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Antonio Dixon returns to Eagles

Antonio Dixon, LeSean McCoy AP

Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon didn’t make the Eagles at the start of the season, but he’ll be closing out the year with the team.

The Eagles announced Wednesday that they have signed Dixon to take the roster spot of quarterback Nick Foles, who was officially placed on injured reserve with the broken hand he suffered in last weekend’s loss to the Redskins.

Dixon was cut by the Eagles in the last round of roster cuts in August and wound up with the Colts for a couple of games as they shuffled through bodies on the defensive line. Dixon had a strong 2010 with the Eagles, starting 10 games and providing solid play on the interior of the line, but he tore his triceps four games into 2011 and lost his spot in the rotation.

With rookie Fletcher Cox recovering from a concussion, Dixon could find himself on the field against the Giants this Sunday. He signed a two-year deal with the team, so he should have a shot at regaining a more lasting spot on the roster whenever the dust settles on the changes to the coaching staff and roster that the team is expected to make shortly after the year comes to an end.

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Goodell press conference includes surprising answer about football testing

Goodell AP

Circumstantial evidence can be very good evidence. As long as the circumstances can be properly determined.

When it comes to #DeflateGate, the NFL has no record of the air pressure of the footballs measured before the AFC title game began. Which makes it very difficult to determine with precision the amount of air lost, either through Mother Nature or foul play. Which makes it much harder for the NFL to satisfy the expectations of Patriots owner Robert Kraft that any wrongdoing be proven with hard evidence and not circumstantial proof.

It’s now clear that there are plenty of things not readily known about the process, including the question of whether the NFL has a history of testing footballs at halftime of games, in order to check whether air pressure has been lost during the first two quarters.

Asked at the Friday press conference by Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com regarding whether halftime testing has occurred in the past, Commissioner Roger Goodell provided a surprising response.

“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Goodell said. “That would be something, I presume, that Ted Wells would look into and will provide that information.”

It’s good that the NFL has involved an independent investigator in this process, but there are certain things that don’t require an independent investigation. Through the normal, reasonable exercise of human curiosity, the Commissioner could have learned in the past two weeks whether footballs have been spot-checked at halftime in the past to assess the impact of external conditions on the internal air pressure. Instead of punting to Wells (whose report likely won’t be released for several weeks), Goodell could have said something like, “I don’t have that information immediately available, but I will obtain it from our football operations department and provide it by the end of the day.”

Either way, it doesn’t require Ted Wells, Robert Mueller, or Inspector Clouseau to answer a simple question about whether the NFL has checked air pressure at halftime in the past. It’s a question that already should have been raised — and resolved — within the walls of 345 Park Avenue, and the man who runs the sport already should know the answer.

Some would suggest that he already does, that the answer is “no,” and that this will make it much harder to prove that the Patriots tampered with the footballs.

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Goodell hasn’t had “any dialogue” with Las Vegas regarding NFL club

Caesars Palace Las Vegas Getty Images

The city Danny Ocean called “America’s Playground” has never had an NFL club.

That doesn’t look like it’s changing any time soon.

Asked Friday whether Las Vegas could support a professional sports team, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he hadn’t talked to the city about the prospect of a pro football team.

“I can’t speak to other sports, for sure,” Goodell said, according to a league-issued transcript of his remarks. “I certainly can’t speak even to the NFL because I haven’t had any dialogue with officials in Las Vegas about how that could happen successfully for Las Vegas and for the NFL.

“A stadium would be a big component to that. I’m not sure that exists right now. I do understand the passion of the fans in Las Vegas and their interest in football.”

Even if Las Vegas had an NFL-caliber stadium, the league might have qualms about playing in America’s capital of legalized sports betting. And a stadium — which would likely be a billion-dollar project — wouldn’t get built without a tenant.

Ultimately, it’s possible the NFL might not see much upside in the Las Vegas area, which would rank among the smallest TV markets in the league.

With multiple new arenas well-suited for basketball or hockey planned in Las Vegas, an NHL or NBA club landing in the city seems far more likely than an NFL team taking up residence.

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Goodell can’t ever envision himself resigning

Goodell Getty Images

NFL controversies, particularly the botched handling of the Ray Rice case, have led to calls in some quarters for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign. He says that will never happen.

Asked at his “State of the League” press conference whether there’s any set of circumstances that would result in his resignation, Goodell said he can’t imagine that happening.

“No, I can’t. Does that surprise you?” Goodell said.

Goodell did acknowledge that even though the NFL’s popularity has never been greater, he hasn’t had the best of years.

“It’s been a tough year on me personally,” Goodell said. “It’s been a year of what I would say is humility and learning. We, obviously as an organization, have gone through adversity. More importantly, it’s been adversity for me. We take that seriously. It’s an opportunity for us to get better. It’s an opportunity for us, for our organization, to get better. We’ve all done a lot of soul searching, starting with yours truly.”

That soul searching has apparently not included ever asking himself whether he’s the right person for the job. In Goodell’s mind, he absolutely is — and that won’t change.

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Jimmy Graham says current plan is no shoulder surgery

Graham Getty Images

Before the Pro Bowl, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham said his participation in the annual all-star game will help determine whether he needs surgery on the shoulder he injured early in the regular season.

After the Pro Bowl, Graham told PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio that the current plan is to continue to rest and rehab the shoulder without surgery.

Graham said plenty more during his slot as the final guest in a week full of excellent conversations, from his aggressive approach to pick-up basketball to his love of flying to how the movie Top Gun sparked his passion for flying and provided the template for his first kiss.

The six-foot, seven-inch Graham also said he was first able to dunk a basketball when he was merely five feet, eight inches tall.

In all, Graham was loose, relaxed, funny — something that doesn’t come through very much while he’s bringing the same intensity to football that he does to basketball.

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Patriots won’t hold Saturday walk-through; Belichick happy with team’s approach

Tom Brady AP

Saying the Patriots were “as ready as we’re going to be” from a practice standpoint, coach Bill Belichick indicated Friday the club would cancel its Saturday walk-through practice, according to the media pool report of the workout.

The Pats also scrapped their Saturday walk-through before Super Bowl XLVI.

According to media pool reporter Jarrett Bell of USA Today, Belichick believes his club has a good mindset entering Sunday.

“These guys have worked hard,” Belichick said. “I think they’re ready to go. We’re playing a good team, so we’re going to have to play well.”

The Patriots practiced as some rain fell Friday at the Cardinals’ practice facilities in Tempe, but the club did its work outside. The club did retreat inside, however, to take a break of about 30 minutes to simulate the longer-than-usual Super Bowl halftime.

Finally, Belichick noted that the club was in good shape health-wise as the Super Bowl nears.

“We’re all good to go,” Belichick said.

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Goodell addresses improvements to officiating

goodell AP

As a postseason in which officials were a focal point comes to a close, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says some improvements to officiating may be on the way.

Goodell said at his “State of the League” press conference that the NFL will examine ways to make officiating better for the 2015 season.

“We are looking at other ways to enhance replay and officiating,” Goodell said. “That includes potentially expanding replay to penalties if it can be done without more disruption to the pace of the game. And we are discussing rotating members of the officiating crews during the season as a way to improve consistency throughout our regular season and benefit our crews in the postseason. In officiating, consistency is our number-one objective.”

Achieving consistency is easier said than done, because consistency has been lacking in NFL officiating for a long, long time. But it’s good to know that the NFL realizes that officiating is something that needs to be improved.

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NFL tempts fate with inability to handle scandals properly

NFL AP

Over the years, the NFL’s Commissioner has navigated plenty of difficult situations that could have tested the tenuous balance between the Commissioner’s role as the overseer of the sport and his job as employee of the owners of the teams he oversees. Through it all, an inherent conflict of interest has existed, hiding in plain sight and generating scant scrutiny or concern: How can the Commissioner be expected to police the very people for whom he works?

It’s an obscure, nuanced question, causing few to notice the dilemma faced by the master who is also a servant. And while in most past cases the Commissioner has found a way to solve problems without making conspicuous the delicate ground on which he often treads, the recent bungling of cases like the Ray Rice fiasco and #DeflateGate eventually will cause someone with real political power to notice the fundamental flaw in the structure of the league — and to suggest a solution that would entail a greater degree of independence for the Commissioner.

For the NFL (and other pro sports), a truly independent governing body would be the only way to reliably ensure that all problems would be handled consistently and all franchises treated fairly, without regard to friendship or influence or other factors that could cause a Commissioner to exercise discretion in a way that protects and/or advances the Commissioner’s relationship with a given owner. As it now stands, the NFL (and other pro sports) have a Commissioner who at times pretends to be the representative of all interested constituencies when, in reality, he’s the guy working for the folks who own the teams.

While an election process for Commissioner, with owners, players, coaches, and maybe others voting on the person who would rule the sport, would create plenty of challenges, a broadening of the pool of people who pick the Commissioner would help to alleviate the obvious problem faced by someone who is expected to impose discipline against someone who has a direct, 1/32nd voice in the compensation and/or ongoing employment of the Commissioner. The far bigger wildcard for the NFL (and other pro sports) would arise from a decision by Congress to create an office or a board responsible for supervising the sport, enforcing the rules, and punishing those who cheat.

Before the “doesn’t Congress have anything better to do?” crowd gets too cranked up, the ongoing growth of the NFL — coupled with the benefits it receives from federal legislation that makes the league office a non-profit operation and that exempts the NFL from antitrust laws when it comes to the marketing of TV rights — could eventually compel action, if the NFL can’t properly govern itself. In recent months, the league has undermined considerably public confidence in its ability to clean up its own messes. At some point, a politician will suggest that someone else should police the sport.

While still an incredibly unlikely outcome, the league’s mishandling of recent crises at least puts the potential debate in a corner of the radar. More mistakes could move the subject closer to the center of the screen.

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Goodell says NFL is still looking at changing extra points

probowlgoalposts AP

After another season in which more than 99 percent of extra points were successful, the NFL is looking at ways to make it harder.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said today that he wants to continue exploring ways to make extra points more exciting.

“Fans want every play to have suspense,” Goodell said. “But the extra point has become virtually automatic. We have experimented with alternatives to make it a more competitive play, and we expect to advance these ideas through the Competition Committee this offseason.”

Extra points were made harder at the Pro Bowl by moving them farther back from the goal posts, and by making the goal posts four feet narrower. The game’s kickers didn’t like that change, but it did make extra points more interesting.

But is the league ready to take such a step in the regular season? And has the league fully considered the effect that narrower goal posts would have on field goals? It’s clear that Goodell would like to see extra points become more interesting, but it’s unclear whether the NFL has found the right change to make.

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Las Vegas sports book takes “seven-figure wager” on Patriots

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You may very well like the Patriots to win Super Bowl XLIX.

But you probably aren’t quite as confident as the bettor who placed an absolutely gigantic wager on New England at an MGM Resorts International sports book in Nevada.

According to Micah Roberts of “The Linemakers” of Sporting News, MGM took a “seven-figure wager” on the Patriots over the Seahawks in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Jay Rood, the vice president of race and sports at MGM, told PFT the bet was a wager on New England at pick ‘em.

MGM did not receive a single million-dollar bet on last year’s Super Bowl, Rood said.

The Patriots are one-point favorites over Seattle at numerous Nevada sports books, including MGM’s properties, which include The Mirage and Bellagio.

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Eric Winston apologizes for his shot at Roger Goodell

Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Getty Images

NFL Players Association President Eric Winston took a shot at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell today, but it didn’t take Winston long to back down.

Shortly after Winston told Tom Curran of CSNNE.com that a 2-year-old could do Goodell’s job, Winston issued an apology.

“In a casual conversation with a reporter about the success of the NFL and how nothing seems to get in its way, I inappropriately and flippantly made a remark about the job of Commissioner Goodell,” Winston said in a statement passed along to PFT. “We often disagree on the issues but I want to apologize to Roger for being unprofessional. I am disappointed that my comment was taken out of context and inserted into a column without any knowledge that the conversation was ‘on-the-record.’ I am disappointed that this reporter chose to burn me, but this is an important lesson that I will learn going forward. This is my fault and again, I apologize.”

If Winston didn’t realize that his conversation with Curran was on the record, that’s Winston’s problem, not Curran’s. When a journalist talks to a source, the conversation is presumed on the record unless both parties explicitly agree that it’s off the record. If Winston didn’t want his comments published, he shouldn’t have said anything unless and until he and Curran agreed to keep their conversation off the record. For Winston to complain that Curran “chose to burn me” doesn’t hold much water. Curran asked a question to a source and then published the source’s answer. That’s what reporters do.

The NFLPA walks a fine line when dealing with Goodell: The league is often heavy-handed in its dealings with the players, and when that happens the players need to push back against Goodell. But antagonizing Goodell can be counterproductive for the union. Winston seems to realize that he burned himself with his comments.

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Kam Chancellor added to last injury report of the year

NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks Team Media Availability Getty Images

The final injury report of the season is out, and it’s not a dramatic one.

Which, of course, is part of the reason these two teams are here.

The only real change on the report Friday is that Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor was listed as a limited participant in practice today with a knee injury, after not previously appearing on the report.

But he’s listed as probable for Sunday’s game, as are five other teammates: Tackle Justin Britt (knee), running back Marshawn Lynch (back), cornerback Richard Sherman (elbow), guard J.R. Sweezy (ankle) and safety Earl Thomas (shoulder).

The Patriots list is slightly longer, but doesn’t contain anything major.

Center Bryan Stork, who has been limited in practice this week with a knee injury, is listed as questionable.

Six other Patriots are listed as probable for the game: Linebacker Akeem Ayers (knee), quarterback Tom Brady (ankle), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (shoulder), defensive tackle Chris Jones (elbow), cornerback Darrelle Revis (not injury related) and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga (foot).

Brady’s on the report as he often is, but has been listed as a full participant in practice all week.

The lack of news on the injury report is good news, as the two best teams in the league get to see each other near their best.

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Carroll, Belichick disagree on whether the Super Bowl is “fun”

carrollbelichick AP

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Patriots coach Bill Belichick showed mutual respect at their joint press conference this morning, but they also showed what different men they are. That was true from the very beginning, when Carroll enthused at the start of the press conference about how much fun he was having, and then Belichick offered that he wouldn’t describe this week as “fun.”

“It’s been nothing but fun,” Carroll said. “The opportunity that presents itself playing in this game is so special and so unique. Everybody is tuned in and we’re grateful for being here. Thrilled to have the matchup that we have with a great organization in Bill and New England.”

Belichick replied: “I don’t think fun is the word that I’d use. It’s been a huge challenge. It’s a tough team to prepare for, but I certainly have all the respect in the world for them. I could see why they were champions last year and why they are here again this year. They do so many things well on so many levels and we’re going to have to try to match that performance on Sunday. With that being said, our team’s excited. They’ve worked very hard to get to this point.”

Carroll and Belichick are fundamentally different coaches who have shown that there’s more than one way to win. Belichick’s mantra is “Do your job,” and he regularly reminds his players that it is, in fact, a job. Carroll wins by reminding his players that they get to play a game for a living, and embracing the fact that football is fun.

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Titans part ways with Lake Dawson

Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

The Titans have made a significant shakeup in their front office.

Tennessee has “parted ways” with vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson, the team said Friday afternoon.

The departure of Dawson is something of a surprise. A former NFL wide receiver, Dawson had spent the last eight seasons with Tennessee. He interviewed for the Bears’ G.M. role in January and also talked with the Dolphins and Buccaneers about their G.M. positions last year.

The club also announced it was changing its front office setup. Director of college scouting Blake Beddingfield and pro scouting coordinator Brian Gardner will now work directly under General Manager Ruston Webster. Previously, Dawson oversaw the pro and college scouting operations.

“This was not an easy decision and I want to thank Lake for his time with the team,” Webster said in a team-issued statement Friday. “This new structure will help us streamline things from both the college and pro perspectives. We will move forward without a VP of Player Personnel and the college and pro sides will report directly to me.”

The Titans finished 2-14 in 2014, the franchise’s worst record since 1983. Tennessee has not made the postseason since 2008, and it has not won a playoff game since 2003.

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Prop Challenge, Day VIII — Over-Under on Russell Wilson’s rushing yards: 41.5

Russell Wilson AP

Welcome to PFT’s Prop Challenge, our daily look at a Super Bowl proposition bet.

Here’s the idea: we present a prop, do some light analysis, then let you decide which side to take — hypothetically, of course. (Previous examples are at the bottom of this post.)

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

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

Over-Under on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s rushing yards: 41.5.

Over: -110. Under: -110.

Including the playoffs, Wilson has averaged 49.8 rushing yards in his 18 starts.

So the OVER looks good, right?

Well, maybe not.

Take Wilson’s three 100-yard rushing games out of the equation, and the third-year quarterback has averaged just 37.4 yards in his other appearances. Also, in the postseason, Wilson has gained just 47 total rushing yards on 14 attempts.

Overall, Wilson has exceeded 41.5 rushing yards in just 7-of-18 games.

In short, OVER and UNDER players have some data in their favor.

So pick a side — OVER or UNDER 41.5 rushing yards for Russell Wilson. Vote in the poll, and share your thoughts in the comments. We’ll be back tomorrow with our penultimate prop.

Previous props studied:

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

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

Day III: Will Rob Gronkowski score a touchdown?

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

Day V: Over-Under on Tim Wright’s receiving yards.

Day VI: Over-Under on LeGarrette Blount’s carries.

Day VII: Will there be a safety in the Super Bowl?

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NFLPA president Eric Winston takes a shot at Roger Goodell

Super Bowl Football AP

Apparently, not everyone was moved by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference.

And the president of the NFL Players Association was quick to take a shot at management.

Hey, even the worst bartender at Spring Break does pretty well,” Winston said, via Tom Curran of CSNNE. “Think about it, a 2-year-old could [be NFL Commissioner] and still make money.”

So, tell us how you really feel, Eric.

Goodell admitted that the last year had been a difficult one for him, and was asked Friday during the press conference if he ever considered resigning or whether he deserved a pay cut.

Not surprisingly, he didn’t volunteer for either. Apparently that new bottle opener isn’t going to pay for itself.

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