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Troy Aikman: Tony Romo is a better quarterback than I was

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Troy Aikman won three Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys and is a Hall of Famer, but if you think Aikman is the best Cowboys quarterback you’ve ever seen, Aikman says you need to take a closer look at Tony Romo.

In an interview with the Brownsville Herald, Aikman said he never played the quarterback position as well as Romo.

I think Tony already is a better quarterback than I was,” Aikman said. “I know how quarterbacks are judged but as far as his play-making ability and the things that he is capable of doing, he is a far more athletic quarterback, capable of making more plays than I ever was able to. He has a good team around him and hopefully, and I believe this will happen, I believe that he will win a Super Bowl before he is done playing.”

Aikman should be commended for his modesty, and for acknowledging that there should be more to judging a quarterback than counting how many Super Bowl rings he wears. But I think it’s safe to say the vast majority of Cowboys fans are going to disagree with his analysis.

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Richard Sherman suddenly takes trade talk more seriously

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Richard Sherman quickly has gone from being amused to bemused.

A week after laughing off talk of a possible trade from Seattle, the seventh-year cornerback has taken a more serious tack regarding the possibility that his days in Seattle are coming to an end. On Thursday, he provided this statement to Gee Scott of 710 ESPN: “I wouldn’t want to leave this city and my guys, but I understand it’s a business and organizational philosophies change.”

Said Sherman last week about then-nascent trade chatter: “I just laugh it off, man. It’s funny to me. But sometimes people need to see you gone to realize what you had. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. But I don’t let things like that bother me. The chips will fall how they’re supposed to.”

So what changed in the interim? Among other things, G.M. John Schneider didn’t scoff at the notion of a Sherman trade, saying instead that “[w]e listen to everything.”

Sherman apparently has gotten the message.

He has $4.4 million of bonus money that would hit the cap, either in a pair of $2.2 million chunks or all at once. Also, $5 million of his base salary for 2017 became fully-guaranteed a year ago. A trade of the contract, which has a total base salary of $11.431 million for 2017, would absolve the Seahawks of that obligation.

No trade partners have emerged for Sherman, but with the draft four weeks away, all it takes is a phone call. The Seahawks are ready to listen.

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Ricky Jean Francois explains why he owns 25 donut shops

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It’s not for entertainment.

It’s not for late-night cravings.

Ricky Jean Francois says he owns 25 Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, and his reason is for the long haul.

The new Packers defensive tackle signed a one-year, $2 million contract last week. Fair to say, he won’t dump all those funds into a million-dollar sports car and clothes. Jean Francois has made investing a priority in his NFL career, applying the focus into a business strategy that so happens to make him something of a doughnut-and-coffee tycoon.

Jean Francois said that he wasn’t as conscientious with his money in 2009 as a 49ers rookie.

But as the NFL paychecks grew, his attention did, too.

“When the big money came in,” Jean Francois said, via Fox Sports Radio, “I was like, ‘I need a retirement plan right now. I need a retirement plan that can grow right now, so at the time when I actually walk out of the NFL, I don’t have to let the NFL be my identity. Teams can look at me like, ‘OK, he’s a business man. He’s a smart guy. He knows what he’s doing with his money.’

“I’m going on year nine, and I have so many different investments and opportunities, so the day I have to walk out of the league, I won’t have those second guesses. I won’t be those guys you see on ’30-for-30.’ I won’t be those percentage of guys that goes broke. . . . I want to be that guy on top. When the league talks about, ‘This is what you do with your money,’ they actually show a picture of me.”

Between the March free-agency period and rookie contract signings to come, Jean Francois’ example is a timely one.

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Mark Tauscher may be thinking about running for Wisconsin governor

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Former Packers are popular in Wisconsin. One of them (who also is a Wisconsin native and played for the Badgers) may soon try to find out quite how popular they are.

Mary Spicuzza of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explores whether former Packers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher is considering a run for governor. The primary (and only) evidence is a “Mark Tauscher for WI Governor” Facebook page that apparently has no connection to the player.

“We are not affiliated with Mark Tauscher, yet,” the Facebook page claims.

Tauscher did not respond immediately to a request for comment from the Journal Sentinel. Even if he’s interested, it makes sense to keep the interest quiet until momentum builds (or doesn’t) for a viable run. The first rule of politics is to keep political aspirations secret, in order to prevent creating the perception that the politician has failed to rise to the desired level of success.

Tauscher has no political experience (which obviously isn’t a disqualifying factor). He currently has a media presence, providing commentary and analysis as to both the Badgers and Packers. Tauscher also hosts a weekday radio show with Jason Wilde.

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Former Jaguars WR now a decorated sheriff’s officer

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There is no shortage of ex-NFL players who chose to become police officers or firefighters following their playing careers, perhaps none more visibly than former Eagles offensive lineman Danny Watkins. His passion for service outweighed his love for football.

Ernest Wilford did not leave football to pursue a new field.

But based on an award he received Thursday, he has a knack for it.

The former Jaguars wide receiver was honored with a Peer Achievement Award from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office he serves. He joined the department last March because he “wanted to serve the people in the community who cheered him on in his previous profession, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Wilford played for the Jaguars from 2004 to 2007 and again in 2009 and 2010.

The newspaper cited a number of actions prompting the accolade.

The list includes Wilford responding to a domestic disturbance situation that involved an “unruly son.” Its root issue was the son not having a job. Wilford spoke to a local restaurant employee, who helped arrange a job for the teen. On another call, Wilford arranged a dentist from his church to meet with a woman who reported significant pain but could not afford dental care. The woman previously threatened suicide, per the report.

Such community work would not generate a headline if not for Wilford’s NFL background.

So, if nothing else, it’s a reminder that the most positive efforts from public service workers often go unnoticed to the greater public.

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Scot McCloughan speaks (through Michael Robinson)

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After heading to the Scouting Combine with a nonexistent P.R. plan for dealing with soon-to-be-ousted G.M. Scot McCloughan, Washington’s contingent to the league meetings in Phoenix consisted of team president Bruce Allen painting a positive picture to multiple reporters. (Despite multiple requests made this year and in prior years, the team has not made Allen available for an interview with PFT.)

Michael Robinson, a former NFL fullback, a current NFL Network analyst, and a friend of McCloughan, explained on a Richmond radio show a recent phone conversation with McCloughan.

“He knew the players loved him, and he started feeling the hate from Bruce Allen right around, well, he’s been feeling it, but when they didn’t let him speak [to reporters] at the Senior Bowl, he said to him that was his last straw, and he knew that he was on his way out,” Robinson said Thursday on The Wes McElroy Show, via the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “He said it was after a draft meeting, after the combine, Bruce called him up to his office and was just like, ‘Nobody likes you in this building. Nobody wants you here.’ And Scot was like, ‘Well, I guess I’m out of here.'”

McCloughan also told Robinson he doesn’t have “an issue right now drinking,” and that “I haven’t touched a drink in a while.”

Amid the possibility of a grievance and/or litigation from McCloughan, it’s possible if not likely that the two sides are attempting to work something out informally. If McCloughan were hell bent on a legal pound of flesh, he’d already be seeking it; the fact that he hasn’t initiated proceedings strongly suggests that efforts are underway to resolve the situation before it gets to that point.

If litigation is looming, it probably makes sense for McCloughan not to do any further talking, either directly to the media or to friends who are in the media. When it comes to any form of court proceedings, anything you say and will be used against you, if the other side can find a way to spin what was said into a benefit.

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Report: Sharrif Floyd knee injury could be career ending

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Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s career could be over as a result of a knee injury and subsequent surgical complications.

Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports that Floyd suffered nerve damage when he had surgery in September to repair a torn meniscus, and the injury is putting his career in jeopardy.

“Sharrif is rehabbing, has seen some of the best doctors in the country, will continue to rehab and hopefully, this will heal sooner than later,” said Floyd’s agent, Brian Mackler.

Floyd’s $6.757 million base salary this season is guaranteed for injury as the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. But at 25 years old he likely had many years left to play and tens of millions of dollars left to earn beyond 2017. This injury puts that future in question.

Floyd suffered the injury in September but the Vikings initially said they didn’t think it would be serious. It wasn’t until December that they placed him on injured reserve.

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Cameron Jordan, Byron Maxwell, Delanie Walker take part in NFL-USO tour

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A trio of NFL players deserve plenty of credit for what they’ll be doing on their own time.

Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell, and Titans tight end Delanie Walker will be going to Southwest Asia to participate in the annual NFL-USO Tour of American military bases.

The dates and specific locations haven’t been announced, for security reasons. They’ll devote a full week to the effort.

Kudos to the NFL for putting this program together, and even more kudos to the men who will be doing something neither easy nor convenient for the good of our troops.

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Browns high on Malik Hooker, set to host him

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Chances are, if the Browns retain their No. 1 overall pick, it will be used on Myles Garrett.

But the former Texas A&M edge rusher isn’t the only defensive prospect on whom the franchise appears high.

Malik Hooker, the dynamic safety from Ohio State, will visit the Browns’ facility on Friday, he told ESPN 850 WKNR in Cleveland. There reportedly is serious interest in his quick visit becoming a long-lasting one; however, it seems unlikely Hooker would be the choice over Garrett at No. 1 or available when Cleveland is on the clock again at No. 12.

That leaves a first-round trade, back or up, as the best scenario in which Hooker becomes a Brown.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of, the Browns are “considering him in the first round of the draft. They’ve spent a lot of time on him and have expressed as much interest as any team in the league,” Cabot reported, citing sources.

While Hooker will visit the Browns, he won’t appear at the NFL Draft.

He has declined the league’s invitation to attend the Philadelphia event, he told PFT Live on Thursday.

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John Harbaugh expects multiple championship with Joe Flacco

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Jim Irsay and John Harbaugh may not have much in common. Here’s one thing they do: Both except to win more than one Super Bowl with their current starting quarterbacks.

“When [Joe Flacco] first walked into the building after we drafted him in 2008, [it was like], ‘Hey, dude, we’re going to win multiple Super Bowls,'” Harbaugh said this week, via Jamison Hensley of “We’re going to win multiple championships here. And we’re going to.”

Of course, the difference between Irsay and Harbaugh (among others) is that Harbaugh already has one with Flacco. Still, both teams arguably are equally far away from the next.

The Ravens made it to the playoffs five straight years with Flacco and Harbaugh. In 2013, one year after the lone Super Bowl victory, the run ended. The next year, the Ravens had a pair of 14-point leads in New England before falling to the eventual champions in the divisional round. Then came back-to-back seasons of no playoff appearances, with a division title narrowly lost in a Christmas Day classic against the Steelers.

Despite a franchise-quarterback contract, Flacco arguably isn’t a franchise quarterback — or the more popular five-letter shorthand reference to one. Winning a second Super Bowl would help. As he enters the 10th year of his season, it remains to be seen when Super Bowl No. 2 will come his way.

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Andy Reid vows to get Tyreek Hill more involved in the Chiefs’ offense

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Tyreek Hill burst onto the scene as a rookie in Kansas City last season, scoring six touchdowns on 61 catches, three touchdowns on 24 carries, two touchdowns on 39 punt returns and one touchdown on 14 kickoff returns.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid looks at those numbers and thinks 138 touches isn’t enough for a player with Hill’s ability to get to the end zone.

So Reid will turn Hill into an offensive playmaker in 2017, giving him more snaps at running back and wide receiver after he was on the field for less than half of the offensive plays in 2016.

Growing Tyreek in the offense will be important,” Reid said.

Reid says Hill arrived in the NFL without a lot of experience running the kind of routes that an NFL offense demands of its receivers, but Hill can get better at that with experience.

“He was a running back that they kind of moved around a little bit,” Reid said. “His routes when he first came were kind of raw. They weren’t as disciplined as they need to be in this offense. So much of this offense is timing and being in a certain spot and knowing defenses, knowing secondaries and all that, how you’re going to make adjustments. That was all new. He is a smart kid. He picked it up so fast, and he was able to play at our level.”

If Hill can become an NFL-quality route runner, he should make an even bigger impact in 2017. Which is a scary thought for the Chiefs’ opponents.

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What’s the NFL’s end game with gambling?

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As the NFL tries to balance a love of Las Vegas with a loathing of the primary activity that goes on there, what if the league also secretly lusts after gambling?

Sure, Commissioner Roger Goodell is saying all the rights about gambling being the wrong thing for the NFL. Just like he previously was saying all the right things about Vegas being the wrong place. In addition for being paid to be the pin cushion for owners who prefer rich and famous to rich and notorious, Goodell’s compensation package includes taking positions that he knows he eventually may have to abandon as gracefully as possible. Or not gracefully at all.

Really, what has been the cost of Goodell’s about-face on Las Vegas? Has anyone said anything critical about Goodell for saying one thing and doing another? Hell, inconsistency or word and deed practically become the way of the world.

So Goodell can continue to say gambling is bad until the owners decide that gambling is good. And then Goodell can start saying gambling is good, without ever acknowledging that he regarded gambling as bad.

When the owners (and in turn Goodell) decide that gambling is good, what happens next? Behind the scenes, efforts will be made to eliminate the federal law that prohibits the expansion of sports betting beyond the states where it currently happens. (The NFL has used that law to block the expansion of sports betting in states like Delaware and New Jersey.) When that push becomes public, we’ll hear a lot about states’ rights and other situationally convenient philosophies that will justify America telling the United States that they can set up sports books if they want.

Then, the various states will begin to adopt betting on sporting events, one at a time until as many that will ever do it have done it. Then, as many NFL teams as possible will begin to find a way to make money from sports betting.

The process could culminate at some point (maybe years from now, maybe decades) in the ability of a fan/bettor to access a team or league website or app and quickly and cleanly (and legally) place a bet.

For a successful business that constantly wants to find ways to make more and more (and more) money, there’s a revenue stream that has been flowing to people other than NFL owners since the day the sport was born. Every year, billions are changing hands via wagering on NFL games, without the NFL getting a cut.

The move to Las Vegas represents a clear statement that, eventually, it will.

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Anthony Lynn: Joe Mixon is still on the Chargers’ draft board

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Former Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is reportedly off the draft boards of at least two NFL teams, the Dolphins and Patriots, over concerns about the incident in which he punched a woman, seriously injuring her. But Mixon only needs one team to take a chance on him.

Perhaps that one team will be the Los Angeles Chargers, who brought in Mixon for a visit and say he’s still a player they’re considering.

“We just wanted to pick his brain and see where he was at football-wise because he wasn’t at the combine. He did a good job with that,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said, adding, “He’s still on the draft board. It didn’t change much. . . . We know he can play football. He’s one of the best backs in the draft. We just wanted to do our homework, that’s all.”

Mixon is a talented enough player that he’d likely be a first-round pick if not for the ugly off-field incident. The Chargers or some other team will look at the talent, and overlook the assault.

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Myles Garrett will have a visit with the 49ers

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The Browns insist they’re not trading the top pick for a quarterback. The world assumes that Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett will be the top pick, even though he’s not a quarterback.

But in case he’s not off the board, the 49ers are going to be ready.

Via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Garrett said he will visit with the 49ers, the owners of the No. 2 overall pick.

General manager John Lynch was on hand  for Garrett’s pro day workout in College Station, Texas, and seemed dutifully impressed that Garrett participated.

I thought it was impressive,” Lynch said. “Here’s this kid who really doesn’t need to show everyone much more, but yet he shows up and runs a 40. I think it just speaks to the kind of kid he is. It was impressive. It’s well-documented – I’m not saying anything ground-breaking – he’s a special athlete.

“He checks all the boxes. That’s why people are talking about him in the way they are.”

It would be a major surprise if Garrett was available when the 49ers were on the clock, but it would also be a mistake if they weren’t prepared, just in case.

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When will a coach bet on himself?

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Jim Caldwell’s it-is-what-it-is approach to his current employment situation in Detroit serves as a reminder of a periodic hot take that often bubbles up for me whenever a good coach closes in on the completion of his contract: When will a coach treat the looming expiration of his deal as a shot at free agency?

Rarely if ever does an NFL head coach: (1) finish every game of his contract; and (2) inform the NFL, “I’m available to the highest bidder.”

When Jason Garrett’s contract expired in Dallas after a Final Eight season in 2014, he could have made the Vince-McMahon-strutting-GIF move to another city, but he truly didn’t want to leave the Cowboys. Last summer, with both coach Pete Carroll and G.M. John Schneider entering contract years, they could have individually or collectively said, “Hey, Rams! Interested?” after the 2016 season ended.

They opted instead to re-up.

For whatever reason, coaches (and General Managers) never bet on themselves in that way, choosing the sure thing over the shot in the dark. Maybe they’re conservative by nature when it comes to the knowledge that large amounts of money will continue to flow to the bank account beyond the current year. Maybe they have a hard time assessing their own potential value objectively. Maybe they fear that the jobs that become available are available not because the current coach stinks, but because the organization does.

Regardless, there’s never been a head coach who says, “I don’t want a new contract for now. I want to hit the open market next year.” Maybe Caldwell, if he takes the Lions to the playoffs again without an extension before the season ends, will hit the open market without making the declaration in advance.

And maybe the boss of the Lions will become the first NFL head coach to walk into free agency like the boss of the WWE.

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Report: Vikings signing Arena League tight end Nick Truesdell

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The Minnesota Vikings are bringing in a former Arena League player that made a significant impression during pro combine testing last weekend.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the Vikings are signing tight end Nick Truesdell after an impressive showing that saw him post a 4.6-second 40-yard dash time while measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds.

Truesdell has played for six different teams in the Arena Football League and Indoor Football League with just one previous opportunity on an NFL roster. He spent a brief three-day stint with the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 before being released early in training camp. He’s also been invited in as a tryout player for rookie mini-camps with the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers in past years.

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