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Full text of Roger Goodell’s presentation at the Harvard School of Public Health

[Editor’s note:  On Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at the Harvard School of Public Health. The full text of his prepared remarks, as distributed by the NFL, appears below.]

Let me begin by thanking Dean Julio Frenk for inviting me to speak here today.  It is truly an honor to discuss two topics that I am passionate about: the game of football and its future.

The history of football is closely connected with the history of Harvard. Football has been played here with distinction since 1873. Professor Paul Weiler of Harvard Law School persuasively argues that the first college football game took place in Cambridge between Harvard and McGill University.

President Faust paid eloquent tribute to Harvard’s football legacy in a speech the night before last year’s Harvard-Yale game. She mentioned the university’s landmark innovations in the game – uniforms, a team doctor, a trainer, a kicking specialist. Harvard’s legacy includes eight national championships and 20 College Football Hall of Famers. Also the current starting quarterback of the Buffalo Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick – and Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk – who last year won the Walter Payton Award as the NFL Man of the Year for his service on, and especially, off the field.

Football is embedded in your traditions, and your contributions have defined and changed how we play the game. We are proud of the connection. And we know that Harvard is proud of your team and players for their extraordinary accomplishments on the football field, in the classroom, and in life. From Harvard’s first African-American football captain, William Lewis in 1893, to Coach Murphy’s fine team this year, you have given so much to the sport we love. And good luck to the Crimson this Saturday in “The Game” against Yale, one of football’s grandest traditions.

Harvard and the NFL both stand for something else – leadership. Others in education, sports, and countless places beyond the playing fields look to us to influence their own decisions. We embrace our leadership position. And leadership means certain things, whether in sports, academia, or public health. It means thinking about the long term. It means listening and learning from people, including your critics or those who may be telling you what you don’t want to hear. It means facing up to your challenges and working tirelessly to make sure you make the right choices, for the right reasons, based on science and facts, not speculation.

So today, in this place of leadership, I want to speak about our role in protecting the health and safety of athletes – not just in the NFL and football, but in all sports and all levels of play. Our nation is experiencing a public health crisis fueled by growing levels of obesity, particularly in children. You understand the consequences and what needs to be done to reverse the trend. We know kids need to exercise – put simply, to play. And we know that whatever they play, they need to do it safely – with respect for the rules and other competitors, and in support of teamwork and sportsmanship.

Other than my family, my passion in life is football, and always has been. As a kid, it seemed like I was always either playing or thinking about football. The values I learned from the game are central to who I am. I learned about commitment, communication, sacrifice and determination. It was fun, exciting, and the ultimate team sport.

Thirty years ago, I joined the NFL as an intern in Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s office. I was Pete Rozelle’s driver at Super Bowl XX in New Orleans in 1986. I couldn’t believe my luck and couldn’t imagine a better job. It was the beginning of a dream I am still living. It has been, at times, a humbling journey.

I have been fortunate to preside over the National Football League for seven seasons now. As a league, we continue to achieve great success. A growing number of fans – more than one million a week – attend games at our stadiums. The 16 most-watched TV shows this fall are NFL games – that is, aside from the presidential debates. And they were almost a contact sport, too.

A recent Harris Poll indicated that the NFL’s popularity is rising, at an all-time high, and up 12 percent from just 10 years ago. The second most popular sport is college football. The interest is simply amazing – driven by the character of the game, the talent and hard work of our athletes, the dedication of coaches, and the passion of our fans.

I don’t need to tell you that our nation is sharply divided on many issues. But, as President Obama said just last week, “One of the big unifiers in this country is sports, and football in particular. You don’t go anyplace where folks don’t talk about football.”

Football connects generations. Many of us remember watching games with parents and grandparents. We’ve experienced the joy of introducing the game to our own children. It inspires us to rally around our players, teams, and cities. It brings together families, friends, and communities. And on a few occasions every year, it brings together the entire country.

Football has earned a vital place in the rhythm of American life. Nearly 6 million kids play flag or tackle football; another 1.1 million play in high school; and 75,000 play in college. For many reasons, I have never been more optimistic about football’s future or more confident about its place in our society. Optimistic, but not complacent.

The game of football is thriving. It is more compelling than ever. But it is also seen by some as a game at a crossroads. And not for the first time. We are well aware of social commentators who now question our future. And I am here to tell you: If we are at another crossroads, we have already taken the right path. We took it a long time ago, and our commitment to stay on it will not waver.

The risk of injury in football is well known. Throughout history, football has evolved; it has become safer and safer again. President Faust talked last year about eliminating the dangerous “flying wedge” in the college game more than a century ago. In recent years, there has been a much sharper focus on concussions in football and other sports. There are still unanswered questions, but scientists and doctors know more about concussions and their long-term potential effects than they did even a few years ago. The key issue for us is how we use this new understanding to make the game even safer and more exciting in the future.

I can say in no uncertain terms that this is our biggest challenge: Changing the culture in a way that reduces the injury risk to the maximum possible extent – especially the risk of head injury. We want players to enjoy long and prosperous careers and healthy lives off the field. So we focus relentlessly on player health and safety, while also keeping the game fun and unpredictable.

My most important job is to protect the integrity of the game – but it goes beyond that. It is also to protect the 1,800 professionals who choose to play and who make our game so great.

The responsibility to our players does not end when they hang up their uniform for the last time. The health and safety of former, current, and future players involves many facets, not just head injuries. It includes the quality of playing fields, the equipment players wear, rules to protect them from unnecessary risk, programs to support their lives off the field, and post-career benefits.

At one time spinal cord injuries were considered a greater risk than they are today. But after changes in rules and techniques, those injuries have been dramatically reduced. We also have addressed the impact of heat and hydration, better educating our medical staffs and players and supporting the outstanding work of the Korey Stringer Institute. Now we are devoting more resources to the well-being of players as they transition away from the game, including their mental health.

We more than accept this responsibility on total health and safety. We seek it; we pursue it; we honor it. We do it to make a difference in football, in all sports and, we hope, beyond.

I’m sure some of you have asked yourselves the same tough questions others ask: When there is risk associated with playing tackle football, why do people continue to play? And for parents, should I let my kids play tackle football?

These are valid, important questions. Answers can differ from person to person – and especially from parent to parent.

In trying to respond to these concerns, we have looked to the realities of football. We have established an open dialogue – speaking frankly and engaging our critics directly – so that we can improve the safety of football. Whether to play football or any contact sport is a highly personal choice for kids and parents. It must be a thoughtful, informed decision.

The simple truth is that any physical activity comes with risk and reward. Head injuries occur in sports. Earlier this month, many of the world’s top sports concussion experts convened in Zurich, Switzerland. It is the leading conference on concussion in sport. In attendance were experts from the International Olympic Committee, international soccer (or as they say “football”), rugby, equestrian competition, Australian Rules Football and many other sports, including the NFL. The chief medical officer of the international soccer federation noted that 300 million people around the world play soccer. Concussions are hardly an issue limited to football or the NFL.

The conference reached a thoughtful consensus on how to advance safety – teach proper techniques and fundamentals; educate coaches, parents and players about concussion recognition and management; eliminate unnecessary contact; and continue to research the unanswered questions surrounding concussions.  At the same time, these international experts recommended that sports be played actively, but safely, without regard to age. These few steps will make sports safer for all.

There is no question that there are tremendous benefits to playing team sports like football, whether it’s tackle, flag or touch football in the backyard – benefits such as physical fitness, self-discipline, friendships, leadership opportunities, self-esteem, college scholarships, and, most importantly, just plain fun.

Presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to John Kennedy to Gerald Ford played and loved football. Business leaders like Jeff Immelt and military leaders like General Ray Odierno learned important lessons from playing football. At West Point, the cadets are required to play a team sport because the experience is fundamental to leadership development.

Is playing tackle football worth the risk? For some, the answer may be no. But millions say yes. We emphatically say yes. And I pledge that the NFL will do everything in its power to minimize the risks and maximize the rewards of this great and increasingly global game.

The way I look at it: Football is always at a crossroads, facing challenges that require leaders to act with courage and purpose to secure and advance its future.

Let’s look back at one issue that involved Harvard more than a century ago, in 1905, before the NFL even existed. This was a time when football was extremely dangerous and violent. More than 150 college players suffered serious injuries and 18 players died in 1904 alone – – at a time when far fewer athletes played football.

Just think about that for a moment … 18 student-athletes died … in one season, primarily from skull fractures.

The nature of the game at that time led to widespread criticism. In 1903, The New York Times stated that football was trending toward “mayhem and homicide.” Some called for ending the sport, including Harvard President Charles Eliot.

The future of football was very much in doubt.

But a Harvard graduate, who happened to be the President of the United States, loved football. And Teddy Roosevelt came to football’s rescue.

He had not played football at Harvard, but he loved the game. He saw the merit in the lessons and principles that make football compelling. And in December of 1905, he brought the Big Three – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – to the White House. He convinced them that something had to change. President Roosevelt recognized that the game did not need to end. It needed to evolve.

As a result of President Roosevelt’s initiative, and the leadership of Harvard, key rules and the equipment of the game were changed and what became the NCAA was created. This led to modern football, one that included the forward pass, 10 yards for a first down, and the elimination of the flying wedge. These changes led to a more wide open, safer game.
Teddy Roosevelt helped transform a sport in trouble into something better – a game that has helped shape the lives and careers of generations of young men in so many positive ways.

In 1910, President Woodrow Wilson observed that the changes were working. “The new game of football seems far more enjoyable than the old one,” he said. “The new rules are doing much to bring football to a high level as a sport, for its brutal features are being done away with and better elements retained.”

So it was that a Harvard graduate and the university itself played a pivotal role in transforming football and paving the way to its future success.

The game has continued to evolve. Not long ago, the game allowed the head slap, tackling by the face mask, horse collar tackles, dangerous blocks, and hits to the head of defenseless receivers and quarterbacks. All of that has changed.

“The war against roughness in pro football is a continuing one,” said the NFL commissioner. That was Pete Rozelle in 1963.

“An Unfolding Tragedy.” That was a headline. The story said, “As football injuries mount, lawsuits increase and insurance rates soar, the game is headed toward a crisis, one that is epitomized by the helmet, which is both a barbarous weapon and inadequate protection.” It was a Sports Illustrated cover story in 1978.

Protecting the health and safety of players has included taking drug abuse and steroids out of the game. We have randomly tested year-round for steroids since 1990, the first league to do so, with immediate suspensions for any violations. Next we need to implement testing to make sure human growth hormone is out of the game. Performance enhancing drugs are dangerous. They also present unknown risk that may be seriously impacting an athlete’s health in ways he or she never considered. Some have suggested that there may be a link between performance enhancing drugs and concussions and brain disease.

Football has always evolved, and it always will. Make no mistake: change does not inhibit the game; it improves it.

It’s with Teddy Roosevelt in mind that we embrace today’s challenges. I learned a long time ago that you don’t do things because they are popular in the short term. You do them because they are right for the long term. And this is the right conversation to be having.

My commitment has been and will continue to be to change the culture of football to better protect players without changing the essence of what makes the game so popular.

It has been done. And it will be done.

As stewards of the game, it is our responsibility to promote a culture of safety. To be leaders. So let me share with you some specifics on how we are leading.

(Leadership)

Leaders do not sit and wait for others to provide answers. We will continue to make rule changes, invest in innovative protective equipment, and provide our medical staffs the tools and authority to protect players on the field.

The rule in our league is simple and straightforward: Medical decisions override everything else. There has been attention this week on the fact that three NFL quarterbacks sustained concussions last Sunday. The positive development was that all three were taken out of the game as soon as they showed symptoms. The team medical staff then diagnosed a concussion, and each player was out of the game. That is progress. That is the way it should be in all sports at every level.

We know that our actions set an example. The concussion awareness material and training videos we developed with the Centers for Disease Control were used by the U.S. Olympic team this past summer. The United States military, NASCAR and college conferences have adopted our concussion protocols.

The Ivy League this year adopted rules similar to the ones in the new agreement with our NFL players, limiting contact in practices and emphasizing taking the head out of the game – as we have been doing.

High schools and colleges must take leadership roles as well with their coaches and athletes. An aggressive dialogue and educational efforts at all levels will raise awareness and change the culture to more strongly emphasize safety. We challenge everyone in sports to be agents of culture change. And we will learn from each other.

There is more to be done. And we will continue to lead by example.

(Research)

Second, leaders base decisions on facts. We actively support independent and transparent medical research. Much of this focuses on the brain, sometimes called the last frontier of medicine and a public health issue that affects millions. Most of them do not even play sports.

We hope our focus on brain injury and the discoveries ahead will benefit the broader population. We recently committed $30 million to the National Institutes of Health for research on the brain. The agreement with our players sets aside an additional $100 million for similar medical research over the next decade. We have invested millions more in medical research through our charitable foundations, including at the Boston University Center for the Study of CTE. The center’s co-director, Dr. Robert Stern, is here today.

We may learn through breakthroughs in science that there are genetic or other factors that make certain individuals predisposed to concussions or brain disease. If an athlete has repeated concussions or takes longer to recover, it may signal a problem unique to that individual. Such individuals will benefit from advances in the science of concussion. They will be able to make more informed decisions about whether to accept the risk of playing a contact sport.

We support research into new helmet designs and have sponsored independent helmet testing to provide better information to players on helmet performance. One of the helmets our players wear was designed by a former Harvard quarterback, Vin Ferrara.

We may see a day when there are different helmets for different positions, based on which helmet can best protect players at their position.

As a sport that is on the national stage and under the spotlight, we are working to make a difference. Innovations in research today will improve safety in the sport tomorrow and for future generations in all sports.

(Rules)

Third, we are committed to strengthening our playing rules – and insisting on strict enforcement. Preserving the essence of the game, while reducing unnecessary risk, means we have to constantly reevaluate and refresh our rules reasonably and responsibly.

Strategy, strength and speed are what make the game great. We don’t want to take physical contact out of the game. But we must ensure that players follow rules designed to reduce the risk of injury. Enforcing rules on illegal hits to the head with fines and suspensions has changed tackling for the better. Players and coaches have adjusted. They always do. We now see fewer dangerous hits to the head and noticeable changes in the way the game is being played.

We continue to look for other ways to take the head out of the game. Two years ago we moved the kickoff line five yards forward to the 35. That reform yielded real benefits – a 40 percent reduction in concussions last year on kickoffs. College football then adopted our rule. Some think that the kickoff – the play with the highest injury rate – should be eliminated from the game or modified even further.

Here’s an idea I’ve heard from an NFL head coach: put a weight limit on players for kickoffs. Smaller players against smaller players would mean less severe collisions.

We will monitor the data on kickoffs, and all plays, with an open mind toward change.

Our Player Safety Panel, co-chaired by Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and John Madden, has recommended that our Competition Committee carefully review the rules on all blocks below the waist. Protecting “defenseless” players started decades ago by banning the hitting of kickers. We now have nine separate categories of defenseless players in our rule book. All players can be defenseless in certain situations and we must address it comprehensively.

The right safety equipment is also crucial. Next year NFL players will be required to wear knee and thigh pads, as players are required to do at every other level of football. Many NFL players haven’t been wearing them. Getting them into the right equipment is part of changing the culture.

Technology is also helping us. Recent developments include new protocols, certified athletic trainers in press boxes to serve as spotters for team medical staffs, and the use of iPads and cell phones by medical staffs on the sidelines. We allow this technology for medical reasons, but not for competitive purposes.

We are testing accelerometers in helmets. They are sensors that determine the impact of a hit. We are also testing sensors in shoulder pads which could provide important information.

The most significant innovation may be the use of video by medical staffs on the sidelines to evaluate the mechanism of injury. We started it late last season and now use it for every game. It allows team doctors and trainers to more quickly understand and better treat an injury. Our team medical staffs are raving about it.

(Advocacy)

Fourth, we use our leadership position to advocate for safety in sports. We took a lead role in supporting the Zackery Lystedt Youth Concussion Law. It applies to all sports. It requires education for coaches, players, and parents, removal from games or practice for any school athlete who suffers a concussion, and clearance by a medical professional before the athlete can return to play. This law has now been passed by 40 states and the District of Columbia. Our goal is to secure approval in all 50 states. And I am confident that we will get there.

We are committed to the safety of young athletes, starting as soon as they step on the field. My twin daughters in middle school play lacrosse and soccer. Girls’ soccer has the second highest rate of concussions in youth sports. I am concerned for their safety. I want them to play, but I want them to play for coaches who know how to teach proper techniques and who are trained in the safety of their sport.

Ten years ago, we helped endow a non-profit organization called USA Football. With the CDC and other medical and football experts, USA Football created the only nationally accredited coaching course in the history of football. Tens of thousands of coaches have completed the course. Better certification and background checks of all coaches must be among the highest priorities for all youth sports.

USA Football has commissioned an injury study – research that the youth game has never seen. It also established a pilot program this year called “Heads Up Football.” This program invites parents to participate and delivers training and education for safer tackling, practice regimens modeled on the NFL, and a safety coach whose sole task is to monitor and ensure player safety in practices and games.

In fact, there is a critical need for more certified athletic trainers for youth and high school sports. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, in 2010 only 42 percent of high schools had access to certified trainers who were trained in concussion care.

There is more we can do to make youth sports safer. And again, we stand ready to lead.

(Partnerships)

And finally, we know we can’t do it alone. To learn what needs to be learned and do what needs to be done, we need partners with expertise to make things happen.

We will continue to work with leading organizations to support independent research. One day we hope that will include the Harvard School of Public Health.

We have assembled an all-volunteer advisory panel of doctors, scientists, and thought leaders in brain injury from academia, sports medicine, engineering, the NIH, CDC, and Department of Defense. It includes some of our earlier critics. This group has four subcommittees and is directing discussion and research – ranging from long-term outcomes to education to making safer equipment. It includes another Harvard graduate and former Crimson football player, Dr. Mitch Berger. Dr. Robert Cantu, long respected in this area, is here today and he is an advisor to our committee.

We have eight other medical advisory committees within our league, comprised mostly of doctors plus other experts from inside and outside the league. These committees are overseen by a committee of owners chaired by an NFL owner who is also a physician, Dr. John York of the San Francisco 49ers.

Earlier this year, with the help of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, we launched a pilot program to replace helmets in underserved schools.

We need to be driven by facts and data, not perceptions and suppositions. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has done studies on NFL players. This summer NIOSH exploded a myth that has been circulating for years that the life expectancy of NFL players was 55 years of age. That caused many NFL players to make a bad decision to take their pension early at a much lower rate. NIOSH found that the true life expectancy of an NFL player is actually longer than the general population. There are real-life consequences when working off bad facts.

One of our most exciting and innovative new partnerships is with the Army, helping to change the culture in both organizations. Too often, bravery and commitment to the unit or team stand in the way of safety. In this new partnership, NFL players and service members are working together to put in place a culture of safety. It is helping players and soldiers identify the signs and symptoms of brain injuries, and empowering them to make better decisions. We are working cooperatively to make soldiers and athletes safer.

We are proud to be leaders in sports health and safety. Members of Congress, former critics, influential members of the news media, and others have praised our initiatives. But while we have worked hard throughout our history, the right road is never ending. Evolution, by nature, does not stop. Football will always continue to evolve.

The culture of the athlete is still too much of a play-through-it, rather than player safety mentality. Many players have publicly admitted to hiding concussions and other head injuries.

I was recently at dinner with family friends. Their 15-year-old daughter plays field hockey and told me how during a recent game she hit her head on the turf and blacked out for a moment. She didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t want to come out. The next day she was diagnosed with a concussion. It’s the warrior mentality – in a 15-year-old girl. This is unfortunate, but we are working with players, team doctors and coaches to change that culture. It is changing, but will take more time, resolve, patience, and determination.

Let me conclude with a question: What is our goal? I can answer in one simple word: Safety.

A safer game for all who play at every level of football. A safer game made even more exciting through thoughtful adjustments of the rules, next-generation equipment, pioneering research, and transparent partnerships with the best minds.

The road may be long and twisting. But I have no doubt we will reach our destination – a culture of safety for every sport so our world continues to be blessed by the vital and vibrant rewards that come uniquely from sports. For football, I can say with humility, resolve, and confidence: the best is yet to come.

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49ers interview Seahawks exec Scott Fitterer for G.M. job

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  A view of San Francisco 49ers helmets on the bench during their NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium on November 29, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers completed a pair of interviews with members of the Seattle Seahawks front office for their general manager job on Monday.

After speaking with Trent Kirchner in the morning, the 49ers announced they interview Scott Fitterer for the opening Monday afternoon.

Kirchner and Fitterer share the title of co-director of player personnel with the Seahawks under general manager John Schneider. The pair oversees both the college and pro scouting departments of the Seahawks.

The 49ers have interviewed or scheduled interviews with 10 different executives in their search for a replacement for Trent Baalke.

The 49ers also interview Seattle assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable for their head coaching job.

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Which Super Bowl matchup would be the most interesting?

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: A sign outside the stadium promotes Super Bowl LI before the game between the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals at NRG Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) Getty Images

With four teams left, there are four possible Super Bowl matchups. So which one would be the best?

That’s, coincidentally, the PFT Live question of the day for Tuesday.

Answer below, drop a comment, etc., etc., etc.

Guests include Tom Curran of CSN New England and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Join us at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, with the simulcast starting at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN. See you then.

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A.J. Bouye hopes the Texans want him back

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14:  A.J. Bouye #21 of the Houston Texans intercepts a pass in the second quarter against the New England Patriots during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

After a breakout season, Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye is headed for free agency.

The former undrafted free agent had two interceptions in the playoffs and stands to make significant money from some team for 2017 and beyond, but as the Texans officially closed the book on their 2016 season he said he hopes to return.

“[Returning to the Texans would] mean a lot because it [would] show that they wanted me and saw what I did this year and there are better things that are going to happen in the future from an individual and team standpoint,” Bouye said, per the Houston Chronicle. “I’ve been through a lot here with the organization, a lot of ups and downs, and they never gave up on me. I’m appreciative of that. I’d like to be back, but we’ll see what happens.”

Bouye played in 15 games in 2016, starting 11. He posted an interception and a career-high six pass breakups.

Plenty of teams need cornerbacks, and when those teams watched Bouye in 2016 they saw an ascending player who, at a listed height of 6-foot, matches up better with big wide receivers than plenty of smaller cornerbacks do.

Before 2016 Bouye had been a part-time player who had five career starts. Now he is a player who knows he is going to be in demand — unless the Texans sign him before free agency opens in March.

“[I think I proved] that I can play, that’s the main thing,” Bouye said. “That I’m also a team player and a hard worker. I just wanted to prove to everybody that I can play. My past here, I always looked at everything from an individual standpoint. I was always playing the victim. One of the things I had to do was take a step back and realize it’s more than just me. I was doing more for the team: special teams, playing safety, dime [linebacker]. At the end of the day, the more you focus on the team, it makes you play that much harder.”

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When will Jim Irsay break his silence?

Jim Irsay after Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears at Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida on February 4, 2007.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colts owner Jim Irsay has said nothing publicly about his coach and General Manger in the 15 days since the 2016 regular season ended. That could change soon.

Appearing on Monday’s PFT Live, Bob Kravitz of WTHR, who accurately speculated that Irsay was pursuing Peyton Manning and Jon Gruden to replace Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, speculated that something could happen this week.

Kravitz didn’t report anything per se, but he shared his gut feeling that changes could be coming. He also said that he believes the pursuit of Manning likely had ended, with the ball in Manning’s court if he decides he’s ready to take on the task of running a team. Further, Kravitz added one name to the mix who had previously not been mentioned in connection with the Colts: Former Broncos and Washington coach Mike Shanahan.

Irsay’s ongoing silence coupled with reports of efforts to upgrade does little to allow Grigson and Pagano to proceed with the kind of clear mandate that they need. Then again, an 8-8 season that placed the Colts at third place in the division will tend to create uncertainty, especially when the owner has made it clear that he expects multiple championships during Andrew Luck’s career. Five years in, they’re going the wrong way.

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Jaguars hire Tyrone Wheatley as running backs coach

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 22:  Tyrone Wheatley #47 of the Oakland Raiders runs to the outside as defensive end Trevor Pryce #93 of the Denver Broncos pursues him on September 22, 2003 at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 31-10. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars have announced the hiring on Tyrone Wheatley as their new running backs coach.

Wheatley previously coached under new Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone in the college ranks and with the Bills.

Wheatley, 44, had a 10-year career as an NFL running back with the Giants and Raiders. He’s spent the last two seasons as running backs coach at his alma mater, Michigan.

“I am excited to have Tyrone join our staff and work with our running backs,” Marrone said in a statement. “I have worked with him for five years and know the type of leader and teacher that he is. He is an exceptional coach and will bring out the best in his players. He brings a charisma, attitude and Super Bowl-playing experience to the staff that will be vital.”

The Jaguars reportedly interviewed Chip Kelly for their offensive coordinator job on Monday.

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Pete Carroll admits to injury-reporting violation

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 07:  National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell (L) talks with head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks before the NFC Wild Card game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field on January 7, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Getty Images

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll accidentally wandered into quicksand on Monday during a radio appearance, admitting that cornerback Richard Sherman played for much of the year with an MCL injury to his knee that never was disclosed. At his end-of-season press conference conducted later in the day, Carroll admitted to the violation.

“I didn’t realize that we hadn’t even revealed it,” Carroll told reporters, via the transcript generated by the team. “I don’t even remember what game it was, it was somewhere in the middle, he was fine about it, he didn’t miss anything. Same with Russell [Wilson], he was fine about it. I don’t know how they do that, but they did.”

Carroll seems to believe that, because Carroll never missed practice or game time due to the injury, the injury didn’t need to be disclosed.

“He never missed anything, just like Russell [Wilson], Russell never missed anything and Tyler [Lockett], they all had it during the course of the season and they just made it through it,” Carroll said, overlooking the fact that Russell’s MCL injury was properly disclosed. “They never complained, they didn’t want to miss a practice and they basically didn’t miss anything but they were legit, it was legit injury, it showed up and the whole thing. That’s a challenge for anyone. Guys over the league are going through the same thing, our guys just happen to be doing it as well.”

None of this changes the fact that the Seahawks failed to disclose the injury.

“I’m feeling like I screwed that up with not telling you that,” Carroll eventually conceded. “He was OK, so I don’t know, he never missed anything I guess is probably why.”

Still, that’s not the standard. Plenty of players who never miss practice or games nevertheless are disclosed on the injury report. While the league rarely slaps a team for violating the rules, the league rarely has such clear evidence of a violation fall into its lap.

Coupled with a pair of offseason workout violations from the past three offseason, the NFL could be inclined to take potentially significant action against a team that has developed a pattern of breaking the rules. Or, perhaps more accurately given the prevalence of cheating in the NFL, that the Seahawks have developed a pattern of getting caught.

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Jets sign Brian Winters to four-year extension

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:   Brian Winters #67 of the New York Jets in action against  James Hurst #74 of the Baltimore Ravens during their game at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets won’t let right guard Brian Winters hit the open market as a free agent this offseason.

The team announced on Monday evening that Winters has signed a four-year extension with the team. No financial terms were included in the announcement, but multiple reports peg the value at around $8 million per year.

Winters was a third-round pick in 2013 and has started 41 games over his four seasons with the team. Thirteen of those starts came in 2016, although he ended the season on injured reserve thanks to a torn rotator cuff.

Winters turned in good work when he was healthy and his return gives the Jets some certainty at an uncertain spot for the group. Four players ended the year on injured reserve and veteran tackles Breno Giacomini and Ryan Clady could be moving on. Brandon Shell, a 2015 fifth-round pick, likely fits in somewhere, but center Nick Mangold’s $9 million cap number has led to discussion about his future with the team.

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All signs point to Sunday night divisional-round game becoming the norm

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15:  Inside linebacker Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates a play against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s not exactly the discovery of plutonium by accident. But Sunday night was an awakening for the NFL.

Ever since the NFL first started staging Saturday night wild-card and divisional-round playoff games, the possibility of shifting the Sunday schedule from 1:05 p.m. ET and 4:40 p.m. ET to 4:40 p.m. ET and 8:20 p.m. ET had been lingering. And then, with a shift of a single early Sunday game to prime-time necessitated by weather issues in Kansas City, the league apparently will be declaring “eureka!” and making the move permanent.

The league had resisted this in the past because it creates a competitive disadvantage where, as in the case of the Steelers, they traveled home late Sunday night and will travel again before Sunday’s game. Meanwhile, the Patriots played at home on Saturday, don’t have to travel at all, and get extra time to prepare, rest, etc. (And no matter what the Steelers have said or will say publicly, they were not happy about the shift in the starting time for Sunday’s game.)

The next question is whether the league will do the same thing on the Sunday night of the wild-card round. The possibility that a team playing on the first Sunday night of the playoffs would have to play on the following Saturday could be a factor, especially since the home game in the divisional round has 13 or 14 days between games.

The overriding factor continues to be (drum roll, please) money, and the NFL will make more of it if games are dropped into prime time on Sunday night. Also, the league will get even greater exposure from games played during windows that will be conducive to more people watching.

Which makes it odd that it took an experiment born of need to get the NFL to realize what had been hiding in plain sight for years.

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Mike Groh interviews for Eagles wide receivers coaching job

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 15: Brandon Marshall #15 and wide receivers coach Mike Groh on the field during pregame warms up before a game against the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field on December 15, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles interviewed Mike Groh for their vacant wide receivers coaching job on Monday, ESPN’s Adam Caplan reported.

Groh was the wide receivers coach for the Bears from 2013-15 and spent last season as the wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator with the Rams. Groh has also coached in the college ranks including a stint as offensive coordinator under his father, Al Groh, at Virginia.

The Eagles had previously interviewed Bills wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal for the job, which opened following the dismissal of Greg Lewis earlier this month.

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Greg Manusky expected to interview for promotion in Washington

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 26:  Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky of the Indianapolis Colts looks on from the sideline during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 26, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers defeated the Colts 51-34.  (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) Getty Images

The list of candidates for the Redskins’ defensive coordinator job added several names on Monday.

Rob Ryan interviewed with the team and Jason Tarver is expected in later in the week. They are also slated to speak to an in-house candidate.

John Keim of ESPN.com reports that outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky will interview for the coordinator job. Manusky joined Jay Gruden’s staff last year after spending four years as the defensive coordinator for the Colts. Manusky, who played for the Redskins in the late 1980s, has also been the top defensive coach for the Chargers and 49ers.

Mike Pettine and Gus Bradley have also interviewed for the job, with Bradley also believed to be a candidate with the Chargers and a possible choice for Tom Cable if he were to get the 49ers head coaching position.

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Broncos interviewing special teams coaches

broncos helmet getty Getty Images

The Broncos interviewed Bears assistant special teams coach Richard Hightower for the team’s special teams coach position on Monday, Mike Klis of News9 in Denver reported.

Klis reported that Greg McMahon, former Saints special teams coach, will interview for the job on Tuesday.

McMahon was fired by the Saints earlier this month after nine years as special teams coach and 11 with the team.

The Bears hired Hightower last January. He has 10 years of NFL coaching experience including stints in Houston, Washington, Cleveland and San Francisco.

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Bears expected to hire Jeremiah Washburn as offensive line coach

DETROIT, MI - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL,  Jeremiah Washburn of the Detroit Lions poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by NFL via Getty Images) Getty Images

Jeremiah Washburn spent seven years coaching offensive linemen with the Lions and it appears he’s headed back to the NFC North after spending last season in Miami.

Alex Marvez of Sporting News reports that the Bears will hire Washburn as their offensive line coach. They parted ways with Dave Magazu at the end of the season as John Fox shuffled some parts of his staff after a 3-13 season.

Washburn was the assistant offensive line coach in Miami last season and worked under Chris Foerster, who was blocked from interviewing with the Rams about their offensive coordinator vacancy. Washburn was the head line coach in Detroit from 2013-15 and the assistant in his first four years with the club.

Washburn worked with his father Jim in both Detroit and Miami, where the elder Washburn is on the Dolphins staff as a senior defensive assistant and pass rush specialist.

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Andy Reid more measured than Travis Kelce about late holding call

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid speaks during a news conference after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. The Steelers won 18-16. Reid doesn’t believe the holding penalty on left tackle Eric Fisher that cost Kansas City a tying 2-point conversion against Pittsburgh on Sunday night should have been called. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File) AP

Arrowhead Stadium was rocking after Alex Smith found tight end Demetrius Harris in the end zone for a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter, but the joy at tying the game ended when referee Carl Cheffers explained the reason for a penalty flag on the field.

Left tackle Eric Fisher was penalized for holding Steelers linebacker James Harrison and the score remained 18-16 Steelers when the Chiefs couldn’t convert from 10 yards further away. Tight end Travis Kelce had a colorful reaction to the holding call after the game, saying that Cheffers shouldn’t be allowed to wear a striped shirt on an NFL field or as an employee at Foot Locker.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Sunday night that he wanted to see replays of the Fisher-Harrison interaction before sharing his thoughts on the call. He shared them on Monday and found common ground with Kelce about the quality of the call if not the way he chose to express it.

“There are certain things you agree with and don’t agree with during games,” Reid said, via ESPN.com. “It really doesn’t matter now that we’re sitting here. I don’t want to be fined any money but I would tell you I was probably leaning the other way. I thought Fish did what he needed to do on that particular block to get that done and the problem is when [Harrison] slipped it can look worse than it is. I know Fish is going to have a lot of eyes on him for that call, and I’m not sure I completely agree with what took place, but it did. The call was made and we live with that.”

Reid is correct about it not mattering much what the Chiefs think of a call that can’t be changed, no matter how hard it might be to think of anything but that ruling and the loss that followed in the near future.

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Antonio Brown video creates problem for player, team

KANSAS CITY, MP - JANUARY 15: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers congratulates wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 following the Steelers win against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) Getty Images

For Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, the far more significant problem arising from his decision to post live video from the locker room after Sunday night’s win over the Chiefs flows from the undoubtedly strong reaction his head coach will have to the maneuver — especially because the video itself includes an admonition from Mike Tomlin to be smart on social media. But Brown’s behavior created a pair of other problems, for him and for the Steelers.

For starters, Brown violated the league’s social-media policy, which prohibits tweets, live videos, etc. from 90 minutes before kickoff through the conclusion of the post-game media obligations. For that infraction, Brown undoubtedly will be fined.

The broader problem from the team’s perspective is that Brown’s decision to broadcast live video triggers a violation of the league’s TV contracts. The broadcast partners have exclusive rights to video shot in the locker room after the game, and the teams or the league can’t use it for 24 hours. While it’s unlikely that NBC will make a fuss about it, it’s the kind of practice that teams need to prevent; if unchecked, it eventually could trigger a claim that the deals are being breached.

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Texans part ways with George Godsey

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30:  Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans talks with offensive coordinator George Godsey on the sideline in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at NRG Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) Getty Images

At a time when some have been wondering whether the Texans will have a mutual parting with coach Bill O’Brien, the team has indeed experienced a mutual parting, but one level down from the top of the coaching staff.

The Texans have announced that they have parted ways with offensive coordinator George Godsey.

“I’m grateful for the tireless work ethic and contributions George has made to our team over the last three years,” O’Brien said in a team-issued release. “I wish him nothing but the best in the future.”

Earlier in the day, O’Brien hinted that changes could come at the offensive coordinator position.

“We’re looking at everything,” O’Brien told reporters. “Look, George does a lot of good stuff for me — every coach does. I have even met with Bob [McNair] yet. I haven’t met with Rick [Smith] yet. We look at everything. Every coach is evaluated. I’m evaluated. I haven’t even heard about my evaluation from the owner. Look, I expect to be here next year, but we will begin the evaluation process here in a minute. Now, don’t take that and run with it, either. I’m going to be the head coach here next year. Again, just trying to inject some humor into it, but again it will be a headline. Everything is evaluated and that’s the process that starts here this afternoon.”

Apparently, the end result of the evaluation process was that O’Brien will return. He’ll return with a new offensive coordinator.

To make a quality hire, O’Brien will have to convince the person to whom he offers the job that it will be an assignment that lasts more than one season. Given that every joke has a kernel of truth, that may not be easy to do.

Given that the Texans are tied to Brock Osweiler for another season, it may be even more difficult to do.

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