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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It has been regarded as a given for years that the Metrodome is outdated, and that it can’t be modernized in a manner that unlocks the high-end revenue streams that will keep the Vikings competitive with other franchises.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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49ers bring up Je’Ron Hamm, cut DuJuan Harris

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 03: Tight end Je'Ron Hamm #87 of the Washington Redskins is tackled by free safety Josh Evans #26 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter at FedExField on September 3, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The 49ers made a change to the active roster in preparation for tomorrow’s game against the Cowboys.

Practice squad tight end Je’Ron Hamm has been called up to the active roster, while running back DuJuan Harris has been cut from the active roster.

Hamm, who played last season in Washington, gives the 49ers some depth at the position while tight ends Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek are both listed as questionable on this week’s injury report.

Harris has already been cut and re-signed twice this season and may end up back with the team again next week.

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Glenn Gronkowski gets practice squad gig with Patriots

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 11:  (L-R) Brothers Dan Gronkowski, Gordie Gronkowski, Rob Gronkowski and Glenn Gronkowski arrive at the 2012 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) Getty Images

Baby Gronk is officially a Patriot. Sort of.

Glenn Gronkowski, the youngest brother of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, joined the team’s practice squad on Saturday, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

Undrafted in April after playing college football at Kansas State, Glenn Gronkowski signed with the Bills. He made it to the 53-man roster at the outset of the season, but he later was waived. The Patriots gave him a workout last month.

His first game as an extended member of the team comes Sunday, when the Bills visit the Patriots.

Rob and Glenn are two of the Brothers Gronk, a free-spirited and fun-loving foursome that seems destined to someday star in a reality show. For now, half of them are part of the same team in America’s ultimate reality show.

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Rashad Jennings questionable for Monday night

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Rashad Jennings #23 of the New York Giants in action against the Philadelphia Eagles during their game at MetLife Stadium on January 3, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Giants may be without their two top running backs on Monday night against the Vikings.

Giants running back Rashad Jennings is listed as questionable for the game with a thumb injury. That’s a concern for the Giants because their top running back, Shane Vereen, has already been ruled out.

If Jennings can’t go, Orleans Darkwa would be the only healthy running back who has carried the ball for the Giants this year.

The Giants are also dealing with injuries at cornerback, with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie listed as questionable and Eli Apple doubtful.

The Vikings have ruled out defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and tight end David Morgan.

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Tom Coughlin met with Bills “several months ago”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants poses with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the Patriots by a score of 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

As it turns out, former Jaguars and Giants coach Tom Coughlin met with the Bills. However, the meeting happened, according to his agent, “several months ago.”

Sandy Montag, who told PFT earlier this week that a report of a recent meeting between Coughlin and the Bills was incorrect, subsequently told Chris Mortensen of ESPN that a meeting happened in the more distant past.

Mortensen explains that Coughlin met with Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, team president Russ Brandon, and coach Rex Ryan “around March or early April” to discuss a consultant-style role with the team. (It’s possible that the meeting happened in connection with the annual league meetings at Boca Raton, which occurred in late March.) The meeting lasted, according to Mortensen, “about an hour.”

“I can confirm that the meeting you’re talking about did take place, but it was several months ago and there have been no calls from any team about Tom’s availability to coach,” Montag told Mortensen. “He is fully engaged in his job with the NFL.”

Coughlin seemingly hopes to keep coaching; he interviewed with the Eagles for their vacancy before the team hired Doug Pederson. The Bills would make plenty of sense, for various reasons. Coughlin would arrive with a long track record of winning, he has twice beaten the Patriots in the Super Bowl, and he would be in many ways the exact opposite of Ryan. Given that NFL teams tend to hire someone completely unlike their most recent head coach, that could make Coughlin even more attractive.

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Dez Bryant makes the trip to San Francisco

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys is assisted by team personel after taking a hit from the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant isn’t expected to play tomorrow, but he’s not ruled out yet.

Bryant made the trip to San Francisco for tomorrow’s game against the 49ers, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

It still seems extremely unlikely that Bryant will play after suffering a hairline fracture near his knee last week against the Bears. Reports have indicated Bryant will probably have to miss at least a couple games.

But the Cowboys aren’t ready to make that official just yet. He’ll at least be in the stadium, and we’ll have to wait until 90 minutes before kickoff to see whether the Cowboys make him active.

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Irsay: Luck needs to protect himself like Peyton did

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 18:  Outside linebacker Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos strips the ball from quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter of the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

Andrew Luck will always be compared to the man he succeeded as the Colts’ franchise quarterback, Peyton Manning. And in one respect, Colts owner Jim Irsay says Luck still has some work to do.

Irsay said today that Luck is fully healthy, contrary to some concerns that he had suffered a shoulder injury while trying to make a tackle after an interception. But Irsay acknowledged that he’d prefer not to see Luck making tackles at all.

“He can throw it 70 yards. He’s ready to play,” Irsay said, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. “I’m more concerned about him – and him and I have talked – about he has to protect the football and protect himself. Look, he throws the interception, it’s tough, he’s mad. I know. But no Ray Lewis tackles. Do what Peyton did. You do a little foxtrot, you don’t embarrass yourself, you push a few guys but you stay out of the fray. You don’t see Aaron Rodgers [and] you didn’t see Peyton get involved in those type of frays. That’s when tough things happen.”

Irsay wants to see Luck change his approach.

“He has to change the way he plays only because he is not a 22-year old kid at Stanford who could play tight end or quarterback,” Irsay said. “He has to understand – and he learned from the Denver game – the importance of what it means to stay on the field. Honing his game is the key. There isn’t some kind of chronic shoulder injury or anything like that. I promise you. There are no surgeries planned. He is fine and the shoulder is something that just disappears into the woodwork when he wins his next MVP or when we win a Super Bowl.”

Those are comments you’d usually expect to hear from a coach, not an owner. But Irsay never hesitates to give his opinions, and in his opinion Luck has to get better at avoiding hits.

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NFL fines Willie Young for roughing Dak Prescott

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Getty Images

Bears defensive end Willie Young has been hit by the league office for his hit on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on Sunday.

Young, who was flagged for roughing the passer, was fined $18,231.

It was a costly penalty on the field: The Cowboys would have been facing third down outside field goal range after Prescott threw incomplete, but with help from Young’s penalty the Cowboys would end up scoring a touchdown on the drive.

Young is a longtime critic of the league’s roughing the passer rules, saying they’re unfair to defensive players. But those rules aren’t going away, and as long as Young keeps doing it, he’ll keep getting fined.

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Saturday one-liners

gl_g_mrrts_57611 Getty Images

Jets coach Todd Bowles provided a Micheal Ray Richardson-style assessment of the team and its quarterback, with far less pizazz: “[Ryan Fitzpatrick] can’t play any worse, and we can’t coach it any worse. There’s nowhere to go but up.”

Bills fans are concerned that efforts by coach Rex Ryan to tweak Bill Belichick and company will backfire.

Dolphins CB Tony Lippett will continue to be a starter, despite a rough night against A.J. Green.

Patriots WR Chris Hogan doesn’t view Sunday’s game against his former team from Buffalo as a matter of revenge.

Ravens LB C.J. Mosley is improving in pass coverage.

The latest sign of the apocalypse: An assessment of the Bengals’ Thursday night win not in grades or numbers but in emojis.

Browns RT Austin Pasztor is trying to put a bad game in Miami behind him.

The Steelers’ defense is on track to shatter a record set a year ago, and it’s not a good record.

Texans WR Will Fuller keeps a detailed notebook of every tip and piece of advice he gets.

Colts RB Robert Turbin says he’d be a pro basketball player if he wasn’t a pro football player. (Pro basketball is always the better career choice, if a guy truly has that option.)

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles on the team’s urgency to win: “Guys are kind of taking it upon themselves. Not in the sense of pressing and, ‘We need to win now,’ but just in a sense of, ‘What we’ve done hasn’t worked or been successful so let’s figure it out rather than point fingers — let’s try and come up with different ideas and solve what’s going on.'”

Titans RB DeMarco Murray has re-established himself as one of the best tailbacks in football.

Broncos RB C.J. Anderson isn’t sweating the fact that an ineffective running game forced the team to win in Cincinnati through the air; “We can win either way,” Anderson said. “Run, pass, fullback dive — we can win. It’s just wonderful.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid calls retiring Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully “a tribute to all the redheads out there.”

S Karl Joseph picked up positive reviews in his first start with the Raiders.

Chargers DE Joey Bosa says he’s “getting close” to making his NFL debut.

Cowboys LT Chaz Green is ready to go, again, if Tyron Smith can’t, again.

Giants WR Victor Cruz believes the offense is close to having a “game where we all click and everything is good on all cylinders.”

Eagles QB Carson Wentz could be the team’s first AP offensive rookie of the year, ever.

Washington players are happy that the team ditched gold pants for burgundy.

Bears rookie RB Jordan Howard knows he has a big opportunity on Sunday.

Former Lions RB Joique Bell, now with Chicago, has no ill will toward his former team.

For the Packers, the special teams have avoided a run of bad luck.

Vikings P Jeff Locke had a great game at Carolina, thanks in large part to the efforts of gunners Cordarrelle Patterson and Marcus Sherels.

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman returned to practice on Friday after missing Thursday’s session due to illness.

With LT Michael Oher (concussion) out on Sunday, the Panthers are expected to move Mike Remmers to the left side.

Good news/bad news for the Buccaneers: The Denver defense isn’t hard to figure out.

The 0-3 Saints know their margin for error is slim, and shrinking.

When the Cardinals spent a week in West Virginia last season, coach Bruce Arians dined with Arnold Palmer.

Sergio Galvez is the man responsible for keeping the Rams loose at practice with music.

With four of the next five games at home, the 49ers have a chance to build some momentum. (Or to thoroughly depress their paying customers.)

Seahawks rookie OL Germain Ifedi is “real excited” for his first NFL game.

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Doug Baldwin says he’s received death threats

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers talks with wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks after the game at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The efforts to use the national anthem as a vehicle for shedding light on serious societal issues entails various types of risk. One specific type of risk is fairly significant.

In an interview with 60 Minutes Sports, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin says that he has gotten “a few” death threats based on his involvement in the matter.

“A couple of people told me to watch my back,” Baldwin tells Jon Wertheim in a partial transcript circulated by Showtime.

“How do you respond to that?” Wertheim asks.

“The same way Colin [Kaepernick] did,” Baldwin said. “You know, there’s issues going on in our society that people feel compelled to talk about and I’m not going to be quiet about. And if something was to happen to me, I think that would just further prove my point that there are issues in our culture, in our society that need to be changed.”

Regardless of whether the threats are real and credible (and the vast majority of death threats aren’t), death threats always should be taken seriously by the authorities — regardless of whether they’re made on (anti)social media, by phone, or in person.

The transcript of the interview doesn’t contain many/any specifics beyond Baldwin saying he’s been told to “watch his back,” which may not have even been an actual death threat. Whatever the details may be, if Baldwin truly feels threatened, he should report the threats, the threats should be investigated, and action should be taken against those who made them.

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What did you miss this week on PFT Live?

PFTLive

The week is over, which means that 15 more hours of PFT Live have been created. It also means that, if you missed any of it live, you can download the podcasts.

If you do, you’ll be informed, entertained, and hopefully from time to time amused. Sometimes by design, sometimes perhaps not.

Guests for the week included Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, Broncos safety T.J. Ward, Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, Hall of Famer Kevin Greene, and more.

The podcasts are available at iTunes and audioBoom. The live show returns on Monday at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio (Sirius 213/XM 202), with a two-hour daily simulcast at NBCSN.

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NFL rules prevent effort by Tom Benson to resolve ownership fight

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 28:  New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson walks on the field before a game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field Field at Mile High on October 28, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Saints 34-14. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) Getty Images

A new front has emerged in the Benson Family Feud.

As Saints owner Tom Benson tries to resolve a fight with estranged heirs arising from his decision to prevent them from acquiring ownership of his NFL and NBA teams, the NFL will not allow Benson to follow through on a proposal to swap non-voting shares of the Saints with personally-guaranteed promissory notes in trust funds previously created for his daughter and her children.

Via Katherine Sayre of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, recent court filings in a lawsuit sparked by the issue “show that the NFL’s finance rules won’t allow Benson to use his personal wealth . . . to back the proposed promissory notes.” The league’s position derailed a settlement that had previously been reached between Benson and trustees regarding his desire to strip Saints equity from the family members’ trust funds.

The problem comes from the possibility that, if Benson defaults on the 30-year promissory notes, the estranged heirs could attempt to seize his personal assets — including the controlling shares of the Saints franchise.

Per the report, Benson recently made a revised offer in the aftermath of the NFL’s ruling. The trustees have argued that the proposal, based on a January 2015 valuation of the team, should be based on the value of the team as of September 8, 2016, which would result in an even greater dollar value.

That’s the biggest problem Benson faces as he tries to fix this; as NFL franchise values continue to climb, the 60-percent chunk of the team held in trust continues to climb, too, making it costlier for Benson to replace those shares with comparable assets.

Until these issues are fully and finally resolved, it’s unclear whether the estranged family members will be frozen out completely of an ownership stake in the Saints. Even though they wouldn’t have power over the affairs of the team, they’d own the majority of it — which would be a very awkward outcome to an already messy situation.

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Jim Irsay wants to find the right owner for a team in London

Jim Irsay AP

If there are any London-based billionaires with an interest in American football reading this, please give Jim Irsay a call.

Irsay, the Colts owner whose team plays in London tomorrow, said at an appearance there today that he’s hoping the NFL will have a franchise in London. And Irsay thinks the key is getting the right owner in place, someone who understands both American football and the European market.

“That’s my goal as an owner, to find the right owner and the right team to come here,” Irsay said, via George Bremer of the Herald Bulletin.

The NFL is serious about building the sport in London, with many owners believing the league is as popular as it’s going to get in the United States and will need to grow overseas if it’s going to keep growing. But there are many logistical challenges to putting a team in London permanently, as opposed to just playing a few games a year there. The right owner will have to work through those challenges to make it work.

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Report: Jimmy Garoppolo will start Sunday

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the New England Patriots looks to pass the ball during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 18, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) Getty Images

As Tom Brady concludes his four-game suspension on Sunday, Jimmy Garoppolo will return to the helm of the Patriots’ offense.

Garoppolo will start Sunday against the Bills, WEEI reports.

After playing very well in the first game and a half of the season, Garoppolo suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder during the Week Two game against the Dolphins and sat out Week Three against the Texans. Jacoby Brissett started against Houston but suffered an injury of his own, to his throwing thumb.

Both Garoppolo and Brissett are officially listed as questionable for the game. Brady will return to the team when his suspension ends on Monday.

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Donte Whitner to work out for the Giants

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals Getty Images

Donte Whitner has rapidly fallen from perennial Pro Bowl safety to a guy looking for a job. He’s hoping to find that job with the Giants.

Whitner will work out for the Giants this weekend, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

The Giants are ailing at safety, with Mykkele Thompson on injured reserve and Nat Berhe and Darian Thompson both expected to miss Monday night’s game against the Vikings with injuries.

The Bills made Whitner the No. 8 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft and he played five years in Buffalo. He then played three years for the 49ers and two for the Browns. Cleveland cut him in April and he hasn’t signed anywhere since.

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Eli Harold was flagged, fined for tackle that injured Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, top, is pulled down by San Francisco 49ers' Eli Harold in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) AP

The sack that resulted in an MCL sprain for Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson didn’t amount to a classic horse-collar tackle. But it fell within the scope of the recently-expanded definition of the rule.

As a result, 49ers linebacker Eli Harold was flagged for the hit — and fined $18,231.

NFL senior V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino explained in his weekly media officiating video that a violation occurred even though Harold didn’t have his hand inside Wilson’s jersey, and even though Harold didn’t pull Wilson to the ground from behind.

“The left hand will be in the front of the jersey but the right hand will be on the back at the nameplate,” Blandino said. “He’s gonna pull the runner toward the ground. The key is where does he grab the runner? He’s gonna grab on the nameplate. And remember the new rule this year is nameplate or above. . . . And if he pulls the runner toward the ground in any direction it’s a foul.”

The league expanded the protection earlier this year to limit injuries, and Wilson was indeed injured on the play.

Horse-collar tackles remain legal as to quarterbacks in the pocket. When the quarterback exits the pocket, the back of his jersey can’t be grabbed and pulled to the ground at the nameplate or above.

Which probably means that the term “horse-collar tackle” should be revised into something that better reflects what is prohibited, if for no reason other than to limit fan and media confusion.

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