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Brian Urlacher doesn’t care if people don’t like him congratulating opponents

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Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher left Sunday night’s game impressed by the Texans. 

Urlacher called running back Arian Foster a “bad ass” after the game was over and congratulated Texans safety Danieal Manning after Manning intercepted Jay Cutler in the first half of the game. Urlacher shook Manning’s hand on the field after the play and said Monday that he wasn’t concerned if people thought it was out of place to congratulate an opponent for making a play against your team.

“That was a nice play. I could give a crap about what people think on the street. Get mad at me all you want, I could give … I could give a crap about what people say,” Urlacher said on The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000. “Danieal Manning is a friend of mine, he was a teammate for five or six years, and that’s the way it is. He made a catch and was running toward the sideline to say something to Coach, so I walked out there. The guy had a good game, he caused a fumble, had a pick. He’s my friend. I wish he wouldn’t have caught it, but he did, so nice play to you. I don’t give a crap about what fans or people say, they can kiss my butt. I don’t care.”

The last message could probably have been phrased in a way that didn’t lead to headlines with Urlacher inviting fans to plant their lips on his keister and still gotten the point across. He actually wound up doing it himself at another point in the interview. 

“When the play is over, it’s over. It’s not like I have to go out there and be a jerk to him because it’s during the game and I’m a tough guy,” Urlacher said. “That’s not the way it is. They’re my friends. Between the whistles I’m going to try and get them, and when the play is over we’ll go back to doing whatever.”

These guys know each other and spend time with each other in and out of the season, so it’s only natural that you’re going to continue to treat your friends as your friends. As long as Urlacher’s still giving his best effort, and he was on Sunday, it’s hard to see it being a major problem in Chicago. 

 

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Greg Roman giving EJ Manuel a clean slate

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The Doug Marrone regime didn’t give Bills quarterback EJ Manuel much rope in 2014, yanking him from the lineup after four games and turning the offense over to Kyle Orton for the rest of the year.

Orton retired after taking Buffalo to a 9-7 record and Marrone opted to take a $4 million payout and an assistant job on Jacksonville’s staff, which provides Manuel with some new life in Buffalo. New offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Tuesday that he’s been watching film on Manuel and that Manuel has the skills to play the position, but said that what happens in their work together will determine his role on the team in 2015.

“I’m not going to get into specifics,” Roman said, via the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “I think he’s done some good things and displayed some good traits. We just have to get his level of consistency a little greater. Once we get through this evaluation process, he and every player is going to have a clean slate. What they might have been asked to do in the past is really not relevant to what we may or may not ask them to do. For me to pontificate about this, that, and the other, it’s a little premature.”

When Orton retired, the Bills talked about adding one or two more quarterbacks to the mix, although that came before Marrone decided to opt out of his deal. With Jeff Tuel currently the only other quarterback in town, it’s a good bet that they will still be looking for other options at the position in the event that the new boss feels the same way about Manuel as the old boss.

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Bevell says Seahawks didn’t think about height when drafting Wilson

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Russell Wilson was such a great college quarterback that it now seems obvious that he’d be a great pro quarterback as well. But, of course, it wasn’t obvious: He lasted until the middle of the third round of the 2012 NFL draft before the Seahawks got him.

Wilson would have been a first-round pick if he were 6-foot-3, but he’s not, and so he wasn’t. Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell says the Seahawks had a simple approach to drafting Wilson: They’d ignore height.

“I think the first thing you have to do is be able to overlook the fact that he was 5’10 ½” to be able to take him,” Bevell said. “[General Manager] John Schneider did a phenomenal job in preparation for that and was able to look past that. We just tried to build our offense with what is best suited for our guys.”

Bevell played quarterback at Wisconsin in the 1990s and still knew plenty of the Badgers’ coaches when Wilson was at Wisconsin, and he said that helped him research Wilson. Bevell also said that the Seahawks liked Wilson being a two-sport athlete — even though it was Wilson’s commitment to minor league baseball that led him to lose the starting quarterback job at North Carolina State and transfer to Wisconsin.

“Russell has great savvy and awareness,” Bevell said. “I think all the sports that he played as he was growing up have given him that. His baseball days with being able to slide – timing or whatever to get down. He’s played enough football that just his spatial awareness and his vision of being able to see where all the defenders are coming from and the understanding of how important that he is in our offense and he knows that he has to be able to get up and play the next play not just that one play. Again, he has great awareness; it’s kind of innate in him.”

Wilson has all the qualities an NFL team looks for in a quarterback, except height. The Seahawks were smart to overlook that one.

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Justin Houston thinks Chiefs can win Super Bowl with Alex Smith

Justin Houston AP

The Chiefs have some contract decisions to make regarding impending free agent linebacker Justin Houston this offseason and it doesn’t sound like Houston’s feelings about committing to Kansas City for the long term are negatively impacted by the team’s offensive state of affairs.

During an interview on ESPN Tuesday, Houston said that he thought it was a “team effort” and that his view is that the team would have won more games if the defense had done a better job of stopping the opposition. He also feels that the team can win a Super Bowl with quarterback Alex Smith running the offense.

“I’m very convinced. The past two years we’ve had winning seasons. But we need some more pieces,” Houston said. “This year I feel our offensive line struggled a little bit. We had some injuries on our offensive line that caused him to get sacked more than usual. But I think we can do it with Alex.”

Among the pieces Houston thinks the team needs are wide receivers after the Chiefs became the first team since the Truman administration to go an entire season without a touchdown catch from a player at the position. Houston’s contract situation will impact their ability to do that. If the Chiefs can’t sign Houston to a long-term deal that spreads out a big cap hit, they’ll likely use the franchise tag on him and that hit would limit other things they can do to prepare for the 2015 season.

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Darrelle Revis on Jets alleged tampering: I couldn’t say much on the subject

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The Patriots have filed tampering charges against the Jets because owner Woody Johnson said he’d “love for Darrelle to come back” to the Jets while talking about Revis winding up in New England after being released by the Buccaneers last year.

Johnson’s comment could theoretically make it harder for the Patriots to renegotiate their deal with Revis, something that would make keeping him for the 2015 season plausible. On Tuesday, Revis gave no indication that Johnson’s comment is influencing his thinking about who will be signing his checks.

“I heard the Woody Johnson quote,” Revis said, via NJ.com. “If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels. I couldn’t really say much on the subject.”

Revis faced another question about the Jets during Super Bowl Media Day when he was asked about Jets fans watching him play in the Super Bowl for the team that has ruled the AFC East for more than a decade.

“It’s not really my fault. I didn’t make the call,” Revis said. “Management made the call at that time and they felt it was best to get rid of me. So that’s the situation. That’s how I look at it.”

Revis also said he needed to find the “right team” to make it to the Super Bowl for the first time, something that stands as further suggestion that his career will continue to play out away from the team that first employed him in the NFL.

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Dan Quinn says he’s focused on his current job, not his next one

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Although NFL rules prevent it from being officially announced until Monday, everyone knows that Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be the next head coach of the Falcons. But even though Quinn will take a big step in his career next week when he becomes a head coach for the first time, Quinn says all of his focus is on Super Bowl Sunday.

Quinn said at Super Bowl Media Day that he appreciates the NFL rule that allowed him to interview with the Falcons during the Seahawks’ bye week, and that he’s having no trouble keeping his focus on the Super Bowl.

“The interview process allows us to go through it during the bye. I am appreciative of how the NFL does that. It is pretty easy to get right back into focus to play in this situation,” Quinn said.

Quinn said it would be crazy to be at the Super Bowl and allow his focus to be on anything else.

“This is such a cool experience,” Quinn said. “Where else would you rather be?”

Quinn has decided he would rather be in Atlanta than Seattle. But not until after the Super Bowl.

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Josh McDaniels: We’ll be smart with Richard Sherman because he’s smart

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Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman opted to pass on reviving their argument about who is the best cornerback in the NFL at Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day, but the cornerbacks were still a topic of conversation.

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin called Revis “one of the most patient cornerbacks” he’s ever seen while teammate Jermaine Kearse praised the Patriots corner’s physical play at the line of scrimmage. The words from the New England side were similarly complimentary about Sherman, including Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’s discussion of the need to throw the ball all over the field while also being cognizant of what Sherman can do to stymie an offense.

“It’s not easy to avoid someone the whole game … just say you’re not going to throw over there,” McDaniels said, via ESPN.com. “But you have to be smart because he will take the ball away from you. There’s a reason he’s taken the ball away from people, because of his skill level. But there’s no way around it. If the coverage takes the play there, that’s where you go. But you can’t just start going right at him if the play doesn’t take you there. We want to be smart, make the smart plays. Because he’s smart, he’ll make the smart plays. … We’re not going to avoid someone throughout, but we’re not going to go out of our way to get in trouble.”

Four Patriots caught at least 50 passes this season, including tight end Rob Gronkowski and running back Shane Vereen, so the Patriots are comfortable going all over the field to make plays through the air. That depth should make it easier for them to go after a variety of Seattle defenders throughout the game without having to force things in any direction other than the one that might be open on a particular play.

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NFLPA: NFL can’t mandate counseling for Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson AP

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Vikings running back Adrian Peterson last season, he set April 15 as a date to consider Peterson’s reinstatement and mandated that Peterson meet with a league-approved psychiatrist for counseling after pleading no contest to a charge of misdemeanor reckless assault on his four-year-old son.

On Monday, the NFLPA filed a brief in federal court arguing that Goodell has no power to impose such a condition on Peterson. The union, which is suing to have Peterson reinstated as soon as possible in a case set to begin next month, argues that Goodell’s powers under the collective bargaining agreement are limited to fining players, suspending them or terminating their contracts.

“The collectively-bargained NFL Player Contract could not be clearer in expressly limiting the Commissioner’s disciplinary authority ‘to fine Player[s] in a reasonable amount, to suspend Player[s] for a certain period or indefinitely; and/or to terminate th[eir] contract[s],'” the NFLPA writes in the brief, via ESPN.com. “The NFL does not deny that the Commissioner’s imposed counseling requirement is neither a fine, suspension, or contract termination, nor would there be any other ‘plausible’ interpretation of this CBA provision permitting such a requirement. Instead, the NFL — like the [suspension] itself — entirely ignores the Player Contract’s CBA disciplinary limitation. As the NFL highlights, Arbitrator [Harold] Henderson sustained the counseling requirement of Mr. Peterson’s discipline not on the basis of any provision in the CBA, but by relying upon Commissioner Goodell’s unilaterally promulgated Personal Conduct Policies.”

Peterson met with a psychology professor from Harvard following his indictment in September and provided details to the league, which directed Peterson to meet with a different doctor from NYU. After his suspension was upheld by Henderson, Peterson told ESPN that he felt “like any type of process with the NFL is not the way to go.”

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Report: Bob Bicknell possible candidate for offensive coordinator role with 49ers

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An Eagles assistant coach is reportedly on San Francisco’s radar as it tries to fill its offensive coordinator vacancy.

Eagles wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell has been “discussed” as a potential candidate for the 49ers’ coordinator role, Albert Breer of NFL Media reports.

The 45-year-old Bicknell has been the Eagles’ receivers coach the last two seasons. Previously, he was an assistant with Buffalo (2010-2012) and Kansas City (2007-2009).

Bicknell has five seasons of experience as an offensive coordinator, with all of it coming in NFL Europe from 2001 through 2005.

Colts assistant Rob Chudzinski, expected to be a candidate for San Francisco’s offensive coordinator position, has elected to stay with Indianapolis, which named him associate head coach.

The 49ers and Rams are the only clubs with offensive coordinator vacancies.

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Report: Mosi Tatupu’s brain said to show evidence of CTE

Mosi Tatupu Getty Images

According to a published report, medical testing suggests Patriots running back Mosi Tatupu had chronic traumatic encephalopathy before he died of a heart attack in 2010 at age 54.

The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that a sample of Tatupu’s brain sent to Boston University’s CTE Center showed the “tau” protein accumulation associated with the degenerative brain disease, which has been linked to hits to the head, according to the university.

Mosi Tatupu played 14 seasons (1978-1991), the first 13 of which were with New England. He made the Pro Bowl in 1986.

Tatupu’s son, Lofa, was a seven-season starter at linebacker with Seattle (2005-2010).

Linnea Garcia-Tatupu, the former wife of Mosi Tatupu, arranged for the testing of her former husband’s brain, according to the Globe.

“If I knew then what I know now, would I have encouraged Mosi’s dream? Would I have encouraged Lofa’s dream? I wouldn’t have. The risk is not worth the reward,” Garcia-Tatupu told the Globe.

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Josh McDaniels: Brian Daboll “a great resource”

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Tuesday was the 15th anniversary of Bill Belichick becoming the Patriots’ head coach, a tenure long enough to have had assistant coaches develop, leave, then come back for second tours in Foxborough.

Josh McDaniels is the obvious example of a Belichick assistant returning to the nest. After a 28-game stint as the Broncos’ head coach in 2009 and 2010 and one season as the Rams’ offensive coordinator (2011), the 38-year-old McDaniels came back to New England to take over as offensive coordinator, a position he’s held for the last three seasons.

Tight ends coach Brian Daboll is another returnee. After leaving the Patriots’ staff in 2007, Daboll held five jobs in six seasons, coaching quarterbacks for the Jets and serving as offensive coordinator for the Browns, Dolphins and Chiefs. Daboll made his way back to Foxborough in 2013, serving as an offensive coaching assistant last season.

McDaniels and Daboll are linked in either ways, too. Both were graduate assistants under Nick Saban at Michigan State in 1999 before coming to Foxborough and building NFL careers that made them in demand elsewhere.

At Media Day, McDaniels praised Daboll’s contributions for New England, calling him “a great resource” for the team.

“He can coach whatever position we want him to coach,” McDaniels said, according to an interview transcript from the NFL. “He was helping [former Patriots assistant] Dante [Scarnecchia] with the offensive line last year and moved over to coach the tight ends this year and did a phenomenal job with those guys. He has been a coordinator. He has been a quarterback coach. He has coached receivers. This is a guy that brings experience and value to our offense.

“… Every day he has his hands in the game planning process, the preparation, the scouting report. He is a guy that I lean on significantly in my role. He has been one of my best friends ever since I met him at Michigan State. We are lucky to have him back here.”

It could also be argued Daboll and McDaniels are lucky to have had the experiences they had outside of New England, too. Both have broadened their résumés and their experiences, and they would figure to be better coaches for it.

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Reports: Colts, WR Duron Carter close to contract

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The Colts are reportedly poised to sign one of the CFL’s bright young stars.

Per multiple reports, the Colts have agreed to a deal with Montreal Alouettes wide receiver Duron Carter, the son of Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the Colts and Carter “have [an] agreement,” while Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star reported the club anticipates signing the 23-year-old receiver, who hauled in 75 passes for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns for Montreal in 2014.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported earlier Tuesday that Carter was “closing in on” a deal with the Colts.

Carter (6-5, 205) could vie to be one of the Colts’ top three receivers in 2015. Veterans Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks are slated to be free agents, and rookie Donte Montcrief looks poised to have a bigger role next season, perhaps opposite third-year pro T.Y. Hilton, who has become the Colts’ go-to target.

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Kurt Warner says he now wonders if Pats gained unfair edge in Super Bowl XXXVI

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The Patriots 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI was the first of three titles for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in New England.

Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard game-winning field goal denied Kurt Warner and the Rams a second Super Bowl title in three seasons.

On the heels of Deflategate and Spygate, Warner said Tuesday that he now has at least a little shred of doubt as to whether the Patriots win to cap the 2001-02 season was all on the up-and up.

In an interview with Dave Mahler of Sports Radio 950 KJR at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day on Tuesday, Warner said he now has to wonder whether the Patriots may have used an unfair edge to their advantage to earn that first Super Bowl.

“I don’t want to believe that there was anything outside of his team beat our team,” Warner said in regards to his reaction to Deflategate. “That’s what I want to believe. Yeah, there’s a sliver of a doubt because I think, as a human, you can’t help it. To know that if you were a part of that process at that time, was there any advantage they gained in any game, not just our Super Bowl game, but maybe a game before that to get to the Super Bowl? I mean, all those things enter your mind.

“It’s not because I’m bitter. It’s not because I say they cheated, because I have no idea, but it adds a sliver of doubt that I think is unfair to everybody. It’s unfair to them and their legacy. It’s unfair to me and my legacy because I don’t want to have to wonder, well did they beat me fair and square or was there something extra? And that’s the unfortunate part that I don’t think you’ll ever get over because you know something was done outside the rules. I don’t know how it helped them. I don’t know if it gave them an advantage on one play – that turned into an interception or a touchdown – or it gave them no advantage. I don’t know.

“I don’t want to talk about it. I want to know that I got beat fair and square. That’s the spirit of fair competition. That’s what I believe every time I step between the lines is that I’ve got to beat that guy across from me. And if I’m better, I will do that. If I’m not, I won’t. But now when you add other things to the mix, now all it does is give you a little bit of a doubt. That’s what I’m saying. It’s unfair I don’t look at it that way because I try to fight against it because we’re never going to know, but it’s unfortunate that I even have to consider it.”

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Bill Belichick: There’s no coach I respect more than Pete Carroll

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Patriots coach Bill Belichick has nothing but good things to say about his predecessor as coach of the Patriots, who also happens to be the man he’ll be coaching against on Sunday.

Belichick said he’s been an admirer of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll for decades, going back to the days when both of them were entry-level assistant coaches.

“Not a coach in the NFL I respect more than Pete Carroll,” Belichick said. “He’s a tremendous coach. He and I have kind of come up together in roughly the same era. We’ve both been defensive coordinators, we’ve both been head coaches. I have a ton of respect for what Pete does as a coach, how good of a fundamental teacher he is, the way his teams play. I’ve studied him from afar. We’ve never worked together, studied Pete from afar over a long period of time. I’ve learned a lot from what he does, and indirectly, I think he’s made me a better coach. I have all the respect in the world for Pete and his staff.”

Carroll was a graduate assistant for Arkansas in 1977, when Lou Holtz was the Razorbacks’ head coach and Monte Kiffin was their defensive coordinator, and Belichick said Carroll has run more or less that same defense he learned from Kiffin ever since.

“I think coach Carroll will tell you that their defense is pretty much the defense that he learned and coached in 1977 at Arkansas,” Belichick said. “He’s been doing it a long time. I’d say they’ve gone up against everything they can go up against: great quarterbacks, great receivers, great running games, great offensive lines. They’ve always been good. I think that they have a great system.”

When Carroll and Belichick square off on Sunday, we’ll be seeing a meeting between the two best coaches in the NFL.

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Prop Challenge, Day V — Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yards: 0.5

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Leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, we’ll take a closer look at one proposition bet per day, something we’ve dubbed PFT’s Prop Challenge. Here’s the idea: we present a prop, do some light analysis, then turn it over to you to vote upon which side you would take — hypothetically, of course. (Previous examples are at the bottom of this post.)

When the Super Bowl wraps up, we’ll tally the votes and see how well PFT Planet did.

Now, let’s get to today’s prop, which is courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook:

Over-Under on Patriots tight end Tim Wright’s Super Bowl receiving yards: 0.5.

Yes, you read this correctly.

The Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yardage is one-half of one yard.

And the OVER is priced to entice bettors.

If the OVER hits, bettors will win $17.50 for every $10 wagered (+175).

The UNDER, meanwhile, is priced at -200.

In this case, bettors win just $5 for every successful $10 bet.

The Over-Under has everything to do with Wright’s lack of playing time in the postseason. The ex-Buccaneer logged just eight offensive snaps in the lead-up to the Super Bowl and was not targeted once in the passing game.

However, Wright’s regular-season form could appeal to OVER players. He was targeted 33 times in regular-season play, catching 26 passes for 259 yards and six scores.

This is a fascinating prop. The regular-season numbers point OVER. The postseason form says UNDER. And given Wright’s lack of recent playing time, the prospect of him being a Super Bowl scratch isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility, though he has been active in every game this season.

So again, we turn to you, PFT Planet members and veterans of the Tangiers sports book alike.

What side are you taking — OVER or UNDER?

Do let us know.

Previous props studied:

Day I: Over-Under on Brandon LaFell’s receiving yards.

Day II: Over-Under on Doug Baldwin’s catches.

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

Day IV: Will there be a one-yard TD in the Super Bowl?

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Low standard of proof applies to #DeflateGate

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It’s still not known what the NFL specifically has found, or will find, in the #DeflateGate investigation.  It is known that, when the time comes to assess the evidence, a low threshold will determine the outcome.

Per a league source, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard applies in cases involving allegations of conduct that undermines the integrity of the game.  That comes from the league policy manual given to every team.

It’s the standard that applies in civil litigation, a “more-likely-than-not” assessment of the proof that equates to, essentially, a 51-49 test far less stringent than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which applies in criminal cases.

Although Patriots owner Robert Kraft has insisted on “hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation,” circumstantial evidence could be sufficient to overcome any legal standard — especially a low one like “preponderance of the evidence.”
Depending on the full extent of the evidence obtained during the ongoing investigation, that could be bad news for the Patriots.

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