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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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Agent denies report Koa Misi is retiring after being placed on IR

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Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi’s 2017 season came to an end before it could even begin as he was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

A lingering neck injury that required surgery and brought his 2016 season after just three games led to Miami ending his 2017 season before players ever took to the practice fields for training camp.

A report by Andy Slater of WINZ  940-AM in Miami indicated that Misi has made the decision to retire from the game following Tuesday’s news. However, Misi’s agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, refutes that notion, saying that Misi isn’t retiring.

Zuckerman told the Miami Herald, and confirmed to PFT, that Misi is not retiring.

We’re all disappointed. It’s unexpected. I feel bad for him and we’ll see what the future entails,” Zuckerman told the Herald.

Slater followed it up with a tweet saying Misi had told family and close friends his intentions to retire Tuesday night.

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase told reporters that he was confident Misi would play again. He will be a free agent after the upcoming season. He is not eligible to return from injured reserve as players need to be on the initial 53-man roster in order to be eligible to return to action.

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Xavier Rhodes mentor Terrell Buckley says likely Rhodes inks extension with Vikings this week

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Xavier Rhodes believes he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He may be about to sign a deal that pays him like one.

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Rhodes’ mentor, former NFL cornerback Terrell Buckley, believes there’s a “high probability” Rhodes signs a contract extension with the Vikings this week.

“He is trying to get a couple of things squared away (with the contract),’’ Buckley said. “He wants to be there. He loves the (Vikings) organization, but obviously it’s a business.

“He’s got to make sure it makes sense to him financially. But he’s excited about it. He loves Minnesota. He loves the head coach (Mike Zimmer). He loves (defensive backs coach Jerry Gray). He’s very adamant and excited that he wants to be a Viking. He wants to play his whole career in Minnesota.’’

Rhodes made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season after recording five interceptions, 11 passes defended, 52 tackles and a forced fumble for the Vikings last year. The former first-round pick is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract with Minnesota, which is set to pay him a touch over $8 million this season.

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Falcons stadium roof will remain closed, indefinitely

AP

Last month, the roof at the new Falcons stadium successfully closed. Next month, it may stay that way for a while.

Via Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, AMB Group CEO Steve Cannon said Tuesday that the roof will be closed when the stadium opens next month, and that it will remain closed “for an undetermined period of time” thereafter. Cannon blamed the inability to fully mechanize the roof on construction delays.

As a result, Cannon said the roof will be closed both for the preseason home opener on August 26 and the regular-season home opener on September 17.

That conflicts with something Falcons president and CEO Rich McKay said in May on PFT Live. At the time, McKay said the roof will be fully operational from the moment the stadium opens.

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Texans GM Rick Smith: “No contract dispute” with holdout Duane Brown

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Even with left tackle Duane Brown skipping offseason workouts and holding out from the start of training camp in West Virginia, Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith doesn’t feel he has anything to discuss with the former Pro Bowler.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Smith’s stance is that Brown is under contract and that’s that.

I have talked to Duane,” Smith said. “There is no contract dispute. Duane is under contract for two more years. That’s our position.

“We’re here to get our team ready for the season. He should be a part of it. Duane and I have a really good relationship. He’s our longest-tenured player. He’s an important member of our team, and he ought to be here. He needs to be here.”

NFL teams can be hesitant to issue contract extensions to players with more than one year remaining on their current contracts. That doesn’t mean they never happen though. The Texans themselves have broken that mold for Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt in the past. However, DeAndre Hopkins was unsuccessful in leveraging a contract with two years left on his deal a season ago.

Brown was placed on the reserve/did not report list by the Texans on Tuesday. Brown already has skipped the full offseason program, including a mandatory mini-camp that exposed him to roughly $80,000 in fines. Because Brown is under contract, each day missed of training camp carries a potential $40,000 fine as well.

He is scheduled to make $9.4 million this season and $9.75 million in 2018.

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Jerry Jones: We make decisions in best interest of the team

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Jerry Jones wouldn’t speak specifically about the team’s decision to release Lucky Whitehead, but the Cowboys owner clearly was bothered by criticism of it.

I’m not going to talk about Lucky,” Jones said Tuesday night, via David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. “I’m going to talk about players.

“I’ve never talked to a player that I didn’t have empathy. If you all [media] have done one thing in my time to criticize me, it is how I will back up a player to a fault. You’ve done it. You’ve done it for years. I will back them up to a fault.”

Jones became emotional as he continued.

“So when we do make a decision around here that’s in the best interest of the team to move on, there’s one thing you can forget about and that is whether you’re being fair or whether you’ve given it consideration of what it means to the individual,” Jones said. “That doesn’t happen around here. Thank you guys.”

Virginia police cleared Whitehead of a bogus shoplifting charge but not before the Cowboys decided to release him. Whitehead appeared on the NFL’s transactions Tuesday.

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Tamba Hali: Rant was about desire to win a championship

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Tamba Hali went on Facebook Live to clear the air Tuesday night, saying his frustration stems from his desire to win. The Chiefs linebacker talked for almost six minutes, clarifying a series of angry tweets he had over the weekend about a lack of playing time in the playoff loss to the Steelers.

The social media rant was not well received by Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who criticized Hali for airing his grievances publicly.

“Over the weekend, we had a little bit of typing going, expressing my thoughts and my feelings, how I feel about situations,” Hali said. “I think it got blown out of proportion. All I was trying to say is, at the end of the day, I love the game. I want to bring the Kansas City Chiefs a championship. I’ve been here going on my 12th year, and I’ve always wanted to win a championship, and I’ve always given it my all. I’ve always wanted to win a championship, and I’ve always been a part of the equation. What happened last year is I just wanted to win. I think anyone can bear with me and understand that the frustration of losing a game in the playoffs and barely playing. Being a competitor, you just want to win. That was basically what the rant was about.”

Hali played only seven snaps in the team’s playoff loss to the Steelers. He started only two games last season, making 3.5 sacks, the second-fewest of his career, as Dee Ford and Justin Houston solidified starting roles.

Hali said he has talked to the Chiefs and vowed to show up on time for his 12th season.

“I’m all in,” Hali said. “All the guys at the Chiefs understand that I’m one of those guys who loves to compete, and I will continue to compete at a high level. . . . I don’t feel like I’m done. I just want to know where we’re going.”

Hali has appeared in six playoff games in his career, winning only one. He wants a championship before he’s done, and Hali knows time is running out.

“I’m not getting younger,” Hali said. “When I was young, I actually felt like I could play this game forever. Reality has struck. It’s not going to happen that way. I’m not going to play the game forever. There’s going to come a day when I have to be done playing. But time is running out. For us to win a championship, I think coach Reid and his staff has assembled some of the best coaches and players on this team so we can ahead and make a run. We just need to make sure everybody is on board and understand what’s at stake here. It’s real serious business when it comes to football and me. Some people don’t take it that serious. I do. . . .

“I just wanted to clear the air. I’m not looking for more money. I’m not looking for that. I’m not looking for this. I just want to win.”

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Eagles hoping Alshon Jeffery improves their red-zone TD percentage

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Carson Wentz hosted eight of the Eagles’ receivers in North Dakota as they worked and hung out for three days. The most important wideout for him to establish timing with is Alshon Jeffery.

The free agent addition immediately becomes the best receiver Wentz ever has had.

It’s really nice having a guy like Alshon, not only catch radius, but he has some of the strongest hands I’ve ever seen,” Wentz said, via Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The thing with Alshon and I, we just have to keep building that chemistry, building that relationship. … You can just see, he’s kind of a different animal, throwing the ball to him. He can cover some ground. It’s nice to have a guy like that.”

The Eagles ranked 24th in red-zone touchdown percentage last season, converting only 27 of 55 possessions inside the opponents’ 20-yard line into touchdowns. They scored field goals on 22 red-zone possessions.

“Alshon has tremendous ball skills,’’ quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said. “The way he can track a football in the air, go up with one hand and get a ball. The thing that’s very comforting for a quarterback is when a receiver has a big catch radius, where you don’t have to be pinpoint-accurate all the time, because it’s hard. There’s a guy in your face. You’re trying to find lanes. When you can throw a guy open and feel confident that he’s going to be able to extend his hands outside his body to catch the football, that gives you a lot of confidence as a quarterback.’’

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Jourdan Lewis found not guilty of domestic assault

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An Ann Arbor, Mich., jury found Cowboys rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis not guilty of domestic assault, according to John Counts of mlive.com. After a little more than an hour of deliberation, a six-member jury determined Lewis did not criminally assault this girlfriend in March.

Per Counts, Lewis did not take the stand, but jurors heard his side of the story in a video recording of his initial interview with police. Lewis’ girlfriend, Nikole Miller, woke him up when she arrived home to find him asleep with the lights on, angering her. Lewis hit her with the pillow he was sleeping on.

“The pillow I was on, I hit her with it,” he said at one point, but also saying at another point that he “threw” the pillow at her.

Lewis was adamant to police that he didn’t strike her with his hands at any point. Instead, Lewis said Miller struck him after he called her a derogatory name.

Miller initially told police Lewis squeezed her neck when he held her down, but when she was interviewed a second time, that detail changed, according to testimony.

Police officers testified that the apartment didn’t appear in disarray as they would expect in an altercation.

Lewis will join his teammates in Oxnard, Calif., after missing the first two days of practice.

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Alex Smith not concerned about Tamba Hali’s tweets, or any tweets

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Chiefs defensive end Tamba Hali expressed his displeasure with the team on Twitter, but Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith isn’t concerned.

That’s partially because Smith believes Hali has proven he’ll always be there for his teammates when it counts, and partially because Smith couldn’t care less about social media at all.

“I didn’t read all of them,” Smith said of Hali’s tweets. “I did hear about it. To be honest, I don’t think it is a huge deal, I don’t want to turn it into anything big. I think Tamba is one of the most unique teammates I have ever had and I mean that in a good way. He is a guy that says what’s on his mind. He is honest. He is sincere. I think I appreciate that about him. Sometimes there are things that are said that just comes out. So, to be honest, I don’t think it is a big deal. I don’t think it’s anything anyone has to worry about. This locker room is as drama free as they come, so I don’t think it will be an issue.”

Smith said he’s personally not on social media, so he doesn’t get involved in the drama that surrounds social media.

“I kind of missed that wave,” Smith said. “That wave passed me by. I remember coming into the league and MySpace was big. I didn’t get on that train and then the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all roads passed me. At this point it is kind of refreshing.”

So we will never see Smith complain about the Chiefs on Twitter. Or on MySpace.

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Report: Kenneth Dixon out for the year

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Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon underwent knee surgery Tuesday that was expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks. Instead, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Dixon will miss the season.

Dixon needed his medial meniscus repaired, not trimmed, requiring a 4-5 month recovery time, according to Rapoport. It was Dixon’s third knee injury in the past 12 months.

Dixon was set to miss the first four games for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy.

The Ravens already agreed to terms with Bobby Rainey to take Dixon’s place in camp. Terrance West and Danny Woodhead are the team’s top running backs with Buck Allen and Lorenzo Taliaferro (who is seeing time at fullback as well) also in the mix.

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Reuben Foster expected to be full go for training camp

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The 49ers expect rookie linebacker Reuben Foster to be a full participant for the start of training camp, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

San Francisco took a cautious approach with Foster in the spring as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery, holding him out of team practices.

During the draft, some teams worried about the February surgery Foster underwent to repair his right rotator cuff. He feel to 31st, where the 49ers were comfortable in selecting him.

Foster has remained at the team training facility after the offseason program ended.

He will compete with Malcolm Smith at weakside linebacker.

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Raiders place Ben Heeney, Cooper Helfet on NFI

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The Raiders placed linebacker Ben Heeney and tight end Cooper Helfet on the non-football injury list Tuesday.

Heeney ended last season on injured reserve after a Week Four ankle injury, but a non-football injury would indicate this is a different injury. Heeney did not fully participate in the team’s offseason program.

Heeney began last season as the starting middle linebacker, but he lost his job after two games and tore the deltoid ligament in his right ankle two weeks later.

Helfet signed with the Raiders’ practice squad last October. He played 24 games with the Seahawks in 2014-15, with 25 career receptions for 315 yards and two touchdowns.

The Raiders can activate either player at any time.

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Mike Brown on keeping Adam Jones: Blame me if it doesn’t work

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The Bengals decided not to part ways with cornerback Adam Jones this offseason after he was arrested in January after an altercation at a Cincinnati hotel, but team owner Mike Brown says that parting ways with Jones did come up for discussion.

Jones pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor to settle the case and was suspended one game by the league last week. Brown said Jones “has misstepped from time to time,” but that he admires many things about the player and said he made the call to keep him on the team.

“I’m not going to say something wasn’t discussed, something wasn’t considered,” Brown said, via Joe Kay of the Associated Press. “But what we did is what we did, and I’ll take responsibility for it. We’ll see how it turns out in the end. It if turns out well, I’ll be pleased. If it doesn’t, then blame me.”

The topic of drafting running back Joe Mixon also came up during the team’s preseason luncheon and Brown, who previously wrote a letter explaining the Mixon pick that was published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, said he doesn’t “see what’s served by denying someone his opportunity.”

Bob Costas didn’t share the same view during an appearance on CNN last weekend when he said that the Bengals “seem to have been running a halfway house for miscreants” at points in their history. Brown took issue with that (and showed his age) by saying he isn’t “Ma Barker” and that the team does not have “the James boys and Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger” in their locker room.

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Latest brain study shows 110 of 111 donations from NFL players had CTE

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While researchers admit their methodology isn’t exact and they’re not predicting rates for the future, the latest study regarding the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy shows a strong correlation.

Via Rick Maese of the Washington Post, researchers at Boston University who are studying brains donated by families of former NFL players said that 110 of the 111 donations showed signs of CTE.

While that’s not a random sample reflecting the entire sport (the donations come largely from players who were struggling with some issue or had committed suicide), the big numbers do alarm those studying the issue.

“Obviously, this doesn’t represent the prevalence in the general population, but the fact that we’ve been able to gather this high a number of cases in such a short period of time says that this disease is not uncommon,” neuropathologist Ann McKee said. “In fact, I think it’s much more common than we currently realize. And more importantly, this is a problem in football that we need to address and we need to address now in order to bring some hope and optimism to football players.”

All told, the Boston University study covered 202 brains donated by families of men who had played some level of football. CTE was discovered in 177 of them (87 percent). The 99 percent of former NFL players was the highest level. The study also showed CTE in 3-of-14 who played at the high school level (21.4 percent), 48-of-53 who played in college (90.6 percent), 9-of-14 who competed semiprofessionally (64.3 percent) and 7-of-8 who played in the CFL (87.5).

McKee said the study provides: “overwhelming circumstantial evidence that CTE is linked to football.”

The league has pledged to devote $100 million and resources toward the effort, and spoke at the league meetings this spring about specific research into helmet safety.

“We appreciate the work done by Dr. McKee and her colleagues for the value it adds in the ongoing quest for a better understanding of CTE,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement provided to PFT. “Case studies such as those compiled in this updated paper are important to further advancing the science and progress related to head trauma. The medical and scientific communities will benefit from this publication and the NFL will continue to work with a wide range of experts to improve the health of current and former NFL athletes. As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE.  The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries.

“In 2016, the NFL pledged $100 million in support for independent medical research and engineering advancements in neuroscience related topics. This is in addition to the $100  million that the NFL and its partners are already spending on medical and neuroscience research.”

The authors of the studies have admitted some limitations, pointing out that the game has changed in recent years from equipment changes to rules. But the sheer size of the numbers still stand as worthy of further study.

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Jaguars lock up Brandon Linder with five-year extension

AP

The Jaguars may not be sure if Blake Bortles is their quarterback for the long term, but they seem to be pretty certain that Brandon Linder is the guy they want snapping the ball.

Jacksonville announced that they have signed starting center Brandon Linder to a five-year extension.

“It was something we wanted to get done so now we can just ball,” Linder said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “We knew after OTAs we wanted to talk. In the past two weeks [we] got some traction.”

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Jaguars have signed their starting center to the deal is worth up to $51.7 million. The deal also reportedly includes $24 million in guaranteed money.

Linder’s deal puts him at the very top of the salary scale for centers with his average salary per year coming in above what Travis Frederick got in his 2016 extension from the Cowboys.

Linder, who was selected in the third round of the 2014 draft, opened his career at guard in Jacksonville before moving over to center last season. He made 14 starts and it would appear he made a strong impression on Doug Marrone, who was his position coach before moving up to head coach after Gus Bradley was fired last season.

 

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