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10 things to know about the Vikings stadium situation

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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It has been regarded as a given for years that the Metrodome is outdated, and that it can’t be modernized in a manner that unlocks the high-end revenue streams that will keep the Vikings competitive with other franchises.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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Goodell open to changing league discipline procedures

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he’s open to change on the way the league handles player discipline.

Goodell noted on Friday that the owners and the players’ union negotiated for the current rules that give the commissioner wide latitude on discipline, and that any changes would have to be renegotiated. But Goodell said he’d at least consider that.

“We’re open to changes in the way we do discipline, but we negotiated for a system in 2011,” Goodell said. “It was a system that was quite similar for decades prior to that in collective bargaining agreements prior to that. It is almost exactly the same when it comes to protecting the integrity of the game and the Commissioner’s authority. I am certainly open to that.”

Still, Goodell believes the current personal conduct policy is working, as evidenced by a reduction in player arrests.

“We’ve had a tremendous focus in recent months on the Personal Conduct Policy, but it is working,” Goodell said. “We’ve had a 40 percent reduction in player arrests just through the 2015 calendar year. Forty percent. Our arrest rates for our players are far below the average for males of that age, and it reflects for me on the quality of our players off the field. They’re great young men. There’s a lot of attention when people violate the rules. You don’t put as much attention on the finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year. That’s what we’re trying to do, but if we can find a better system, I’m all for it.”

Ultimately, Goodell and the owners may be open to change only if they get something from the NFLPA in return. And that won’t be an easy negotiation.

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Saturday one-liners

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Patriots CB Malcom Butler said Friday that he missed the Pro Bowl due to a sprained knee.

Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christenson, who worked with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, isn’t buying the idea that Sunday will be the Sheriff’s last rodeo.

Bills coach Rex Ryan said he’s open to drafting a quarterback, but that he’s not “done with” EJ Manuel, the backup to Tyrod Taylor.

Patriots-hater Bill Polian thinks the Jets have a great G.M.

The grass to be planted at the Ravens stadium is coming from Carolina.

Bengals WR Marvin Jones, soon to be a free agent, says there will be no hometown discount.

Former Browns QB Derek Anderson, now a backup in Carolina, regrets not leading Cleveland to the playoffs in 2007.

Snoop Dogg weighs in with his thoughts on the Steelers, and people actually listen to him.

Texans DE J.J. Watt could end up winning his third defensive player of the year award in only five NFL seasons.

Colts K Pat McAfee made a 40-yard field goal while blindfolded.

The Jaguars, who once drafted a punter over Russell Wilson, also cut Denver LB Brandon Marshall.

Three former Titans will be playing in the Super Bowl.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt says the team will do everything it can to keep S Eric Berry.

Raiders WR Amari Cooper thinks QB Derek Carr will be an “elite” quarterback.

Four former Chargers coaches and four former Chargers players are in the Super Bowl.

Broncos coach Gary Kubiak benefited greatly from spending 2014 on the staff of John Harbaugh.

The Cowboys were reportedly never interested in Johnny Manziel.

Giants OL Geoff Schwartz doesn’t seem to be interested in seeing his brother, Mitchell, join the team in free agency.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson is an offshoot of the Mike Holmgren coaching tree.

Washington QB Kirk Cousins wants guaranteed contracts for all players.

Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliot calls the possibility of being drafted by the Bears a “dream situation.”

The Lions likely will keep raising ticket prices.

Packers WR Randall Cobb thinks his punctured lung may have been caused by a microphone battery.

Vikings co-owner Mark Wilf buried the loss in the wild-card round by declaring, “We’re on to next season.”

Falcons owner Arthur Blank saw value in continuity with the decision to keep G.M. Thomas Dimitroff.

A 2-14 disaster in 2010 laid the foundation for the Panthers’ Super Bowl team.

CB Brandon Browner is the “eternal punch line” for bad personnel moves by the Saints.

Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson won the NFL’s Salute to Service Award.

Carolina backup QB Derek Anderson finally thinks that bizarre Monday night with the Cardinals was funny.

Rams RB Todd Gurley is ready to become the team’s next L.A. superstar.

49ers OT Joe Staley gave his two Super Bowl tickets to strangers.

Newly-released documents contain troubling details about the car wreck involving Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman.

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Beckham, Norman both would have been ejected under proposed rule

A referee, left, separates New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham (13) and Carolina Panthers' Josh Norman (24) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) AP

If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gets his way, a situation like the one that arose in this season’s Panthers-Giants game would result in multiple ejections.

Goodell wants the NFL owners to adopt a rule that would result in an automatic ejection for any player who gets two personal fouls in a game. If that had been the case this season, Giants receiver Odell Beckham and Panthers cornerback Josh Norman both would have been ejected. Beckham had three personal fouls in the game, while Norman had two.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that if such a rule had been in place, the two players wouldn’t have been called for multiple personal fouls. Perhaps if the rule is adopted, a player will toe the line after getting one personal foul — that’s the intent of the rule. Or perhaps if the rule is adopted, officials will be hesitant to throw a second personal foul flag for the same reason that officials are currently hesitant to eject players.

Beckham should have been ejected under the current rules. Perhaps what the NFL really needs is not an automatic ejection rule, but officials who feel more empowered to throw a player out of a game when necessary.

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38 NFL scouts attended Ohio State informational session

Joey Bosa AP

Nine Ohio State players gave up their remaining college football eligibility to enter the 2016 NFL Draft, and though very few of those decisions caught NFL scouts off guard, the rules in place make it so those scouts have to play catch up on early entries.

Maybe to help that process — or maybe to save himself 50 phone calls — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer held a scout summit of sorts last week in the Buckeyes’ training facility. Meyer, strength coach Mickey Marotti and other coaches and staff members were available to answer questions on Ohio State’s draft prospects.

Various projections have Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa as a top three pick and at least five Buckeyes as potential first-round picks, and though just about everybody has a draft guide and a guess at this time of year, that 38 scouts showed up to talk to Meyer and others says the buzz is legit.

Ohio State’s top senior prospects are Taylor Decker, Braxton Miller, Adolphus Washington and Nick Vannett.

Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Vonn Bell, Michael Thomas, Darron Lee and Eli Apple are the biggest names among the underclassmen who declared. That was one hell of a recruiting class Meyer and his staff put together in 2013.

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Lions to give Calvin Johnson time, but the clock is still ticking

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The Lions want receiver Calvin Johnson to take his time regarding his decision to retire. But even though they have yet to say it, their patience can’t be open-ended.

“Right now I want him to come to his own conclusion and decide what he wants to do,” team president Rod Wood told reporters on Friday in San Francisco, via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. “I wouldn’t want to try to convince him to play, if that’s not what he wants to do. But obviously if he wants to play, we want him back. . . . We’re going to give him time to kind of go through all the decision processes, and hopefully come to the conclusion that’s right for him. Whatever that is, we’ll support it.”

They likely won’t support it if the decision is, “I’ll play in 2016 but I want my full $16 million salary and full $24 million cap number.” Which means that they’d surely like to know what he’d like to do before March 9, when his cap number for 2016 must be wedged along with all other player salaries under the reconfigured spending limit.

Maybe, in a weird sort of way, Johnson has threatened pre-emptively to retire in order to make his otherwise prohibitive compensation package a non-issue. Last year, when Vikings running back Adrian Peterson started making noise through his agent about wanting out of Minnesota, it became a given that the team wouldn’t try to chop down his salary. If he hadn’t been so coy about staying, maybe the Vikings would have made a run at getting him to take less money.

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Another idea for improving player behavior

458723256.0 Getty Images

On Friday, Commissioner Roger Goodell proposed a soccer-style approach to ejections, with personal fouls becoming essentially yellow cards and two of them getting a player removed from the game. His comments prompted some to go back and research the situations involving players getting multiple personal fouls, calculating the increase in ejections that would have occurred in 2015.

But that assumes the officials would have thrown a second personal-foul penalty on a guy who already had one. For the same reason that officials are reluctant to eject players now, officials will be reluctant to give a player a second personal foul.

Goodell’s proposed formula also would require the league to take another look at the classification of penalties as personal fouls. Should a player be sent to the showers, for example, after a pair of dumb-luck inadvertent facemask grabs?

Another approach, borrowing not from soccer but from hockey, would entail putting the player in a de facto penalty box for a set period of time based on certain safety- or sportsmanship-related infractions. Illegal hit to the head or neck of a defenseless player?  Taunting? Pushing and/or shoving and/or throwing a punch? The player exits for 10 or 15 minutes of clock time.

Whatever gets proposed to the Competition Committee, it won’t be easy to get 24 votes. Teams have been reluctant in the past to support aggressive efforts to remove players from the field.

Then there’s the question of whether the league really cares. Based on the way it marketed highlights of the Steelers-Bengals brouhaha on NFL Network, the league likes to have its consternation and flaunt it, too.

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Mara gets defensive about concussions

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Yes, Commissioner Roger Goodell gets millions to be the pin cushion for the great and powerful men behind the curtain. Sometimes, however, one of Goodell’s bosses emerges from hiding to provide him with a little cover.

On Friday, Giants co-owner John Mara chimed in on the NFL’s concussion crisis, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. Speaking after Goodell’s annual “all is well, but we’re trying to get better” press conference, Mara said tried to paint the concussion crisis as not a crisis, even as the number of concussions spiked from 206 in 2014 to 271 in 2015, and as more and more deceased former players are found to have CTE.

“[M]y God we spent a lot of time talking about this,” Mara said, in response to criticism from Chris Nowinski regarding the league’s alleged efforts to block funding for a CTE test in living patients. “This is not for show as far as I’m concerned. I, myself, spent a lot of hours in those meetings, both in the competition committee and in the health and safety committee. We’ve committed a lot of money for research. For me it’s not a game. It’s not for show. It’s to find answers to these problems.

“And we’ve been involved in this business in my family since 1925. You better believe it’s important to me to find out what’s going on and to improve this going forward. This is our business. We have a lot of young men playing this game that we want to try to protect. This is not for show. This is serious business.”

It’s serious business because, in theory, it threatens to end the business. But while Mara takes seriously the increase in concussions, like others connected to the league he has tried to explain the increase in concussions by pointing to something other than, you know, the actual increase in concussions.

“Yes, when that statistic came out it certainly caught my attention,” Mara said. “But I want to understand the reasons for that. Are we just diagnosing [concussions] more? Is there more self-reporting? Or are we actually having more incidents? I don’t fully understand that yet. That’s something [the health and safety] committee will look at in Indianapolis in a couple of weeks.”

Some have suggested that the Case Keenum debacle sparked a sudden culture change, with more diagnosis and self-reporting of concussions coming after it. But that incident happened in late November, not early September. Besides, it’s hard to call it a watershed moment when the fine-happy NFL opted to impose discipline on no one for failing to grab Keenum by the facemask and dragging him off the field when he clearly was concussed.

“That bothered me quite a bit,” Mara said of the Keenum situation. “It bothered all of us. How could that possibly happen when it was so obvious? I’d like to think that was an aberration. We put these protocols in place just to deal with situations like that. . . . A lot of people missed the boat there — the officials, the medical people, the unaffiliated neurosurgeon. A lot of people were wrong there. I don’t think you’re going to see many incidents like that going forward.”

We definitely shouldn’t have seen the Keenum incident, and we definitely should have seen the same kind of strong, swift, and harsh punishment that routinely is imposed on players who accidentally fail while moving at full speed to adjust their bodies to avoid hitting a guy in the head as he is catching a pass.

So why wasn’t punishment imposed? Probably because it would have made the story even bigger, and if the NFL ever wants to solve its problems in an authentic, transparent way, it needs to quit factoring the public and media reaction into every decision made or considered.

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PFT’s Super Bowl picks

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The mind can do crazy things in a two-week window, with first impressions yielding to outside-the-box ideas that can veer dangerously toward #hottaek territory. And while MDS may have made his own Super Bowl pick not long after the participants were locked in, I’ve spent much of the last two weeks going back and forth, knowing that whatever I predict the opposite surely will happen. Again.

Regardless, the job requires the picks to be made. Fortunately, the job doesn’t require the picks to be accurate.

Our conflicting Super Bowl picks appear below.

MDS’s take: The talk about this game will center around the quarterbacks, and that’s where the Panthers have an enormous advantage. Cam Newton is the MVP of the NFL. Peyton Manning, a five-time MVP, is a shell of his former self. When we talk about why the Panthers are favored, it starts with how much better Newton, at age 26, is than Manning, at age 39.

Where the Broncos have an advantage is the possibility that their pass rush can be the one to consistently both bring pressure to Newton to keep him from throwing downfield, and contain him to prevent him from making plays with his legs. If there’s any defense in the NFL that can keep Newton in check, it’s the Broncos’ defense.

And yet even if the Broncos’ defense plays well against the Panthers’ offense, the Broncos’ offense may struggle to move the ball, which will put the Panthers in good field position and make it almost impossible for Denver to keep Carolina off the scoreboard. That’s how I see this game playing out: A battle of field position that the Panthers ultimately win.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 27, Broncos 20.

Florio’s take: I’m getting sick of saying, “We should have seen it coming.” Whether in recent Super Bowls or Denver’s playoff run, we fall in love with the favorite and the underdog finds a way to win and we say, “We should have seen it coming.” For a change, I want to see it coming before it happens.

I want to envision before it happens that the Broncos have developed and executed a ball-control game plan, with running back C.J. Anderson adding significantly to the 72 yards gained in each of his team’s two postseason victories. I want to envision before it happens quarterback Peyton Manning milking the clock on every snap, chewing up large chunks of the 40-second play clock and shortening the game. I want to envision before it happens the Panthers offense stuck on the sideline and frustrated as the Broncos dink and dunk their way down the field. I want to envision before it happens no turnovers from the Broncos, specifically no snaps whizzing by Manning’s head on the opening drive of the game. I want to envision before it happens Manning playing better than he has all year, combining full health with the abandon that comes from playing each game as if it’s his last because this one, with a win, undoubtedly will be.

I want to envision before it happens a defensive effort orchestrated by coordinator Wade Phillips, who has coached in the NFL for decades and never has been crowned a champion. I want to envision before it happens Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Malik Jackson, and Derek Wolfe chasing and harassing Cam Newton more than he has been chased and harassed all year. I want to envision before it happens Denver not giving tight end Greg Olsen a free release from the line of scrimmage, either by roughing him up with linebackers or putting cornerback Aqib Talib on him, one on one. I want to envision before it happens Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby blanketing Ted Ginn and Corey Brown like they did Green Bay’s receivers, the night Aaron Rodgers inexplicably generated fewer than 80 passing yards. I want to envision before it happens one of the team’s starting safeties not pulling a Rahim Moore and badly misplaying a critical deep throw.

I want to envision before it happens the Sheriff standing under falling confetti, soaking up one last time the sights and sounds of a football stadium immediately after a big game. I want to envision before it happens said Sheriff ambling off the field with a silver trophy tucked in his back pocket, and the Panthers vowing to be back again soon to get one of their own, because they will be.

Ultimately, I want to envision before it happens everyone else saying, “We should have seen it coming” and me, for once, saying, “I did.”

Florio’s pick: Broncos 26, Panthers 23.

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NFL defers to state law, when it wants to

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Even if the owners would like to see a less evasive Commissioner Roger Goodell, they pay him millions in part to be the pin cushion for the scrutiny and criticism of their business practices. He earned a bonus on Friday when trying to reconcile the league’s positions on marijuana and daily fantasy.

Vastly different on the surface, the issues link together on the question of what state law does and doesn’t allow. State law allows DFS? We’ll embrace it. State law allows marijuana use? We don’t care.

“We always review our drug policy,” Goodell said at Friday’s press conference regarding the possibility of adjusting the league’s prohibition on marijuana use given the gradual expansion of its permissible uses, both medicinally and recreationally. “That is something that our medical professionals do on a regular basis. We have had discussions with them in the past about that, not recently. They have opposed that. We are not restricted obviously by the state laws. It’s an NFL policy and we believe it’s the correct policy, for now, in the best interest of our players and the long-term health of our players. I don’t foresee a change in that clearly in the short term but we’ll continue to be in touch with our medical personnel. If that changes, we’ll discuss it.”

Even with increasing anecdotal evidence regarding the benefits of medical marijuana for football players, Goodell isn’t ready to change the league’s position.

“I don’t distinguish between the medical marijuana and marijuana issue in the context of my previous answer,” he said.  “Our medical professionals look at that. That is exactly what we talked to them about.  I would assume that it would be used in a medical circumstance or if it is even in recreational, our medical professionals look at it in both ways and determine whether they think it is in the best interest to do that. Yes, I agree there has been changes, but not significant enough changes that our medical personnel have changed their view. Until they do, then I don’t expect that we will change our view.”

So who cares if state law allows it? Father Football knows best, and the NFL will continue to reach into the private lives of players and prevent them from doing what they legally could otherwise do, in certain states.

With daily fantasy, the NFL is willing to take full advantage of partnerships with companies that do business in states where this specific form of non-gambling gambling is legal — and in states where the law is unsettled and litigation to determine its legality has been filed.

“I don’t make that determination,” Goodell said regarding the legality of daily fantasy. “Each state makes that determination. We are obviously going to follow the law. We’re going to abide by that in every which way. I said before that I think as it relates to daily fantasy there needs to be more consumer protection. I want that for our fans. I think our fans deserve that. But the primary interest I have is in the integrity of the game. So, that’s why we’ve opposed sports gambling in the past. When it comes to daily fantasy, I think there’s a different issue here. You have mash-ups of players. There are different issues that are raised that are not raised with sports gambling or traditional sports gambling. But, we are obviously working with all officials in each state. We will cooperate fully, and we will also abide by the law. I think for our long-term growth, fantasy football is more than daily fantasy. Fantasy football is fun. It’s something that I think our fans love to enjoy, but we also make sure – we have to make sure – that we’re protecting our fans at all times.”

Yes, Father Football will protect the fans from others. And Father Football will continue to protect the players from themselves — primarily because Father Football realizes that any change to the marijuana policy becomes a matter of collecting bargaining. Which requires the NFL Players Association to protect the players from Father Football, who will never relax the rules on marijuana without a concession or two (or more) from the players.

Through it all, discussions about what state law does or doesn’t allow represent the carefully-massaged talking points aimed at publicly justifying the things the NFL privately has decided to do, with Goodell being the public face and voice of positions that at time hopelessly conflict.

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Goodell calls a franchise in London a “realistic possibility”

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings play in the first quarter of their NFL football game at Wembley Stadium in London Reuters

Although the NFL is focused more right now on making regular visits to London, the league may eventually have a team there permanently.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday that he sees continued growth in the NFL’s popularity in the United Kingdom, and it could continue to grow to the point where a franchise is there.

“Every time we give our U.K. fans, and I think this is true on a global basis, an opportunity to engage with football, the fans want more, and the key to our strategy several years ago was to give them the real thing, regular season games, and I think that’s worked,” Goodell said. “I think fans have appreciated that. Every year I go back to London, I see the fans are more sophisticated. They understand the game more. They’re following it more. We expect a big audience will be in the U.K. watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, Monday morning I think their time. That’s exciting for us. We are considering playing more games in the U.K. It’s a balancing act with our schedule. As you know, we’re playing in two different stadiums this year, so that gives us a little bit more flexibility in how we do that, but I believe the future will see more games in the U.K. As far as a franchise, let’s continue to grow. Let’s continue to see that excitement and enthusiasm, passion and support continue to develop. If it does, I think that’s a realistic possibility.”

The league would still have to figure out all kinds of logistical issues before a team in London could be feasible, and a franchise there is several years off if it ever happens. But now that the NFL has finally filled its vacancy in Los Angeles, speculation may now turn to whether a team will move to London.

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Dallas Police launch criminal investigation into Manziel incident

Johnny Manziel AP

Dallas Police have opened an investigation into last weekend’s alleged domestic violence incident involving Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.

A police statement Friday night said “detectives will thoroughly investigate the case” and that the department considers this to be an ongoing investigation. Thursday, police had said they considered the case to be closed and would not file charges against Manziel.

Manziel’s ex-girlfriend, Collen Crowley, alleges that Manziel struck her and dragged her by hair last Friday night or Saturday morning. She was granted an order of protection from Manziel on Friday.

Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam told reporters Friday that team employees have not been able to reach Manziel. Earlier in the week, the Browns released a statement that essentially said they’re ready to move on from the No. 22 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Manziel’s father said Friday that he fears for his son’s life.

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Goodell reiterate PSI checks were not a “research project”

Zz0xMWU3ZGE1YjBiYjk3MjFlMzllMDkxNTY0MzJlYTVkMg== AP

The more the NFL says about its PSI measurements during the 2015 season, the less sense it makes.

During his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference, Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about his recent proclamation that the league found no violations of the rules when randomly testing footballs throughout the season. So our good friend Tom Curran of CSN New England asked what is a “violation” in this setting and were any of the measurements under 12.5 PSI — a distinct possibility due to the operation of the Ideal Gas Law?

If the owners are hoping for less evasiveness from Goodell, they didn’t get it in response to the PSI question.

“A couple of things.  One, as you know, at the beginning of the season, we made changes to our protocols of how we were going to manage the footballs,” Goodell said.  “That’s how they were going to be managed from the moment they were taken into the stadium to right after the game.  We have implemented that.  As part of that — and it happens in most of our game operations areas — we conduct random checks.  We make sure that clubs understand that we will look at that type of procedure and make sure that there are no violations of that.  We did that in a very limited basis, but we don’t disclose all the specifics on that because it’s meant as a deterrent.  If you tell everybody how many times you’re checking and which games you’re checking, it’s not much of a deterrent.  It’s a deterrent when they think that game may be being checked.

“It’s also important that the data that was collected in that was not data for research.  It was collected just to see there was a violation.  Our people never found a violation.  There was never an accusation of a violation by any other club.  So, we’re comfortable that this policy, this rule, was followed by our clubs and we do this across the board in our game operations.  There are many areas of our game operations that require that type of thing.

“Second of all, we did a great deal of research, scientific analysis last year.  That was part of the whole appeal hearing.  There was Ted Wells’ report, where he went and got independent people to study this type of issue, so the intent of what we were doing was not a research project.  It was to make sure that our policies were followed, just as we do in other areas of our game operations.”

So, basically, the NFL decided not to gather real-time, in-game data regarding the operation of football air pressure during actual football games because Ted Wells and his second-hand-smoke-doesn’t-cause-cancer flunkies from Exponent already had determined that the measurements taken from footballs during halftime of the January 2015 AFC title game prove that someone from the Patriots organization had deliberately released air from the footballs before kickoff.

Experiments in a laboratory setting are fine and dandy (is anything ever dandy without also being fine?), but there’s no substitute for gathering actual field data to determine how things work in the real world. Given that the league had no idea that air pressure drops when footballs are taken into the cold and that the NFL never before has measured air pressure at halftime or at any time in any game ever played, why not conduct a research study?

Again, the NFL didn’t do it because the NFL knew that the numbers would show that the evidence harvested during the Colts-Patriots game was inconclusive at best. It’s so obvious at this point that to suggest otherwise offends the intelligence of those of even limited intelligence, like me.

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Goodell “hopeful” Josh Gordon understands he has to act differently

Josh Gordon AP

It’s been a little more than a year since Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a third violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, which means he’s been eligible to begin the process of getting reinstated for a couple of months.

At his Friday press conference in San Francisco, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that Gordon has formally applied for reinstatement and outlined what needs to happen in order for Gordon to return to the football field.

“We did get the letter from Josh,” Goodell said. “The process is that we’ll go back and we’ll look at how he’s conducted himself over the last several months, what he’s done to make sure it’s consistent with the terms of a suspension and at some stage, we’ll have a report on that and I will engage with our people to understand where he is, where he’s been but most importantly where he’s going.  When these things happen, it’s about trying to avoid them in the future.  Our number one issue here is to prevent these things from happening.  I’m hopeful that Josh understands that he’s going to have to conduct himself differently going forward to be a member of the NFL and to be representing the Cleveland Browns, or any team in the NFL.”

League spokesman Greg Aiello said last month that players “must demonstrate sustained abstinence” if they hope to be reinstated and often submit testing records to show that they have avoided the substances that got them suspended in the first place. Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland reports Gordon “is confident he has met” the terms necessary to return to the field.

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Romo: Not conclusive that I’ll have collarbone surgery

Tony Romo AP

During his appearance on PFT Live from Radio Row in San Francisco on Friday, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo confirmed a report that he’ll be waiting about a month before making a decision about having surgery on the left collarbone he broke twice during the 2015 season.

Romo said that the plan is to “find the bone density and see how strong it is and make a decision” three or four weeks from now about whether to have an operation.

“There’s no conclusive anything,” Romo said. “I think you just want to make sure — a silly thing in some ways, I understand it’s an injury — but a little collarbone which really hurts our football team and our season when that happens. I just want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Romo said he’s otherwise healthy and that his sometimes balky back feels the best it’s felt in two or three years. He also reiterated that he’s fine with the Cowboys taking a quarterback with the fourth overall pick, saying that he learned a while ago that “if you’re worried about your job you’re probably not as good as you think.”

To hear everything Romo said during his visit, check out the video of his appearance.

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Every player on final Super Bowl injury report is probable

during practice at Stanford Stadium on February 4, 2016 in Stanford, California. The Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016. Getty Images

Thomas Davis is playing in the Super Bowl with a broken arm.

So you can bet anyone else that’s even close isn’t going to use whatever injury they have as an excuse.

Every player listed on the final injury report for Super Bowl 50 is probable, with three Panthers and 10 Broncos getting the designation that translate to a virtual certainty they’ll play.

For Carolina, Davis, defensive end Jared Allen (foot) and fullback Mike Tolbert (knee) all participated fully in Friday’s practice.

For Denver, all 10 players on their report also participated fully: Quarterback Peyton Manning (foot), tight end Owen Daniels (knees), linebacker Todd Davis (shoulder), cornerback Chris Harris (shoulder), linebacker Brandon Marshall (ankle), guard Evan Mathis (ankle), safety Darian Stewart (knee), guard Louis Vasquez (knee), safety T.J. Ward (ankle) and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (knee, back).

So while both teams lost guys over the course of the season who they might have been able to use Sunday night, there are at least no concerns about the guys who remain on the active roster.

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