Michael Silver

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Michael Silver covers the NFL for Yahoo! Sports.

  • Candid conversation with Gavin Newsom on sports, politics and community

    SAN FRANCISCO — Even now, nearly seven years after experiencing a sports-obsessed politician's worst football nightmare, Gavin Newsom can't bring himself to look at John York's Field of Dreams.

    When Newsom, California's progressive, popular and sometimes polarizing lieutenant governor, drives past the San Francisco 49ers' future home in Santa Clara, he shields his eyes from a resplendent facility that is set to open next summer. The symbolic weight of Levi's Stadium is still too much to bear for the former San Francisco mayor, who lost both the team he loved and a chance to bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics when Niners owner John York set his sights on the Silicon Valley.

    California lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom wanted the 49ers' new stadium in San Francisco. (Getty Images)So, while Newsom is pragmatic enough to herald the NFL's announcement in May that Super Bowl L will be staged in the stadium in early 2016, he still gives the joint the invisibility treatment as he cruises up or down U.S. Highway 101.

    "I can't [look at] it," Newsom said while having lunch at the Balboa Café, one of

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  • Aaron Hernandez's arrest, release could lead to end of Patriots' run of excellence

    It began, chillingly, with a traumatic injury that could have turned tragic: Franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe was rushed to the hospital after suffering a sheared blood vessel in a 2001 game at Foxborough Stadium, and Tom Brady came in and spurred the New England Patriots to a prolonged run of excellence.

    Did it end, symbolically, with Wednesday's disquieting arrest of discarded Pats tight end Aaron Hernandez on a murder charge?

    Aaron Hernandez (L) stands with his attorney Michael Fee during Wednesday's arraignment. (AP)Surely, it is far too early to draw that conclusion. Yet as Hernandez sits in a jail cell for what prosecutors allege was the cold-blooded execution of a former associate — and the Patriots try to move forward from perhaps the darkest chapter in franchise history — it's not unfair to wonder whether an era has ended.

    From a football perspective, the loss of Hernandez isn't insignificant. The 23-year-old tight end's role, in tandem with fellow 2010 NFL draftee Rob Gronkowski, represented the most significant innovation to an ever-evolving offense that has long

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  • Ray Lewis' tale of redemption provides glimmer of hope for Aaron Hernandez after arrest

    The last time the New England Patriots played a football game, their fans at Gillette Stadium were unwilling witnesses to the penultimate act of pro football's greatest redemption story.

    As Ray Lewis celebrated the Baltimore Ravens' 28-13 AFC championship game victory over the Patriots, and the future Hall of Fame linebacker prepared to head to New Orleans for the Super Bowl triumph that would cap his legendary career, it was a stark reminder that dramatic turnarounds are possible.

    Aaron Hernandez was arrested and led out of his home in handcuffs, shortly before 9 a.m. ET (Getty)Lewis, 13 years after being charged with two counts of murder following a bloody fight outside a Super Bowl party, walked away from football as an acclaimed leader, revered community figure and future first-ballot Hall of Famer. And Lewis, who ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge and received 12 months' probation in the Atlanta case, walks into a high-profile television job that will ensure his iconic personality remains enmeshed in the fabric of America's most popular Read More »from Ray Lewis' tale of redemption provides glimmer of hope for Aaron Hernandez after arrest
  • Bill Belichick accepts the Tim Tebow challenge

    Bill Belichick threw Tim Tebow a lifeline Monday, giving the disenfranchised football icon a spot on the New England Patriots' roster and, in the process, making a certain Y! Sports columnist (and a knowledgeable organizational source) appear dead wrong in public, which is always an awesome sensation.

    As the journalist who a month ago quoted that source as saying Belichick "hates" Tebow as a player – a contention Belichick strongly disputed last Friday – I'm tempted to call Tebow's agent and ask for a cut of the signing bonus. After all, my column urged NFL teams to give Tebow a chance, and if Belichick's desire to spite me ended up producing that outcome, I'm happy to have played a role in extending the kid's NFL career.

    For the record, I stand by my original assertion that Belichick has told many people in the Patriots' organization that he's not a Tebow fan. After Belichick's strong denial last Friday, the same source weighed in with an even more forceful rebuttal, insisting that

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  • Wes Welker finally able to be himself as member of the Denver Broncos

    Wes Welker walks off the Broncos practice field after an organized team activity. (USA Today)

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Wes Welker sat back in a plush, leather chair in the lobby of the Denver Broncos training facility last week, conducting a post-workout interview without revealing the slightest hint of stress.

    Unlike the conversations he had with reporters during his six-year stint with the New England Patriots – whose coach, Bill Belichick, scrutinizes his players' public comments with NSA-like zeal – Welker felt no urgency to walk the line between bland and unrevealing.

    "I feel like I can be myself a little more for sure," said Welker, who signed a two-year, $12-million deal with the Broncos on March 13, a day after becoming an unrestricted free agent. Asked if he'd received any pre-interview lectures about what subjects to avoid, Welker laughed and said, "Here? No. … All they told me was, 'Just be yourself.' "

    Long regarded in player circles as one of the funnier, edgier NFL stars, Welker may finally reveal that to fans after six years of mostly pent-up plainness. Indeed, the

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  • Peyton Manning 'felt like a rookie in some ways' during comeback season with Broncos

    Peyton Manning and Wes Welker talk during team activities Wednesday. (USA Today)

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Peyton Manning was so good, so soon during his triumphant return to football in 2012 that it was easy to forget his personal journey was as choppy as a Tim Tebow pass through a stiff Mile High breeze. Once a regimented resident of football's most carefully crafted comfort zone, Manning spent his first year with the Denver Broncos confronting challenges he hadn't faced since leaving the University of Tennessee 14 years earlier.

    While the physical struggles Manning experienced in returning to the field following four neck surgeries and a 19-month absence have been well-documented, the quarterback's transition to a new city, team, coaching staff, system and set of teammates was a similarly jarring endeavor, one he managed to navigate with far less fanfare.

    The transition was so overwhelming that Manning, who has always regarded his penchant for impeccably detailed preparation as his greatest edge, had to adopt a less stringent standard in the name of self-preservation.

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  • Raiders owner Mark Davis puts GM, rest of staff on notice with firing of PR head

    Raiders owner Mark Davis (L) talks to GM Reggie McKenzie (R) during rookie minicamp. (USA Today)

    Mark Davis made some news over the weekend, informing public relations director Zak Gilbert that his silver-and-black spin-doctoring services were no longer required.

    Because this happened as May turned to June – and because so many consumers have an insatiable appetite for NFL-related happenings – it qualified as a nationally relevant story, with the added intrigue of a certain Yahoo! Sports columnist having his sentiments redeemed on a widely read pro-football-obsessed website.

    Understandably, many fans have since questioned why a firing that has industry insider written all over it should be assigned any relevance, particularly to an already frustrated fan base pining for its first winning season in more than a decade.

    I'm here to tell you why, as a member of Raider Nation or as an NFL fan in general, you should care why Zak Gilbert got the axe. 

    While Davis is easy to criticize, and seems to be living down to the Tommy Boy nickname I bestowed upon him after the 2011 season, he

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  • Offseason additions spark Dolphins players, GM Jeff Ireland to predict great 2013 season

    As a ninth-year veteran who has yet to experience a winning NFL season, Richie Incognito views offseason hype with the same eye-rolling dismissive demeanor that most voters reserve for politicians vowing to end the gridlock in Washington.

    While it seems as though virtually every other member of the Miami Dolphins' organization has conspicuously talked up the team's 2013 prospects over the past two months, the Pro Bowl guard prefers an approach more consistent with his surname.

    Dolphins coach Joe Philbin yells at players during an offseason workout earlier this month. (AP)"Yeah, I have noticed that everyone's looking through rosy-colored glasses," Incognito says. "It's a combination of things: We got more talent. We have our starting quarterback set. Our coaches and coordinators are back for another year. And we've got a good foundation here, and we work our asses off.

    "But you know what? I definitely need to see it on the field before [talking about it]. I get it from my friends: 'How are you gonna do this year?' It's real easy to say in May, 'Hey, we're gonna win the Super

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  • New Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer feels reborn in the desert

    TEMPE, Ariz. – Carson Palmer didn't see the safety coming, zipping a pass into the right flat that was destined to end up in the wrong man's hands toward the end of a two-minute drill. The accompanying rebuke from Bruce Arians, the Arizona Cardinals' first-year coach? That was easy to read.

    "We can't have that," Arians growled after an errant Palmer throw during organized team activities (OTAs) earlier this week, accentuating his sentiment with a couple of choice expletives. Palmer, the Cards' newly acquired starting quarterback, nodded dutifully and kept smiling on the inside.

    It's only May, but Palmer is thrilled with his third and perhaps final incarnation as a presumptive franchise quarterback, and nothing is going to stomp on his buzz. Seven weeks after the Oakland Raiders shipped the 33-year-old passer to the desert for a pair of late-round draft picks, the NFL's version of CP3 begins each workday with the giddy excitement of a kid rushing to the tree on Christmas morning.

    "I love

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  • Bears LB Brian Urlacher's retirement forced in part by blow to pride

    Brian Urlacher said "Peace out" to pro football Wednesday, ending an iconic 13-year career that will absolutely lead to a bronze bust in Canton at the end of this decade.

    In responding to a chillier-than-a-Windy-City-winter market for his services, I believe the great linebacker was, in essence, making another two-word statement to the NFL's 32 franchises, this one of the unprintable variety.

    Brian Urlacher hoists the George Halas Trophy after the Bears beat the Saints in the 2007 NFC title game. (AP)Did you really expect Urlacher to go out any other way? Does it make sense that a fierce competitor, who once told me that after a game "win or lose I'm up all night" in a self-flagellating stupor, would let his storied career bleed itself to an undignified conclusion?

    While Urlacher may well have arrived at this decision after considering a multitude of personal factors — including, most important, the state of his body, which has more cause to be broken down than virtually any other skeletomuscular structure that has worn a football uniform this century —

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