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Phil Simms apologizes for Desmond Howard incident


Former Super Bowl MVP Phil Simms got into an altercation Saturday with another former Super Bowl MVP, Desmond Howard.

Simms didn’t like that Howard had spoken critically of the football skills of one of Simms’ sons (at least Howard didn’t accuse Phil of “laissez-faire” parenting), and Howard didn’t like the way that Simms made it known that he didn’t like it, allegedly threatening to punch Howard.  (Simms, without denying a threat to throw a punch, later told Richard Deitsch of that there was “no chance” of a physical confrontation.)

Simms, who also didn’t like the way Howard made it known that he didn’t like the way that Simms made it known that he didn’t like the criticism of his son, has apologized publicly, via an appearance on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Radio with Chris Russo.

“It’s over,” Simms said Tuesday, via  “And, you know, and I’m sorry.  I really, I mean this, I’m sorry it happened.  I really am because even if it remained private, there’s still nothing gained.  So I’ve learned another lesson.”

Simms confronted Howard at the NFL Experience because Howard had make a non-complimentary comment about Matt Simms as part of Howard’s job on ESPN to, you know, comment about college football players.  Howard took to Twitter with a blow-by-blow account of the incident, which per Howard nearly came to blows.

In the aftermath, Simms apparently would like to punch Howard for telling the world that Simms allegedly threatened to punch him.

“Well, of course I am,” Simms said, regarding whether he was upset that Howard disclosed the situation.  “But it is what it is.  It’s a great lesson learned, and of course I’m not excusing myself.  You know, I’ve got to know better.  It’s a new day and age . . .  And, you know, you’ve got to know that I think about those things all the time.  It’s just not good on my part, either.  I understand that.”

At the risk of finding myself in a future confrontation with Simms, I’m compelled to point out one fact:  Phil Simms is 55.  He should be old and wise enough to figure out the potential consequences of getting in the face of a member of the media in a public place.

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Pagano holding Cromartie out of this weekend’s preseason game

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 08:  T.J. Yeldon #24 of the Jacksonville Jaguars is pushed out of bounds by Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets with Darrelle Revis #24 in pursuit during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 8, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

After signing veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie this week, Colts coach Chuck Pagano called Cromartie “a perfect fit” for the team’s depleted secondary.

Pagano is also perfectly fine with Cromartie having the same view of the preseason that he does.

Cromartie, 32, joined the Colts earlier this week following the news that cornerback Vontae Davis is out until at least October. Despite the fact that the Colts will play this weekend’s preseason game without at least three other injured cornerbacks, Cromartie won’t play.

“He knows exactly what to do, but I’m not going to throw him out there,” Pagano said, per the team’s official transcript. “He’s not had an offseason. He’s in great shape, he knows the plan, he knows the terminology. He picked that up, being in a similar system helped. He could play, but I’m not going to do it.”

Darius Butler and first-year player Tay Glover-Wright will likely start at cornerback Saturday vs. the Eagles. The Colts hope to have Patrick Robinson, an offseason free agent pickup, back from a groin injury and in the starting lineup for their Sept. 11 season opener.

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Browns VP: “We would be very disappointed if we have four wins”

St. Louis Rams v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Sure, the Browns offloaded Barkevious Mingo today. But in hanging onto Josh Gordon and Josh McCown for the moment, the Browns hope to prove they’re serious about winning.

As in, this year.


(Cue Donald Sutherland in Animal House: “I’m not joking, . . . this is my job“.)

Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said the accumulation of future draft picks should not stand as evidence they weren’t trying to compete this year, saying it was “silly” and “laughable” to think they were tanking.

“I think if anybody has been around our facility, they’d know how silly that is,” Brown said, via Tony Grossi of “We want to win. Our expectations are, just because we have a younger roster, doesn’t mean that we’re at all trying to lose, I guess.

“If that’s the perception, I would say that’s laughable and I think we’re all competitive guys. We understand that part of what we need to do is build a winning culture here, and everything that we’ve talked about and worked towards is aimed at winning and there are no seasons off or, for us even, reps off.”

“We would be very disappointed if we have four wins. That said, I think we’re not going to measure our success just in terms of wins. We’re realistic with where our roster is in terms of a proven roster that’s capable of winning.”

Of course, it’s easy to pick on Brown for saying such things, since the Browns have won more than five games in a season exactly once in the last eight years. And that’s a pretty low bar to clear.

It’s debatable that the presence of either of the Joshes will make a significant impact on breaking out of that skid. And they’re definitely not going to change things there without believing they can. But they’re just going to have to pardon the rest of us when we snicker when they say things like that.

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Ladarius Green holding out hope for Week One

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green (80) stands on the sideline during the first half of an NFL exhibition football game against the Detroit Lions in Pittsburgh, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) AP

Tight end Ladarius Green’s physical condition has been the subject of much discussion this summer, including a report that he’s still experiencing recurring headaches after suffering a pair of concussions last season.

That report led to talk that Green may not play for the Steelers at all after signing with Pittsburgh as a free agent this offseason. Green denied both the reports of the headaches and the possibility that he’s done as an NFL player, saying that his surgically repaired ankle is the only reason why he hasn’t been able to get on the field yet.

Green also said that he’s confident he’ll be able to play this season, but remains on Pittsburgh’s physically unable to perform list as they get ready for their third preseason game. On Thursday, Green told Jeremy Fowler of that he’s still holding out hope that he’ll be able to play in the season opener despite his “very slow” recovery.

That may be a serious stretch given his lack of time on the field, but the Steelers can keep him on the PUP list into the regular season. That would cost him at least six weeks while keeping open the possibility that the team could get something from a player who was initially expected to play a big role in 2016.

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Patriots reinstate Alan Branch, ending his suspension

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Alan Branch #97 of the New England Patriots reacts after a play in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

New England defensive tackle Alan Branch is welcome back with the team.

The Patriots suspended Branch a week ago, but Field Yates of ESPN reports that the Patriots have reinstated him.

It remains unclear why Branch was suspended. The Patriots never announced the suspension and it only came to light because Branch told teammates he was suspended.

Branch arrived in the NFL as the 33rd overall pick in the draft with the Cardinals in 2007. He has bounced around the league and had his share of off-field issues and was cut by the Bills in 2014 a day after he was arrested for DUI. But the Patriots liked him enough that last year they signed him to a two-year, $4.3 million contract. If he makes the Patriots’ 53-man roster he’ll have a $1.2 million base salary this season.

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The Lions made a call about Barkevious Mingo, allowing them to gloat

Detroit Lions Training Camp Getty Images

The Browns weren’t just able to chisel a fifth-round pick out of someone they might have cut anyway because they’re so shrewd.

There was actually interest in Barkevious Mingo from others as well.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Lions also placed a call before the Browns sent their 2013 first-rounder to the Patriots for something other than a ham sandwich.

Of course, the obvious link is that Lions General Manager Bob Quinn used to work for the Patriots, and likely shares much of their “buy low” mentality.

But the interesting postscript is that the Lions were looking to shore up a position which Quinn’s predecessor Martin Mayhew actually got right.

The Lions used the fifth pick in the 2013 draft on defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who has turned into the Pro Bowl pass-rusher they were looking for. In fact, Mayhew hit one of the few home runs of April 25, 2013, as that year’s draft was what we in the business like to refer to as “a really bad draft.”

With the first two picks, the Chiefs and Jaguars took not-really franchise left tackles Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel. Then came not-eligible-often-because-of-suspension Dion Jordan (Dolphins) and Lane Johnson (Eagles). That the Dolphins traded up to get Jordan is a whole other comedy routine.

Then Ansah — again, a really good pick by Martin Mayhew — was followed by Mingo (already traded by the Browns) and Jonathan Cooper (already traded by the Cardinals).

So the Lions at least made the effort to collect two of that year’s top 10 picks. Which is not something a lot of other teams would be interested in having.

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Adrian Peterson won’t play in preseason

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 18:  Running back Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings warms up prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on August 18, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner doesn’t see any signs that running back Adrian Peterson is slowing down with age, but we’ll have to wait until the regular season to find out for sure.

At one point this offseason, Peterson said that he thought he might break from recent years and play in a preseason game. Coach Mike Zimmer said this month that he’d discuss it with Peterson and that the decision would ultimately be up to the running back.

Peterson didn’t play in the first two games and with the fourth game usually reserved for players further down the roster, it would likely be this Sunday or not at all. Peterson revealed his answer on Thursday.

“I just really thought about it and didn’t feel like it was the best thing in my interest, knowing that I can be ready for the first week against Tennessee, like I’ve done a thousand times in the past,” Peterson said, via the Pioneer Press. “That’s pretty much what it came down to.”

The Vikings will be in Tennessee on September 11 and they’ll play their first regular season game at the new U.S. Bank Stadium against the Packers the next week.

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Tom Coughlin reportedly joining NFL Competition Committee

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants looks on against the Washington Redskins at FedExField Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin is reportedly adding to his duties with the league.

Coughlin became a “senior advisor” to the league’s operations department this offseason, a role that has him working with NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent as well as the league’s game-related committees. One of those committees is the Competition Committee, which works on changes to the rules of the game.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Coughlin will be doing more than working with the committee in the future. Per Schefter, Coughlin has been added to the committee, which also includes his former boss John Mara, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome and others.

There’s no word on if the committee’s meetings will now be starting five minutes ahead of schedule.

Coughlin is the third reported addition to the committee, joining Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and Broncos General Manager John Elway. Arians said Wednesday that he wouldn’t comment on the report because nothing has “been announced yet.”

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Browns keep adding to pile of 2017 draft picks

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2016, file photo, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown addresses the media during a news conference in Berea, Ohio. The Browns are not in any rush to make a decision on quarterback Johnny Manziel’s future. Sashi Brown, the team’s newly appointed vice president of football operations, said Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016,  the team is “not in any panic to make any decision one way or another on him.”  (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File) AP

The 2017 NFL Draft is shaping up to be a three-day Cleveland Browns infomercial.

Yes, there will be a Trent Richardson/Johnny Manziel montage. But the Browns are in line to be making plenty of picks as they try to move forward.

The Browns added another pick in Thursday’s Barkevious Mingo trade, a fifth-rounder from the Patriots. That means the Browns have acquired four additional picks in the 2017 draft: A first-rounder from the Eagles via the Carson Wentz trade from last April, a second-rounder from the Titans via a 2016 draft-day trade, the fifth from the Patriots acquired Thursday and the Colts’ seventh-round pick.

The Browns figure to be in line for compensatory picks, too. Per Field Yates of ESPN, the Browns are in line to be awarded compensatory picks in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Those picks are generally announced about a month before the draft.

It’s clear the Browns are going to be busy. We don’t yet know whether they’ll be devoting one of those early picks — or even a package of them — towards finding a quarterback, but we can guess they’ll be active. The Browns tied a record by drafting 14 players in 2016 and were also one of the busiest teams making trades during the draft.

The Browns also have the Eagles’ second-round pick in 2018.

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Victor Cruz: I’m ready

FILE - In tis July 30, 2016, file photo, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz runs a drill during NFL football training camp in East Rutherford, N.J. Cruz returned to practice Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, for the Giants and earned the Odell Beckham Jr. seal of approval.  It marked the first time in almost two weeks that the oft-injured 29-year-old wide receiver practiced with the team, and slightly increases the hope he will be able to resume his career after two frustrating seasons. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) AP

It looks like the long-awaited return of Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz to the field is a go for Saturday.

Cruz missed time with a groin injury this summer that kept him from playing in either of the team’s first two preseason games and led to enough speculation about his future that General Manager Jerry Reese felt the need to tell the world the Giants aren’t giving up on Cruz, who hasn’t played in a game since Week Six of the 2014 season. Cruz was able to practice this week, however, and coach Ben McAdoo said Thursday that the wideout “showed a burst” that left him “very optimistic” about Saturday.

“I’m ready,” Cruz said. “Obviously it’s been a long time coming … This one is crossing so many hurdles, so many barriers… To me, this game is bigger than just a game.”

When asked about when Cruz would play against the Jets, McAdoo said he plans to “put him out there early in the game” and hopes to see him get the ball in his hands. Quarterback Eli Manning has the same hope, although he said he won’t pass up other receivers just to get the ball to Cruz. Given how long the road back has been, it seems like a good bet the Giants will find a way to make that happen on what’s shaping up to be a big night for the wideout.

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Ping-pong, not Madden, is the hot game for the Saints


The new Madden game came out on Tuesday (it’s excellent, and I say that even though I’ve never gotten a free copy of it), so I asked Saints quarterback Drew Brees during a Wednesday visit to PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio how much time he spends telling younger players to quit spending so much time playing the popular NFL video game.

“Plenty,” Brees said. “Listen, they get into it. I mean it’s about as realistic as you get.”

But Madden apparently isn’t the only source of healthy competition in the down time.

“We’ve got a ping-pong table now in our locker room that I think has kind of taken over the video game stuff,” Brees said. “That’s become like the new competitive thing that guys are doing in between meetings and such is getting in there on the ping-pong table. I’m actually impressed with some of the hand-eye coordination of some of these big guys on our team.”

So who’s the best player?

“Good question,” Brees said. “Cam Jordan on our d-line is pretty stout. Kasim Edebali is pretty stout. I saw Brandin Cooks on there the other day. That’s the first time I’ve seen him and he kind of controlled the table there for about thirty minutes. About three or four guys came through and he beat them all, so I don’t know jury is still out. I’d imagine there’s about five guys that would argue they’re the best.”

Is Brees, who like most successful quarterbacks is competitive about everything, one of the five?

“Well, see,” he said with a laugh,” that’s where I’m just kind of sitting back studying how these other guys play and then I’ll step in when it’s appropriate.”

It would be appropriate for these ping-pong games to be televised. It could be better than Hard Knocks. Then again, that bar is lower than the net on a ping-pong table.

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Browns get Patriots’ fifth-round pick for Barkevious Mingo

Barkevious Mingo AP

For the sixth pick in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft, the Browns have received what will likely be a late pick in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft.

The Patriots have sent their fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Barkevious Mingo, according to multiple reports.

As much as that shows what a bust Mingo is, it’s actually not a bad deal for the Browns, considering there was talk out of Cleveland that Mingo wasn’t even going to make the 53-man roster this year. It also means Mingo is sure to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster, as New England wouldn’t give up a fifth-round pick and then turn around and cut Mingo before the start of the season.

The Browns have a huge haul of picks in the 2017 draft: They have two picks in the first round (their own and Philadelphia’s thanks to the Carson Wentz trade) and two picks in the second round (their own and Tennessee’s thanks to a 2016 draft-day trade), they are expected to get multiple compensatory picks, and they’ve now added a Patriots fifth-rounder to the mix.

The Patriots had already lost their fourth-round pick as a Deflategate penalty, so they’re now without their own picks in back-to-back rounds, although they have traded for Seattle’s fourth-round pick.

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Report: J.J. Watt expects to practice next week

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 03: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans celebrates after sacking Blake Bortles #5 of the Jacksonville Jaguars (not pictured) in the first quarter on January 3, 2016 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt sent out a tweet featuring a picture of himself on the field captioned “Soon” on Wednesday, a few days after coach Bill O’Brien said that he thought Watt would be back “sooner than later” from the back surgery that has kept him out of action this summer.

O’Brien’s answer was a more optimistic one than his previous one, which indicated that there was a chance that Watt would miss the first two weeks of the regular season while continuing to recover from the surgery. Things are continuing to look up on the Watt return front.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Watt expects to return to practice next week, which would seem to make the odds that he’ll play in the first two weeks of the regular season more likely. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle quotes a source that says “it wouldn’t be a surprise” if Watt is able to play in Week One.

Watt could still be held to a limited number of plays if he’s back for the first weeks of the season, but a little Watt is far better than no Watt for a team that counts him as their best overall player.

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NFL, James Harrison quiet after PED interview

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 6: Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Indianapolis Colts scrambles as James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers applies pressure during the second half of the game at Heinz Field on December 6, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

As expected, Steelers linebacker James Harrison submitted for his Al Jazeera-sparked PED interview on Thursday morning. Via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, both sides kept quiet after the meeting ended.

That’s likely good news for Harrison, because if he saw or heard anything in the room that made him think that the league wasn’t accepting his denial of knowing Charles Sly of the Guyer Institute or using PEDs, Harrison surely would have said something about it on the way out of the room, if not sooner.

It fits with the theory making the rounds that the league made it known to Harrison and/or his agent that, if he simply shows up and answers the questions, exoneration will be perfunctory.

Harrison likely assumes that the next step will be the issuance of a press release from the NFL that clears him. If not, he’ll then have plenty to say.

At some point, if he’s not exonerated, everyone will get a chance to see what Harrison said in Thursday’s meeting.

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Tre Mason’s mother thinks football caused his bizarre behavior

St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason (27) celebrates after scoring on a touchdown run next to San Francisco 49ers defensive back Dontae Johnson (36) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) AP

The Rams haven’t seen Tre Mason since last season, but his bigger problem is that his mother doesn’t recognize him.

After the latest of Mason’s bizarre adventures, which involved leading police on an ATV chase, his mother told Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies last month her son has “10-year-old’s mindset” as the result of head trauma related to football.

Via Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post, the dashcam video of the latest incident showed his mother pleading with cops, an openly questioning whether his football career is to blame.

Tre is not himself at all,” Tina Mason said during the July 27 stop. “He’s not making good decisions.”

Of course, the bigger issue is his own well-being. Four days earlier, he was admitted to a hospital for an evaluation, after his mother called the police to her home saying he was behaving erratically. But the exchange during the ATV shows how deep the despair of his mother is.

The officer reporting to the scene pointed out to his partner that Mason should have been in training camp at that point, saying: “His career is going down the tubes.”

“No, actually he shouldn’t. … ,” Tina Mason says. “There’s CTE and this head-injury thing. You can say he should be playing football, but this is not what it is.”

She said her son’s behavior was clearly different after the 2015 season: “Clearly, we could see the change. Like, completely. . . .

“As much as he’s accomplished, as hard as he’s worked, as much as he’s built his character, in record-breaking time it’s going downhill because of what’s going on. He doesn’t even know. He’s not conscious enough.”

Of course, there’s no way to know whether there has been a diagnosed head injury which would cause Mason to behave the way he has this offseason, or whether there are other factors. But what’s obvious is those closest to him are deeply troubled by how quickly things have changed.

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Browns trade Barkevious Mingo to Patriots

Indianapolis Colts v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

For the second day in a row, the Patriots are involved in an unexpected trade.

The Browns have agreed to ship pass rusher Barkevious Mingo to New England, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Mingo was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, and at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds he had the look of an excellent pass rushing outside linebacker. But through three NFL seasons he has been largely disappointing: He had five sacks as a rookie, two in 2014 and none last year.

The Patriots have been looking to bolster their pass rush since trading Chandler Jones to Arizona, especially after Rob Ninkovich suffered a triceps injury. While Mingo isn’t on the same level as Jones or Ninkovich, he may be able to add some depth to the Patriots’ front seven.

Bill Belichick doesn’t hesitate to make moves, having just traded center Bryan Stork to Washington yesterday. Now he makes another move, and hopes he can get more out of Mingo than the Browns did.

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