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10 things to know about the Vikings stadium situation

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Getty Images

With the situation in Minnesota going from simmer to full boil over the past few days, and with Commissioner Roger Goodell and Steelers owner Art Rooney II, chair of the league’s stadium committee, planning to meet with legislative leaders on Friday, now is as good a time as any to get up to speed regarding a controversy that could result in a relocation of the Vikings, only a year after the 50th anniversary of their arrival to the NFL.

So here are 10 things to know, in a question-and-answer format.  (Why do it that way?  Because we want to.)

What’s wrong with the Metrodome?

It has been regarded as a given for years that the Metrodome is outdated, and that it can’t be modernized in a manner that unlocks the high-end revenue streams that will keep the Vikings competitive with other franchises.  Even though the Vikings have used the 30-year-old stadium roughly 300 times, the team believes that renovation isn’t an option.  No effort to contradict that claim has ever gained any serious traction in Minnesota.

Didn’t I read last month about a deal to build a new stadium?

You did.  But the agreement for a “People’s Stadium” represented only an understanding between the team, Governor Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and legislative leaders.  The deal calls for a $975 million facility, which would be built with $398 million from the state, $150 million from Minneapolis, and $427 million from the Vikings.  It still needs to be approved by the Legislature, and by the Minneapolis City Council.  For now, the proposed stadium bill died in a House committee on Monday night, and it has seen no progress at all in the Minnesota Senate.

The Vikings’ reaction to the current failure of the bill to even get a full legislative vote — the team says “there is no next year” — and the NFL’s direct involvement in negotiations represent a last-ditch effort to revive the deal that previously was reached.

What are the Vikings’ options?

If the stadium bill fails, the Vikings have to decide whether to try again, perhaps with a greater private contribution and/or a cheaper stadium.  If, as it appears, they aren’t inclined to try, owner Zygi Wilf can then try to move the team to a new city, sell the team to someone who would later apply for permission to move the team, or sell the team to someone who would keep the team in Minnesota.

Relocation could occur, with league approval, because the Vikings currently have no lease at the Metrodome.  In fact, if a decision to relocate after 2012 comes soon, the impact on the relationship between Minnesota and the Vikings could make it difficult for the Vikings and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission to work out a one-year lease.  And no one at this point knows what would happen next.

Since there’s no lease, can the Vikings just pick up and move?

No.  Art Modell tried that in 1995, creating a huge mess that resulted in the Browns names and colors and records being left in Cleveland and a commitment to an expansion franchise.  The Vikings already are following the steps outlined in the league’s relocation policy, which requires a team to “diligently [engage] in good faith efforts” to “obtain a satisfactory resolution of its stadium needs” before informing the league of the existence of a “stalemate.”

The fact that the league directly is involved in the negotiations suggests that the Vikings have indeed informed the league that a “stalemate” exists.  If the situation can’t be resolved, the Vikings can then provide formal notice of an intention to relocate, sparking a process that could eventually culminate in a vote by the full ownership.  If 24 of the 32 owners agree, the move will be approved.

Along the way, the other owners would impose a transfer fee on the Vikings, which would be recommended by the Commissioner based on factors like the income streams in the new location, the income streams in the old location, the expenses in the new and old location, the differences between the new and old stadium, the demographics of the new and old markets.  It’s believed that a relocation to Los Angeles would result in a nine-figure transfer fee.

Would the Vikings leave behind the team name, logos, colors, and records?

Probably not.  As mentioned above, the deal to keep the Browns in Cleveland resulted from Art Modell’s unconventional, unilateral effort to move.  Also, the NFL planned to expand from 30 to 32 teams at the time the Browns moves to Baltimore.  The NFL currently doesn’t plan to expand, especially not in North America.

Most important, Minnesota wouldn’t get an expansion team without a new stadium.  And the reluctance to build a new stadium is what could cause the Vikings to leave.  So if they’re not going to build a new stadium now, there’s no reason to think they’ll do it later.

In other words, no matter how poorly the nickname may fit with the team’s next location, the Vikings will most likely remain the Vikings.

Why have the Vikings suddenly become so aggressive about possibly moving?

The Vikings had practiced patience for years.  Some think that the “Minnesota Nice” approach was selected under the theory that it would work better than a more blunt, matter-of-fact, anti-Field of Dreams “if you don’t build it, we will leave” strategy.  Others believe the Vikings simply wanted the media to do the team’s dirty work, reading the tea leaves and supplying the “or else” without the team having to do it.

The truth is that the language of the relocation policy, which expressly requires good-faith efforts to resolve the situation, forced the Vikings to try to get a new stadium deal without making threats or being unreasonable.  But to the extent that folks in Minnesota government believe that the Vikings haven’t taken a strong stand because they’ll eventually kick more and more (and more) money onto the table until the two circles of the Venn diagram kiss, a league source with knowledge of the dynamics explained to PFT on Thursday that Zygi Wilf, a successful real estate developer, can’t afford to cave when dealing with a public body; if he does, the public bodies with whom he routinely deals in other contexts will pounce on that high-profile show of weakness.

Why does the NFL build new stadiums with public money?

Because it can.

Some call it leverage.  Others call it extortion.  As NFL executive V.P. Eric Grubman told PFT Live on Thursday, the league regards it as competition.

Regardless, if one place won’t kick in significant public money to keep the NFL, someone else will kick in significant public money to get the NFL, either directly through cash contributions or indirectly through tax credits and other incentives.  Or through that Private Seat Licenses and/or higher ticket prices that a larger metropolitan area has the population density (i.e., enough really rich people) to support.

Notwithstanding the label applied, it’s a basic business reality of dealing with the most popular sports league in America.  With 32 teams and little or no chances at expansion, places that don’t have an NFL team but that want an NFL team will have to target an NFL team that already has a home.

Should public money be used to build NFL stadiums?

That’s for the people of a given city/state and their elected representatives to decide.  Public money gets spent on all sorts of things.  Sometimes, it’s a good investment.  Sometimes, it isn’t.

The presence of the NFL carries with it prestige and national legitimacy, along with an influx in local hotel, parking, and restaurant revenue on game days.  If that’s important to a given area and public money is necessary to make that happen, then the use of public money can be justified — especially if the facility will attract non-football events like concerts and conventions and a Final Four and other major activities.

Would a new Vikings stadium host a Super Bowl?

Probably, but the NFL can’t commit to that in advance.  Only the owners can award Super Bowls; that said, a habit has emerged over the past 35 years.  A new domed stadium (or an open-air venue in a warm-weather location . . . or New Jersey) results in a Super Bowl, if the city otherwise has the infrastructure to host the event (or, in the case of Jacksonville, even if it doesn’t).  The Metrodome hosted Super Bowl XXVI, the Silverdome and Ford Field in Detroit each got a Super Bowl.  Most recently, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis hosted Super Bowl XLVI.

The money and the prestige coming from the hosting of a Super Bowl would help justify a large chunk of the public money devoted to the project, if the people in Minnesota choose to do that.

Where is this heading?

At this point, it’s unclear.  But the NFL and the Vikings will push for an answer now, before the current legislative sessions ends.  And the league and the team are prepared to interpret no answer as a “no” answer.

The biggest problem with the current deal arises from the effort to avoid the Minneapolis City Charter, which requires a public vote for any contribution in excess of $10 million to a sports facility.  The House committee that recently killed the deal was troubled by the apparent circumvention of the charter provision.  Even if the stadium bill becomes law and the Minneapolis City Council officially signs off on the plan, any taxpayer in Minneapolis could challenge in court the funding mechanism as a failure to comply with the charter.

And so, just as the Governor and the Mayor of Minneapolis and the legislative leaders underestimated the willingness of the Legislature to reject their deal now, the folks who came up with this plan possibly have given too little consideration to the possibility that a judge could kill it later.

The simple reality seems to be that the people in Minnesota either don’t want to kick in enough money to get it done, or they don’t realize that the NFL is serious about leaving.  If it’s the former, that’s their prerogative.  If it’s the latter, they need to wake up, now.

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Former Lions running back Mel Farr dies at 70

Mel Farr Getty Images

Former Detroit Lions running back Mel Farr has passed away at the age of 70, the team confirmed on Monday night.

Farr, the 1967 NFL offensive rookie of the year, was a two-time Pro Bowl selection during his seven seasons with the Lions. Farr had 739 carries for 3,072 yards and 26 touchdowns during his tenure. He also caught 146 passes for 1,374 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career.

Farr and teammate Lem Barney, the 1967 defensive rookie of the year, sang backup vocals on Marvin Gaye’s hit song “What’s Going On.”

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Mortensen’s original story still has the 11-of-12 footballs falsehood

Pressure Getty Images

On Monday afternoon, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen appeared on ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard Show to elaborate on the report that sparked the neverending #DeflateGate investigation and arbitration and, now, litigation.

Our preliminary item on the interview appears here. The good folks at MassLive.com have typed up the entire transcript. The good folks at TheBigLead.com have posted the audio, along with their own informative assessment of the interview.

Courtesy of the good folks at Deadspin.com, who haven’t ripped me recently but, oh, it’s coming, comes an intriguing nugget that cuts against the notion that Mortensen changed his story from “11-0f-12 footballs were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum” to “11-0f-12 footballs were significantly underinflated.” Apparently, his official story hasn’t changed.

From the item posted at ESPN.com on January 21, 2015, the first sentence: “The NFL has found that 11 of the New England Patriots’ 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game told ESPN.”

And then the second sentence, still present in the story and not removed: “The investigation found the footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required by NFL regulations during the Pats’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources.” (The “below what’s required” phrase should pull the plug on efforts to explain away the erroneous information given to Mortensen as referring perhaps not to the balls being two pounds below the 12.5 PSI minimum but two pounds below the 13.5 PSI maximum.)

Then there’s the original tweet, which is still live, and which could be removed at any time by pressing the three little dots and then selecting “Delete Tweet.”

Mort, who I like and respect, continues to be in a very tough spot on this one, and privately he should be livid with those who lied to him on multiple occasions about the 2.0-pounds information, and about other things. For months, it appeared that the glaringly false leak that instantly converted an odd circumstance into presumed Patriots guilt never would become the focus of national scrutiny.

It now has, and the early consensus is that even though Mortensen has explained the situation more extensively than ever, real questions remain regarding the origin of the report — and a real reason continues to exist for the NFL to investigate itself.

If finding out whether someone in the league office had received a copy of the Ray Rice elevator punch video before TMZ leaked it merited the hiring of former FBI director Robert Mueller, the much simpler task of finding out who talked to Mortensen can be accomplished with someone having a far less impressive pedigree, and a far lower hourly rate.

So why won’t the league do it?

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Texans no closer to naming a starting quarterback

Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer walks onto the field for an NFL football organized team activity, Monday, June 1, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) AP

Nearly two months ago, Texans coach Bill O’Brien said he could be picking a starting quarterback “very soon.” He’s apparently no closer to making a decision.

“Eventually I will tell you who it is,” O’Brien told reporters on Monday, via comments distributed by the team. “I am not going to keep it a secret. When we are ready to make a decision, I will tell you who it is.”

Those remarks came a day after O’Brien denied the rumor that he already has settled on Brian Hoyer.

“That would be absolutely untrue,” O’Brien said Sunday. “Every play, every day is evaluated. These guys are very even. No decisions have been made.”

Hoyer, who went through a quarterback competition last yearn Cleveland, is widely believed to have the edge. But Ryan Mallett looked good on Sunday, when he got his shot with the first-team offense.

So this back-and-forth could continue, giving both guys a chance to win the job — but giving the guy who wins it fewer opportunities to be fully prepared for it.

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Jimmy Graham prepares to block “75 percent” of the time

Seattle Seahawks' Jimmy Graham reaches to catch a ball at an NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson) AP

Regardless of whether Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham likes to block, he’ll be doing plenty of blocking with his new team. And he says he welcomes it.

“I’m blocking here,” Graham told reporters on Monday, via comments distributed by the team. “Out there the last few I was pretty banged up so midway through the year I kind of stopped blocking . . . . Now here, I’m blocking quite a bit and I love it. It’s very important for me to be a part of that here because that’s about 75 percent of the offense here, and when you have a back like [Marshawn Lynch] you want to be in there on those explosive runs, and you want to be a part of that.”

The other 25 percent of the time, Graham will be the guy we’ve come to know in New Orleans.

“Third and 10 is when I’m going to make my money and that’s when I’m going to have to be special for this team,” Graham said. “Down there in the red zone. That’s just what I’ve always done. I’m doing the most down there.”

Other than the blocking. Apparently, he’ll be doing plenty of blocking.

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Kromer talks to media, says pretty much nothing

FILE - In this April 18, 2013, file photo, then-Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer talks to reporters during the team's NFL football minicamp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill. Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon says offensive line coach Aaron Kromer has been put on paid administrative leave after being accused of punching a boy in the face for using his beach chairs.  Kromer joined the team in January after being fired from the Chicago Bears. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

On Sunday, the Bills suspended offensive line coach Aaron Kromer for six regular-season games. On Monday, Kromer addressed the media. Like the Ray Rice no-questions-from-the-press conference of May 2014, Kromer simply made a statement without an ensuing back-and-forth with reporters.

“Can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be back here at training camp,” Kromer said, via comments distributed by the team. “How grateful I am for Terry Pegula, Kim Pegula, Russ Brandon, of course Rex [Ryan] for allowing me back to do my job. I’m sure everybody wants to hear what happened over the last couple weeks and I’m not at liberty to talk about it. So all I can say right now is that I’m excited about being back here, working with the talent that we have on the offensive line, making them the best they can be this training camp, and getting them ready for the season. That’s my whole goal, that’s my whole focus at this point and I’m excited about being able to able to do that. Thank You.”

It was perhaps the shortest comment ending in “thank you” since Joe Pesci’s opening statement in My Cousin Vinny trial.

So why isn’t Kromer at liberty to talk about it? The fact that the Bills suspended Kromer tells us that Kromer did something.

Besides, who told Kromer he’s not at liberty to talk about it? As the NFL’s disciplinary process has taken on greater importance in the aftermath of the Ray Rice case, it becomes even more important that someone provide some sort of a tangible explanation about the reasons for a suspension, so that the public can make comparisons between the punishments imposed for different sets of circumstances.

In Kromer’s case, neither the team, coach Rex Ryan, nor Kromer said anything of substance; the reports are that Kromer punched a teenager much smaller than him in a beach-chair brouhaha. Still, the statement issued Sunday night was as general as it could have been, and Ryan punted in both directions when addressing the situation before Kromer on Monday.

“I just think that you know obviously we made a statement,” Ryan told reporters. “We issued a statement as an organization, so I’m really not going to add a whole lot to that. I think Aaron [Kromer] will be out here to talk to everybody and I certainly don’t want to speak for Aaron. So that’s really where I’m, you know comfortable saying I think we had a pretty thorough statement.”

But the statement wasn’t thorough. It said nothing about the incident other than to call it an “incident.” And Kromer said nothing.

So, officially, Kromer was suspended six games for an incident. And no one is going to talk about the incident. And now the story is over.

Thank you.

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Bill Davis said other players made Boykin expendable

Bill Davis AP

On Sunday, Eagles coach Chip Kelly addressed the decision to trade cornerback Brandon Boykin. On Monday, Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis, who’ll have to make do without the team’s former nickel corner, talked about the decision from his own perspective.

“I think from an organizational standpoint, you make a decision and we were all part of that decision, and Boykin did give us quality starting reps,” Davis said in response to the question of why Boykin is gone, via comments distributed by the team. “But the guys behind him and the guys that replaced him were close enough in theory, because Boykin did it on Sunday. Now, Walter Thurmond has done it on Sundays, [safety Malcolm] Jenkins has done it on Sundays.  There are options there. JaCorey Shepherd has not [done it on Sundays], some of the younger guys have not. But there are enough options there to make it a good move for us as an organization.”

Davis, who said he’s a “Boykin fan,” explained that the move wasn’t a knock on the player.

“I think Boykin came out and he competed,” Davis said.  “It’s no knock on Boykin at all.  It’s a compliment to others, and it’s not [a knock on Boykin] for sure.  Obviously, it’s not.  We have to make decisions all the time and hope that it’s close enough and we’re right.  And sometimes you’re proven right, sometimes you’re proven wrong.  But, no, it’s not at all.”

Davis also addressed the vague criticisms of Kelly offered up by Boykin on his way out.

“He has got one of the most open door policies of guys I’ve been around,” Davis said. “He is wide open.  Boykin . . . went in in the offseason and he had a long talk with Chip about his role, about outside corner, about nickel. [Boykin] came into my office.  We had great conversations with Brandon about all those things.  I think Chip has one the biggest open door policies for the players, and ask the guys in the building.  He really does.  It’s really being portrayed outside different than it is inside because it really is an easy-to-be-around atmosphere.”

So why have three players now (Boykin, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson) expressed concerns about Kelly?

“I think every one of those three people need to answer their own questions,” Davis said. “I can answer from my view of being in 10 different organizations with all different head coaches, schemes, systems, and I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart this is a very great place for players. We do more for players than anything I’ve ever been around.  We do more for conditioning, their body, their health, their mental health, their growth and all parts of being a man and a player than anywhere I’ve been around.  And you can just ask the players about how much we spend time on them, on their mindset, on their moods, on how their bodies are feeling, their hydration, all of it.  I think it’s a couple isolated guys and they have to answer their own questions about that.”

There always will be isolated guys who complain. The strange thing here is that, while players get cut all the time by other coaches, rarely do players raise questions about the coach. Over the past year or so, three have taken aim at Kelly.

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NFL, NFLPA quickly accept invitation to use Magistrate Judge for settlement talks

Negotiation Getty Images

On Friday, Judge Richard M. Berman invited the NFL and NFLPA to utilize the services of Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV for assistance with settlement talks in the Tom Brady litigation. On Monday, the NFL and NFLPA wisely accepted.

Via attorney Daniel Wallach, who posted the recent docket entries on Twitter, proceedings were held before Judge Francis on Monday, via telephone conference.

Undoubtedly, Judge Francis asked for an update as to the offers exchanged by the parties to date, listened to any general comments about their positions as to the merits, and then conducted one or more individual conferences with each party in order to try to bridge the gap.

If Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s activity in the case includes another entry reflecting proceedings before Judge Francis, it will mean that the parties have kept talking. Which will mean that they had a reason to keep talking. Which will mean that they’re making progress toward a possible deal.

As noted over the weekend, Judge Francis seems determined to settle the case. The parties could avoid a potentially awkward and stressful trip to his chambers on August 12 if they can work out their differences before then.

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Ace Sanders suspended 10 games

Sanders Getty Images

Receiver Ace Sanders recently flunked a drug test.

PFT has confirmed that Sanders has been suspended for the first 10 games of the season under the substance-abuse policy. He is eligible to participate in all preseason activities, including games. His suspension becomes effective when the rosters reduce to 53 after the preseason finale.

A fourth-round pick of the Jaguars in the 2013 draft, Sanders previously was suspended four games, which happens after multiple violations of the policy. Under the old version of the policy, he would have been suspended for at least a full year.

Sanders was cut last month by Jacksonville, unclaimed on waivers, and to date unsigned. The suspension will run even if he’s not on a team. It’s unlikely that anyone will sign him until he’s reinstated.

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Eagles lose Travis Long to torn ACL for second straight year

Carolina Panthers v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Eagles linebacker Travis Long missed the entire season last year with a torn left ACL suffered in August. And now he’ll miss his second straight season after tearing the same ACL today.

The Eagles have confirmed that Long tore his left ACL in practice again today and will not play this season.

It’s obviously devastating news for a young man who now has to to be wondering if he’ll ever get to realize his dream of playing in the NFL. And it’s bad news for the Eagles, as well. Although Long wasn’t expected to be a big part of the defense, the Eagles don’t have a lot of depth at outside linebacker and thought Long could be a contributor there, and on special teams.

Long also tore his right ACL in 2012 at Washington State.

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Mortensen talks 11-of-12 footballs report on ESPN Radio

Mort Getty Images

On Friday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen bailed on an interview with WEEI aimed at addressing the delayed firestorm regarding his report that 11 of 12 footballs used by the Patriots in the first half of the AFC Championship were two pounds under the minimum allowable inflation of 12.5 PSI. On Monday, Mort appeared on ESPN Radio’s The Dan Le Batard Show to discuss the situation.

I tuned in a little late, and I plan to listen to the on-demand version and type up some of the most important responses. For now, here are the highlights based on the fastest hunting-and-pecking I could do while Mort was talking.

First, Mortensen said that he adjusted the report early on from “two pounds under” to “significantly underinflated.”

“I will never retract that,” Mortensen said of the revised report that the balls were “significantly underinflated.”  But he admitted that the two-pounds-under report was “obviously in error” and that it “technically was a mistake” to not retract it on Twitter. (The tweet still lives.)

The softened claim that the footballs were “significantly underinflated” is far more ambiguous than the hard numbers, which were generated by two air pressure gauges that varied by 0.45 PSI. It also overlooks the fact that cold weather and wet conditions will cause the PSI readings to drop.

So is it accurate to say that the footballs were “significantly underinflated”? Would it have been more accurate to say that the footballs were “underinflated”? Would it have been the most accurate to report the numbers actually measured by the two conflicting gauges?

Mortensen also pointed out that his report didn’t directly implicate Brady or the Patriots, but this explanation overlooks the importance of the original report to the story. It took what was a curiosity and converted it into a presumption that someone had tampered with the footballs, and that the only questions to be resolved were who did it and who knew about it?

If the actual numbers had been reported early on, the Patriots could have defused the bomb quickly, pointing to the discrepancy between the two gauges (which arguably is enough to justify a conclusion that the numbers are inconclusive) and explaining that one set of measurements falls squarely within the range predicted by the Ideal Gaw Law.

Mortensen also said he has recently spoken to Patriots owner Robert Kraft. While declining to delve into any details of the conversation, Mortensen said that Kraft told him, “Our fight is not with you. It’s with the NFL.”

Mort has no issue with the NFL. He said he doesn’t feel betrayed because he sought out the information.

Still, he was given false information. And even though he at some point changed the report to “significantly underinflated,” Mortensen told WEEI in January that he sought further confirmation of the accuracy of the two-pounds-under report, and that he received it.

‘Listen,’ I said, ‘is there any discrepancies in what I reported, because I want to know,’” Mortensen said at the time. “And I was just told, ‘No, you were right on.’”

Mort continues to be in a tough spot, and multiple someones at the league office owe him plenty of favors for taking the bullet on this one. And even though Mort never will give up his sources (and he shouldn’t), it would be easy for the NFL to investigate whether one or more league-office employees talked to Mortensen at or about the time of his initial report, and to find out who leaked the false information to him.

Assuming, of course, that none of the relevant persons have destroyed their cell phones.

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Jordan Cameron: I know I can be a Pro Bowl player

Brent Grimes, Jordan Cameron AP

The Dolphins made a change at tight end this offseason when they let Charles Clay go to Buffalo without matching the Bills’ offer for the restricted free agent and signed Jordan Cameron away from the Browns.

It’s a move that would have looked like an upgrade after the 2013 season. Cameron had 80 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns that year and looked like a rising star at the position. That star took on some tarnish last season as shoulder and head injuries helped limit him to just 24 catches in 10 games. The Dolphins would obviously like something closer to the 2013 numbers and Cameron says he feels capable of providing them.

“In my mind I know I can play,” Cameron said, via ESPN.com. “I know I can be a Pro Bowl player. I’m trying to help this team win. Right now I’m not going to set any goals and tell you what I’m going to do in the season. Right now I’m getting better at my craft and that’s the only thing I’m focusing on.”

Durability remains a question mark for Cameron, whose 2013 totals are more than the rest of his career combined, but he should get a boost from playing with a stable starting quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. Clay was targeted frequently the last two seasons and a healthy Cameron could approach his past highs if the Dolphins continue to make the tight end a focal point after overhauling their receiving corps this offseason.

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Jury tipster had “sexually explicit relationship” with Hernandez

Hernandez Getty Images

If you thought that the situation involving former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez couldn’t get any more bizarre, you thought wrong.

Via the Boston Herald, the anonymous tipster who contacted Hernandez lawyer James Sultan had  been involved in a “sexually explicit relationship” with Hernandez, “prior to and during the trial.”

The tipster, identified in court papers as only as “Katy,” told Sultan that a juror was “untruthful” during jury selection regarding knowledge of separate murder charges pending against Hernandez.

Sultan wants to question the tipster under oath. Prosecutors oppose the effort, claiming that “Katy” had ulterior motives to make an “implausible” allegation.

If “Katy” isn’t Hernandez’s fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, the development is awkward, to say the least. It also will invite curiosity regarding the visitation rules at the jail where Hernandez was held before and during trial.

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Broncos’ Britton Colquitt takes a pay cut, just like Peyton Manning

Britton Colquitt AP

There’s a cost that comes with doling out huge contracts to keep star players.

In Seattle, it means guys get cut. In Denver, they take pay cuts.

According to the Associated Press, Broncos punter Britton Colquitt took a $1.4 million pay cut Monday, dropping his salary from $3 million to $1.6 million.

He was once the league’s highest-paid punter, but after the Broncos signed wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to a four-year, $70 million deal, they had to start looking under the couch cushions. Of course, quarterback Peyton Manning took a $4 million haircut himsef.

I’m not mad about it,” Colquitt said . “It’s part of the business, and I’m confident in our team this year and the ability God has given me. And I feel that I’m going to have a better year than I’ve had in the past. It’s no big deal. Money’s not why I’m doing this. . . .

“I mean, Demaryius had to get taken care of somehow. Peyton took a little hit a couple months ago. So, I mean, Peyton’s a good guy to follow, a good example.”

Of course, the problem might now be that he makes less than his brother Dustin of the Chiefs, who’s making $2.95 million this year.

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Tom Brady will appear in court on the 12th

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady signs autographs during an NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) AP

It may not have been smart for Tom Brady to destroy/dismantle/whatever his phone, but he’ll be doing the smart thing next Wednesday. According to Albert Breer of NFL Media, Brady will appear in court on August 12, for the first of two settlement conferences with Judge Richard M. Berman.

Albert Breer of NFL Media, whose tweets regarding the possibility of Brady participating by phone kicked up a mini-storm of something other than sand, reports that Brady will attend in person and that “was always the plan.”

But if it was always the plan, there should have been no reason for anyone to inquire regarding the procedure for appearing by phone. And there should have been no reason for the NFLPA to explain it would “follow Brady’s guidance.”

Our guess is that the NFLPA poked around about participating by phone because Brady asked to do it that way, and that the NFLPA heard enough to reconfirm the notion that it wouldn’t have been wise to seek permission to not attend.

The wisest move would have been to not even poke around. Merely asking the question can create a question about how committed a litigant is to doing what the judge wants. The best approach in these cases always is to show a full and unconditional commitment to attend whenever and wherever the judge requests.

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Report: Star Lotulelei injury not believed to be serious

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The Panthers lost wide receiver Stephen Hill to a torn ACL over the weekend and saw a more integral part of their team need the assistance of a cart to make it back to the locker room during Monday’s practice.

Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei appeared to suffer a right foot injury during the session and was seen icing it while riding with medical personnel. Lotulelei broke a bone in his foot during a practice before the Panthers faced the Seahawks in the playoffs in January, so seeing the same part of his body receiving treatment was a reason for concern even after coach Ron Rivera said Lotulelei was sore.

“We might be being overly protective about it,” Rivera said, via the Associated Press.

Ed Werder of ESPN reports that anyone not reassured by Rivera’s words can breathe a little easier. Werder reports that the injury is “not believed” to be serious, although Lotulelei will wear a protective boot on his foot to ensure that it doesn’t get any more serious.

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