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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It has been regarded as a given for years that the Metrodome is outdated, and that it can’t be modernized in a manner that unlocks the high-end revenue streams that will keep the Vikings competitive with other franchises.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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Doug Pederson’s effort remarks lead to “testy” meeting of leaders

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles questions a call during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on November 13, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Falcons 24-15. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson raised plenty of eyebrows this week when he said “not everybody” was playing hard in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals.

And some of those eyebrows were attached to some of the old heads in his locker room.

According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pederson’s weekly Tuesday meeting with his leadership council was “more contentious than others” after calling out their effort.

Pederson twice deflected questions about effort last Sunday, but on the third time came the admission. And whether it was unintended or a veiled shot, the players seem to have been caught off guard by it.

“I think it puts us in a little bit of a tough position as players,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “Because now everybody wants to know who you’re talking about.”

The council of 13 is comprised of one player from each position group, and includes mostly veterans, along with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.

And according to those who were in the meeting, the topic of effort was one of the main points discussed, with the conversation described as “testy.” When asked Wednesday about the player response to his remarks, Pederson said the response was “great” and “positive.”

But calling out a room full of professionals is a questionable way to get their attention, especially for a first-time head coach who can’t point to skins on the wall.

“Me personally, although I love Doug, he’s not the reason I get up and play and go to work every day,” Jenkins said. “It’s about the guys in the room. I don’t think our effort or how we perform is a direct reflection of Doug.”

Whether it is reflected in their play now that it has been called into question by Pederson remains to be seen.

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Two more Jets fined for unnecessary roughness last week

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 05:  Anthony Castonzo #74 of the Indianapolis Colts in action against  Buster Skrine #41 of the New York Jets  during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 5, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jets offensive tackle Breno Giacomini and cornerback Buster Skrine were each fined $9,115 for unnecessary roughness penalties in last week’s loss to the Colts, PFT has confirmed.

As previously reported, Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was also fined for his late hit out of bounds on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Richardson said on Thursday that he’s appealing his fine.

All three penalties came in the first 20 minutes as the game got away from the Jets, who slipped to 3-9.

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NFL declines to fine players who made snow angels

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 04:   Rashard Robinson #33 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 4, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL says officials have some discretion in determining whether making a snow angel constitutes an illegal celebration. The league also has some discretion in determining whether to fine a player for an illegal celebration.

The league office confirmed today that neither 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson nor Packers receiver Randall Cobb was fined, even though both players did snow angels as celebrations, and even though the NFL routinely fines players who break the celebration rules.

The officials in Chicago flagged Robinson for his snow angel, but the officials in Green Bay did not flag Cobb for his. The league’s rules are clear that going to the ground to celebrate is a penalty, but the league isn’t always consistent about enforcing that rule.

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Trumaine Johnson, Todd Gurley fined for Week 13 infractions

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Trumaine Johnson #22 of the Los Angeles Rams reacts after an incomplete pass during the fourth quarter of the game against the Carolina Panthers at the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

A couple of Rams players heard from the league this week about fines that will add some financial losses to the on-field one they suffered against the Patriots last weekend.

Cornerback Trumaine Johnson has been fined $18,231 by the league for a facemask on Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount. Johnson yanked Blount down by the facemask on what looked to be an intentional grab at the tail end of a run late in the first half of the game.

Blount was already down when Johnson pulled on the facemask, although that wasn’t enough to give the game’s officials cause to penalize Johnson on the field.

Rams running back Todd Gurley was fined $9,115 for a chop block on Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower that was penalized. Hightower was shaken up on the play, but returned to help the Patriots finish off a 26-10 win.

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Browns rookie WR suspended for final four games

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 11: A Cleveland Browns helmet rests on the field prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Browns 29-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns rookie wide receiver Jordan Payton has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Payton will be eligible to return to the active roster at the conclusion of the regular season.

A fifth-round pick last spring, Payton has played in four games this season and has one reception for three yards.

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DeMarcus Lawrence questionable but expected to play

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09:  Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys are going to be without a pair of contributors in the secondary, but they should have defensive end Demarcus Lawrence on the field when they try to push their winning streak to 12 against the Giants Sunday night.

Via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Lawrence will be listed as questionable but is expected to play.

Lawrence was limited Wednesday but didn’t practice the last two days with a back issue. He only has one sack in eight games this season, but the Cowboys need any threat of pass-rush they can find, as they attempt to clinch home field advantage this week (with a win and a little help).

Cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety J.J. Wilcox are out, along with backup tackle Chaz Green.

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Report: Aldon Smith met with Roger Goodell on Friday

Aldon Smith AP

Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith’s push for reinstatement reportedly took another step forward on Friday.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Smith met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who will make the decision about whether Smith will be reinstated from the year-long suspension handed down in 2015 after multiple violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

Smith applied for reinstatement in early October and there’s a loose 60-day window for the league to consider the application. It’s a loose window because the league doesn’t actually require a decision before 60 days are up (as is the case with Smith) but that “all parties make every effort to be in a position” for the league to make a ruling.

There’s no word on when a ruling may come and time’s running short for Smith to make an impact on the Raiders season as Oakland has three games left after losing to the Chiefs on Thursday night.

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Tyrann Mathieu out again Sunday

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 20:  Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a touchdown by teammate John Brown #12 (not pictured) in the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 20, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

A lingering shoulder injury will keep Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu out of Sunday’s game at Miami.

It will be the second straight game he has missed. Mathieu missed two games in November then returned for one game before aggravating the injury.

Mathieu did not practice this week, and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians offered no guess as to when Mathieu might be able to return.

Arians said Mathieu has contemplated surgery but said, “I don’t think that will be necessary.”

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Texans say Jadeveon Clowney will play against Colts

Jadeveon Clowney AP

The Texans played without defensive end Jadeveon Clowney while they slumped to a third straight loss in Green Bay last weekend, but they expect to have him back against the Colts this Sunday.

Clowney is dealing with elbow and wrist injuries and didn’t practice on Wednesday before returning to the field for the final two days of practice this week. Clowney said on Thursday that he felt well enough to rejoin the lineup and coach Bill O’Brien echoed that sentiment on Friday.

“Oh yeah, he’ll play,” O’Brien said.

The outlook isn’t as good for cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who broke two ribs and suffered a bruised lung against Green Bay. O’Brien said there was a “remote” possibility that Joseph could play against Indianapolis, which suggests that the better bet is that he’ll be inactive as Houston tries to get a leg up on the Colts in the AFC South.

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Andy Reid says he has no issue with Jack Del Rio

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, left, and Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio greet each other after an NFL football game Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won 21-13. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) AP

An awkward moment unfolded between Chiefs coach Andy Reid and Raiders coach Jack Del Rio after Thursday night’s game between the two teams. Reid gave Del Rio a glancing pat on the shoulder; Del Rio responded with an icy glare.

So is there a problem between the two men?

“Not at all,” Reid told reporters on Friday. “Jack and I are actually good friends, and I know people don’t like to hear that ’cause it’s the Raiders, but not at all. I know the picture – when we were leaving — I just patted him on the shoulder after we shook hands. There was nothing there, no.”

Some have speculated that an issue has emerged because Del Rio called Reid’s offense “gimmicky” after the Chiefs beat the Raiders in Oakland earlier in the year.

“I don’t worry about all that,” Reid said. “I just worry about the score of the game. Anybody can say anything that they want to say. I’m good as long as we’re taking care of business there.”

The Chiefs have indeed taken care of business. And the best news is that many seem to presume they won’t continue to take care of business. Which makes it easy for Reid to keep his players from getting complacent, and easy for Reid to keep them properly motivated to continue to prove those who aren’t praising them wrong.

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Broncos to make call on Trevor Siemian Saturday

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 27:  Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos in action against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 27, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos aren’t ready to name their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Titans.

Trevor Siemian missed last week’s victory over the Jaguars with a foot injury, but ditched the protective boot he was wearing early this week and split reps with Paxton Lynch at practice this week. There’s been no word of setbacks and it sounds as if the Broncos will put him back in the lineup in Tennessee, although coach Gary Kubiak said that a final determination should come on Saturday.

“It’s me watching him come out of practice today more than anything,” Kubiak said, via Mike Klis of KUSA. “See how he feels tomorrow, soreness or those type of things. But it was good [in practice]. He did everything we asked him to do yesterday. Did a little bit more today — we’re still repping Paxton. We’ll see if we can get there on game day.”

At 8-4, the Broncos head into the weekend in the sixth and final playoff position in the AFC. A win against the Titans would ensure they’re no lower than that heading into Week 15.

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Kenny Vaccaro dropping appeal of four-game suspension

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 06:  Kenny Vaccaro #32 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after recovering a fumble against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 6, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro has dropped the appeal of his four-game suspension, the New Orleans Advocate reported Friday.

Vaccaro’s suspension will begin immediately, and he will miss the rest of the regular season.

The suspension, for a violation of the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy, was first reported in early November, before Vaccaro even knew about it. He decided to appeal and continued to play.

Vaccaro missed a game early in the season due to injury but has made 11 starts. He has two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery on the season. The Saints exercised the fifth-year option on Vaccaro’s rookie contract last spring, keeping the former first-round pick under contract through 2017.

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Joe Haden not happy with suggestion that Alabama would beat the Browns

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on in the second half against the Florida Gators during the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on December 3, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs have generated a record of 20-3 in their last 23 games; the Browns over that same span are 1-22.

In 2016, the Browns are 0-12. Their run of futility now stands at fifteen straight losses.

The run of futility has sparked plenty of criticism and cracking wise about the Browns, including a suggestion that Alabama could beat them. Browns cornerback Joe Haden doesn’t like that, at all.

It’s a smack in the face. It makes you very upset,” Haden said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “That’s a slap in the face, it doesn’t make any sense. Alabama’s a great program, they’ve got amazing players, they’ve got players that are going to play in the NFL. We’ve got a team full of NFL guys. Comparing college team vs. NFL team is disrespectful.”

Haden also doesn’t like hearing the jokes from late-night comedians and the plans for an 0-16 parade.

“Oh, man, this is terrible,” Haden said. “This is terrible. You’re talking about an 0-16 parade. It’s very, very tough and it hits you right between the eyes because I’m on the team, there’s something I can do about it and that’s why I’m playing. But when you get all that talk . . . . The worst thing I’ve ever seen is us getting beat 34-0 to ‘Bama. Once I’ve seen that, there was just nothing else to talk about.”

Haden remains pragmatic about the team’s predicament.

“Everybody’s giving it to you,” Haden said. “There’s really nothing you can do but go win.”

He’s right. And the problem comes from the fact that they Browns haven’t won. Week after week after week. After week.

No, Alabama wouldn’t beat the Browns. But when a team is terrible for such a long period of time, those and similar comments are going to be made, repeatedly, until the team wins.

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Jordan Reed questionable for Washington

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 09:  Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins runs with the ball in the third quarter during a football game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 9, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s at least a chance Washington tight end Jordan Reed is back on the field, after missing last week with a separated shoulder.

Reed has been listed as questionable for this week’s game against the Eagles, after participating in practice throughout the week. Washington coach Jay Gruden told reporters they wanted to put him through pre-game warmups to make sure he’s ready.

Reed finished the Thanskgiving Day game against the Cowboys after the injury, but was inactive last week.

Washington will be without safety Will Blackmon (concussion/thumb) center Spencer Long (concussion) and defensive end Anthony Lanier (shin), as they try to hang onto their Wild Card chances.

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Chuck Pagano: Participation trophies “ain’t real life”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 30: Chuck Pagano, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, watches from the sidelines during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

If the Colts want to win the AFC South this season, beating the Texans this weekend would be a pretty good way to kick off the final four weeks of the regular season.

That was the point that Colts coach Chuck Pagano was presumably trying to make on Friday when discussing the fact that only one team in the division is going to wind up in first place and, barring total collapses by several other AFC teams, in the playoffs.

“There’s no trophies for second place, right? Saw a good YouTube video of a basketball coach explaining that, I think it was the women’s basketball coach from Louisville,” Pagano said, via Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star. “He was talking about our society today and everybody gets trophies. I thought it was pretty good. You can finish fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and everybody goes home happy. That ain’t real life. There’s only one trophy. There’s only one division champ. That’s how they’re treating it, and that’s how we’re treating it.”

Pagano certainly isn’t the first person in the NFL to bemoan the presence of participation trophies in American society. He’s probably the first who could have delivered his diatribe in front of a banner lauding the Colts for participating in the AFC title game after the 2014 season.

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