in just 12 games and rarely playing on offense. He completed 6-of-8 passes for 39 yards and took 32 carries for 102 yards, never once finding the end zone.

OGGOA RELATED: The Silver Lining – Tim Tebow’s release is an opportunity

One year earlier, as a mid-season replacement at quarterback for the Broncos, Tebow set the league on fire by leading his team to numerous come-from-behind victories and seven wins in eight games from Weeks 7-14.

Tebow also threw a game-winning overtime touchdown against Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs. He went 10-of-21 for 316 yards with two passing touchdowns and carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards and a rushing score in that game.

Tebow joins former Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jermaine Cunningham with the Patriots. All four were key players in Florida winning the 2008 national title.

Photo Credit: ESPN

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Former Florida Gators in NFL: Conference (2012)

The 2012-13 NFL Playoffs continued this past the weekend with seven former Florida Gators football players spread over all four teams that competed on Sunday.

At the conclusion of play there were two total players on rosters of teams that advanced to Super Bowl XLVII.

A total of five players participated in Conference Championship Round action with two others either inactive or injured.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the third week of the 2012-13 postseason.

ACTIVE (5)
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Played as a reserve
DE JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Solo tackle
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Nine receptions [team-high] for 83 yards (targets: 14 – team-high, long: 17); rush for six yards [Player of the Week]
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: 11 tackles (six solo) [team-highs], QB hit
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Five tackles (three solo)

INACTIVE (1) / INJURED (1)
WR DEONTE THOMPSON*, Baltimore Ravens: Inactive
RB JEFF DEMPS*, New England Patriots: Injured – “ankle” (season)

NFL PLAYOFFS NOTES
- San Francisco (McDonald) will face Baltimore (Thompson) in the Super Bowl.
- A former Gators football player is guaranteed to win a Super Bowl ring.

* Rookie

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Former Florida Gators in NFL: Divisional (2012)

The 2012-13 NFL Playoffs continued this past the weekend with nine former Florida Gators football players spread over six of the eight teams in action Saturday and Sunday.

At the conclusion of play on Sunday there were seven total players on rosters of teams that advanced to the Conference Championship round with at least one on each of the four still in contention to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLVII.

A total of five players participated in Divisional Round action with four others either inactive or injured.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the second week of the 2012-13 postseason.

ACTIVE (5)
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Played as a reserve
DE JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Played as a reserve
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Six receptions for 85 yards (targets: 9, long: 40) [Player of the Week]
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Six tackles (four solo)
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Four tackles (two solo)

Animated GIF courtesy of MockSession.com.

INACTIVE (3) / INJURED (1)
WR DEONTE THOMPSON*, Baltimore Ravens: Inactive
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Denver Broncos: Inactive
RB JEFF DEMPS*, New England Patriots: Injured – “ankle” (season)
DT JAYE HOWARD*, Seattle Seahawks: Inactive

NFL PLAYOFFS NOTES
- Caldwell and Howard were eliminated from the postseason.
- Match-ups include Baltimore (Thompson) at New England (Cunningham, Hernandez, Spikes) and San Francisco (McDonald) at Atlanta (Peterson).
- A former Gators football player is guaranteed to win the Super Bowl.

* Rookie

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Top 12 for 2012: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2012 (check out Monday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From crazy occurrences and strange decisions to receiving major awards and being involved in the biggest sports stories of the last 12 months, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

12 » A WACKY YEAR, INDEED
For every major story and exciting moment that occurred in 2012, there were plenty of instances in which Gators fans could not do anything but shake their heads, furrow their brows or shrug their shoulders at something they just saw or heard. Below is a list-within-a-list of the 10 most absurd moments of the year (sorted chronologically). Don’t worry, the rest of these stories are much shorter, so keep reading.

(1) Right in the middle of spring practice on Feb. 17, with coaches raving about team chemistry and noting massive improvement from the previous year, junior safety Matt Elam tweeted out a picture that looks like junior defensive end Dominique Easley riding his scooter inside the Florida football facility and around the Gator Head the players touch before heading out to the field each week. (2) One week after playing his last game as a member of the Gators basketball team, then-senior point guard Erving Walker found himself in trouble with the law when he was charged on March 30 with two misdemeanors for allegedly stealing a taco from a street vendor and evading police in Gainesville, FL. (3) Need a lesson on how to turn off an employer? Veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney went off on an epic Twitter rant on April 12, sending out derogatory statements about his wife and cousin (fellow former Gators star cornerback Lito Sheppard) only to claim three hours later that his account was hacked. (4) What better way to honor your favorite player than to get your hair cut and designed to look like him? That’s what San Antonio Spurs fan Patrick Gonzalez did for forward Matt Bonner. Gonzalez’s hair cut nearly got him suspended from school on May 16, but it also got Bonner’s attention and resulted in a pair of tickets and a meeting at a playoff game. (5) After some rather mundane barbs went back-and-forth between Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin over the summer, Mayor Nancy Berry of College Station, TX decided to post a comedic video of her poking good-natured fun at the former Texas defensive coordinator on June 1.

(6) Hours after taking home the first NCAA Outdoor Championship in program history on June 10, Gators track & field suffered a serious scare in the air when its plane suffered a cracked windshield at 37,000 feet and underwent a rough landing in Tuscaloosa, AL. The windshield shattered after the plane landed but everyone was OK. (7) How do you answer a quarterback controversy and answer questions about which signal caller is going to start the first game of the season? Start both of them! That’s what Muschamp did on Sept. 1 when sophomores Jacoby Brissett (quarterback) and Jeff Driskel (wide receiver) both came out with the starting offense on its first play from scrimmage against Bowling Green. (8) With Muschamp leading the team, he is sure to find his way on this list at least once per year. In a 13-day span, Muschamp made headlines by being himself. After Florida defeated LSU at home on Dec. 7, he decided to celebrate by crowd surfing over his own players in the locker room. Two weeks later, at halftime against South Carolina, Muschamp vented his frustration about the officiating to Brady Ackerman of the Gator Radio Network. He saw an official walking by as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms and made sure to make it known how upset he was at some of the calls in the first half. “Well, we just gotta continue to capitalize on what we’re doing and OVERCOME THE ADVERSITY ON THE FIELD!” (9) With ESPN’s College GameDay in Gainesville for the South Carolina game, having former Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte on set as the guest picker was an easy and obvious decision for the network. Never did ESPN guess that he would find difficulty in reading off the list of picks provided for him. (10) Why is Chad Johnson in Gainesville … and why is he meeting with Florida? Those were questions fans asked on Nov. 2 when it was revealed that the NFL free agent wide receiver – fresh off being embarrassed on national television when he was cut by the Miami Dolphins after being arrested for allegedly hitting his wife – had shown up in town and was taking pictures with players on the team one day before UF took on Missouri.

Continue Reading » Top 12 for 2012: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 17 (2012)

At the conclusion of the 2012 NFL regular season there were 31 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 27 players participated in week 17 action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the last week of the 2012 regular season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Two tackles (one solo for loss), sack, two QB hits, pass defense, interception (14-yard return) for touchdown [Video]^

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…
Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 17 (2012)

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RB Jeff Demps: “I tried to do the best that I could.”

A dual-sport star and the only man or woman in the history of the Florida Gators athletic program to win national championships in two sports (football, track & field), Jeff Demps is one of the most accomplished athletes to come out of the University of Florida and has only added to his resume this past year.

As a football player, Demps played running back and took 367 carries for 2,470 yards (6.73 yards per carry) while registering 23 touchdowns over four seasons. He also had a 99-yard kick return touchdown in his senior season against Georgia. Demps started the 2009 BCS National Championship as a freshman and won both a national title and Southeastern Conference title as part of the football program.

As a track star, he was a five-time All-American who won four individual national championships, five individual SEC championships and was part of a men’s track program that dominated both national and conference meets, winning multiple titles in both indoor and outdoor competitions.

Demps decided to concentrate on track after college and participated in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He fell short of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics but earned a spot as an injury replacement and brought home a silver medal.

After returning to the United States, he signed a three-year deal with the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent but missed the entire season with a leg injury. Demps is expected to play his rookie season in 2013.

He has spent the last few months working as an ambassador for the Special Olympics and sat down with OGGOA recently for a wide-ranging interview.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Let’s jump back to the beginning and start with your recruitment. I remember a lot of people always thought you would end up at Florida but what was it in the end that made you decide to go to UF over Tennessee?
JEFF DEMPS: “Florida just felt like home. I didn’t really want to go too far from home. Tennessee came down to recruit me, and I liked what they were talking about, but at the end of the day I knew I was always going to end up at Florida.”

AS: You got into the mix right away, scoring in the SEC Championship and starting at running back in the national title game. What was it like being a freshman and getting thrown into the lineup on a team that was having so much success?
JD: “It was fun. I knew coming in that, if I worked hard enough and learned the plays, I would have some kind of role on the offense as a freshman. That’s what I did and I was able to do those things like start in the championship and score in the SEC Championship and things like that.”

AS: Your sophomore season was something special as the Gators were looking to win back-to-back titles. How much pressure would you say the team felt each game to live up to the hype and deliver on winning another championship?
JD: “We had a lot of pressure. We were coming back and expected to win the championship. I’d say everybody wanted to see us hold up to the standard. We knew each team was going to bring their ‘A’ game and play us like we were the most important opponent on their schedule. It was really tough.”

Read the rest of OGGOA’s exclusive interview with Jeff Demps…after the break!
Continue Reading » RB Jeff Demps: “I tried to do the best that I could.”

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 12 (2012)

Now 12 weeks into the 2012 NFL regular season, there are 31 former Florida Gators football players spread over 23 teams.

A total of 21 players participated in week 12 action, many of whom had an impact on their respective team’s performance.

For the third-straight year, OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what all of these Gators accomplished during the 12th week of the 2012 regular season.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
CB JANORIS JENKINS*, St. Louis Rams: Two solo tackles, two pass defenses, two interception returns for touchdowns (36-yard return, 39-yard return) [Video]^

Check out how the rest of the Florida Gators in the NFL played this week…

Continue Reading » Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 12 (2012)

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