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Week 12 Thanksgiving 10-pack

Packers Lions Football

We’ve moved the Friday 10-pack to Thursday, since posting it on Thursday puts the Thanksgiving games in play for our 10 takes regarding the coming weekend of games.

I also needed to get it done early because I’ll be spending Thursday night preparing to host The Dan Patrick Show on Friday, a process which may look a lot like achieving and maintaining a turkey-induced stupor.  Primarily because that’s precisely what it will be.

1.  At least the NFL tried to give us good games on Thanksgiving.

Every year, complaints arise regarding the quality of the games played on the fourth Thursday in November.  This year, the NFL did something about it.

Though the Lions continue to have a hammerlock on the early game, the NFL picked the Patriots to be the visiting team.  (Because CBS will televise the game, the road team had to be from the AFC; this year, the choices were the Jets and the Patriots.  Either way, a quality opponent would have been pegged for the game.)

For the afternoon contest, the NFL earmarked a game that, as of April, looked to be one of the 10 best of the year — Saints at Cowboys.  Though the Cowboys’ struggles have made the game less intriguing, the NFL opted not to take advantage of its captive audience by offering up the weakest home game on the Dallas schedule.  (Then again, the Lions already were booked.)

The night game — Bengals at Jets — also looked as of April to be a potentially great game, given that the Bengals and Jets both made the playoffs in 2009.  Who knew that the Bengals would be after 10 games The 2-Ocho Show?

Short of moving Thanksgiving to September, the risk that games that looked great in April will be relevant in November applies to every NFL season.  All we can ask is that the NFL attempt to provide quality games.

Even if the Lions and Cowboys would lose their automatic home games, there’s no way of knowing that the games picked prior to the season will involve quality teams by the time the games are played.  What if the Vikings had “earned” a home game on Thanksgiving as a result of their 2009 performance?  Or the 49ers, based on the widespread belief that they’d be much improved in 2010?

In April, every season is a crapshoot.  At least the NFL has finally decided to shoot for something other than crap on Thanksgiving.

2.  Favre could thrive under Frazier.

The decision of Vikings interim coach Leslie Frazier to keep brett Favre at quarterback makes sense.  Frazier will earn the job for 2011 only by winning games, and Farve at quarterback gives Frazier the best chance to do that.

The Vikings don’t need to know what Tarvaris Jackson can do; he had relevance only when a change of quarterbacks may have belped salvage a playoff berth.  And Frazier has no interest in developing Joe Webb to become the possible starter for the next regime.

So what of the notion that Favre will continue to produce more turnovers than a baker on an IV full of Red Bull?  Without former coach Brad Childress peering over Favre’s shoulder and constantly telling him what to do and what not to do, it’s entirely possible that Favre will perform better.

Even though reeling off six in a row likely won’t be enough to edge out one of the three-loss teams currently in position to take both of the wild-card spots, a strong finish to the season would partially rehab Favre’s fading legacy — and it would give Frazier a fighter’s chance at keeping the job.  Having Childress out of the picture will make if easier for Favre to just relax and play.

3.  Delhomme’s revenge.

Earlier this year, the Carolina Panthers discarded quarterback Jake Delhomme like an empty bottle of screw-top wine.  And for good reason.  Ever since the completion of the 2008 regular season, Delhomme had been playing like a guy whose Gatorade had been spiked with a full bottle of screw-top wine.

On Sunday, Delhomme will get his first start since Week One, due to Colt McCoy’s ankle sprain.  Coincidentally, that start will come against the Carolina Panthers.

So the game will provide Delhomme with a shot at redemption, a chance to prove the Panthers wrong.

Then again, given that Delhomme received a contract worth $20 million guaranteed before the 2009 season, it’s the Panthers that should be thinking about revenge.

Either way, the link gives a sliver of meaning to an otherwise meaningless game.

4.  It’s getting no easier for Mike Vick.

If the Eagles and quarterback Mike Vick struggle at Soldier Field on Sunday, it’ll be easy to blame the Sports Illustrated jinx, given that he graces the magazine’s cover this week.  But we’re not much for jinxes, unless the person to be jinxed allows himself to think that the jinx exists.

For Vick, the bigger concern should be opposing defenses studying ever bit of tape from his performances to date, building on game plans that slowed him down and trying to devise the one tactic that will shut him down and/or knock him out.

Though the Bears present the latest challenge, a pair of games against the Cowboys, a rematch with the Giants, and a date with the Vikings remain.  With each passing week, defenses will be trying even harder to be the team that solves the Vick riddle, preferably by putting him back on the injury report.

Look for the Bears, mired in a seven-quality-teams-but-only-five-spots chase for the postseason, to pull out all the stops.

5.   Monday night loser could still be alive.

Thanksgiving weekend wraps up with a Monday night game between the 49ers and Cardinals.  It presents a rare stinker on ESPN’s 2010 slate.  But it’s not as bad as it appears, if we ignore the fact that each team has a record of 3-7.

If the 5-5 Seahawks lose on Sunday against the Chiefs, the loser of Monday night’s game will remain only two games out of first place with five games to play.

Sure, the loser will be a woeful 3-8.  But if we can get past that won-loss record, the reality is that the loser can still get hot in December and steal the division and reset its record to 0-0 in the single-elimination tournament that will commence with the NFC West champion hosting a playoff game.

6.  In Atlanta, home-field advantage possibly hangs in the balance.

The game of the week undoubtedly occurs in the Georgia Dome, where the red-hot Packers take on the red-hot Falcons.

Under quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons have won 18 games and lost only one at home.  Under quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have scored a total of 76 points in consecutive games against the Cowboys and Vikings.

The Packers are more than a good offense; their defense has allowed only 10 points in three games, including the pitching of a shutout of the Jets at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

With these two teams destined to play beyond January 2, this game will go a long way toward determining where the second game may occur.  And regardless of what happens this time around, the location of a January rematch will have a lot to do with its potential outcome.

7.  Keep an eye on Tom Brady’s foot.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has no qualms when it comes to talking about his injuries.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is more apt to talk about his hair.

And so it’s impossible to know the exact diagnosis of and prognosis for Brady’s current foot injury, which caused him to miss practice on Tuesday and Wednesday and to be listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, a rare departure from his usual designation as probable.

Sporting a defensive line that could give the Patriots flashbacks to Super Bowl XLII and a Detroit team that is otherwise irrelevant in NFL circles, it’ll be interesting to see whether these Lions use their rare national spotlight as an occasion to roar, by pouncing on Brady’s bum foot.

8.  Colts are suddenly in trouble.

If the season ended today, the Colts’ season would be over.  And while they’ll play four of their final six games at home, the Colts face the prospect of missing the playoffs — and of winning fewer than 10 games — for the first time since Jim Mora refused to use the “P” word.

The slide very well could continue on Sunday night, when the surging Chargers come to town.  The Chargers have played the Colts well in recent years, providing Indy with a consistent thorn in their side.

And while both of the quarterbacks have had to overcome injuries to their supporting cast on offense, the Chargers are getting healthy a lot faster than the Colts.  And the Chargers will have receiver Vincent Jackson back, for the first time all year.

It could spell trouble once again for the Colts.  At 6-5, the Colts would have to make like the Chargers and finish strong in order to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.

9.  Bucs get their chance to impress.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have handled every team they’ve faced, with the exception of the three elite franchises they’ve played — the Steelers, Saints, and Falcons.

This weekend, the Bucs draw the Ravens.  On the road.

On paper, this is another game that Tampa should lose.  If the Bucs find a way to win, it’ll be time to take this team seriously.

Actually, it’s already time to take this team seriously.  With upcoming games against the Redskins, Lions, and Seahawks, 10 wins could be in the offing.  With the Ravens, Falcons, and Saints also on the docket, victory in any one of those games will help the Bucs do the unthinkable — nailing down coach of the year honors for Raheem Morris, and possibly executive of the year recognition for Mark Dominik.  With a roster devoid of pricey veterans, the Bucs are one of the few teams that is playing like a true team.

10.  Chargers are following form, and will likely continue to do so.

After the Chargers lost five of their first seven games, we said (one or twice, or more often) that the team eventually would try to follow a slow start with a fast finish — and fail.

But the Chargers have shown that they can do it again, reeling off three wins and moving to within a game of first place in the AFC West.  And they’ll likely continue their climb to the playoffs.

Where they’ll likely lose in one of the first two rounds.

While, as mentioned above, they match up well with the Colts, the Chargers eventually would face the Patriots, Jets, Ravens, or Steelers.  And with five losses already in the standings, the Chargers will have to take their pass-first offense to an open-air stadium in the Northeast.  In the middle of January.

Moving forward, and as our friend Scott Caplan of XX 1090 in San Diego pointed out during our weekly Wednesday morning radio visit, the Chargers should redouble their efforts to figure out why they can’t win more games in September and October.  If they could emerge into November and December with a better record, they’d be able to force some of the other elite teams to San Diego in January.

Hey, at least the Chargers wouldn’t have to face a long flight home after losing.

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EverBank extends Jacksonville naming rights deal through 2024

EverBank Getty Images

As the Jaguars prepare to unveil gigantic new video boards, they’re renewing their vows with an existing sponsor.

Via the Florida Times-Union, the Jaguars will announce on Friday a deal with EverBank that will keep the financial institution’s name on the stadium where the team plays through 2024.

Technically, it’s a 10-year extension to the five-year, $16.6 million contract signed in 2010.  The average value of the new deal is expected to exceed the $3.32 million per year average of the current contract.

It’ll possibly need to go up a lot for the Jaguars to see a net gain.  Jacksonville agreed to sacrifice its right to 25 percent of the money under the first contract.  The Jaguars will have to negotiate that term all over again in the new deal.

The Jaguars quietly have surged in the local market since the sale of the team from Wayne Weaver to Shad Khan.  Rumors of relocation have subsided if not disappeared, even though the team currently plays one game per year in London.  Ticket sales are up, the team is improving, and a solid front office and coaching staff are in place, with Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley leading the way.

Throw in a weak AFC South, and the Jags could make a run at their first playoff berth since 2007.

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It seems Mike Shanahan didn’t have fun in Washington

Redskins Camp Football AP

For a guy who went 24-40 in his last job, including a 3-13 dumpster fire which included alienating the franchise quarterback, Mike Shanahan is kind of picky.

The former Redskins coach told Jarrett Bell of USA Today that he wanted to coach again, but only if things are just right.

“If I get back into coaching, it would have to be a situation where there was a realistic opportunity to win a Super Bowl,” Shanahan said.

Beyond that shot, Shanahan’s thoughts for future employment shines some light on how dysfunctional things might have been with the Redskins.

Asked about quarterback Robert Griffin III, he said: “I’m not going down that road. I’m going to let that play itself out. We’ll see as time goes on.”

He also said he’d like a team with salary cap room, which is something he didn’t enjoy in Washington thanks to their penalty for circumventing the salary cap in 2010.

“It would have to be with the right ownership,” Shanahan added, a not-at-all-veiled shot at his old boss Dan Snyder.

He also mentioned working for Pat Bowlen, who fired him from the Broncos in 2008, saying: “He let you do your job. Every resource that he had, he’d give it to you.”

When he puts it like that, it’s almost like things in Washington last year were exactly as bad as they looked from the outside.

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Sam Bradford is “full-go” for camp

Sam Bradford AP

The Rams hold their first practice of training camp on Friday and there won’t be any restrictions on quarterback Sam Bradford when they do.

Bradford is coming off a torn ACL, but coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday that there wouldn’t be any limits on the quarterback during practice.

“Sam is in great shape,” Fisher said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s ready to go. We don’t have [reservations] — right now as we speak, as camp starts — he’s full-go. If we need to back him down here and there, we’ll back him down.”

One place where the Rams might back Bradford down will be in the first preseason game, which Fisher suggested would go on without the starting quarterback while also saying that Bradford would see preseason action. Whatever action he does see, Bradford will need to use it to build a strong foundation for a season that will see him try once more to prove that he’s the franchise quarterback that the Rams wanted when they took him first overall in 2010.

If Bradford can’t do that, it will likely be time for the Rams to look in another direction under center after spending the last few years concentrating on overhauling the rest of the roster.

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Stephen Jones says Cowboys will run the ball more

Murray AP

It’s fitting, we suppose, that as 34-year-old Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and his twice-cut-open back prepare to lift the team to unprecedented heights over the next four-to-five years, one of the team’s top executive says they won’t be relying on Romo as much as they used to.

We will be running the ball more,” Cowboys V.P and COO Stephen Jones said Thursday, via Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I think our offensive line is better than it was last year and I think we ran the ball pretty well last year.  I think we’ll run it better this year and I think there will be a bigger commitment to running it.”

If it’s true, why announce it to the world?  While the million who play fantasy football will appreciate the head’s up, opposing defensive coordinators will appreciate it even more.

For that reason alone, it’s possible that Jones is trying to make opposing defensive coordinators think that the Cowboys will be running the ball more, if for no reason other than to take some of the heat off of Tony Romo and his twice-cut-open back.

So before burning a high pick on DeMarco Murray in that upcoming fantasy draft, keep in mind that Jones simply may be providing cover for the quarterback whose back may or may not allow him to perform at a high level, or at all, for a lot longer in the NFL.

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Andy Levitre out two weeks after appendectomy

Washington Redskins v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Titans guard Andy Levitre has become quite familiar with the operating room over the last couple of years and he added another entry to his medical records on Thursday.

Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that Levitre had his appendix removed this week and that he will miss a couple of weeks of camp while he recovers from the procedure. Per Wyatt, Levitre began having discomfort on Wednesday and doctors determined that he needed laparoscopic surgery to remove the offending appendix.

Levitre had knee surgery before camp last year and hip surgery after the year was out, although he didn’t wind up missing any games during the regular season. The hip surgery did limit Levitre during the offseason program, however, so he will be a bit behind in terms of preparation for the coming season once he is able to return to practice.

The Titans report to camp on Friday and have their first practice of the summer on Saturday.

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David Wilson had no doubts he’d return from neck surgery

David Wilson AP

Players come back from injuries all the time in the NFL.

But even though there’s a significant difference between his career-threatening neck injury and your basic torn ACL, Giants running back David Wilson is taking a low-key approach to his comeback.

I always felt fine and capable of doing my job,” Wilson said, via Ralp Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “You want to come out here and be safe as well. You have a long life after football, and football is something I love, so as long as I can play it, I want to play it.”

That kind of determination impressed the Giants, who often had to remind him to slow himself down after a potentially life-altering procedure.

“Quite frankly, he’s an amazing kid,” Giants coach Coughlin said. “I know we’re talking about a very, very serious injury, but about two weeks after he’s had the surgery he’s in the weight room and I have to slow him down. He’s over there doing stuff with his legs. [I say] ‘David, do you have any idea what just took place here?’

“Hopefully — hopefully — it will go [well] as we bring him along. He wants to do everything now. He’s out there running back and forth like it’s nobody’s business.”

Wilson might have never wavered, but the Giants covered themselves this offseason by signing running back Rashad Jennings. But the explosiveness he showed in the past gives him the potential to be special, such that his comeback doesn’t already.
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Andre Roberts gets first crack at kick/punt returner in D.C.

Roberts AP

Maybe Andre Roberts would have signed with Washington again, after all.

Roberts, who recently said the arrival of DeSean Jackson would have been a factor in the former Cardinal’s free-agency decision-making progress, has been thrown a bone.  Via Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com, Roberts has landed at the top of the depth chart for both kickoff and punt returns.

Right now, I am,” Roberts said.  “You never know during training camp what they’re going to do.  [It could] depend on how much they use me on offense. . . .  Right now, I’m on top. But we’ll see.”

We’ll definitely see, because DeSean Jackson has been a game-breaking return specialist in the past.

“I would like to be the kick returner and the punt returner but, you know, everybody doesn’t get what they want,” Roberts said last month. “Preferably, probably kick returner.”

Roberts signed a four-year, $16 million in March with $5.25 million guaranteed at signing.  The real question is whether he does enough this year to prompt the team to keep him beyond the 15th day of the 2015 league year, at which point his $2.75 million base salary for 2015 becomes fully guaranteed.

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Saints say no awkwardness with Jimmy Graham

Jimmy Graham, Keith Tandy, Dashon Goldson AP

All offseason, the concern for the Saints was whether they could make the numbers work with *tight end Jimmy Graham.

But when he showed up for work, he posted another number that reminded them of his value.

Saints coach Sean Payton said Graham had the “low time” in the team’s pre-camp conditioning test.

“That was significant. I told him to stay in Miami every offseason,” Payton said, via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. “I mean, it was outstanding.”

Both Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis said the difficult negotiation (which led to discussions of how far he lined up from the tackle) was simply part of the process, and the $10 million a year deal now has everyone happy.

“Look, it was a tough negotiation, obviously, but it ended well,” Loomis said. “Obviously going to an appeal hearing over the position argument was unique. But otherwise it was a negotiation. You know, all of these negotiations are tough. Obviously when it’s a high-profile guy, there’s more written about it. And those are personal issues for the players, in particular, and we understand that. But that’s behind us. We’re glad to have it done. I’m sure Jimmy’s glad to have it done.

“It’s just a process that we had to go through. And, look, I think both sides are pretty pleased with the outcome.”

Given that both Payton and Loomis testified in an arbitration hearing against Graham’s assertion that he should be a wide receiver for franchise tag purposes, there was the potential for awkwardness.

But now that business has been taken care of, they can get back to the business of football, and Graham is apparently ready.

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Andre Johnson reports for camp

Andre Johnson AP

Andre Johnson was spotted at the Texans’ facilities earlier this week, leading many to believe that the wide receiver would end his self-imposed exile from the team and report to training camp.

That’s how things have played out. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Johnson appeared at the team’s facility again on Friday and reported on time for the start of camp.

Johnson’s agent didn’t comment on his client’s plans earlier this week, but did say that he and the Texans were communicating. Part of those discussions likely center on whether Johnson can recoup a $1 million roster bonus he lost by not taking part in voluntary portions of the offseason program, although Johnson’s gripes with the direction of the Texans and what it means for his future in Houston may also be on the agenda.

Those talks can continue, but the important news for the Texans is that they won’t have to go into coach Bill O’Brien’s first season without their top wide receiver.

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Friday morning one-liners

Dwight Freeney AP

WR Chris Hogan is trying to carve out a role with the Bills.

The Dolphins offensive line is about to get to work.

Vince Wilfork thinks the Patriots’ young defensive linemen grew a lot last year.

Jets players are calling it QB Geno Smith’s team.

Ravens LB Elvis Dumervil says he will be forever grateful to Pat Bowlen.

Which Bengals have the most to gain in training camp?

There are some concerns about the Browns linebackers.

Five questions for the Steelers to answer in training camp.

The Texans added DT David Hunter to the roster.

Colts WR Reggie Waynefelt pretty doggone good” in his return to the field.

The Jaguars named Luke Butkus as their interim offensive line coach.

Dexter McCluster expects to get carries with the Titans.

The Broncos hope S T.J. Ward brings some toughness to their defense.

Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles doesn’t sound like he was totally committed to a holdout.

The Raiders suffered some injuries during their conditioning test.

Chargers LB Dwight Freeney is pleased with how well he’s moving.

The Cowboys think they can have good success in the running game.

Giants RB Rashad Jennings traces his journey from “fat kid” to the NFL.

Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin is confident that his knee is sound.

The Redskins took things inside during part of Thursday’s workout.

S Adrian Wilson is eager to get to work with the Bears after a lost 2013 season.

OL Bryce Quigley is working quickly to learn the Lions scheme.

The Packers are considering variable pricing for the 2015 season.

DE Everson Griffen feels comfortable stepping into a bigger role with the Vikings.

Falcons DT Corey Peters still has designs on playing in the opener.

Byron Bell remains the favorite to be the Panthers’ left tackle.

Golfer Bubba Watson helped welcome the Saints to West Virginia.

Buccaneers QB Josh McCown thinks the team is ready for any adversity.

The Cardinals are excited to get training camp underway.

The Rams are involved in a fundraiser honoring the late Philip Lutzenkirchen, who spent time with the team last summer.

49ers rookie DB Jimmie Ward had an interception early in his first training camp practice.

Projecting the Seahawks’ 53-man roster for the 2014 season.

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Lions not optimistic about Suh deal

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Getty Images

When the Lions passed on Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald with the 10th overall pick in the draft for yet another offensive weapon, their intention to keep defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh became even more obvious — especially since they decided not to pick up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Nick Fairley in order to give him incentive to play harder this year (until he gets paid and can underachieve again).  But with the season approaching, the Lions have yet to extend Suh’s rookie contract.

Per Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the Lions aren’t optimistic that they’ll get Suh re-signed.  The problem ultimately flows from his $22.4 million cap number, which gives Suh the hammer of a 2015 franchise tag in the amount of $26.88 million.  Which makes it hard to sign him to a long-term deal that pays out market value, especially with the market not exactly soaring at the defensive tackle position.

That cap number has been artificially increased by efforts to create cap space that included restructuring Suh’s contract and loading more dollars into 2014.  Indeed, Suh will earn only (only?) $12 million in 2014.  But good luck getting Suh, agent Jimmy Sexton, and/or marketing agent Jay-Z to negotiate the first year of a long-term extension based on the lower number.

It all points to Suh finishing his rookie contract, not being tagged, entering the mini-tampering period and finding out what other teams would pay, and either taking the Lions’ offer or signing elsewhere, for the same money or more (or possibly less, if other factors come into play).

Regardless, it quite possibly will be Suh’s last year in Detroit, thanks in part to the efforts of the team to do business while having three top-two picks from the last four years of the windfall system that existed before the rookie wage scale.  They’ve extended two of them (Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford), and it looks like the third one will be walking away.

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Rice caught a break on his one-game fine

Rice AP

For the many who believe Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t go nearly far enough by suspending Ravens running back Ray Rice only two games for knocking out the woman who would later become his wife, Rice got another piece of favorable treatment.

Via ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, the one-game fine attached to the two-game suspension will be calculated based on Rice’s 2013 base salary of $1 million, not his 2014 base salary of $4 million — even though the incident happened in 2014 and the suspension was imposed in 2014.

It reduces the fine from $235,529 to $58,823, a savings to Rice of $176,706.

That wrinkle wasn’t mentioned in the press release announcing the punishment, creating the reasonable impression that the money was coming from 2014:  “[H]e will be suspended without pay for the first two 2014 regular season games and fined an additional game check.”

Meanwhile, some have defended the league’s wrist-slap for Rice’s chin-punch by pointing to other language from the release:  “In May, Rice resolved the charges by entering into a pretrial intervention program. Under this program, he will not be prosecuted and is not required to serve jail time or pay any fine. After one year, the charges will be expunged and will not be part of Rice’s record.”

If the punishment from the league was truly intended to simulate the punishment imposed by the criminal justice system, why was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suspended four games for a civil lawsuit in 2009 and allegations that never culminated in an arrest in 2010?  The obvious explanation is that the NFL did its own investigation and concluded that unacceptable behavior occurred, and that Roethlisberger had become a repeat offender.  Which leads to the inescapable conclusion that the contents of the still-unleaked video of Rice punching the woman who became his wife supports the notion that Janay had crossed the line repeatedly before Ray reacted.

Maybe it’s time for that video to be released, since it happened in a public place and has become a matter of public concern.

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David Tyree says he’d support a gay player on the Giants

david-tyree-super-bowl-catch Getty Images

When the Giants hired former receiver David Tyree as their new director of player development, it resulted in some criticism because Tyree has a history of making anti-gay comments. But Tyree says that he would be supportive of gay players on the Giants.

Wade Davis, an openly gay former NFL player, writes at TheMMQB.com that Tyree assured him that an openly gay player on the Giants would be welcomed.

“I would absolutely support any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way I could,” Tyree said. “And I will continue to stay in touch with Wade to ensure I am aware of the right ways to do that.”

Tyree is best remembered for his “helmet catch” in Super Bowl XLII. He has previously said that he would give up that catch and that Super Bowl to prevent gay marriage. Tyree hasn’t specifically disavowed those views, but he does recognize that accepting all players — including gay players — is a requirement of his job.

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Gerald McCoy: People are about to see how good Josh McCown is

Josh McCown AP

As training camps spring to life across the NFL, hope springs eternal in a league defined by its parity.

Praise of players and teammates also comes easily as everyone is “way better than last year,” “ready to take a step forward” or “poised for big things this season.”

One such player getting glowing reviews from teammates is Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown.

According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, defensive end Gerald McCoy believes the league isn’t giving McCown enough credit for his ability.

“I don’t know how much people really know how good Josh McCown is,” McCoy said. “I think a lot of people are about to see how good he really is.”

“He’s (35), but with the amount of time he’s played, he’s 28. His mental capacity is as old as it gets. He’s been around for a while. His leadership ability is incredible, and he’s going to lead this team.”

McCown is the favorite to start for the Buccaneers this season. Entering his 12th season in the NFL, it would be only McCown’s second opportunity as a full-time starter. He also started 13 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.

However, McCown parlayed a strong season in relief of Jay Cutler in Chicago into a starting job with the Buccaneers. McCown appeared in eight games with five starts for the Bears last year. He completed 66.5 percent of his passes for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns and one interception.

While it helps having arguably the best receiver tandem in the league in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, McCown took full advantage of the opportunity and earned his chance in Tampa Bay. With Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins among the targets McCoy will have to throw too, the league should find out if McCown can live up to the praise this season.

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Report: Josh Gordon went to rehab after latest arrest

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Getty Images

It’s been a tumultuous offseason for Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon that has seen him suspended (pending an Aug. 1 appeal) for another substance-abuse policy violation, ticketed for speeding and arrested for a DUI charge.

However, Gordon has apparently taken his latest infraction more seriously and has begun to seek help for his string of problems.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Gordon checked into a rehab facility following his DUI arrest in North Carolina earlier this month. Gordon is still expected to report to training camp with the Browns on Friday and the team currently has no intention of releasing him.

The move to attend rehab won’t do anything to help him avoid suspension. It likely won’t help him avoid further possible punishment stemming from the DUI arrest either. But it may be the first step toward Gordon getting his life in order to be able to return to football at some point in the future.

Or Gordon won’t learn from his mistakes and he’ll follow in Tanard Jackson’s footsteps instead. No matter what choice Gordon makes, the decision is up to him. Checking into rehab and admitting he has a problem is a good first step.

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