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Tebow’s not biting on questions about playing more

Jets Tebow and Sanchez react as they watch their team lose to the 49ers in their NFL game in East Rutherford Reuters

The bad news for Mark Sanchez is that the presence of Tim Tebow behind him guarantees a storyline when he plays poorly.

The good news for Mark Sanchez is that Tim Tebow is handling it with more grace than some would.

According to the New York Daily News, Tebow was asked seven times in seven different ways if he should be playing more after yesterday’s embarrassing 34-0 loss to the 49ers.

“I just want to do the best I can with whatever role that they give me, provide enthusiasm and energy every time I get the opportunity, but also from the sidelines or wherever I am,” Tebow said. “I’ll just be a good teammate, encourage guys and when, given opportunities, just try and make the most of them.”

While the Daily News didn’t note whether he followed up with a “God bless you,” he might as well have.

Sanchez completed less than half his passes for the third straight game, and also had an interception and a fumble.

Tebow himself didn’t do much either, which should be enough to keep the talk to a dull roar for the time being.

The fact he’s not going to fan the flames makes it more bearable, but perhaps only slightly. And the fact Sanchez has to play the Texans next week might make it all a moot point anyway.

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Haslam could still be indicted in Pilot Flying J scandal

Haslam Getty Images

After Pilot Flying J agreed to pay nearly $100 million in fines as a result of the fuel-rebate scandal, most assumed CEO and Browns owner Jimmy Haslam would not face prosecution. After the recent indictment of eight Pilot Flying J employees (including former president Mark Hazelwood), some assumed that Haslam’s absence from the group of defendants for now translates to absence forever.

The truth, as recently explained by John Caniglia of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is that Haslam could still face charges, especially if Hazelwood strikes a plea deal that includes giving testimony against Haslam.

As Caniglia notes, an FBI affidavit from April 2013 suggested that both Hazelwood and Haslam were aware of the scheme.

The league has said that there’s no evidence Haslam violated league policy in any way. In August 2013, SportsBusiness Journal reported that, if Haslam were forced to step down, his father, Jim, would take over. New Hall of Famer Eddie DeBartolo was forced to transfer the 49ers to his sister after pleading guilty to a felony charge of failing to report an effort by former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards to extort $400,000 from DeBartolo in order to secure a casino license.

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Jeb Bush was pulling for Peyton Manning, for one reason

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 23:  Former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks during the 2015 National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) conference on January 23, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Bush, who now owns a private consulting firm in Florida, recently announced that he is actively seeking support for a potential 2016 US presidential campaign. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Peyton ManningTom Brady rivalry will continue beyond their playing careers, and straight into the upcoming Republican primaries.

While Brady has refused to back off his support of lightning-rod candidate Donald Trump, Manning apparently supports a more mainstream candidate on that side.

During a campaign appearance in South Carolina, former Florida governor Jeb Bush risked the wrath of the home crowd by admitting he wasn’t pulling for the Panthers Sunday.

“I know that y’all probably maybe had some leanings toward Carolina,” Bush said, via Colin Campbell of the Raleigh News and Observer. “I was for Denver, not because of the Broncos, but because Peyton Manning wrote me a check.”

Campaign records show that Manning donated $2,700 to Bush’s campaign.

Bush said he also respected the Broncos quarterback for being “the adult in the room” in the NFL — which might just mean that Manning’s old, but is probably also the descriptive Bush is shooting for as well.

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Blandino, Blakeman inconsistent on Cotchery catch ruling

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Referee Clete Blakeman stands on the field in the first quarter between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

The most controversial call of Super Bowl 50 happened in the first quarter, when Panthers receiver Jericho Cotchery bobbled a ball on the way to the ground. The officials on the field ruled it incomplete, and referee Clete Blakeman, with the assistance of NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino, ruled on instant replay that the call on the field would stand.

Blakeman made it clear in announcing the ruling that the replay did not confirm the call on the field, only that the call stands. That meant there was no conclusive view of the play that could show definitively that Cotchery always had his hands between the ball and the ground, and so the Panthers would lose their challenge.

NFL Films has now shown the footage of Blakeman’s review and his subsequent discussion with Panthers coach Ron Rivera, and the discussion makes clear that Blakeman did not feel there was a definitive replay angle.

“We’re gonna go stands,” Blakeman said. “There was not enough confirmation. We couldn’t overturn it.”

Rivera asked Blakeman, “If you’d called it complete, it would have stayed complete, right?” Blakeman answered, “Yes.”

But that doesn’t quite align with Blandino’s explanation. Blandino wrote on Twitter that “the ball touched the ground and slid up his body. Not enough evidence to change the call on the field.”

If Blandino is sure that the ball touched the ground, then Blakeman should have explained to Rivera that the ball touched the ground. Instead, Blakeman just said that there was no definitive replay angle. At the end of a season in which officials, players, coaches, fans and reporters all struggled to figure out what constitutes a catch, the NFL struggled to explain why Cotchery’s catch was not a catch.

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Kwon Alexander: Bucs need more guys who can rush the quarterback

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 01:  Kwon Alexander #58 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates an interception during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on November 1, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Buccaneers improved by four wins between 2014 and 2015 and while that wasn’t enough to allow coach Lovie Smith to keep his job, it was a sign that they hit on their decision to draft quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick of last year’s draft.

Now they need to fill in other weak spots around the team so that they can continue to improve and make a return to the postseason for the first time since 2007. Linebacker Kwon Alexander has identified one area where he believes the team should be focused on this offseason.

“We need to get some more guys to, you know, to get some push on the quarterback,” Alexander said on WDAE, via “I think that’s what we’re going to be drafting this year, defensive ends. We had great defensive ends this year, but we need a little more help. So whoever we can get, you know, we’re going to need that pressure to get Cam [Newton] and, you know, try to get to the Super Bowl this season.”

Alexander’s mention of Newton makes sense since the Bucs are also in the NFC South and because of what we saw the Broncos pass rush do to the Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Building a disruptive pass rush is hardly a new model for defensive success in the NFL, but that performance reinforced the point in a way that should lead to plenty of company for the Bucs in the search for help this offseason.

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Jim Schwartz wants to “cut the handcuffs off” Vinny Curry

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 19:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants is taken down by Vinny Curry #75 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on October 19, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants 27-7. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles locked up defensive end Vinny Curry with a five-year contract extension worth as much as $47.25 million with $23 million in guaranteed money, which is a big splash for a player who didn’t start a game over the first four years of his career.

That lack of starts didn’t stop Curry from recording 16.5 sacks over the last three seasons and the contract indicates that the Eagles think Curry can up that production with more time on the field in the 4-3 scheme defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is installing. In an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic on Wednesday, Schwartz said that Curry is a player he liked coming out of college — Schwartz was coach of the Lions at the time — and that he thinks the fit between player and defense is going to be a good one.

“Vinny is a really hardcore competitor. You have to be a competitor to get to the quarterback,” Schwartz said. “It’s very rare to just beat your guy clean. It’s very rare that you’re clean to the quarterback. Most of the sacks are due to work ethic. You have to counter. You have to keep on coming. He does that. There are some guys that really fit in the defense here last year. I think he was one guy who wasn’t a great fit. He played in that square stance. They play a lot of two-gap. That’s been proven to be an effective system, also, it just didn’t fit Vinny very well. I think we can cut the handcuffs off of him, so to speak, and cut him loose along with the other guys up front.”

Schwartz’s defenses have been predicated on attacking the offense without relying on blitzing. That means the defensive line has to get to the quarterback and that the expectations for Curry in 2016 are crystal clear.

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Donovan McNabb upset people think he puked in the Super Bowl

McNabb Getty Images

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb did not throw up in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXIX. No one at the game saw him throw up. No one watching the game at home saw him throw up. It didn’t happen.

But there’s a persistent myth that McNabb puked in the Super Bowl, and when he was asked about it on Reddit, he took umbrage.

No, I didn’t puke. It’s unfortunate that we still talk about this 11 years after playing in the Super Bowl. But, no. That did not happen and hopefully we can stop talking about it. Once again, go watch the game tape,” McNabb wrote.

So where did the myth come from? It seems to be a combination of the fact that McNabb did throw up on the field in a regular season game once, and the fact that teammates discussed how exhausted McNabb was while trying to lead the Eagles down the field late in that Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. Over time, those two separate incidents have morphed into one.

It’s fair to criticize McNabb for the end of that Super Bowl, as his old teammate Terrell Owens did: Owens has pointed out that McNabb looked tired late in the game and struggled to move in the two-minute offense, and Owens is right about that. But we should put to rest the old myth about McNabb. He didn’t puke.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Kroenke Getty Images

Bills RB LeSean McCoy won’t be in the clear, even if he’s not convicted.

A look at the Dolphins’ unrestricted free agent class.

The Patriots are going to have to make some LB decisions in the near future.

The Jets’ need for pass-rush help can’t be overlooked.

The Ravens can’t be sure whether G Kelechi Osemele will take the money and run.

Former Bengals wideout had a unique treatment for sprained ankles (thank God he never broke his nose).

Browns coach Hue Jackson has challenges beyond personnel.

Steelers K Shaun Suisham intends to play for the Steelers in 2016 once he’s cleared to kick again.

In case you ever wondered what a chainsaw sculpture of Texans DE J.J. Watt looked like, here you go.

The Colts have some decisions to make before free agency starts.

They’re doing mock drafts for the Jaguars in February (God help us it’s that time of year again).

New Titans OL coach Russ Grimm is offering a clean slate.

The Broncos’ victory parade was big enough to see from outer space.

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce’s dating show is going to be a real train-wreck, isn’t it?

Raiders CB (or is it S) T.J. Carrie will play anywhere they tell him.

Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt likes RB Melvin Gordon’s receiving ability.

Some think Cowboys owner Jerry Jones deserves Hall of Fame consideration.

How the Giants might look to fill some of the holes created yesterday.

Taking a look at some potential Eagles cap cuts.

Former Washington WR Josh Morgan Plaxico’d himself.

Bears WR Alshon Jeffery began offseason workouts with FOX’s Jay Glazer (but do they have a fricking laser beam?).

The Lions aren’t in a hurry to make decisions on veterans.

The Packers are looking for more liquor licenses for development around Lambeau Field.

RB is still fairly low on the Vikings’ offseason priority list.

Just-cut Falcons S William Moore says there’s already interest (such that he wouldn’t).

Panthers QB Cam Newton now has something in common with Rob Gronkowskierotic fan fiction.

Even with keeping Dannell Ellerbe, the Saints have questions at LB.

The Buccaneers are trying to up their technology game.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer is celebrating a new delivery.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke had some money left over, so he bought a $725 million Texas ranch.

A look at how the 49ers can fix their pass-rush.

The Seahawks have some options in place for a future without RB Marshawn Lynch.

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Jerricho Cotchery has to live with what-ifs after Super Bowl drops

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Jerricho Cotchery #82 of the Carolina Panthers fails to make a catch against the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. The call of an incomplete catch was upheld upon review.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

As the Panthers scrambled to find capable wide receivers last season when star Kelvin Benjamin was injured, they put a certain amount of trust in veteran Jerricho Cotchery.

For the most part, he earned that trust, though his two drops in the Super Bowl were a difficult memory to carry into the offseason.

“If you’re in this game long enough, you’re going to have those moments where you can look back and say, ‘Man, I should’ve made that play and if I would’ve made that play, this would’ve happened,” Cotchery said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “The other night will be no different.”

While there’s some debating his first drop of the Super Bowl (Hey, at least Mike Carey thought it was a catch!), the second was clear, and forced the Panthers to settle for a field goal attempt that doinked off the upright.

Now comes the question of whether the Panthers will offer him a chance to return, as the 33-year-old’s about to become an unrestricted free agent. Asked if he wanted to return, he said yes, with a condition.

“For Carolina,” he said. “This is a special place, but I don’t know what the future holds right now, especially at this point in time in my career. I just don’t know anything. . . .

“I do know this — coming back here the past two years have just been tremendously wonderful for me. Bringing my wife back down to her home state and just playing ball here again, being before these fans, it’s been wonderful.”

But as the Panthers move forward, they might look for a guy with younger legs, if not better hands.

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Magic Johnson recruits Peyton Manning to the Rams


The Rams reportedly are interested in adding quarterback Peyton Manning. Former Lakers star Magic Johnson clearly is interested in the Rams adding Peyton Manning.

Peyton and Magic appeared Wednesday on The Tonight Show, and Magic made a public pitch to get Peyton to L.A.

“I tried to talk somebody out of retirement and come to the Rams,” Johnson told Jimmy Fallon, while pointing over his shoulder to Manning. “I said, ‘Man, if you play again, come to the Rams.’ I was working on him backstage. I will even chip in some money.”

Manning sat quietly, laughing through it all as the rest of his face assumed the shade usually reserved for the middle of his forehead after taking off his helmet.

“Look, look, look,” Magic said. “He’s turning a few colors over here.”

“I’m getting embarrassed,” Peyton said.

“I want to cheer for him if he don’t retire as a Ram,” Johnson later said. “I got my recruiting hat on right now.”

No one knows what Peyton Manning will do in 2016, but we’ve all known for years that Peyton very much likes to be fully in control of every situation. And it’s hard to imagine Peyton walked into last night’s situation without being fully aware that Magic would bring up the subject on the air. It’s also hard to imagine that Peyton wouldn’t have done everything in his power to persuade Magic not to bring it up, if Peyton didn’t want to be put on the spot.

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Broncos re-sign Jordan Taylor, and the guy they sent home last week

during Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images

When Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was throwing on the side when he was injured, he sang the praises of wideout Jordan Taylor, who became his personal receiver when he threw.

So upon the recommendation, the Broncos kept him.

Via Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post, the Broncos signed Taylor and eight others from the practice squad to future deals Wednesday, including running back Kapri Bibbs, safety Ryan Murphy, guard Dillon Day, tackles Cameron Jefferson and Kyle Roberts, tight end Nick Kasa, defensive end George Uko and linebacker Zaire Anderson.

Murphy shows that they’re a forgiving organization, as he was sent home during Super Bowl week after he was involved but not arrested in a prostitution bust in San Jose last week.

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Brees picks up more leverage, sort of

Tony Romo AP

The news that more than half of Drew Brees‘ salary for 2016 became fully guaranteed on Wednesday wasn’t news. From the time the five-year deal was signed and filed, it was known that more than half of the base salary in the out years of the contract would become fully guaranteed on the third day of the waiver period.

The fact that the Saints neither cut Brees nor restructured the deal before Wednesday gives Brees extra leverage. If they cut him at this point, the Saints will take a $20.85 million cap charge for 2016. If the contract has offset language, however, the extra $10.85 million that vested on Wednesday would disappear if he were cut and then signed by a new team for that much money, which undoubtedly would happen. (If there’s no offset language for the 2016 salary, there’s no way the Saints would cut him at this point.)

Here’s one last point on Wednesday’s trigger. It’s accepted in league circles that a vesting date tied to the waiver period in February is used not to give the team a chance to cut a player, but for funding purposes. If the team wants to retain the ability to cut the player, the vesting date is tied to the start of the league year in March. When teams cut players before a vesting date tied to the waiver period in February, it’s viewed by agents as a major breach of etiquette, making it harder to get agents to agree to use that device in future deal.

As of March 9, Brees hits the books for $30 million in 2016, which will make it very difficult for the Saints to put a competitive team around him. The only way to reduce the number will be to extend the contract — unless Brees unilaterally decides to take less cash in 2016.

Putting a value on an extension becomes the challenge. In 2012, Brees parlayed significant leverage into a then-record contract worth $20 million per year. How much will he want per year at age 37? Another $20 million per year? Or will he want to get back to the top of the market, where Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers currently is making $22 million per year?

However it works out, an extension would allow the Saints to convert a huge chunk of the $19.75 million base salary into a signing bonus, spreading it over multiple years and reducing the cap number significantly for 2016. Apart from the raw numbers of an extension, the structure of a new contract will say plenty about the duration of the team’s commitment to Brees.

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Thursday’s PFT Live has C.J. Anderson, Rick Spielman, Orlando Pace


If you’re up late, get to bed. If you’re up early, welcome. Now stick around for Thursday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio.

The three-hour show, starting at 6:00 a.m. ET with a full replay at 6:00 a.m. PT, has for a limited time a one-hour simulcast on NBCSN, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. ET. During that hour on Thursday, the guests include Broncos running back and unsung Super Bowl hero C.J. Anderson, Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman, and new Hall of Fame offensive tackle Orlando Pace.

The rest of the show will include plenty of news, analysis, and hot takes. It’ll also be interesting to see if PFT Live producer Rob “Stats” Guerrera continues his unblemished streak of wearing a solid-colored sweater over a dress shirt with a gigantic collar.

Well, “interesting” may not be the best word to describe that. Regardless, dial us up on Sirius 213, XM 202,, and any of the fine affiliates broadcasting the program.

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Jim Irsay promises “shocking” contract for Andrew Luck


Peyton Manning has made it to two Super Bowls since the Colts let him go. The Colts are still trying to get to one.

The heir to Manning’s throne in Indianapolis becomes the biggest beneficiary of the ongoing quest to win championships.

Owner Jim Irsay has made some strong promises about the next contract to be signed by quarterback Andrew Luck. Via the team’s official website, Irsay recently said the eventual deal will be “shocking,” promising that Luck will make more than $20 million per year.

It’s shocking that Irsay would call it shocking, since the goal should be to do the best possible deal under the circumstances, not to hand the checkbook to Luck and say, “Shock me.”

It’s also a bit shocking that Irsay is willing to pay Luck before his rookie contract expires. Twice, Peyton Manning had to play every game of every contract with the Colts before getting another one. With Luck injured and ineffective for most of 2015, why not let him play out the fifth and final year of his deal before signing him to a blockbuster contract?

If anything, last year gave the Colts more than a little leverage in long-term talks. Irsay has squandered it in one sound bite.

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Andy Dalton still hasn’t thrown since thumb injury


If the Bengals had made it past the wild-card round, they would have needed quarterback A.J. McCarron to keep playing. And if they’d made it all the way to the Super Bowl, they apparently would have still needed McCarron.

Starter Andy Dalton, who broke a thumb in December against the Steelers, told on Wednesday that he still hasn’t thrown since suffering the injury.

Not throwing yet but will soon,” Dalton said, via Coley Harvey of “Just being conservative with my hand and waiting for it to be officially 100 percent before I start up.”

The injury happened nearly two months ago, as Dalton made a tackle after throwing an interception.

Dalton, by the way, finally has recovered a pair of suitcases that fell off his truck on a highway in Texas. Which is good because I’m not sure I would have been able to sleep if a guy who can afford to buy new stuff hadn’t found his old stuff.

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Vernon Davis heads to free agency with no postseason stats

Zz05Mjg4NTIyMzRjYzE0MmZmMTdjMzk3NGQ1MDhlZDkwNA== AP

Tight end Vernon Davis finally won a ring. But his contributions to the effort were minimal.

Traded to the Broncos from the 49ers in the last year of his contract, Davis caught no passes in three postseason games. He also had no receptions in a Week 17 win that clinched the top seed in the AFC. His last catch came on December 20 at Pittsburgh, when Davis had one reception for five yards.

For whatever reason, things never clicked between Davis and Peyton Manning, especially after Manning’s return to the lineup in Week 17. And so Davis, who said after being traded that he’d been dreaming of playing with Peyton since leaving college, ended up doing nothing with Peyton in crunch time of the 2015 season.

It suggests there’s a potentially great untold story regarding why Davis and Manning never connected. Maybe at some point that story will surface, especially as Davis tries to persuade another team to sign him to a contract worth something more than the veteran minimum.

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