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No Vikings stadium bill to be presented during special legislative session

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So with the Minnesota government finally figuring out its debt problems and convening a special legislative session to convert the compromise into law, the Vikings stadium will be be included in the package, right?

Wrong.

According to the Associated Press and other reports, the Vikings stadium bill won’t be considered during the special session aimed at resolving the budget issue.  Governor Mark Dayton won’t commit to a second legislative session later in the year for addressing the issue.

“I haven’t decided.  It’s not ready to be considered at this point,” Dayton said, per the AP.  “We’ll have to see if negotiations proceed to a point where it can be. . . .  I take calling a special session very seriously and something I would not do routinely.  It would have to be circumstances that compel it, and, again, I don’t know whether those will occur or not.”

The Vikings aren’t happy.

“All I can tell you is that we are assessing our options,” V.P. of public affairs and stadium development Lester Bagley told the AP.

The Vikings are entering the final year of their Metrodome lease.  Thus, leaving Minnesota likely is one of the options under consideration.

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Report: NFLPA* will recommend no special treatment for named plaintiffs

bos_g_mankins_200 Getty Images

After a hectic day of reports that had its roots in an ominous item on Sunday from Ron Borges of the Boston Herald, Borges now shovels dirt onto the storm of something other than dirt (but also brown) that he kicked up when suggesting that Patriots guard Logan Mankins would seek free agency or compensation in exchanging for agreeing to settle his portion of the Brady antitrust lawsuit.

Specifically, Borges reports that the NFLPA* has decided not to pursue special treatment for the named plaintiffs in the Brady case.

“After some debate over possible special relief for at least some of the 10 player-plaintiffs, it was determined it would be too cumbersome to try and work out individual deals,” Borges writes.  “Since the bulk of plaintiffs were well-placed NFL veterans, the best way to go, it was decided, was to stick simply with the larger deal negotiated between the NFLPA and the league’s owners.”

The assertion comes after Borges, via Twitter, openly supported the ability of the 10 players to strike their own deal.  Based on Borges’ latest, it’s a decision that actually has been made by the NFLPA* (a trade association that technically has no say in the matter), and not by the 10 named plaintiffs, who supposedly controlled the lawsuit.

The development represents the most graceful possible abandonment of efforts by the NFLPA* to get special treatment for four or more of the named plaintiffs.  Whether due to the backlash from the 1,890 players who were listed on the complaint or the flat refusal of the league to do anything for men who, for the most part, did nothing to advance the case or negotiate the settlement, the issue — the apparent brainchild of NFLPA* lawyer Jeffrey Kessler — is now dead.

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Report: NFL sued for concealing brain injury risks

Dolphins v Bills Getty Images

As one major legal entanglement for the NFL nears a conclusion, another one reportedly begins.

According to the folks at TMZ, 75 former NFL players have sued the league for concealing the risks of concussions.  The plaintiffs include former Dolphins receiver Mark Duper (pictured), former Giants and Cardinals running back Ottis Anderson, and former Giants running back Rodney Hampton.  Helmet manufacturer Riddell also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The challenge for the plaintiffs will be to prove that the NFL actually knew, or reasonably should have known, the chronic, long-term risks of concussions.  Clear links between concussions and long-term health problems have been established only recently, and the league has responded fairly aggressively (especially after a shot across the bow from Congress) to the problem.

And just as the league supposedly didn’t know for years about the potential problems arising from concussions, the league also doesn’t know about the lawsuit.  Reached by e-mail, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that the league is not aware of the claims.

“We have not seen the complaint but would vigorously contest any claims of this kind,” Aiello said.

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Luke Russert joins PFT Live on Wednesday to look at Bills’ “worst moments”

luke-russert-d034b9812e64ff7e AP

It’s time.  Finally.

On Wednesday’s PFT Live, we’ll be looking at the worst moments for the Buffalo Bills since the last work stoppage, in 1987.

And we’ll be joined by Luke Russert of NBC News, one of the biggest Bills fans — if not the biggest Bills fan — we know.

Tune in at 12:00 p.m. ET for all the fun.  Unless you’re a Bills fan.

We’ll also be joined by Jets safety Jim Leonhard and Vikings punter Chris Kluwe.

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Brees says he wants no “special perks”

drew-brees-ap AP

Earlier tonight, Saints quarterback Drew Brees provided a vague denial of multiple media reports that he is seeking special treatment for Brees and at least three of the other named plaintiffs in the Tom Brady class action.

“I hesitate to even dignify the false media reports with a response,” Brees said on Twitter, “but obviously they are leading people astray.”

We wanted something more specific.  So we suggested this:  “I want no special treatment.  This was never about me.  This is about all players, past, present, and future.”

And Brees was listening.  Or it was simply one hell of a coincidence.

I want no special perks,” Brees posted on Twitter after our story was published.  “My job is to get a fair deal for all players, and I am proud to represent them all – past, present and future.”

Brees added some stuff for which we didn’t provide a rough draft:  “All media claims about me wanting a personal reward for this deal are false.  I hope you all know me better than that.”

But this is a bus Brees wasn’t driving.  As we initially heard it, CAA was pushing the issue for Brees and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.  We subsequently were told that NFLPA* outside lawyer Jeffrey Kessler spent (or, as one source put it, “wasted”) hours during the week of June 27 arguing that Brees and Manning should receive special treatment.

Now that Brees has said he doesn’t want special treatment, here’s hoping that CAA and Kessler quit trying to get it for him.  Let’s also hope that the other three guys (Manning, Logan Mankins, and Vincent Jackson) do the same thing.

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Drew Brees decries “false media reports”

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We’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a great quarterback, and a truly good guy.  But we can’t look the other way in the wake of reports that Brees, or someone on his behalf, is trying to leverage his status as a named plaintiff in the Brady antitrust action into a lifetime exemption from the franchise tag, which would make Brees an unrestricted free agent in 2012.

If it’s happening, it’s wrong.  And Brees and any other named plaintiff who is trying to exploit the situation for personal gain should abandon those efforts.

We first heard three weeks ago that NFLPA* lawyer Jeffrey Kessler and CAA, the agency representing Brees, were pushing for this benefit, both for Brees and fellow CAA client Peyton Manning.  Now that Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe and others, including Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, are reporting the same thing on the same day that lawyers are supposed to be finalizing the deal, the issue has gotten much greater notice, drawing widespread criticism of Brees Manning, Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson, and Patriots guard Logan Mankins.

Brees has responded to the controversy, via Twitter:  “I hesitate to even dignify the false media reports with a response, but obviously they are leading people astray.”

We’re not sure what’s specifically “false” about the reports.  Chris Mortensen of ESPN, citing an unnamed high-ranking NFLPA* official, wrote earlier today that “media reports of a last-minute power play by players are misleading and erroneous.”

So what’s misleading, false, and/or erroneous?  The reports that Brees and Manning want a “Get Out Of Franchise Tag Jail Free” card?  Or the reports that the request is coming in the form of a “last-minute power play,” as opposed to an issue that Kessler has been pushing for weeks?

Brees could easily clear this up with a much more pointed tweet.  For example, all Brees needs to say is this:  “I want no special treatment.  This was never about me.  This is about all players, past, present, and future.”

Until he does, we’re not prepared to conclude that Bedard and/or Freeman are inept and/or lying.

UPDATE:  After we posted this item.  Brees returned to Twitter.  “I want no special perks,” he said.  “My job is to get a fair deal for all players, and I am proud to represent them all – past, present and future.”  Is there an echo in here?

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Times Square talks break for dinner, before possible late-night session

<> on May 31, 2011 in New York City. Getty Images

Previously, it appeared that the lawyers would work early into the evening in order to complete a draft of the labor deal, which will be presented to the players for discussion and debate on Wednesday.

It now looks like it’s going to take a little longer.

Albert Breer of NFL Network reports via Twitter that the two sides, negotiating at a law firm in Times Square, broke for dinner earlier in the hour (La Famiglia, anyone?), and that they’ll thereafter reconvene.

Looks like a long night ahead,” Breer said.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported the same thing, which means it’s only a matter of time before Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports, citing an unnamed high-level source from some organization connected to the situation, that everything Schefter and Breer just said is wrong.

UPDATE:  Breer now reports that the lawyers’ work is largely done, and that the remainder of the evening will focus on dotting i’s and crossing t’s.

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Report: Brees, Manning, Jackson soften stances after backlash

2010-09-14_98604409RM095_Indianapolis__crop_450x500 Getty Images

Reports that four of the named plaintiffs in the Brady antitrust lawsuit have made a push for special treatment just as the labor deal is close to being resolved has triggered a widespread reaction from fans, some members of the media, and at least one player.

Now, Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe reports that three of the men have privately softened their stances, due to the backlash.

Per Bedard, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, and Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson have backed off of their attempt to obtain an exemption from the franchise tag.  As to Patriots guard Logan Mankins, it’s unclear whether he has relented.  (It’s also unclear whether he wants to be a free agent or some other concession, but it has been reported that he does.)

To little surprise, Bedard reports that NFLPA* outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler is “still fighting” for the players, but that the issue is expected to be resolved.

Kessler has been trying for weeks to get special treatment for the named plaintiffs.  Several weeks ago, he spent hours arguing that Brees and Manning should receive a lifetime exemption from the franchise tag.  Regardless of whether Kessler was hoping to blow up the deal or simply to achieve tangible proof of victory, he has yet to give up.  Until he does, it won’t go away.

The easiest way to make it go away would be for the players to explain, in no uncertain terms, to Kessler and/or the rest of us that they want nothing more than the satisfaction of helping get the new labor deal negotiated.  If the named plaintiffs truly are part of “One Team,” they should still be showing an index finger to the world, not a middle finger to their brethren.

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As expected, UFL delays season by a month

commish letter article

The UFL originally had planned to launch its third season in August, at which time there possibly would have been no NFL football.  Ongoing financial issues, coupled with the expected return of the NFL, have prompted the UFL to delay the start of the 2011 season by 30 days.

The league announced the development on Tuesday.

In a letter to fans, Commissioner Michael Huyghue blamed the development on the “uncertainty of the NFL and NBA lockouts,” explaining that they have created “a destabilizing, negative impact throughout the professional sports industry.”

In the end, it’s all about dollars and cents, or the lack thereof.  Last week, Huyghue told PFT that the league would move forward with the 2011 season, despite $50 million in expenses and an estimated $10 million in revenue.  Pushing back the schedule won’t reduce expenses; the question is whether the league will be able to raise more revenue over the next 30 days.

During a Tuesday afternoon conference call, Huyghue cited the need for more revenue, the end of the NFL lockout, and ongoing financial issues as further reasons for the decision, per WTKR.com.

There’s also a chance that the UFL will try to sell all or part of the league to the NFL, which could then operate the five teams as an NFL farm system, with some games televised on NFL Network and possibly with the NFL relationship making the league more attractive to one of the other broadcast outlets.  Whether the league is interested in acquiring a football league with an expected operating deficit of $8 million per franchise remains to be seen.

Maybe the league can close the deal by agreeing to never apply the franchise tag to Michael Huyghue.

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Report: Vincent Jackson will be a Charger, won’t hold up a deal

Vincent Jackson AP

Any talk that Vincent Jackson could use his status as a named plaintiff in the players’ antitrust lawsuit against the owners to hold up a settlement and keep the lockout from ending may be little more than posturing.

That’s the word from Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, who reports that Jackson wants to remain in San Diego and would be willing to play for the one-year guaranteed salary that comes with the franchise tag.

In an appearance on XX Sports Radio in San Diego, Acee was emphatic that Jackson and the Chargers will work things out: “Vincent Jackson will be a Charger, and that’s the bottom line,” Acee said.

If Jackson is a Charger, he’ll be a well-paid one. The Chargers franchised Jackson in February, and the franchise number for wide receivers this season is expected to be a salary of $11.3 million. That may be enough to make Jackson happy to spend another season in San Diego.

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Donald Penn promises Bucs fans “a Super Bowl soon”

Donald Penn AP

There’s been plenty of reason for optimism coming out of Tampa Bay this offseason, and with good reason: The Bucs are young, they’re coming off a surprising 10-6 season, and most of the key players from 2010 are expected back in 2011.

But we haven’t seen quite as much optimism previously as we saw today from offensive tackle Donald Penn, who told the Tampa Tribune that he wants fans to expect a Super Bowl.

“My message for our fans is to hold on, we’re going to put on a show,” Penn said. “Josh Freeman will be leading us to a Super Bowl soon. He’s a beast.”

That’s a bold comment for a player on a team that was 3-13 just two years ago, but Penn says that if the Bucs keep their own free agents, there’s no reason not to think they can be the best team in the league.

“I want everybody back,” Penn said, “because all of those guys played a big role in our success last year. . . . I know this is a business, but if we bring everybody back, a lot of people are going to be talking about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by the end of the season.”

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Lawyers hope to have completed draft of deal to present to players Wednesday

109230-bottle-of-champagne-sold-for-world-record Reuters

Despite rampant media reports regarding potential flies in the proverbial ointment, progress continues toward a new labor deal.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal has reported via Twitter that progress is being made today on the remaining issues.  Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that the lawyers plan to work into the evening on ironing out the new deal, with the goal of presenting a completed draft to the members of the NFLPA* Executive Committee and the board of player representatives in Washington on Wednesday.

Citing multiple unnamed sources, Breer reports that the goal is a realistic one.

And so this really could be done by the end of the week, despite the apparent ongoing game of who’s got the biggest, um, champagne bottle.

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Retired players won’t get in the way of a settlement

AP110419121220_20110719065352_320_240 AP

The bad news is that it remains to be seen whether four high-profile current players will prevent a new labor deal from being finalized.  The good news is that the thousand of retired players won’t.

Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller, the lead plaintiff in a class action filed by former players, told Albert Breer of NFL Network that the retired players won’t stand in the way of a settlement of the current labor dispute.  Eller, who along with lawyer Michael Hausfeld were given a better-late-than-never seat at the table on Tuesday, also said he believe a new deal is coming this week.

Whether that new deal fully addresses the concerns of retired players remains to be seen.  Eller told Breer that there’s more work to be done, and that it may happen after the current players and the league reach an accord.

Perhaps the league can close the deal with the retired players by offering never to use the franchise tag against any of the other named plaintiffs in the Eller lawsuit.

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Worst moments for Falcons

The Falcons only enjoyed five winning seasons from 1987-2007.

In that light, it’s pretty remarkable that G.M. Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith have pulled off three straight winning years.  Two of those years ended in a playoff losses, with one of them making our worst moments since 1987 video below.

Many of the Falcons’ darkest times have come off the field.  (Including Aundray Bruce getting arrested for pointing a pellet gun a pizza guy.) That one didn’t make our list. You’ll have to watch the damn thing to find out what did.

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Antonio Cromartie doesn’t believe in hometown discounts

Antonio Cromartie, Emmanuel Sanders AP

If the Jets want to keep cornerback Antonio Cromartie this season, they’d better offer him more money than any other team offers him.

Cromartie, who will become a free agent whenever free agency starts, made it clear in an interview today that he’ll go to the team that pays him the most, and he won’t take less money to stay with the Jets.

“I would love to be a Jet,” Cromartie told SiriusXM NFL Radio, via the New York Post. “But I also want to go out and see what the market is and see what my value is. At the end of the day, to me there is no such thing as no hometown discount. I’m not giving anybody no hometown discount. I’m definitely going to see what the organization says and then also let them know I would like to go out and test the market and see what my value is.”

Cromartie said he could see himself signing with the Texans, Buccaneers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys or Raiders if the Jets don’t show him the money. But he’s hoping the Jets show him the money.

“I love the organization,” he said. “They’re a first-class organization that has always been there for their players. They’re all about their players. . . . For me it would be a great opportunity to be back there and to play alongside [Darrelle] Revis and to play in that defense I’ve been a part of. Rex Ryan is a great coach and I love playing for him.”

So Cromartie loves being a Jet. Just not enough to make it worth taking less money.

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