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As good as the early game was, second game as slow

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Getty Images

With a little luck, you planned your Thanksgiving dinner for about 15 minutes ago.

After a frantic back-and-forth first game between the Texans and Lions, the Cowboys and Redskins are the tryptophan coma portion of the day.

A scoreless tie at the end of the first quarter is unfolding, with exactly none of the drama of the early game.

The Cowboys are throwing the kitchen sink at Robert Griffin III, working as hard as possible to confuse the rookie with a short week of preparation.

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Wells Report: Brady, Pats staffer accused of manipulating footballs spoke at least six times after deflation allegations arose

Tom Brady Says He Didn't Alter Footballs In Colts Game Getty Images

Among the most notable assertions in Wednesday’s Wells Report on alleged football under-inflation by the Patriots was that investigators believe it was “more probable than not” that New England quarterback Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” that two Patriots gameday employees were letting air out of footballs.

Writing in the report, the investigative team points to the “material increase in the frequency of telephone and text communications” between Brady and a Patriots staffer alleged to have manipulated footballs as “evidence of Brady‟s awareness” of efforts to under-inflate footballs.

Those communications, the report alleges, picked up beginning on Monday, January 19, when the deflation allegations came to light.

According to the Wells Report, Brady and Patriots equipment assistant John Jastremski communicated via telephone at least six times before Jastremski turned in his telephone to the Patriots to be imaged forensically on January 21.

Overall, Brady and Jastremski had two conversations apiece occurring on January 20 and 21 and “at least” two conversations on January 19, investigators assert. Brady and Jastremski spoke for nearly an hour in total over the three days, the Wells Report found.

Moreover, investigators allege they found Brady sent text messages to Jastremski “seemingly designed to calm” the equipment assistant.

“You good Jonny boy?” read one of the texts allegedly sent by Brady to Jastremski.

Wrote Jastremski in one of his text messages to Brady, as found by the report: “Still nervous; so far so good though.”

According to the Wells Report, Jastremski and Brady had not texted or communicated over the phone for more than six months prior to January 19.

Brady is also alleged to have invited Jastremski to the Patriots’ quarterbacks room on January 19 — something that had never occurred previously, Jastremski was alleged to have told investigators.

After the inflation allegations against the Patriots surfaced after their win in the AFC title game on January 18, Brady told Boston radio station WEEI that it was “ridiculous” to believe New England was improperly altering footballs.

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Wells report chides Patriots for not cooperating with investigation

Robert Kraft AP

Patriots owner Robert Kraft promised his full cooperation with the Ted Wells investigation.

What Wells found from the Patriots was something that falls well below the threshold of full.

The Wells report said that the Patriots refused to make officials locker room attendant Jim McNally available for a follow-up interview which was requested, “despite our offer to meet at any time and location that would be convenient for McNally.”

The report said Patriots counsel apparently didn’t inform McNally of the request, and that the refusal “violated the club‟s obligations to cooperate with the investigation under the Policy on Integrity of the Game & Enforcement of League Rules and was inconsistent with public statements made by the Patriots pledging full cooperation with the investigation.”

That sets the stage for some significant punishment for the team, which began this process with bluster, demanding an apology from the league if no evidence was found.

The team wasn’t alone playing keep-away, as quarterback Tom Brady refused to provide text messages and e-mails “even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation” which means they weren’t just looking for cell phone pics of Gisele Bundchen.

The report also concluded that the Patriots “questioned the integrity and objectivity of game officials, various NFL executives and certain NFL Security representatives present at the AFC Championship Game or otherwise involved in the investigative process.”

That’s not surprising. People put on the defensive act defensively. But the team that boasted about full cooperation then refused to cooperate fully, and that’s something the organization will likely answer for soon.

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Brady assured Belichick he did nothing wrong in Deflategate

bradybelichick AP

During the week after the AFC Championship Game, when Deflategate became the No. 1 story in America, Patriots coach Bill Belichick privately talked to quarterback Tom Brady and asked him directly whether he had ordered anyone to deflate the team’s footballs. Brady assured Belichick he’d done nothing wrong.

That’s the word from the report from investigator Ted Wells, which says that Brady convinced Belichick that no rules had been broken.

“Belichick asked Brady directly whether he had any knowledge about any of the issues raised by the press since the AFC Championship Game,” the report says. “According to Belichick, Brady said ‘absolutely not.’ Belichick stated that he then asked if Brady or anyone Brady knew had tampered with or in any way altered the footballs. Brady again denied any knowledge or involvement. Belichick recalled that Brady also explained that once he inspects and approves game balls, those balls are exactly as he likes them and that he would not want anyone to do anything to them after that point. Belichick believed Brady. Belichick and Brady attended the team meeting, and Belichick told the team that there was ‘not one shred of truth’ to the deflation allegations. When given the floor, Brady repeated what he had told Belichick about wanting game balls to be exactly as he approved them.”

The investigation strongly suggests that Brady did, in fact, pressure the Patriots’ equipment staff to deflate footballs used by the team. But the investigation also suggests that Belichick was unaware. If the NFL is going to make a high-profile person within the Patriots organization suffer consequences over this, it’s going to be Brady, not Belichick.

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Text messages suggest Tom Brady had knowledge of deflating

New England Patriots Training Camp: Day One Getty Images

Of all the elements of the Ted Wells report which cast Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in a poor light, a series of text message exchanges between the pair of guys who got game balls where they needed to be and when are near the top of the list.

The messages, not all of which are able to be reprinted here on a family website, give a pretty strong suggestion that not only was Brady in on the deflation, but that he was signing autographs in exchange for special treatment.

The messages between Jim McNally [the officials locker room attendant] and John Jastremski [a Patriots equipment assistant] show a level of detail and planning that indicates this wasn’t a random, or one-time occurrence.

The first exchange was after an Oct. 17, 2014 game against the Jets when Brady complained about the pressure of the balls.

Jastremski wrote “Tom sucks. im going make that next ball a f—in balloon.”

McNally replied: “Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done…”

McNally, apparently not a fan of Brady’s (or at least his level of attention of air pressure) made several references to pumping the balls up to “watermleon” or “rugby” size, since Brady preferred softer ones for better control.

Prior to the next game, McNally wrote: “The only thing deflating his passing rating.”

There was then a discussion of McNally receiving free shoes and gear, and prior to the Jan. 10 game against the Ravens, the two of them were in the equipment room with Brady when McNally “received two footballs autographed by Brady and also had Brady autograph a game-worn Patriots jersey that McNally previously had obtained.”

McNally later referred to himself as “the deflator,” and chided Jastremski by saying “im not going to espn……..yet.”

Those exchanges make it hard to imagine Brady had no knowledge of what’s going on, which he’ll need to answer for later.

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Ryan Grigson complained to NFL about Patriots’ footballs both before and during AFC Championship Game

Grigson AP

Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson complained to the NFL both before and during the AFC Championship Game that the Patriots were cheating by illegally deflating their footballs.

The Deflategate report released today says that Grigson first contacted the NFL the day before the game, sending the NFL’s football operations department an email stating that Colts equipment manager Sean Sullivan had told him it was commonly known around the league that the Patriots regularly violated the rules by deflating their footballs.

“As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don‟t get an illegal advantage,” said the email from Grigson, which attributed that “well known” information to Sullivan.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino made a point of telling referee Walt Anderson before the AFC Championship Game to make sure the Patriots’ footballs were checked. But after the Colts intercepted two Tom Brady passes, both footballs were checked on the Colts’ sideline and found to be under-inflated. Word of that got up to Grigson, and he went to league officials to complain just before halftime.

“Grigson said that he made clear to [NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent and V.P. of game operations Mike Kensil] that he understood that there was a problem with the inflation level of a Patriots football—the precise issue the Colts had raised prior to the game—and that he was not happy about the situation. Kensil and Vincent told Grigson that they were on their way to look into the issue,” the Deflategate report says.

Now, more than three months later, the investigation has concluded that it’s more likely than not that those footballs were under-inflated purposely by the Patriots. Grigson was right to complain.

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NFL may discipline Tom Brady over Deflategate

AFC Champion New England Patriots Team Media Availability AP

Tom Brady may face league discipline after the Deflategate investigation has come to an end.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged in his brief statement on the matter that the league will consider “possible disciplinary action.” Goodell didn’t mention Brady or anyone else by name in that statement, but the investigation concluded “it is more probable than not” that Brady was generally aware that Patriots employees were taking air out of footballs to give Brady a competitive advantage.

Given that, it also seems more probable than not that Brady will be disciplined. Brady’s name is mentioned 378 times in the Deflategate report. By contrast, Bill Belichick’s name is mentioned 32 times. If some high-profile member of the Patriots organization is going to be in trouble over this, it’s Brady.

What kind of discipline is Brady facing? That’s impossible to say, given that there’s never been a rules violation like this in NFL history. The league might consider a fine to be severe enough, but a suspension can’t be ruled out.

Brady is an NFL icon, perhaps the NFL’s biggest and best star of his generation. He now may have a permanently tarnished image.

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Bears agree with WR Kevin White, DL Eddie Goldman

Kevin White AP

The Bears aren’t wasting any time striking deals with their draft picks.

Chicago announced Wednesday it had agreed to contracts with first-round pick Kevin White and second-round selection Eddie Goldman.

A wide receiver from West Virginia, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound White will push to start immediately opposite Alshon Jeffery in Chicago. He was timed at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yards dash at the 2015 NFL Combine, tied for third-best among wideouts.

Goldman (6-4, 336) is likely to contribute at nose tackle for the Bears. The Florida State product was voted a first-team All-American by The Associated Press in 2014.

Third-round pick Hroniss Grasu, a center from Oregon, is the lone Bears draftee yet to reach a deal with the club.

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Rex Ryan won’t stop players from speaking freely

LeSean McCoy AP

Bills tailback LeSean McCoy garnered widespread attention Wednesday for his published remarks in ESPN The Magazine claiming his former head coach, Chip Kelly, had gotten rid of “all the good black players” in Philadelphia.

At a press conference today, Bills head coach Rex Ryan indicated reporters would be best asking McCoy about his comments.

“Anything that’s brought up with a guy in his past, with a different team, is better addressed with him, not me,” Ryan said, according to ESPN’s Mike Rodak.

However, Ryan also noted that he was “not going to put a muzzle” on his players, as ESPN noted.

As policies go, this seems a fair one: you can speak freely, but you have to own your remarks. It’s a policy Ryan has applied to himself over the years, which makes it easy to set down for the rest of the team.

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Ted Wells: “More probable than not” Patriots manipulated balls

Tom Brady AP

The NFL has released the long-awaited DeflateGate report, and the short version of the findings by Ted Wells is that the Patriots seem to have done something funny here.

The full report was released moments ago, and in his summary, Wells writes that the irregularities in the balls used in the AFC Championship Game.

“For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules,” Wells concluded. “In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally [the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots] and John Jastremski [an equipment assistant for the Patriots] participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.

“Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady [the quarterback for the Patriots] was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

That’s a huge finding, particularly as it relates to Brady, who has previously avoided adding much fuel to the fire.

We’ll be going through the full report this afternoon and bringing you the latest on a complicated story.

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Rex Ryan: I had dinner with La’el Collins and “that’s really the extent of it”

Rex Ryan AP

In response to questions about teams meeting with undrafted LSU tackle La’El Collins on Tuesday, the NFL explained in an email to PFT that “clubs are prohibited from visiting a player who was eligible for the 2015 Draft at his campus or residence if the player has withdrawn from school and final exams have yet to conclude at the school.”

That explanation came a day after Bills coach Rex Ryan reportedly had dinner with Collins in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after contacting Collins himself. On Wednesday, Ryan confirmed that he broke bread with Collins but shared little else beyond the fact that he had gumbo rather than a reported lobster appetizer.

“I did have dinner with him. That’s really the extent of it,” Ryan said, via Mike Rodak of

Rodak described Ryan as “uncharacteristically quiet” about the dinner, their conversation and the Bills’ level of interest in bringing Collins on board. Teams will likely continue to be on the reserved side when it comes to interest in Collins, who will be free to meet with the Bills, Dolphins and anyone else when LSU wraps up the school year on May 9.

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The artist formerly known as Evan Dietrich-Smith shortens name

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Getty Images

Ndamukong Suh won’t have Evan Dietrich-Smith to kick around anymore.

And neither will anyone else.

The Buccaneers announced the offensive lineman would heretofore be known as Evan Smith, which was the name he went by until college.

He signed with the Buccaneers last offseason, after a stint with the Packers best known for being stomped on by the former Lions defensive tackle, who is now in Miami.

No explanation was given for the change, though we can only presume he was not adopted by Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith.

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Marv Hubbard passes away at age 68

Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

Former NFL fullback Marv Hubbard, a key cog for the 1970s Raiders, passed away Monday at age 68, the Raiders said.

A three-time Pro Bowler with Oakland (1971, 1972, 1973), Hubbard rushed for 4,544 yards and 23 touchdowns in eight NFL seasons. An 11th-round pick from Colgate, Hubbard played his first seven pro campaigns with the Raiders (1969-1975) before finishing his career with the Lions in 1977.

“He was a hard runner,” former Raiders head coach John Madden said of Hubbard in a statement issued by the club. “We used to use him — you think back now, people don’t do things like this, but we used to run him early to kind of wear the defense down and then in the middle we would pass and do all our stuff, and then when we got ahead we would run him to finish the game. He was a great game finisher.

“Once we got that lead, you weren’t going to get it back again. You weren’t going to get the lead back again. You weren’t going to get the ball back again, and we had the defense worn down, and we just kept feeding Marv Hubbard, and Marv Hubbard loved that part of football.”

Hubbard had been dealing with prostate cancer, his wife, Virginia, told the Bay Area News Group.

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Shonn Greene missing Titans voluntary work due to family obligations

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptvjndfmndy2yja4nzfiyjuzytdkzmyzngqyzgfhntux AP

The Titans selected running back David Cobb in the fifth round of the draft and the arrival of the big back was seen as bad news for Shonn Greene’s future in Tennessee.

It doesn’t look like he’ll be able to convince anyone otherwise during the team’s voluntary work this offseason. Paul Kuharsky of reports that Greene has not been with the team since their workouts started two weeks ago.

Per Kuharsky, Greene is spending time with his three-week-old son and spoke to the team about the need to handle his paternal obligations. He is expected to take part in the team’s mandatory minicamp next month.

Cobb joins last year’s leading rusher Bishop Sankey, Greene, Antonio Andrews and Lache Seastrunk on the running back depth chart in Tennessee. Greene has run for 687 yards on 171 carries in two years with the Titans and is set to make $3.5 million in 2015, all but $833,000 of which the Titans would get back under the cap if they parted ways with the veteran.

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Eric Weddle: I’m not coming in until Chargers do something

San Diego Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

The Chargers have been working out without safety Eric Weddle for the last couple of weeks and it looks like they’ll continue to be without one of their top defensive players.

Weddle is in the final year of his deal and wants a new contract with the Chargers, something that General Manager Tom Telesco said he has “no doubt” they’ll be discussing now that the draft is over. Until those discussions pick up steam, however, Weddle said he’ll be doing his work apart from the team.

“I’m not coming in anytime soon until something on their side is said,” Weddle said during an appearance with Dan Sileo of The Mighty 1090. “They know where we’re at and they obviously know their stance, so we’ll see what happens from there.”

Weddle said that he’s been in contact with defensive coordinator John Pagano about changes to the team’s defensive playbook and the team doesn’t have any mandatory work until minicamp starts on June 16. That leaves some time to start working toward an agreement that would keep Weddle from deciding whether he wants to risk fines as part of his push for a new deal.

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Falcons reach deals with 19 undrafted free agents

Terron Ward AP

The brother of a Pro Bowl safety is among 19 undrafted free agents who have reached deals with the Falcons.

Oregon State’s Terron Ward, the brother of Broncos standout safety T.J. Ward, is the lone running back among the undrafted free agents announced by Atlanta on Tuesday.

Ward (5-7, 201) rushed for a career-high 696 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Beavers in 2014. He suffered a season-ending torn meniscus in Oregon State’s upset of Arizona State in November.

Ward will aim to stick in a Falcons backfield that includes fellow rookie Tevin Coleman and veterans Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith.

The Falcons also reached agreements with the following rookie free agents: North Texas linebacker Derek Akunne, Tarleton State defensive tackle Chris Brown, Central Oklahoma wide receiver Marquez Clark, Azusa Pacific offensive lineman Cody Clay, Louisville safety Terell Floyd, Northern Arizona tight end Beau Gardner, Wisconsin defensive tackle Warren Herring, Fort Valley State cornerback Mike Lee, Cincinnati offensive tackle Eric Lefeld, Oregon linebacker Derrick Malone, Houston defensive tackle Joey Mbu, Central Florida cornerback Jordan Ozerities, Florida Atlantic safety Damian Parms, Ottawa University wide receiver Joshua Stangby, Auburn safety Robenson Therezie, New Mexico State center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, Texas Central cornerback Kevin White and Indiana wide receiver Shane Wynn.

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