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Talented but troubled Sheldon Richardson declares for NFL draft

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Sheldon Richardson, a physically gifted defensive tackle who carries some off-field baggage and injury concerns, has declared his intention to leave Missouri early and enter the 2013 NFL draft.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Richardson definitely has NFL talent. He was a highly recruited prospect out of high school who had 18.5 tackles for loss in two seasons at Missouri, after starting his college career at the junior college level. But Richardson played through a shoulder injury in 2011 and had shoulder surgery early this year, which could raise a medical red flag, and he also was suspended for a game this season, reportedly for blowing off a team-issued punishment for skipping class. Richardson is also known for running his mouth, including saying before Missouri played Georgia that Georgia plays “old-man football.” (Georgia then beat Missouri 41-20.)

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he supports Richardson’s decision to turn pro.

“I’ve always said that when guys have opportunities like these, if they’re ready to go, then they should go,” Pinkel said. “I have no doubt that Sheldon is ready to play in the NFL, and while we’d love to have him for another year, the important thing is that this is the right decision. It will be fun watching him play on Sundays.”

Richardson will be one of the most intriguing defensive line prospects in this year’s draft.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

Marshawn Lynch AP

Should the Bills cut LeSean McCoy?

Dolphins quarterback Earl Morrall, who died last year at age 79, was diagnosed with CTE.

Dante Scarnecchia could be just what the Patriots’ offensive line needs.

Jets G Brian Winters is getting a $1 million raise.

In Baltimore, they say the Broncos’ defense doesn’t compare to the 2000 Ravens.

Can the Bengals win their first Super Bowl a year from now?

The Browns could be interested in QB Brock Osweiler.

The Steelers signed a guard to a future contract.

A former Texans linebacker is heading to the CFL.

Although Colts K Adam Vinatieri is about to become a free agent, he doesn’t appear interested in signing elsewhere.

The Jaguars get 1.8 times as much revenue from a game in London as a game in Jacksonville.

Michael Griffin said he had a feeling the Titans were going to cut him yesterday: “As soon as that phone call came in, I told my fiancée, `Hey, I think I’m about to get released.’ You never get a phone call like that, especially early in the morning of the offseason from the head coach. So I just knew.”

Broncos GM John Elway commended Gary Kubiak for the way he handled the quarterback position all season.

Tony Gonzalez is hoping to be added to the Chiefs’ ring of honor.

The Raiders are long shots in the Super Bowl LI odds.

Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is looking forward to coaching Melvin Gordon.

Here’s a look at some defensive backs the Cowboys could target in the draft.

The Giants are in good enough cap shape that they’re not likely to cut anyone any time soon.

Should the Eagles draft a quarterback?

Are oddsmakers underestimating Washington’s chances in 2016?

Bears Hall of Famer Mike Singletary wonders if Cam Newton can take the heat.

Lions President Rod Wood is feeling optimistic about the 2016 season.

As usual under Ted Thompson, the Packers are in good cap shape.

The Vikings have plenty of offseason work to do.

Former Falcon Asante Samuel recently sold his house for $5.4 million.

Panthers QB Cam Newton will still be a hot commodity in the endorsement market, despite his disappointing Super Bowl.

The Saints are looking for a long-term answer at kicker.

Hall of Famer Donnie Shell will present Tony Dungy at the Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals need a better pass rush.

Kain Colter is the first signing for the Rams in Los Angeles.

The 49ers’ playing surface held up pretty well in the Super Bowl.

Marshawn Lynch’s retirement announcement was fitting for a guy who hated talking to the media.

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Stedman Bailey still hopes for NFL return

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 07: Strong safety Phillip Thomas #41 of the Washington Redskins is stiff armed by wide receiver Stedman Bailey #12 of the St. Louis Rams in the third quarter of a game at FedExField on December 7, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Wide receiver Stedman Bailey was shot in the head twice on November 24, leading to surgery and a lengthy hospital stay that ended with Bailey headed home just before the start of 2016.

Along the way, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said that Bailey was probably done playing football as a result of the injuries he suffered in the shooting but Bailey’s not quite ready to write himself off. In a YouTube video shot by Geoff Coyle of West Virginia Illustrated and titled “Steddy Ambition,” Bailey admits his doctors are doubtful about his chances of returning and outlines one potential fear that’s been expressed to him.

“My neurosurgeon was also extremely concerned about me making a return to the NFL, because when I did get shot in the head, it was pretty much like the worst kind of concussions that you can have,” Bailey said. “Just being that football is such a physical sport, guys have concussions all the time. I would say that’s probably the scariest part about it, because at the end of the day, I just want to have my mind functioning where I can be a good family man, be a good dad, just be myself. That’s one thing I think is scary.”

Bailey is running and lifting weights, although the amount of weight he’s working with is down significantly from where he was before the shooting. That’s not stopping him from trying to “continue to live out my dream,” although it seems there’s still a fair distance to go before Bailey can realistically hope to return to the field.

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Mario Williams: Given the opportunity, I’ll get back to what I was

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Mario Williams #94 of the Buffalo Bills warms up before the game against the New York Jets at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images) Getty Images

Defensive end Mario Williams wasn’t a fan of the defensive scheme the Bills ran during the 2015 season and he didn’t have much of a problem letting people know about it.

Williams, whose production dropped to five sacks after he had 38 in his first three years with the Bills, complained about the way he and others on the defense were being used on multiple occasions during the season. The year wasn’t over before reports surfaced that the Bills would release Williams to save nearly $13 million in cap space, something that Williams believes will be the first step toward an on-field resurgence.

“It’s kind of crazy when you are asked to do something that is totally different, but yet as a whole it didn’t work out defensively,” Williams said, via Josina Anderson of ESPN.com. “But yet I’m the one whose production has fallen off? Like, that is why I’m saying, I’m prepared for anything because I know I’m going to prove a point and that is not even a question in my mind. At the end of the day, if I’m not there, I’ll show you that I’m better than what I’ve been before. Like, that’s just a chip on my shoulder regardless of whether I am there or not, because given the opportunity I’ll get back to what I was.”

Williams repeated his dissatisfaction with not being allowed to “attack and get after it” in the Bills scheme, so it’s clear what he’ll be looking for in a next stop. The Bills are free to part ways with him at any time and Williams would likely prefer sooner rather than later so that he can talk to teams before free agency floods the field with other options.

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Nearly half the league still hasn’t won a Super Bowl

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The NFL now has closed the books on 50 Super Bowls. And in a 32-team league, only 19 of the teams have ever won a Lombardi Trophy.

Which means that (abacus engaged) 13 teams have never won a Super Bowl. That’s nearly half of the entire league.

The non-champions are the Bills, Browns, Bengals, Jaguars, Texans, Titans, Chargers, Eagles, Vikings, Lions, Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals.

Since the Buccaneers exited that list in Super Bowl XXXVI, only the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV and the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII have joined the ranks of the Lombardi owners.

So as the NFL embarks on the next 50 Super Bowls, the question is how much smaller this bizarro baker’s dozen will be after the NFL plays what likely will be the next championship game that ditches the Roman numeral C for 100.

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John Elway says Broncos among best defenses in NFL history

Super Bowl 50 Champion Denver Broncos at the Denver City and County Building on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50. Getty Images

The Broncos showed they were the best defense in the NFL over the course of the 2015 season and the playoffs.

And the man who built them thinks they deserve to be considered among the best of all-time.

During the Broncos victory parade yesterday, executive vice president John Elway made that bold proclamation to adoring fans.

“I know one thing: I wouldn’t want to play them. I’m glad I didn’t have to play them,” Elway said, via the Denver Post. “Obviously, we’re biased in the fact that we rode their coattails all the way to the championship.

“To me, to sit here and say, if you look at it, if you look at the performance in that Super Bowl, they are in the argument to be one of the best ever. It’s hard to say that they’re going to be that, but they’re in the argument, which is a compliment to them.”

Of course, there are other teams which might disagree with Elway, and you can too, down in the comments section.

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Former Panthers G.M. cheats death, as car hits radio studio

17529d1296072619-panthers-gm-marty-hurney-says-quarterback-teams-marty-hurney Getty Images

Reality came crashing down on the Panthers Sunday in the form of Von Miller and the Broncos defense.

For former Panthers G.M. Marty Hurney, it came in the form of a car coming through the window of his downtown radio studio, while he was on the air.

Hurney and former Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorensen were discussing the Panthers’ loss, and about to go to break Monday afternoon when a car wreck at a nearby corner sent one of the vehicles through the window of the studio at ESPN 730. The studio sits on a corner near Bank of America Stadium, not far from where quarterback Cam Newton was hit by a car in 2014.

The station posted audio of the moment of the crash, which is hilarious as soon as you realize no one was hurt. In fact, you can hear Hurney asking reporter Molly Cotten if she’s OK moments before she sent them to a break.

And they realized the humor too, after the fact.

“You should have seen Sorensen sprint out of the room,” Hurney said via text. “Lucky he didn’t pull a hammy.”

The identity of the driver who nearly became a part of Hurney’s show (or nearly ended it) is unclear, though suspects include the Jake Delhomme contract extension of 2009 and every running back in the NFL who was trying to get him to throw money at them.

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Young Peyton had a very specific way of picking on a younger Eli

Zz1lM2QxNzk5ODEwOGRmY2IyOWQzZjdmMzc3OGQ4NDlhNg== AP

In the two-plus days since the Super Bowl, much has been said about Eli Manning’s blank stare after it became apparent that his brother, Peyton, would win a second Super Bowl ring. Two days before the Super Bowl, Eli shared some details of a time when Peyton’s actions were eliciting something other than blank stares from his kid brother.

During a Friday visit to PFT Live at the Super Bowl, I asked Eli to share details regarding some of the worst things his older brothers, Peyton and Cooper, did to him when they were young.

“You know they were pretty nice to me,” Eli said. “I think the biggest thing they did, mostly Peyton because you know Cooper is older than him, [Cooper] would pick on [Peyton]. So I come along, I’m gonna take it. So [Peyton] would pin me down, you know, put his knees on my arms. He’d just start knocking on my chest until I named at the the time the 28 teams in the NFL. So I got smart eventually I could rip those off pretty quickly. We went college divisions, different things and then if he just wanted to make me cry he’d say, ‘Name ten brands of cigarettes.’ I’m like, ‘I’m seven years old I haven’t started smoking cigarettes quite yet,’ but that’s when I’d just start yelling for mom.”

Until Sunday night, Eli had a leg up on Peyton with those two Super Bowl rings. And while Peyton insisted after the game that he and Eli don’t think in those terms, if they’re in any way normal, at some level it had at least crossed their minds. Eli’s story paints a picture of a very normal big brother/little brother relationship, and while as adults they undoubtedly support each other completely, the inner child who used to pin Eli down and knock on his chest surely is feeling relieved that they’re even, at least for now.

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Vilma: We didn’t game-plan to stop T.O.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

To the extent that the Hall of Fame voters unofficially opted for receiver Marvin Harrison over receiver Terrell Owens due to a de facto waiting line among wideouts, the unofficially official explanation was that Owens was a disruptive presence in multiple NFL cities. Another unofficially official explanation may have been available.

Former Jets and Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma recently explained that his teams didn’t game plan specifically to stop Owens, like they did with Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson. That an argument was used to keep receiver Art Monk out of the Hall of Fame for years, before he eventually got in.

Whatever the unofficially official reason, Owens eventually will get in. He’s now in the same waiting line that put Monk, Harrison, and others in after a delay from which only Jerry Rice has been exempt. And the waiting line is the officially unofficial reason for the decision to keep Owens out, at least for a year.

In contrast, quarterback Brett Favre got in on his first try with, reportedly, a six-second debate — even though it could have been argued that his annual flirtation with retirement from 2002 through 2007 followed by a retirement and strategically-timed unretirement in July 2008 was disruptive and distracting to his latter years with the Packers. While Favre’s wishy-washiness helped deliver Aaron Rodgers to Green Bay in the first round of the 2005 draft, Favre’s lack of a clear, unequivocal commitment to the game for nearly half of his career was a non-issue when it was time to coronate him with a spot in Canton.

For Owens, the coronation eventually will come. But someone had to lose the numbers game in 2016, and it was Owens. Apparently, an unofficially official explanation unrelated to disruptiveness may have been available.

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Reggie Bush says he has no plans to retire

Reggie Bush AP

Reggie Bush’s 2015 season came to an abrupt end after skidding on concrete at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis in November.

The slip left Bush with a torn ACL and ended his season after just five games with the San Francisco 49ers.

But despite the injury and the fact he’ll be 31 in March, Bush isn’t considering retirement yet. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Bush wants to keep playing in 2016.

“I’m not retiring,” Bush said. “I’m still playing. No, I’m not done. And I would never – knock on wood – I never want to end my career like that, going out with that.”

Bush had just eight carries for 28 yards in five games with San Francisco last season before the injury. He also carried just 76 times for 297 yards and two touchdowns in 2014 with the Lions as both seasons have been plagued by injuries.

Bush will be a free agent when the new league year begins next month.

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Super Bowl 50 first in 22 years without a touchdown pass

Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning, right, is sacked by Carolina Panthers’ Luke Kuechly (59) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) AP

The NFL has increasingly become more of a passing league over the last two decades as offensive production has exploded to previously unseen heights.

But Super Bowl 50 featured a rare occurrence when it comes to the NFL’s championship game.

Neither Peyton Manning or Cam Newton completed a touchdown pass in the Denver Broncos 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night. It’s just the first time in 22 years – and fourth time in history – that the Super Bowl didn’t feature a touchdown pass.

Super Bowl XXVIII between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills was the last Super Bowl without a passing touchdown. Emmitt Smith ran for two touchdowns in the Cowboys 30-13 win over the Bills.

Super Bowl VIII between the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings and Super Bowl III between the New York Jets and Baltimore Colts are the only other Super Bowls that didn’t feature a touchdown pass. The Dolphins beat the Vikings 24-7 behind two Larry Csonka rushing touchdowns. Matt Snell of the Jets and Jerry Hill of the Colts each found the end zone on the ground in the Jets’ 16-7 victory.

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Tony Dungy, Malik Jackson headline Wednesday’s PFT Live

Zz05ZDQ2NTc2OTFhMjMzMTUxNzBjNTc2ZjllYjMzMzEwOQ== AP

Day Three of the newly-reconfigured PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio gets rolling at 6:00 a.m. ET, and the final-hour simulcast on NBCSN features a couple of great guests.

Hall of Famer Tony Dungy and Broncos defensive lineman Malik Jackson join the show at 8:15 a.m. ET and 8:35 a.m. ET, respectively.

The two hours before that will include plenty of news, analysis, and hot-takery, with a visit from Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer regarding the latest in the daily drip-drip-drip of news regarding eventually-former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Until then, here’s a snippet from Tuesday’s PFT on NBCSN with plenty of high praise for Jackson, from Jonathan Vilma and yours truly.

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Broncos should consider exclusive version of franchise tag for Von Miller

Zz1jYjY1NWYyZDI5MGJjZGI4MTJmZDFkNjRjMGY0NGIzNA== AP

Last year, after the Chiefs applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to linebacker Justin Houston, speculation emerged that a team would gladly give up a pair of first-round picks as compensation for signing him to an offer sheet that Kansas City wouldn’t or couldn’t match. Ultimately, no one did.

This year, the Broncos plan to use the franchise tag if they can’t work out a long-term deal with linebacker Von Miller. If they ultimately apply the non-exclusive version of the tag to Miller, would another team sign the Super Bowl 50 MVP to an offer sheet?

The teams most tempted would be those currently picking at the bottom of round one, since they wouldn’t be giving up a high pick to get Miller now — and presumably wouldn’t be giving up a high pick in 2017, either.

One way for Denver to prevent an effort to swipe Miller would be to use the exclusive version of the franchise tag, which would increase Miller’s tender from the non-exclusive amount of roughly $14 million to the average of the five highest 2016 linebacker cap numbers.

Ultimately, the difference in amounts may not be significant. Making the decision to use the exclusive tag easier.

The safest course would be to get Miller signed before the deadline for using the tag. Then, it could be applied to someone else, like defensive lineman Malik Jackson. Whether they can get Miller signed before the tag deadline depends on how much Miller wants, and how much the Broncos are willing to pay. If a middle ground can’t be reached, the Broncos should consider using the exclusive version of the tag.

Otherwise, someone else could be breaking the bank for the man who did the most to shut down Carolina’s offense in the Super Bowl.

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Obama calls Broncos to congratulate them on Super Bowl win

BRIGHTON, CO - OCTOBER 26:  Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks on a cell phone to a potential voter during a stop at a campaign office October 26, 2008 in Brighton, Colorado. Obama continues to campaign as Election Day begins to draw near as he runs against his Republican challenger, Sen. John McCain.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) Getty Images

At one point, the Super Bowl postgame coverage included the handing of a phone to the coach of the winning team with a call from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Nowadays, the call comes after the fact.

The Broncos have announced that President Barack Obama called coach Gary Kubiak and team captain DeMarcus Ware on Tuesday to congratulate them on the win.

Quarterback Peyton Manning wasn’t included in the call. Possibly because his Colts beat Obama’s Bears in Super Bowl XLI. (That probably wasn’t the reason. But it would be great if it were.)

The Broncos eventually will visit the White House to meet with Obama. The biggest question is whether the menu for the occasion will include mozzarella sticks and, if so, whether Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller will eat them.

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Strange facts emerge about Super Bowl 50 replay assistant

Zz01N2RkYjhhOGJiNzZmODk4NjE4Njk5MGNkYjBmM2ZlNQ== AP

From Super Bowl 50 comes a strange postscript that could have become a major problem for the NFL. Via TheBigLead.com, the wife of the game’s replay assistant attended the game as a fan of the Broncos.

Jimmy Oldham reportedly is a Denver-area resident. His wife donned a Broncos jersey for the game and posted a celebratory video to a public Facebook page.

A replay assistant’s potential impact on a given game is limited, especially where (as in this case) NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino was in the booth. Still, it’s a bad look for the league — and it’s something that easily could have been avoided by appointing a replay assistant: (1) who doesn’t live in the Denver area; and (2) whose wife isn’t a Broncos fan.

Per TheBigLead.com, the NFL declined to respond to questions regarding officiating assignments in relation to residency.

During the officiating lockout of 2012, the NFL yanked side judge Brian Stropolo from a Saints-Panthers game due to his status as a rabid Saints fan. As former official Jim Dapoulos explained in the aftermath of the scandal, plenty of officials have rooting interests. Most are far more concerned about doing a good job and earning high marks for their work.

Still, with only one game being played that day, it would have made much more sense to give the assignment to someone else. And if the league believes it would have been unfair to not reward the replay assistant for a great season with a Super Bowl assignment despite where he lives, the league should have ensured that Mrs. Oldham exercised far more discretion regarding her desire to see the Broncos win the game.

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Goodell says extra point rule made the NFL more exciting in 2015

<> on February 8, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says Year One of the new extra point rule was a success, and more rules tweaks are on the way.

Goodell said the new rule, which moved extra point kicks back 13 yards, is an example of the kinds of changes the league will continue to consider.

“From a competitive standpoint, this season, more games were decided by one score than ever in our history. That led to great competition and the average margin of victory lower than any time in our history. We’ll continue to try to make the game more exciting as we did this last year with the extra point,” Goodell said.

It is true that there were more two-point conversion attempts in 2015 than in 2014: NFL teams went 45-for-94 on two-point conversions in 2015 after going 28-for-58 in 2014. Most fans would agree that a two-point conversion is a more exciting play than an extra point, and so there was a little more excitement in that respect.

Extra points also became more difficult, with kickers converting on 94.2 percent in 2015 after converting on 99.3 percent in 2014. But not all fans buy the idea that more missed extra points translates to more excitement.

What would really be exciting is if the new rule led to some coach deciding to go for two as the default option after touchdowns. So far no coach has done that. Perhaps it will happen if the NFL moves extra points back another 10 or 15 yards.

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