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10 claps for Randy Moss

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We’ll accept Randy Moss at his word (for now) that he won’t be returning to the NFL.  And so it’s an appropriate time to reflect on his 13-year career.  Though Moss had more than his fair share of low moments, we’ll accentuate the positive (for now).

And there was plenty of positive.

So here’s one clap for Moss.  Ten different times.

Here are our (or at least my) 10 favorite Randy Moss memories, in chronological order.

1.  September 6, 1998.  Versus Tampa Bay.

Moss arrived from Marshall, which at the time had just moved from Division I-AA to low-level Division I-A.  And despite the large gap between the MAC and the NFL, Moss vowed to come to the pro game and “rip it up.”

He made good on that promise from the first game of his career.

Visiting the Metrodome, the Bucs opted not to use double coverage against the unproven player.  Four catches, 95 yards, two touchdowns, and a 31-7 score later, the Bucs wished they had.

2.  October 5, 1998.  At Green Bay.

The Packers, two-time defending NFC champions, hosted the upstart Vikings in a Monday night game at Lambeau Field.  It was widely expected that Brett Favre and company would put Moss and his cohorts in their place.

What unfolded instead was something former Vikings offensive coordinator Brian Billick would call a “game for the ages,” via the rookie’s official coming-out party on football’s national stage.

Moss racked up 190 yards on only five catches, adding two touchdowns in a 37-24 romp that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score suggested.

3.  November 26, 1998.  At Dallas.

Like many teams, the Cowboys made the mistake of passing on Moss in the first round of the 1998 draft.  Unlike every other team, the Cowboys told Moss they’d be picking him.

And so that huge shoulder chip Moss carried throughout his rookie season grew even bigger when he showed up in Texas Stadium and delivered three touchdowns on only three catches, averaging nearly 55 yards per reception.

Two of those came out of what would become routine — Moss running deep and coming up with the ball, even with one or two guys trying to keep it from happening.  The third featured Moss catching a short pass and then exploding down the sideline with the kind of burst rarely seen from someone whose hair isn’t on fire.

4.  December 12, 1999.  At Kansas City.

The Vikings of 1998 won 15 of 16 regular-season games, petering out in the NFC Championship at home.  The next season was, in comparison, disappointing, with the Vikings digging an early 1-2 hole and falling to 2-4 before waking up, thanks to the decision to bench Randall Cunningham and rely on Jeff George.

Traveling to Kansas City for a Sunday night game and clinging to playoff hopes with a 7-5 record, the Vikings fell behind the Chiefs, 21-0.  The Vikings tied the game in the third quarter at 21 on a 12-yard touchdown pass from George to Moss.  After a fumble by George was returned 44 yards for a touchdown and a fumble by Moss at the Chiefs’ seven with barely four minutes to play ended a scoring threat, the Vikings held the Chiefs.

Moss lined up deep, received the punt, and ran largely untouched 64 yards for the game-tying score.

But for a late field goal by the Chiefs to win the game, it would have been remembered as one of the biggest regular-season wins in Vikings history.

5.  October 1, 2000.  At Detroit.

On ESPN’s NFL Matchup, Merril Hoge became the first analyst to mention what many had noticed.  When the ball isn’t coming to Moss, he tends to loaf.

Moss responded that same week by catching seven passes for 168 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-24 win at Detroit.

That’s the first time I’ve ever heard somebody criticize me,” Moss said after the game.

It wouldn’t be the last.  Ironically, however, it was Hoge who spoke out on behalf of Moss after Moss was criticized in 2009 for, you guessed it, loafing when the ball didn’t come his way.

6.  January 9, 2005.  At Green Bay.

Swept by the Packers via identical 34-31 scores during the season but back in the playoffs for the first time since a 41-0 Meltdown in the Meadowlands in January 2001, no one expected the Vikings to go to Lambeau and win.

But win they did, with Moss poofing out his afro and catching two touchdown passes, including the unforgettable faux mooning that left Joe Buck appalled and triggered a $10,000 fine.

And, of course, that fine gave rise to Randy’s “straight cash homey” catch phrase, along with an even more entertaining description of what his next touchdown celebration may entail.

7.  November 18, 2007.  At Buffalo.

The win over the Packers would be Moss’ last victory during his first stint with the Vikings.  Traded to Oakland in early 2005, Moss disappeared for two seasons.  With everyone assuming Moss was washed up, the Patriots stole him for a fourth-round draft pick during the 2007 draft.

And then Moss would only go on to have one of the greatest single seasons for any receiver of all time.

The highlight of the 23-touchdown effort came against the Bills.  For the first and only time in his career, Moss scored four touchdowns in one game, via 10 catches for 128 yards during a 56-10 romp.

8.  The 2008 season.

After quarterback Tom Brady suffered a torn ACL during the first game of the season, Moss could have mentally checked out.

But he didn’t.

Even though the Patriots ultimately failed to make the playoffs (despite winning 11 games), his decision to remain focused and committed with Matt Cassel at quarterback demonstrated a level of maturity that, unfortunately, was the exception and not the rule.  He’d finish with 11 touchdowns, less than half of his record-setting total in 2007, but Moss was a good soldier during what turned out to be a bad year.

9.  September 19, 2010.  At New York Jets.

Dubbed a “slouch” in the offseason by All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, Moss got a chance to show Revis what a slouch can do.

Drawing single coverage from Darrelle with one minute to play in the first half of a 7-7 tie, Moss blew by Revis and made an incredible one-handed catch in the end zone.

Revis would reinjure a hamstring on the play and miss the second half of the eventual Jets win, plus the next two games.

10.  October 11, 2010.  At New York Jets.

Only three weeks later, Moss was back in New York for the first game of his second tour with the Vikings.

With Antonio Cromartie holding him in check for much of the game, Moss eventually got behind the coverage for a 37-yard rainbow from Brett Favre, his 500th career touchdown pass.

The play gave Vikings fans flashbacks to 1998, even though coach Brad Childress would dump Moss only three weeks later. . . .

Before Super Bowl XLII, Moss said he didn’t really know how he wanted to be remembered.  And that’s fitting, because many football fans don’t really know how they’ll remember him.  Even though I’ll remember plenty of the bad things, including a stubborn, play-when-I-wanna-play unwillingness to get the absolute most out of a God-given skill set that superseded even Jerry Rice’s, it will be hard to forget these 10 moments, along with plenty of other great things he did on the field.

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Adrian Peterson’s lawyer says other abuse accusation is untrue

Peterson Arrested Football AP

The attorney for Adrian Peterson says the latest accusation that Peterson abused one of his children is untrue.

Responding to today’s news that Peterson was investigated last year for causing a head wound to one of his sons, lawyer Rusty Hardin released a statement denying the charge.

“The allegation of another investigation into Adrian Peterson is simply not true. The allegation is more than one year old and authorities took no action. An adult witness admittedly insists Adrian did nothing inappropriate with his son,” Hardin said in a statement.

However, the mere fact that Hardin is admitting there was another allegation against Peterson — in addition to the criminal charge he’s facing for allegedly abusing another son — could be enough to force the NFL to suspend Peterson. In 2010, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Ben Roethlisberger for two allegations of sexual assault, even though Roethlisberger was never arrested or charged in either case. When Goodell made that decision, he said that multiple accusations constitute a pattern of behavior, and that when there’s been a pattern established, the NFL will act.

“The issue here is with respect to a pattern of behavior and bad judgments,” Goodell told Dan Patrick in 2010. “You do not have to be convicted or even charged of a crime to be able to demonstrate that you’ve violated a personal conduct policy.”

Peterson has not been convicted, but he has been charged in one case and accused in another. Based on the precedent Goodell set with the Roethlisberger case, there’s more than enough reason to suspend Peterson now.

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Richardson struggles, Bradshaw gives Colts an early lead

richardson AP

Trent Richardson is the starter, but Ahmad Bradshaw is the Colts’ best running back.

Bradshaw played well after replacing Richardson on the Colts’ second drive tonight, extending the drive with a 29-yard gain on fourth-and-1 and later catching a one-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal to give the Colts an early 7-3 lead.

Richardson looked more or less like he’s always looked since the Colts sent a first-round draft pick to Cleveland to acquire him: Slow and plodding, and prone to fumbling. Richardson did break off a nice 15-yard run, but his other four runs went for a total of five yards. Richardson also got bailed out by Reggie Wayne, who pounced on Richardson’s fumble on the Colts’ second drive.

Eventually, the Colts’ coaches may realize that Bradshaw is better than Richardson, just as they eventually realized last year that Donald Brown was better than Richardson. But Eagles fans should hope that realization does not come tonight. The more carries Richardson gets, the better chance the Eagles have of winning.

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Second Adrian Peterson case involves alleged head wound, scar

AdrianPeterson Reuters

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, revered for years as one of the nicest guys in all of sports, is turning out to be anything but nice or reasonable when it comes to administering discipline to his children.

According to KHOU 11 in Houston, the second case against Peterson, which has not yet resulted in criminal charges, arose after he administered a “whooping” to another four-year-old son by creating a head wound that reportedly left a scar over the boy’s right eye.

In a chain of text messages with the boy’s mother, Peterson admits that the wound occurred as Peterson disciplined the boy for cussing at a sibling.

Per the report, Peterson never admits what he struck the boy with, but Peterson told the boy’s mother, “Be still n take ya whooping he would have saved the [scar].”  No charges were filed, according to the report.  The boy’s mother filed a report with Child Protective Services; the outcome of the investigation is unclear.

The fact that Peterson faces allegations in a separate case compels the league to aggressively investigate both incidents, and to take action against Peterson, if the league determines that Peterson did what he is accused of doing.  Failure to act promptly would suggest a level of indifference to child welfare that justifiably should make fans equally indifferent to the NFL.

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Reports: Adrian Peterson investigated for another abuse case

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If, as it appears, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson didn’t see anything wrong with spanking one of his children with a switch until the boy’s flesh ripped open and bled, logic suggests that it wasn’t a one-time occurrence.

According to multiple reports, it may not have been.

KHOU 11 in Houston and FOX 9 in Minneapolis report that Peterson has been investigated for a second abuse case involving another one of his sons.

The Vikings reinstated Peterson on Monday after a one-game deactivation arising from Friday’s indictment on charges of reckless of negligent injury to a child in Texas.  Stay tuned for more details regarding the second case.

Peterson is presumed innocent in a court of law.  The Vikings and the NFL will be presumed inept and immoral in the court of public opinion if either or both continue to hide behind Constitutional protections that relate only to the deprivation of a person’s liberty and not to the privilege to play football in exchange for millions of dollars and worldwide fame.

UPDATE 8:05 p.m. ET:  The full report from KHOU 11 indicates that the boy’s mother made a report of the injury to Child Protective Services, but that no charges were filed against Peterson.

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Khaled Holmes, Marcus Smith II among inactives for Eagles-Colts

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The Colts’ starting center will miss another game.

Khaled Holmes (ankle) is inactive for Monday’s matchup against the Eagles, the Colts announced this evening.

A.Q. Shipley is expected to get the call in place of Holmes, who was questionable on the final injury report. He was a limited practice participant all week.

The Colts’ other inactives are outside linebacker Chris Carter, inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, center Jonotthan Harrison, tailback Dion Lewis, offensive guard Joe Reitz and wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers. Josh McNary will reportedly start for Freeman, who had been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

The Eagles made the following players inactive for Monday night: quarterback Matt Barkley, offensive tackle Kevin Graf, defensive end Taylor Hart, wide receiver Josh Huff, linebacker Marcus Smith II, offensive lineman Matt Tobin and defensive back Jaylen Watkins.

Smith, the Eagles’ first-round pick in May, is a healthy scratch. He was active in Week One but did not play.

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Raiders reach one-year deal with Vincent Brown

Vincent Brown AP

The Raiders are adding to their pass catching corps.

The club has reached a one-year contract with ex-Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown, the San Diego Union-Tribune and ESPN reported Monday afternoon.

The deal has yet to be announced, but the club has put a nameplate above a locker for Brown, according to CSN Bay Area.

A fourth-year pro from San Diego State, Brown (5-11, 190) has hauled in 60 passes for 801 yards and three touchdowns in his NFL career, all with San Diego, which drafted him in the third round in 2011.

Brown missed the 2014 preseason with a calf injury and was released with an injury settlement in September. His deal with the Raiders comes after wideout Rod Streater suffered a hip injury in Oakland’s 30-14 loss vs. Houston on Sunday.

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Dennis Allen’s job security already in question in Oakland

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Raiders coach Dennis Allen was already on the hot seat before the season started. That’s what happens when you go 4-12 in each of your first two seasons.

But after an 0-2 start succinctly summed up by Charles Woodson saying, “We suck,” the question is less whether this will be Allen’s last season in Oakland and more whether Allen will even make it to the end of the season.

Raiders owner Mark Davis is already privately expressing his displeasure, according to CSNBayArea.com, to the point where Allen’s tenure as Raiders coach may come to an end this season. According to the report, the Raiders already have a plan to promote offensive line coach Tony Sparano to head coach if Allen gets fired during the season. Sparano spent four seasons as head coach of the Dolphins and is a more experienced coach than Allen.

Allen knows his team needs to get better.

“We need change,” Allen said after Sunday’s loss to Houston. “We need to do better, because we’re a better football team than what we put out on the field today.”

Allen is running out of time to show he’s a better football coach than what his team has put on the field in his first two-plus seasons.

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Bears place Charles Tillman on injured reserve

Charles Tillman AP

Charles Tillman’s season with Chicago has officially reached a close.

The Bears have placed the 12th-year cornerback on injured reserve with a right triceps injury, the team announced Monday. A similar injury ended his 2013 season.

Tillman, 33, is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He indicated Monday he will work to return from his latest injury, which was suffered in the third quarter of Sunday’s win at San Francisco.

“I know this feeling way too well, but this isn’t the end of the road for me,” Tillman said, according to ChicagoBears.com. “As I rehab my injury, my role will transition to helping coach and support my teammates. I will be at Halas Hall and do everything I can to help our team reach its goals.”

Tillman has played his entire career with Chicago. He was named 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, which recognizes excellence in on-field and community work.

First-round pick Kyle Fuller stepped in for Tillman on Sunday night and starred, intercepting a pair of passes. But losing Tillman’s experience and playmaking ability is certainly a blow to the Bears’ defense. A starter for Chicago since his rookie season of 2003, Tillman has forced 42 fumbles and intercepted 36 passes in regular season play.

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Tom Coughlin: I’m a believer in this team

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The Giants piled up another set of mistakes on Sunday during their 25-14 loss to the Cardinals, dropping their record to 0-2 and providing unhappy memories of their start to last season.

Even after opening 0-6, coach Tom Coughlin never stopped selling that 2013 squad as a playoff contender until mathematics made such claims impossible. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Coughlin says he’s “a believer” in this year’s squad and invited his team and the team’s fans to join him as believers with 14 games left to play this season.

“I don’t see this as being a reason for them not to be. Our task and our goal is to toughen up. Let’s go. Come on. Stop beating ourselves. This is professional football,” Coughlin said, via NJ.com. Make the plays necessary to win and do it on a consistent basis. Eliminate these bizarre events which take the heart right out of you. I hope they’ll respond to the fact that I’m counting on them to accept the challenge, to not feel sorry for ourselves and to realize the work that has to be done for us to win. I hope the fans will join in in that exact feeling.”

Coughlin’s passion never fades, but the Giants have faded on the field too often over the last two years to think that they can just flip a switch and start winning again. As Coughlin said, there’s “work that has to be done” and it will have to be done quickly and consistently for the Giants to avoid starting their season in another deep hole.

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Lovie Smith says Doug Martin would have practiced if Bucs practiced

Doug Martin AP

The Buccaneers have a short week this week thanks to their Thursday game against the Falcons and that means they have to produce a simulated practice report for Monday even though they didn’t practice.

Coach Lovie Smith said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, there were three players that wouldn’t have participated in practice and none of them was running back Doug Martin, who missed Sunday’s loss to the Rams with a knee injury. That would suggest he has a chance to get back on the field for this week’s game.

Running the ball wasn’t much of a problem against St. Louis as Bobby Rainey picked up 144 yards on 22 carries. That may work in Martin’s favor when it comes to the decision about dressing him on Thursday since the Bucs wouldn’t need him to be the bell cow in their running game.

Defensive end Michael Johnson was also on the list of Bucs who would have practiced. Johnson missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (broken hand), linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) were the three players who would have been on the sideline at a Monday practice.

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Report: Tavon Austin could miss two weeks with MCL sprain

Tavon Austin AP

The Rams could be without Tavon Austin for the rest of September.

The good news? It’s possible he may miss just one game.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports Austin, the Rams’ 2013 first-round pick, is expected to miss “roughly two weeks” with a sprained MCL suffered in Sunday’s win at Tampa Bay.

The Rams have their bye in Week Four (Sept. 28). In short, if Austin misses just two weeks, the Rams might be without him for just one game. So while this is unwelcome news, the timing couldn’t be much better for St. Louis.

Austin (three catches, 34 yards; five rushes, 26 yards in 2014) is one of the Rams’ primary wide receivers and their top punt returner. Austin Pettis, who made a key 27-yard catch late in the Rams’ 19-17 victory against the Bucs, is listed as the top backup to Tavon Austin both at receiver and on punts.

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Gruden won’t rule out Cousins keeping job over a healthy RG3

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After leading Washington to victory in relief of the injured Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins declared, “This is Robert’s team.” But it may not be RG3’s team for long.

Coach Jay Gruden was asked today if Cousins could play well enough in the coming weeks to hold onto the starting job even after Griffin’s dislocated ankle has healed well enough for him to play. Gruden declined to give a definitive answer.

“We’ll cross that bridge when that comes. Right now we’re going to prepare with Kirk Cousins as our starter, and Robert’s going to rehab. All decisions after that will come after that,” he said.

Cousins played very well on Sunday, completing 22 of 33 passes for 250 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Of course, that was in a home game against Jacksonville, one of the worst teams in the league. But if Cousins plays that well again next week in Philadelphia, and he leads his team to a win on the road against the NFC East rival Eagles, the calls for Cousins to keep the job will increase. If he keeps playing well, it’s going to be hard for Gruden to send him to the bench when Griffin is ready to go.

Gruden, however, isn’t going to commit to either quarterback until he has to.

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Previously, the Vikings have exhibited concern in abuse cases

MJUST1

The Vikings have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they will not tolerate a player laying hands on a family member.

Oh, wait, that was last year with a scrub.

While Adrian Peterson apparently isn’t getting more than a paid weekend off after admitting to beating/disciplining his 4-year-old son, the Vikings have acted swiftly before.

Last November, the Vikings released cornerback A.J. Jefferson less than 24 hours after he was arrested for probable cause for domestic assault. I’d look up the disposition of the case, but it’s not like anyone cares anyway.

Jefferson was a reserve, and not worth the trouble of clattering on about due process while pretending to care about anything but the bottom line, so he was released.

That’s life in the NFL. If you can help a team win, excuses will be made for you no matter how ridiculous they sound falling out of the mouths of the excuse-makers.

That’s not to pile on the Vikings. Everybody does it.

The Panthers released sixth-round linebacker Lawrence Wilson in 2011, five days after he was arrested for driving in possession of marijuana (and perhaps because he cried in front of the cops). He was on the practice squad at the time, after they realized he wasn’t worth that sixth-round pick.

But Greg Hardy was arrested in May and found guilty by a judge in July of assaulting his then-girlfriend and communicating threats, including saying he’d kill her and throwing her into a futon full of guns.

He played in the opener at Tampa, and it took video of Ray Rice punching his wife in the face to force them to deactivate him Sunday (that was some punch, that it was felt 450 miles away in Charlotte).

The league can hire women into prestigious jobs with titles and salaries, and they can educate and legislate, but until the paying customers demand accountability from everyone involved — and not just the disposable — nothing is going to change.

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Marvin Lewis: A.J. Green doesn’t have long-term injury

A.J. Green AP

The Bengals improved to 2-0 on Sunday, but saw a player integral to their chances of continuing a winning streak leave the game with a foot injury.

Wide receiver A.J. Green suffered what is believed to be a strained ligament in his foot early in the Bengals’ victory over the Falcons and any absence from a player of his stature is cause for concern. It doesn’t sound like anyone in Cincinnati is overwrought, however.

Coach Marvin Lewis said Monday, via the team, that Green doesn’t have a “long-term injury.” Lewis didn’t elaborate on the nature of the injury or how short a term the team is looking at, however.

If Green doesn’t practice this week or play against the Titans, he’ll have a lot of time to get ready for their Week Five game against the Patriots because their bye will fall in between the two games.

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If Vikings won’t act against Peterson, NFL should

Spielman AP

Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman earned his salary today and then some, facing the media and trying to defend the team’s decision to allow running back Adrian Peterson to continue to play despite child-abuse charges in Texas.  (It’s not Spielman’s job to tiptoe through a minefield of verbiage, and it surely wasn’t his decision alone to welcome Peterson back.)

With Peterson not claiming that the photos of his four-year-old son’s injuries are forged or that Peterson didn’t strike the child at all, it’s impossible to reconcile Spielman’s comments on the matter with the evidence as it appears to be.

While “due process” provided by the court system means that Peterson won’t face any loss of liberty until the legal case ends, the Vikings aren’t bound by that.  They can look at the evidence and hear what Peterson has to say for himself and decide that they will take action against him, possibly a suspension without pay for conduct detrimental to the team.

But with the Vikings opting, after a temporary moment of clarity, to retreat to the time-honored notion that excuses are made for stars and examples are made of scrubs, the NFL can address the situation by imposing discipline immediately against Peterson via the personal-conduct policy.

Of course, the league’s ability to take against against Peterson or any other player possibly has been short-circuited by the ongoing siege of 345 Park Avenue regarding the investigation into what the NFL knew and when the NFL knew it about the Ray Rice video.  Which could mean that the Vikings will be able to take Peterson to the Superdome on Sunday for a game against the Saints not because of “due process” or any other platitude behind which the team may choose to hide, but because having him on the field puts the team in better position to win games.

If that happens, it will be further proof that the NFL at large has learned little from the events of the past week, requiring perhaps not just a change in leadership of the league office but also a new collection of owners.

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