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10 questions that need to be answered regarding Favre and the Vikings

Vikings coach Brad Childress and quarterback Brett Favre will meet the media on Wednesday.  They’ll likely be asked a question or two, and they’ll likely offer up at least a semi-plausible answer to each one.

Here are 10 of the questions that we think need to be asked, regardless of whether all we get is a semi-plausible answer, or worse.

1.  When will Favre take the field for the first time?

Few expected Favre to show up in time to take the trip to San Francisco for a Sunday night preseason game against the 49ers. 

Will he travel with the team to California? 

Will he take a few snaps against a 49ers team that probably would like to snap that bum ankle in order to improve its chances of qualifying for — and advancing in — the 2010 postseason?

2.  Will Favre’s contract be adjusted?

A member of the media has reminded us of this quote from Gordon Gekko:  “It’s all about bucks, kid.  The rest is conversation.” 

At this point, it’s widely believed that the Vikings will give Favre a hefty raise.  It’s also believed that Favre will “aw, shucks” his way through a monologue regarding how it’s not about the money.

If that’s the case, someone should ask him to declare that he’ll take nothing more than the $13 million he already is due to earn.

3.  Are we really supposed to believe that a supposedly impromptu visit from three teammates prompted Favre to make up his mind on the spot?

The actual answer to this one is meaningless.  It’ll just be interesting to see Childress and/or Favre try to offer an explanation that passes the smell test.

4.  What did Dr. Andrews say last week about the ankle?

Favre’s ankle supposedly wasn’t recovering quickly enough.  Last week, he visited with Dr. James Andrews.  In the aftermath of the visit, no details have emerged regarding the condition of the joint.  

So what did Andrews say to Favre about the ankle?  Is it  all of a sudden at 100 percent?  Is it less than 100 percent?  Will it improve or has it reached its ceiling?

5.  What other injuries does Favre currently claim to have?

Last year, Favre talked openly (and repeatedly) about a laundry list of ailments and maladies.  The exercise eventually forced the NFL to fine the Jets for failing to report the partially torn biceps tendon that he suffered during the 2008 season.

And it all became so ridiculous that we eventually added extra body parts (including “taint”) to the list of Favre’s supposedly injuries, along with a trio of illnesses — polio, swine flu, and lupus.

Beyond the ankle, he’ll surely point to some other injured area, if for no reason other than to have a built-in excuse in the event he throws five interceptions against the Saints on September 9.

6.  Is the double standard that applies to Favre hurting the team?

Jimmy Johnson of FOX had some pointed remarks regarding the Vikings’ approach to Favre during Wednesday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show.  (More on that later.)  While we don’t expect Childress or Favre to say anything insightful or, you know, truthful on that point, it’s a fair question that needs to be posed to anyone and everyone in the organization.

The Vikings have been bending over backwards for Brett, and it possibly has created a sense in the locker room that other players deserve similar consideration.  Some think that receiver Sidney Rice has been milking a hip injury; others think that receiver Percy Harvin made the very most out of his most recent bout with migraines.  And don’t forget about running back Adrian Peterson’s bizarre decision to skip a mandatory minicamp so that he could attend a parade in his hometown.  Could the treatment of Favre be emboldening them?  

The 2009 Vikings by all appearances sold their souls for the possibility of getting back to the Super Bowl, and they seem to be willing to do it again, even as they deal with the possible aftermath of the first season with Favre in the fold. 

7.  Will the Vikings keep Sage Rosenfels?

It’s an issue that we’ve addressed in today’s edition of PFT Daily, which will be posted soon.  (We suspect that you’re holding your breath, and possibly other bodily functions.)

Though we doubt that Childress will be providing a straight answer to the question, it remains a highly relevant question to the make up of the 2010 edition of the team.

8.  Will the Vikings be as good in 2010 with Favre as they were in 2009?

This is a question that no one will be able to answer until the regular season begins to unfold.  But it likely will be very difficult for the Vikings to match or improve on their 12-4 mark from a season ago.

For starters, they’ll play the teams of the NFC East this year, not the NFC West.  Also, the Vikings have to face every team from a top-heavy AFC East, including trips to Foxborough and the new Meadowlands Stadium.

The team’s 13 opponents (they play three teams twice, obviously) will have had an entire offseason to study the film from Favre’s first year in purple for any and all tendencies and tells.  We also have a feeling that every defensive coordinator will try to replicate the “remember me” shots the Saints applied to No. 4 in the NFC title game — and that the Saints likely will try to reprise on September 9.

While much of the roster has remained in place, the departure of underrated third-down back Chester Taylor and primary offensive line backup Artis Hicks could present real challenges for an attack that produced career-high statistics for Favre.  Meanwhile, tailback Adrian Peterson will continue to be a pin cushion for pulling and punching and poking and prodding every time he tries to put the football under wraps. 

On defense, everyone is a year older — and the secondary remains the biggest weakness on either side of the ball.  With cornerback Cedric Griffin still recovering from a torn ACL suffered on the overtime kickoff of the NFC title game and linebacker E.J. Henderson still working his way back from a gruesomely broken leg, it remains to be seen whether the Vikings’ defense continues to be among the better units in the league.

9.  Can Childress and Favre get along?

Last year, Childress himself drove Favre from the airport to the team facility.  This year, Childress was nowhere to be seen.

We’ve heard persistent rumors that the players in Minnesota generally don’t like or respect Childress.  Though no good head coach openly aspires to be liked by his players, a lack of respect could kill a team’s chances — especially if it starts with the quarterback whose ring, feet, and ass everyone kisses.

Last year’s twelve-men-in-the-huddle routine probably didn’t help matters.

After a home field advantage-killing loss to the Panthers on Sunday Night Football, troubling reports emerged regarding Chilly’s effort to bench Favre, regarding Favre’s resistance, and regarding Chilly’s angry reaction to news that Favre had blabbed out it.  Thereafter, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported based on unnamed sources (i.e., Favre) that Childress “seldom” discussed the game plan with his quarterback, and that Childress “bristles” when Favre changes the play at the line of scrimmage.

For the Vikings to reach their full potential in 2010, whatever it may be, Favre and Childress need to be on the same page.  Mo
re importantly, Favre needs
to ensure that his teammates buy in to Childress’ schemes and tactics and decisions, even when Favre otherwise may be inclined to disagree.

10.  How will the Vikings fare this year?

In the PFT Season Preview magazine, which was written under the assumption that Favre will be back, I picked the Vikings to win the NFC North, but not to make it to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV.  The rest of the crew pegged the Packers as division champs, with Rosenthal and MDS predicting a wild-card berth for Minnesota.  (Silva has them not getting in at all.) 

Whether the Vikings can win the division again or not, Favre probably will get the team back into the postseason tournament.  But with the Cowboys looking to avenge last year’s 34-3 drubbing in the Metrodome and with the widely-overlooked Saints as potent as they were in 2009 and with a surprise team or two likely to emerge in the NFC, it will be even harder in 2010 for Favre to cap his career in the manner that he clearly covets — by winning another Super Bowl and walking away as the credits start to roll.

UPDATE:  Someone also needs to ask Favre about Jenn Sterger.  And then run.

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Goodell says NFL is still looking at changing extra points

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After another season in which more than 99 percent of extra points were successful, the NFL is looking at ways to make it harder.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said today that he wants to continue exploring ways to make extra points more exciting.

“Fans want every play to have suspense,” Goodell said. “But the extra point has become virtually automatic. We have experimented with alternatives to make it a more competitive play, and we expect to advance these ideas through the Competition Committee this offseason.”

Extra points were made harder at the Pro Bowl by moving them farther back from the goal posts, and by making the goal posts four feet narrower. The game’s kickers didn’t like that change, but it did make extra points more interesting.

But is the league ready to take such a step in the regular season? And has the league fully considered the effect that narrower goal posts would have on field goals? It’s clear that Goodell would like to see extra points become more interesting, but it’s unclear whether the NFL has found the right change to make.

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Las Vegas sports book takes “seven-figure wager” on Patriots

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You may very well like the Patriots to win Super Bowl XLIX.

But you probably aren’t quite as confident as the bettor who placed an absolutely gigantic wager on New England at an MGM Resorts International sports book in Nevada.

According to Micah Roberts of “The Linemakers” of Sporting News, MGM took a “seven-figure wager” on the Patriots over the Seahawks in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Jay Rood, the vice president of race and sports at MGM, told PFT the bet was a wager on New England at pick ‘em.

MGM did not receive a single million-dollar bet on last year’s Super Bowl, Rood said.

The Patriots are one-point favorites over Seattle at numerous Nevada sports books, including MGM’s properties, which include The Mirage and Bellagio.

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Eric Winston apologizes for his shot at Roger Goodell

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NFL Players Association President Eric Winston took a shot at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today, but it didn’t take Winston long to back down.

Shortly after Winston told Tom Curran of CSNNE.com that a 2-year-old could do Goodell’s job, Winston issued an apology.

“In a casual conversation with a reporter about the success of the NFL and how nothing seems to get in its way, I inappropriately and flippantly made a remark about the job of Commissioner Goodell,” Winston said in a statement passed along to PFT. “We often disagree on the issues but I want to apologize to Roger for being unprofessional. I am disappointed that my comment was taken out of context and inserted into a column without any knowledge that the conversation was ‘on-the-record.’ I am disappointed that this reporter chose to burn me, but this is an important lesson that I will learn going forward. This is my fault and again, I apologize.”

If Winston didn’t realize that his conversation with Curran was on the record, that’s Winston’s problem, not Curran’s. When a journalist talks to a source, the conversation is presumed on the record unless both parties explicitly agree that it’s off the record. If Winston didn’t want his comments published, he shouldn’t have said anything unless and until he and Curran agreed to keep their conversation off the record. For Winston to complain that Curran “chose to burn me” doesn’t hold much water. Curran asked a question to a source and then published the source’s answer. That’s what reporters do.

The NFLPA walks a fine line when dealing with Goodell: The league is often heavy-handed in its dealings with the players, and when that happens the players need to push back against Goodell. But antagonizing Goodell can be counterproductive for the union. Winston seems to realize that he burned himself with his comments.

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Kam Chancellor added to last injury report of the year

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The final injury report of the season is out, and it’s not a dramatic one.

Which, of course, is part of the reason these two teams are here.

The only real change on the report Friday is that Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor was listed as a limited participant in practice today with a knee injury, after not previously appearing on the report.

But he’s listed as probable for Sunday’s game, as are five other teammates: Tackle Justin Britt (knee), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow), guard J.R. Sweezy (ankle) and safety Earl Thomas (shoulder).

The Patriots list is slightly longer, but doesn’t contain anything major.

Center Bryan Stork, who has been limited in practice this week with a knee injury, is listed as questionable.

Six other Patriots are listed as probable for the game: Linebacker Akeem Ayers (knee), quarterback Tom Brady (ankle), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), defensive tackle Chris Jones (elbow), cornerback Darrelle Revis (not injury related) and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga (foot).

Brady’s on the report as he often is, but has been listed as a full participant in practice all week.

The lack of news on the injury report is good news, as the two best teams in the league get to see each other near their best.

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Carroll, Belichick disagree on whether the Super Bowl is “fun”

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Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Patriots coach Bill Belichick showed mutual respect at their joint press conference this morning, but they also showed what different men they are. That was true from the very beginning, when Carroll enthused at the start of the press conference about how much fun he was having, and then Belichick offered that he wouldn’t describe this week as “fun.”

“It’s been nothing but fun,” Carroll said. “The opportunity that presents itself playing in this game is so special and so unique. Everybody is tuned in and we’re grateful for being here. Thrilled to have the matchup that we have with a great organization in Bill and New England.”

Belichick replied: “I don’t think fun is the word that I’d use. It’s been a huge challenge. It’s a tough team to prepare for, but I certainly have all the respect in the world for them. I could see why they were champions last year and why they are here again this year. They do so many things well on so many levels and we’re going to have to try to match that performance on Sunday. With that being said, our team’s excited. They’ve worked very hard to get to this point.”

Carroll and Belichick are fundamentally different coaches who have shown that there’s more than one way to win. Belichick’s mantra is “Do your job,” and he regularly reminds his players that it is, in fact, a job. Carroll wins by reminding his players that they get to play a game for a living, and embracing the fact that football is fun.

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Titans part ways with Lake Dawson

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The Titans have made a significant shakeup in their front office.

Tennessee has “parted ways” with vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson, the team said Friday afternoon.

The departure of Dawson is something of a surprise. A former NFL wide receiver, Dawson had spent the last eight seasons with Tennessee. He interviewed for the Bears’ G.M. role in January and also talked with the Dolphins and Buccaneers about their G.M. positions last year.

The club also announced it was changing its front office setup. Director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield and pro scouting coordinator Brian Gardner will now work directly under General Manager Ruston Webster. Previously, Dawson oversaw the pro and college scouting operations.

“This was not an easy decision and I want to thank Lake for his time with the team,” Webster said in a team-issued statement Friday. “This new structure will help us streamline things from both the college and pro perspectives. We will move forward without a VP of Player Personnel and the college and pro sides will report directly to me.”

The Titans finished 2-14 in 2014, the franchise’s worst record since 1983. Tennessee has not made the postseason since 2008, and it has not won a playoff game since 2003.

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Prop Challenge, Day VIII — Over-Under on Russell Wilson’s rushing yards: 41.5

Russell Wilson AP

Welcome to PFT’s Prop Challenge, our daily look at a Super Bowl proposition bet.

Here’s the idea: we present a prop, do some light analysis, then let you decide which side to take — hypothetically, of course. (Previous examples are at the bottom of this post.)

When the Super Bowl wraps up, we’ll tally the votes and see how well PFT Planet did.

Now, let’s get to today’s prop, which is courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook:

Over-Under on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s rushing yards: 41.5.

Over: -110. Under: -110.

Including the playoffs, Wilson has averaged 49.8 rushing yards in his 18 starts.

So the OVER looks good, right?

Well, maybe not.

Take Wilson’s three 100-yard rushing games out of the equation, and the third-year quarterback has averaged just 37.4 yards in his other appearances. Also, in the postseason, Wilson has gained just 47 total rushing yards on 14 attempts.

Overall, Wilson has exceeded 41.5 rushing yards in just 7-of-18 games.

In short, OVER and UNDER players have some data in their favor.

So pick a side — OVER or UNDER 41.5 rushing yards for Russell Wilson. Vote in the poll, and share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll be back tomorrow with our penultimate prop.

Previous props studied:

Day I: Over-Under on Brandon LaFell’s receiving yards.

Day II: Over-Under on Doug Baldwin’s catches.

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

Day IV: Will there be a one-yard TD in the Super Bowl?

Day V: Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yards.

Day VI: Over-Under on LeGarrette Blount’s carries.

Day VII: Will there be a safety in the Super Bowl?

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NFLPA president Eric Winston takes a shot at Roger Goodell

Super Bowl Football AP

Apparently, not everyone was moved by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference.

And the president of the NFL Players Association was quick to take a shot at management.

Hey, even the worst bartender at Spring Break does pretty well,” Winston said, via Tom Curran of CSNNE. “Think about it, a 2-year-old could [be NFL Commissioner] and still make money.”

So, tell us how you really feel, Eric.

Goodell admitted that the last year had been a difficult one for him, and was asked Friday during the press conference if he ever considered resigning or whether he deserved a pay cut.

Not surprisingly, he didn’t volunteer for either. Apparently that new bottle opener isn’t going to pay for itself.

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Packers fire special teams coach Shawn Slocum

Green Bay Packers 2011 Headshots Getty Images

The Packers gave up a touchdown on a fake field goal and saw the Seahawks recover a key onside kick during their NFC Championship game loss nearly two weeks ago and special teams coach Shawn Slocum gave up his job on Friday.

There was some talk that a change could be made following the loss and the team released an announcement on Friday afternoon that Slocum has been released. He’d been on the staff since Mike McCarthy became the head coach in 2006.

“I would like to thank Shawn for all of his contributions over the past nine years,” McCarthy said in a statement. “He was a positive contributor to our success, including helping us win Super Bowl XLV. We wish Shawn, Michelle and their family the best moving forward.”

The Packers hired former Florida and Illinois coach Ron Zook as an assistant special teams coach before the 2014 season, but there’s been no announcement about whether he’ll be elevated to replace Slocum.

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Chris Harris optimistic on Manning’s return, has faith in Osweiler

Denver Broncos practice at Dove Valley in Englewood, CO. Getty Images

During his appearance on Friday’s PFT Live, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris expressed optimism Peyton Manning would return in 2015, noting the lousy taste the divisional-round loss to former team Indianapolis had to leave with the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

“I believe he’s coming back,” Harris said. “I think nobody wants to go out losing to their former team and the new quarterback that replaced you. I don’t think Peyton wants to go like that at all, so I think he’ll definitely come back.”

Teammate Demaryius Thomas, an earlier guest on Friday’s PFT Live, was more hopeful than certain on Manning’s return.

“I think he will,” Thomas said of Manning playing in 2015.

But Thomas added this: “I say that because I want him back, but I really don’t know.”

If Manning does step aside, it could open the door for backup Brock Osweiler to take the job. A three-season understudy to Manning, Osweiler has thrown just 30 NFL regular season passes.

Both Thomas and Harris believe Osweiler is capable of stepping in if needed.

Said Thomas: “I got all the faith in Brock Osweiler. He’s been around Peyton for three years now. He’s grown every year he’s been there.”

Thomas, for his part, told PFT’s Mike Florio that he would have no qualms returning to Denver if Osweiler, not Manning, were the starter. Thomas is slated to be an unrestricted free agent in March and figures to draw significant interest.

Harris, meanwhile, said he had “a lot of confidence” in Osweiler, a 6-8, 240-pound Arizona State product.

“He’s kind of like a young Joe Flacco,” Harris said of Osweiler. “He has that arm. I think him and (Broncos head coach Gary) Kubiak, I think they’re going to fit perfect together. With the way he ran the offense with the Ravens with Joe Flacco, I see Brock as a similar quarterback.”

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Roger Goodell sounded less optimistic about playoff expansion Friday

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At his pre-Super Bowl press conference last year, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that he thought there were a lot of benefits to expanding the postseason.

Among the benefits he cited were a “more competitive” league with better matchups as the regular season nears its conclusion and “more excitement” for the league’s fans. Talks about adding two teams to the postseason never came to a vote with the owners last spring and there was debate about the need to involve the NFLPA, but Goodell continued to sound optimistic about it when it came up in 2014.

He didn’t sound so optimistic about it during Friday’s pre-Super Bowl press conference.

“The possibility of expanding the playoffs has been a topic over the last couple of years,” Goodell said. “There are positives to it, but there are concerns as well, among them being the risk of diluting our regular season and conflicting with college football in January.”

The latter concern wasn’t aired last year and the better matchups that Goodell mentioned would seem to run counter to the risk of diluting the regular season, so it seems significant that they were specified while the positives were left undiscussed. Owners like John Mara of the Giants and Art Rooney II have come down against the idea since it was broached last year and Goodell’s tone may suggest he’s heard likewise from other owners heading into this offseason.

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Rainy day in Arizona forces Seahawks indoors for practice

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The host committee has clearly gone overboard making the Seahawks feel at home, dialing up a cloudy, rainy day in Phoenix.

As a result, the team that ought be to used to it is going inside.

Via Peter King of Sports Illustrated, who is serving as the pool reporter this week, the Seahawks will be using the practice bubble at Arizona State for today’s practice.

There’s a chance of more rain tomorrow, but the forecast looks clear for Sunday. With a retractable roof on University of Phoenix Stadium, the conditions can be controlled for the game, and the Seahawks elected not to soak themselves today.

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Greg Jennings: Not having Adrian Peterson had a great impact

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Vikings wide receiver Greg Jennings doesn’t have any more information than anyone else about whether running back Adrian Peterson will be back with the team for the 2015 season, but he doesn’t have much doubt that the team wants him back.

During an appearance with Mike Florio on PFT Live Friday, Jennings said that he thinks everybody from the front office down would be eager to welcome Peterson back to the team. That’s not too surprising, since he also thinks that not having Peterson in 2014 was a blow to the offense.

“It had a great deal of impact. Obviously when you’re talking about a guy like Adrian who any one of the other 31 teams would love to have as their running back, he changes the course of every game. … Not having him definitely impacted what we were able to do offensively,” Jennings said.

If Peterson does return, Jennings thinks he’ll find a coach in Mike Zimmer that has instilled the right culture for the organization and a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who impressed Jennings with his poise and maturity as the season progressed.

To find out what else Jennings shared during his visit to the show, check out the video of his entire visit.

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San Diego mayor creates stadium task force, including Jim Steeg

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While Roger Goodell was talking about the potential for the Rams to move to Los Angeles, another possible suitor was talking about plans to stay put.

Via David Garrick of U-T San Diego, mayor  Kevin Faulconer announced a nine-member task force to create a proposal for a new Chargers stadium.

The group includes longtime NFL executive Jim Steeg, who worked for the Chargers for five years, but left in 2010. Steeg spent 26 years working for the league prior to that stint.

The group also includes local business leaders, but having Steeg on board will provide the kind of insight into league business they need, if they’re going to find a viable way to keep the Chargers for looking elsewhere.

But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urged Faulconer to get moving during his press conference Friday.

“I’m glad to hear he’s got a task force going,” Goodell said. “But they’ve been working at this for 12 years, and it’s something we need to see tangible results sooner rather than later.”

That’s a fairly broad swipe at the city, which hasn’t been able to come up with a deal to upgrade one of the worst stadiums in the league.

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No decision on Marshawn Lynch fine until after Super Bowl

Marshawn Lynch AP

Among the questions that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fielded at his press conference Friday was one on the possibility that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch will face a fine from the league as a result of his appearances in front of the media this week.

Lynch has stuck to his routine of answering every question from reporters the same way with Tuesday’s “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” gaining the most attention this week. He’s also worn a hat promoting his own Beast Mode line of clothing, which Adam Schefter of ESPN reported could draw a fine because it isn’t licensed by the NFL.

Goodell said Friday that any decisions about fines will be announced after the Super Bowl and offered no comment about his thoughts on potential penalties.

“It’s part of your job,” Goodell said of speaking to the media. “There are things in your job that you might not necessarily want to do. I think Marshawn understands the importance of the Super Bowl and the importance of his appearance and the importance of him as an individual in this game.”

Goodell also responded to Lynch’s teammate Richard Sherman’s suggestion that Goodell be forced to meet with the media every week by saying that he’s available to the media almost every day.

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