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Vikings get on the board

Kyle Rudolph, Christian Ponder AP

Aaron Rodgers‘ birthday party has been disrupted.  For now.

Trailing 10-0, the Vikings drove down the field in 14 plays, scoring a touchdown via a throw from quarterback Christian Ponder to tight end Kyle Rudolph.

Ponder completed five of five passes for 36 yards as the Vikings cut the margin from 10 point to three.

Adrian Peterson has 38 yards rushing on nine carries.

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Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

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The Eagles want to undo much of what Chip Kelly did in his disastrous year running team personnel, and they may try to undo the biggest move Kelly made.

A year after trading Nick Foles for Sam Bradford, Philadelphia may let Bradford walk and bring Foles back. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Eagles are not expected to use the franchise tag to keep Bradford, and that they are interested in acquiring Foles.

That’s no surprise: Bradford hasn’t played well enough to justify the $20 million salary that would come with the franchise tag. And Foles played well enough at times in Philadelphia that the Eagles may think he could win for them again.

The Rams, however, control Foles for now, as he’s under contract for 2016. But Foles has a $6 million roster bonus due on the third day of the league year, and after he was benched for Case Keenum last year, the Rams may decide to cut Foles and set him free in 2016.

If that happens, Foles may find himself back in Philadelphia, playing for new Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who was the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach in Foles’ rookie year.

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Dungy lands in Canton, joins PFT Live Tuesday


On Friday, Tony Dungy visited the set of PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. On Saturday, he made it to the Hall of Fame.

Coincidence? Well, yeah. It was.

But he’ll be back on Tuesday, for the second show in the brand-new time slot that starts Monday. Three hours live, from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. ET. The final hour will be simulcast on NBCSN, and Coach Dungy will join the proceedings at 8:35 a.m. ET.

There will be plenty to talk to Tony about by then, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game. On Friday, he said plenty about Peyton Manning’s future, Super Bowl 50, and the then-looming Hall of Fame vote. I also asked him the one question I get asked the most often about him: Does he ever get upset?

I’ll be upset if you don’t see and hear everything he had to say on Friday.

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Peyton became “very emotional” in Saturday night team meeting


I’d expected the endless hours of pre-Super Bowl programming to at some point consist of a report that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning told teammates on Saturday night that he intends to retire after the game. He apparently sent that message without using those words.

Sal Paolantonio of ESPN reports that Manning became “very emotional” during the Saturday night session with players and coaches.

“Peyton told a few jokes to lighten the mood, but then he got very emotional,” team president Joe Ellis told Paolantonio. “And so did DeMarcus [Ware]. The room was silent. It was a very emotional gathering.”

According to Paolantonio, an unnamed source said that Manning didn’t state that he’ll retire after Super Bowl 50. The source told Paolantonio that Peyton didn’t need to.

It feels like the planets are lining up for Peyton Manning to finish a task that seemed unthinkable only five weeks ago. If it happens, I won’t be one of the many saying, “We should have seen it coming.”

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Marshawn Lynch contemplates retirement, again

Denver Broncos v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

Stop me if you’re heard this one before. (Actually, you have. But I’ll keep going anyway.)

Marshawn Lynch is telling people close to him that he intends to retire, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It’s the third straight offseason involving talk of Lynch retiring. Two years ago, Lynch reportedly had told teammates he may retire if the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII (they did). Last year, former teammate Michael Robinson said repeatedly that Lynch could walk away.

Last year, Robinson laughed and said it’s a “good hypothesis” that Lynch possibly was pondering retirement in order to squeeze more money out of the Seahawks. This year, the talk of retirement comes at a time when the Seahawks undoubtedly are planning to dump Lynch’s $9 million base salary, especially since heir-to-the-‘Mode Thomas Rawls will make only $525,000 in 2016.

Which means it makes more sense for Lynch to do nothing, unless and until the Seahawks cut him. If he retires, he’ll owe the team $2.5 million. At a minimum, he should negotiate a retirement scenario that entails giving the Seahawks the cap savings they’d receive by cutting him without forcing him to pay back bonus money. And if the Seahawks could persuade Lynch to agree to a term that would require him to pay back the $2.5 million if he ever plays for another team, Seattle would save a little face if Lynch decides to suit up for the Raiders or someone else in 2016.

If Lynch has any desire to explore playing for another team in 2016, he should resist retiring and wait for the Seahawks to cut him. Which they inevitably will do.

The real question is whether Lynch indeed would like to play for another team. The decision could hinge on how much money a new team would offer. Ravens running back Justin Forsett, a close friend of Lynch’s, was tight-lipped on the subject during a visit to PFT Live, repeatedly “pleading the Fifth” as to Marshawn’s plans.

Which means there’s a real chance Lynch, a first-round draft pick of the Bills in 2007, will suit up in 2016 with his third NFL team.

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Sunday morning one-liners

Former NFL player Barry Sanders arrives at the 5th annual NFL Honors at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in San Francisco. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision for NFL/AP Images) AP

A look back at how the Bills landed Marcell Dareus in the 2011 draft.

Former Dolphins DE Jason Taylor hits the Hall of Fame ballot next year.

Patriots CB Malcolm Butler has won the respect of his peers.

Jets DL Leonard Williams got a vote for defensive rookie of the year.

Vonta Leach has gone from blocking for the Ravens to working in real estate.

Anthony Munoz reminisces about the Bengals’ Super Bowl XXIII loss to the 49ers.

Browns C Alex Mack will be a top free agent at the position if he opts out of his contract.

The Steelers have a pair of ties to this year’s Hall of Fame class.

Said Texans DE J.J. Watt of his third defensive player of the year award, “To be one of only two players to accomplish this is very special, especially after only five years. It’s pretty insane to have been in the league for five years and to earn this award after three of them.”

The Colts will be well represented at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Jaguars WR Allen Robinson enjoyed his first trip to the Pro Bowl.

The Titans see things in the Panthers that they’d like to emulate.

The Broncos hope that “defense wins championships” rings true on Sunday.

A look at the legacy of former Chiefs coach Hank Stram.

Raiders fans are celebrating Ken Stabler’s election to the Hall of Fame.

Candidates with Chargers ties fell short of getting into the Hall of Fame.

What are Cowboys TE Jason Witten’s thoughts on when he might retire?

Giants QB Eli Manning was a runner-up for NFL Man of the Year.

Doug Pederson’s road to becoming Eagles coach started a while ago.

A few things the Redskins need if they want to end their Super Bowl drought.

DE Mario Addison has found more success in Carolina than he had with the Bears.

Former Lions RB Barry Sanders thinks WR Calvin Johnson following in his early retirement footsteps would be “devastating.”

A sampling of reactions to former Packers QB Brett Favre making it to the Hall of Fame.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson won an award for running backs on Saturday.

WR Roddy White’s future with the Falcons remains a question mark.

The season of the dab continued for the Panthers on Saturday.

Former Saints K Morten Andersen remains optimistic that he’ll eventually enter the Hall of Fame.

When John Lynch started his career with Buccaneers, he wasn’t thinking about getting to Canton.

Cardinals assistant Tom Pratt has seen plenty of changes to the coaching profession over his long career.

It’s not breaking news, but the Rams need a quarterback.

Eddie DeBartolo got into the Hall of Fame in the city the 49ers played in when he owned them.

Seahawks CB Richard Sherman and LB Bobby Wagner had to settle for a different kind of game this Super Bowl week.

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Multiple big Broncos fines from AFC title game


The 2014 AFC title game spawned #DeflateGate, which resulted in major fines and draft-pick forfeiture and a four-game suspension (pending legal appeals) of quarterback Tom Brady. The 2015 version sparked not nearly the same level of controversy.

Still, the league office will be collecting a nice chunk of change from the paychecks of a trio of Denver players.

Via multiple reports, linebacker Von Miller, safety T.J. Ward, and safety Shiloh Keo were each fined $23,152 for actions in the win over the Patriots.

Ward was fined for spearing, and Keo was fined for a hit on a defenseless receiver. Miller, who was fined $11,567 during the regular season for a Key and Peele-style pelvic thrust celebration, was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct, presumably arising from what he did after one of his 2.5 sacks of Brady.

While Miller’s fine had nothing to do with his play on the field, the fines imposed on Ward and Keo suggest that, with a championship on the line, some members of the Broncos defense will be willing to dance on the line — if not dive over it — in order to get the 50th edition of the NFL’s ultimate prize.

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Broncos may use familiar formula with Von Miller


Win or lose, the Broncos have some tough decisions to make after Super Bowl 50 ends. Here’s the easiest: Applying the franchise tag to linebacker Von Miller.

There will be other candidates for it, in theory. But Miller, the second overall pick in 2011, makes the most sense, by far. Also, with a franchise tender of roughly $14 million for Miller and nearly $20 million for quarterback Brock Osweiler (who if all goes as planned on Sunday won’t even play), the Broncos get far more bang for the buck by tagging Miller.

Given the team’s history under G.M. John Elway (with left tackle Ryan Clady and receiver Demaryius Thomas), the formula will go like this: Tag Miller in February, and sign him to a long-term deal on July 15, the deadline for doing so.

Elway could choose to alter that strategy in 2016, given his frustration with the fact that players not under contract don’t participate in the offseason program. But that could require Miller’s agents to take in April what they’d take later. From Miller’s perspective, it would be easy to argue that, if the team wants him there for the offseason, they need to give him a little more than they’d give him on July 15.

If Elway and the Broncos choose to accelerate the signing of Miller into February, they could then tag Osweiler. But that would make his pay for 2016 the starting point on a long-term deal, putting him at or near the top of the market before he has truly proven he belongs there.

Keep this in mind: Coach Gary Kubiak inherited both Osweiler and Peyton Mannng. As Vic Lombardi of Altitude Sports in Denver told PFT Live during the 2015 regular season, the Broncos were interested in signing Tyrod Taylor last year, which would suggest that they are at least considering other options at the position.

At outside linebacker, there is no other option. They need to do what they have to do to keep Miller for the long haul. And they surely will.

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Why no T.O. in Hall of Fame?

GettyImages-55714765.0 Getty Images

Few can reasonably debate (although Randy Moss has tried) the proposition that Jerry Rice is the greatest receiver in NFL history. After Rice, most would say Terrell Owens and Moss are No. 2 and No. 3, or No. 3 and No. 2.

Regardless, there’s no doubt that Owens’ achievements merit a spot in Canton. So why didn’t he get one on his first try? More specifically, why did Marvin Harrison (with 29 fewer touchdowns, 1,354 fewer receiving yards, and only 24 more catches) get in on a night when Owens didn’t even make the cut from 15 to 10?

The officially unofficial explanation is that Owens’ reputation as a bad teammate kept him from getting in.

“The Hall of Fame ought to be for people who made their teams better,” proclaims Hall of Fame G.M. Bill Polian, “not [those] who disrupted their teams and made them worse.”

At times, Owens was indeed disruptive, for various reasons. But did Owens really make his teams worse? He returned from a broken ankle to be arguably the best player on the field in Super Bowl XXXIX, and the Eagles lost that game to the Patriots not because of anything T.O. did but despite an effort that everyone who was paying attention recognized as heroic and memorable.

Only after the Eagles refused to acknowledge those contributions with a contract providing him greater compensation and protections did he decide to provoke a trade or release in 2005. Was it an ill-advised, selfish move? Yes, but it was compelled by a system that allows teams to rip up contracts when a player underperforms but prevents players from doing the same when they overdeliver.

A decade later, media and fans seem to better understand that, when players choose to act like owners, players shouldn’t automatically be vilified the way Owens was. That said, Owens didn’t help himself by following his time in Philly with a stint in Dallas that featured a fractured locker room arising from allegations that Tony Romo and Jason Witten were conspiring to get Witten the ball more.

To the extent that the words of Polian, who while in the NFL did his own share of disrupting pretty much wherever he happened to be, had any weight in the Hall of Fame voting room on Saturday, does it mean Owens never gets in? Or does it means that he merely needs to spend a year or two in Michael Irvin/Cris Carter-style purgatory before getting a gold jacket?

Bet the farm on the latter. Indeed, Harrison’s ascension came after a delay that undoubtedly was influenced at least in part by the unresolved off-field events that happened in Philadelphia. Those factors aren’t supposed to matter when it comes to Canton, but until the voters are replaced by robots, those issues will creep into the assessment.

Polian’s opinion, clearly motivated by a desire to help Harrison get in over Owens, helped justify preventing Owens from jumping Harrison in the line to football immortality. Eventually, Owens will get in under the same de facto pecking order that, in a strange sort of way, ensures a more orderly progression.

It could happen in an eventual showdown with Moss, who can be accused of something Owens never did — not giving full effort on the field. Here’s hoping that, if Owens gets in and Moss doesn’t (which if they’re up at the same time would likely happen), Owens won’t crow that this means he was better than Moss. Under that argument, Harrison is better than Owens.

Harrison isn’t. Owens should have gotten in before him. But that’s the way the system works, and until someone can devise a better way to make the sausage, better ingredients often will be left on the shelf for the next year’s meal.

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No unanimous award winners, but Cam came closest

Cam Newton AP

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton came the closest of anyone to a unanimous winner in the NFL’s annual awards for the 2015 season, but Newton fell two votes short of being a unanimous league MVP.

The 50-member Associated Press panel of voters gave 48 votes to Newton for MVP. Ron Borges voted for Carson Palmer and Fred Gaudelli voted for Tom Brady. The last unanimous winner of the MVP award was Brady in 2010.

Although no award votes were unanimous, none was particularly close, either: The closest were the offensive player of the year (which Newton won with 18 votes, with Antonio Brown second with 10) and the offensive rookie of the year award, for which Todd Gurley topped Jameis Winston by 10 votes.

Here’s a full breakdown of the vote totals for the six awards voted on by the 50-member AP panel:

MVP: 48-Cam Newton, 1-Tom Brady, 1-Carson Palmer

Coach of the year: 36.5-Ron Rivera, 6-Andy Reid, 2-Bill O’Brien, 2-Mike Zimmer, 1.5-Gary Kubiak, 1-Bruce Arians, 1-Bill Belichick

Defensive player of the year: 37-J.J. Watt, 7-Aaron Donald, 4-Luke Kuechly, 2-Josh Norman

Offensive player of the year: 18-Cam Newton, 10-Antonio Brown (full vote total not released)

Defensive rookie of the year: 45-Marcus Peters, 4-Ronald Darby, 1-Leonard Williams

Offensive rookie of the year: 27-Todd Gurley, 17-Jameis Winston, 4-Amari Cooper, 1-Tyler Lockett, 1-David Johnson

Comeback player of the year: 38-Eric Berry, 6-Carson Palmer, 4-Adrian Peterson, 1-Navorro Bowman, 1-Doug Martin

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NFL Films composer Sam Spence dies at 88

5-21-13 NFL Logo A Getty Images

On the eve of Super Bowl 50, the NFL has lost one of the men that helped tell the stories of the league’s history.

According to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle, NFL Films composer Sam Spence died Saturday at the age of 88 in Lewisville, Texas.

If you watched any work by NFL Films over the years, you’ve likely heard some of Spence’s music. “The Equalizer” has been the ringtone on my cell phone for as long as I’ve owned a mobile phone. “The Magnificent Eleven,” “The Over The Hill Gang,” and “The Ramblin’ Man from Gramblin'” are just a few more of his notable pieces written for NFL Films.

Steve and Ed Sabol brought NFL Films to life with their vision and knack for storytelling. John Facenda provided the narration and Spence’s scores tied the whole production together. The end result was revolutionary films that helped the NFL grow into the dominant force in American sports.

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Report: Ex-Lions receiver Titus Young arrested for assault, again

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20:  Titus Young #16 of the Detroit Lions celebrate a second quarter touchdown while playing the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field on November 20, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Detroit Lions receiver Titus Young has been arrested again.

According to TMZ Sports, Young was arrested after allegedly causing “serious bodily injury” to another man during a fight on January 30. The report states that Young has been charged with felony battery with serious bodily injury.

With Young already serving five years probation after pleading no contest to a felony battery charge in May 2015, Young will almost certainly be heading to jail this time around.

Young was arrested three times in the same week in 2013 for various incidents that included trying to break his own car out of the police impound. He was then arrested again in July 2014 for the altercation that led to his no contest plea in May.

Young had 81 receptions for 990 yards and 10 touchdowns in his two seasons with Detroit from 2011-12. However, issues within the team and legal issues led to his release in Feburary 2013.


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Report: Packers, naturally, will play in annual HOF Game

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Brett Favre is headed to Canton in August, and so are thousands of Packers fans.

So, it makes sense that the Packers will play in the Hall of Fame Game, the traditional start to the NFL’s preseason. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Saturday night that Pro Football Hall of Fame officials have expressed their desire to have the Packers as one of the two teams to play in the Hall of Fame Game.

An official announcement should be coming soon, McGinn reported.

Having Favre and Packer Nation in town is great motivation to make sure the Fawcett Stadium renovations going on will be finished in time for overflow crowds on the first weekend of August.

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Boldin named Walter Payton Man of the Year

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award winner during Saturday night’s NFL Honors show.

The prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award is Boldin’s first, but Boldin has been nominated four times by three different teams during his 13 NFL seasons.

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is the only league award that recognizes a player’s community service as well as playing excellence. As a part of the award, Boldin’s Q81 foundation will receive a $50,000 donation, courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

“I’m beyond humbled to be selected as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” Boldin said in a statement. “I used to dream that I could play like Walter Payton when I was growing up, but he became even more of an inspiration to me as I learned about his legacy as a humanitarian. I commend the other 31 finalists throughout the National Football League who continue to use this platform to influence the lives of others in a positive way. May we continue to open our hearts and make an impact in our communities and throughout this world.”

Boldin’s foundation has been active in Phoenix, Baltimore, South Florida and the Bay Area awarding scholarships and opportunities to youth. Last fall, Boldin’s foundation awarded $10,000 academic scholarships to five students entering college and since its inception has awarded 13 four-year scholarships.

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Cam Newton adds MVP to Saturday night haul

Cam Newton AP

Early in Saturday night’s NFL Honors, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was named the Associated Press offensive player of the year.

That wasn’t the only award he wound up taking home before the night was out. As widely expected, Newton was also named the winner of the Most Valuable Player award. With Ron Rivera taking coach of the year honors, it was a good night for the Panthers although they’d gladly bump it down to the second-best night of the weekend with a victory over the Broncos in Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara on Sunday night.

Newton’s regular season — voting was done before the playoffs — included 35 passing touchdowns despite losing top receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the season due to a torn ACL, 10 rushing touchdowns and, of course, 15 wins in 16 tries as the Panthers raced to the top record in the league. While the Panthers got strong seasons from many players, everything on offense flowed through Newton and his play, which included just one inteception over the final eight games of the season, lifted the team well beyond most people’s expectations.

Newton was not a unanimous choice as Tom Brady and Carson Palmer each received one vote, but he was an overwhelming one.

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Ron Rivera named coach of the year

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 04:  Head coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panther addresses the media during media availability prior to Super Bowl 50 at the San Jose Convention Center/ San Jose Marriott on February 4, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

When your team goes 15-1 and wins the NFC title, you’re going to be a pretty tough candidate to beat when it comes to being the choice for coach of the year.

Voters for the Associated Press didn’t overthink things. Panthers coach Ron Rivera has been named the winner of the award at Saturday night’s NFL Honors ceremony in San Francisco.

It’s the second time in three years that Rivera has won the prize, although it looked like his career might be heading in another direction when the Panthers started the 2014 season with a 3-8-1 record. The Panthers have gone 22-2 since then, however, and a win on Sunday would mean that Rivera won Super Bowls as both a player (the 1985 Bears) and coach on teams that lost just one game on their way to the title.

Rivera had 36.5 votes from the 50 voters. Chiefs coach Andy Reid finished second with six nods and Texans coach Bill O’Brien tied Vikings coach Mike Zimmer for third with two votes apiece. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and Patriots coach Bill Belichick also received votes.

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