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With 2012 in the books, every NFL team knows its 2013 opponents

Denver Broncos v New England Patriots Getty Images

Although the 2013 NFL schedule won’t be released for a few months, every NFL team knows who its 2013 opponents are.

That’s because the NFL uses this formula to determine each team’s opponents:

1. Six games consist of home and away against three division opponents.

2. Four games are played against teams from another division within the conference on a rotating three-year cycle.

3. Four games are played against teams from another division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle.

4. Two interconference games are based on the prior year’s standings. So that the first-place teams play each other, the second-place teams play each other, the third-place teams play each other and the last-place teams play each other.

Using that formula, we know every game that will be played in the 2013 NFL regular season, including what will surely be one of the marquee games of the season when Peyton Manning and the Broncos travel to New England. Here’s the full list of 2013 opponents for all 32 NFL teams.

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Native American activists criticize Washington Post poll

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The Washington Post poll that supporters of the local NFL team’s name believed would end the debate has potentially reinvigorated it — along with sparking a new debate over whether there should even be a debate about the propriety of the name.

On Friday, a group of Native American leaders and activists (i.e., not “white liberal journalists”) held a conference call aimed at further criticizing the poll.

Via the Associated Press, California State San Bernardino sociology professor James Fenelon called the poll “immoral.” He also echoed concerns that the poll was not representative of Native American communities. Likewise, Amanda Blackhorse, who serves as the lead plaintiff in the case attacking the team’s federal trademark protection, called the poll “misguided,” adding that it won’t diminish attacks against the name.

“This issue is not about polling,” National Congress of American Indians executive director Jackie Pata added. “This issue is about human rights.”

Some would say that these voices carry much more weight that 450 unverified self-identifying Native American adults who said in response to a series of questions about the name that the name doesn’t bother them. Moving forward, those voices need to find ways to get their message across in an effective and meaningful way.

As worthy as the cause may be, the opposition to the name has been at times disorganized, ebbing and flowing and all too often operating on a reactive instead of proactive basis. The movement would benefit greatly from a skilled and experienced P.R. professional who would launch a sustained assault on the name featuring, for example, conference calls occurring at a time other than the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. No matter how compelling the quotes, the messages sent Friday will rarely register on the national radar screen.

To launch the kind of P.R. push needed to impose pressure not on the team or the league but their sponsors, the movement first needs money. Stockpile enough of it through donations from those who believe that the name should go, and the Native American groups opposed to the name will have the foundation for devising ways to persuade Native Americans who oppose the name and non-Natives who agree with them to take the case to those truly in a position to compel a change.

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Sean Payton explains that loss of a week of OTAs isn’t a big deal

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints looks up at the clock while coaching against the Houston Texans in the third quarter on November 29, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images
Friday’s appearance on PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio from Saints coach Sean Payton focused initially on the then-fresh claims from former Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan that he wasn’t running the unit when he was, you know, running the unit. (Payton called that notion “silly.”)
It also would have been silly not to take advantage of the time with Payton to address other topics of interest. With the interview happening during Organized Teams Activities and on the heels of the Ravens losing a week of OTAs after putting rookies in pads earlier this month, I asked Payton to explain the impact of the forfeited practices.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Payton said. “The reason I say that is, look, it doesn’t keep the players from lifting and running and so a week of OTAs would be three on-the-field sessions. You don’t want to lose those opportunities and, shoot, one of those opportunities you might have some type of team building experience set up. I think each team does similar things during the OTAs. There’s a lot of offense versus defense. There’s some restrictions regarding one-on-ones but the players are out there in their element, and they’re going though a little bit of a practice format for two hours. So really that equates to about six hours on the field.”
He makes a good point about the team-building day. Plenty of teams cancel the final OTA session for some sort of excursion away from football. So instead of losing three practices, the Ravens as a practical matter could say they lost only two. Which would be only four hours of lost practice time.
While it may not be a huge deal to lose a few OTAs, there’s still plenty of value in having them.
 “I think it’s an important part of the process from a mental standpoint,” Payton said. “When it gets to Phase 3, the focus is on some of the nuances of what you’re trying to do defensively, offensively, or the kicking game. To get out on the field and work at the installation. I think it’s important for the coaching staffs as well. Many times you had change and you are getting on the same page and getting out there and coaching and things come up that you want to discuss. The idea being that when training camp comes this installation we’ve had before, and we’re gonna repeat it. We know that obviously a big ally to learning is just being able to go back through it again.
“The most important part though is the early phases [of the offseason program],” Payton added. “These guys come in the complex lifting weights, getting in shape, and really not feeling like they’re coming to practice. I think that’s important, the players are able to come into the facility and feel like in those early first two phases that they’re coming to really work out, condition and build that camaraderie, build the things you look for in a good football team.”
Payton’s perspective could come as a surprise to many, since most would assume that football coaches regard football practice as being more important than working out and otherwise not engaging in football practice. For the Ravens, the reality is that, even without three (or two) days of football practice, the players will be able to continue working out, just like they were in the earlier phases of the offseason program.
To hear the full Payton interview, download the podcast at iTunes or audioBoom. Or, if you’re in one of the markets that carries weekly “best of” show (like D.C, Charlotte, Minneapolis, Seattle, New Orleans, and many more), check your local listings for the two-hour slice of what was the best stuff of the week that was.
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Reported Fitzpatrick offer pales in comparison to most starting QBs

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets passes against the Buffalo Bills during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Jets leaked word that they’re offering free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick a contract that would pay him $12 million this year, the clear implication was that it’s a good offer. The reality is that, for a starting quarterback in today’s NFL, it’s not a good offer.

According to the salary database Spotrac, there are 16 quarterbacks in the NFL who currently have a contract that pays an average of $18 million a year or more. So half of the league’s starters are making at least 50 percent more than the Jets are offering Fitzpatrick.

Another six quarterbacks are making more than $12 million but less than $18 million. Which means Fitzpatrick, if he took a contract paying $12 million a year, would be paid less than 22 NFL quarterbacks. And among the starters making less than Fitzpatrick are several who are still on their rookie contracts but would surely make more on the open market, including Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Andrew Luck and Blake Bortles. This year’s first two picks, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, are also in the group of quarterbacks who will make less than $12 million a year only because of the rookie salary structure, not because the market has decided that they’re actually worth less than $12 million a year.

Also bear in mind that the Jets specifically leaked only what they were offering to pay Fitzpatrick this year, not what they’re offering to pay him in future years of a multi-year contract. That suggests that the deal the Jets are offering Fitzpatrick is actually worse than $12 million a year.

Bottom line, despite some reporters portraying the Jets’ offer as “more in line with the marketplace,” the reality is that the Jets are not offering Fitzpatrick the kind of money that you’d expect a quarterback who threw for 3,905 yards, 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while leading his team to a 10-6 record to make.

Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, he doesn’t have a lot of leverage. The offseason game of quarterback musical chairs is over, and he’s the only one standing, while the Jets are the only team with a seat open. He’s probably going to end up taking less money than his 2015 performance says he’s worth. But no one should portray the Jets’ offer as a good deal. By NFL starting quarterback standards, it’s not.

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Cowboys say they turned down trade offers for McFadden, Morris

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After spending the fourth overall pick in the draft on running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys fielded calls about whether they wanted to trade one of their veteran backs. But they said no.

That’s the word from Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, who says teams called asking about trading for Darren McFadden or Alfred Morris, but the Cowboys wanted to keep them.

“We got calls during the draft asking to trade for a couple of our running backs, and we just don’t have that interest,” Jones said, via the Star-Telegram.

McFadden, who is coming off a 1,089-yard season, is heading into the final year of his contract and has a $2.15 million cap hit. The Cowboys just signed Morris to a two-year, $3.5 million contract in March. Both players are affordable and have been productive, which could make them worth something in a trade.

So it wouldn’t be surprising to hear McFadden and Morris mentioned in trade talks again. Even if, for now, the Cowboys aren’t interested.

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Rex-Rob Ryan scoffs at suggestion of nepotism

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That rollocking interview in which it became clear that Rex-Rob Ryan has taken charge in Buffalo included an effort by Rob Ryan to address the notion that he got a job with the Bills due to the fact that he’s the twin brother of the head coach.

“I heard this one the other day: Well, it’s nepotism. Nepotism?” Ryan told Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com. “I’ve been in this league 20 years. I have coordinated the last 12 years in a row.”

Yes, and Ryan has been fired multiple times over the last 12 years, most recently after presiding over historically bad defenses in Dallas. So of course it’s nepotism; does anyone think Rex would have hired Rob for a position that didn’t previously exist in Buffalo (assistant head coach/defense) but for the fact that their once shared a womb?

It was Rob’s effort to dismiss the notion of nepotism that caused him to launch into the questionable rant that someone else was running the defense and that Rob Ryan went entirely against his nature and kept his mouth shut while it was happening. Why not just admit that the brotherly relationship helped create the level of trust that Rex craves as he goes “all in” to try to save his job with a playoff berth?

Even if Rob Ryan somehow would have been hired but for his relationship with Rex, the Ryan twin reunion already is showing signs of the kind of symbiosis that will accentuate already strong personalities. Putting them together will only make each of them more combustible, prompting both guys to take the kind of risks they wouldn’t take if they were operating on their own.

The mere fact that Rex-Rob opted to react to a bad month in Buffalo by granting a “press record and get out of the way” interview shows that their blended personalities will result in behavior that is more bombastic, more combative, more fraught with risk.

Which will make the 2016 season in Buffalo even more compelling — especially if the situation begins to fall apart and Rex-Rob opt to try to get things under control by being even more bombastic, even more combative, and taking even more risks.

In other words, get your popcorn ready. And keep it out of Rex-Rob’s reach.

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Jets take their Fitzpatrick case to the media

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 03:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets walks off the field after throwing his third interception of the day in a 22-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the lingering standoff involving the Jets and free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick now spreading to other key members of the offense currently under contract, the Jets have begun to take their case public.

Specifically, the Jets have made their standing offer to Fitzpatrick known to multiple media outlets: A three-year deal that would pay Fitzpatrick $12 million in 2016.

Curiously (or not), the Jets aren’t leaking the details as to the second and third seasons of the offer. A league source with knowledge of the talks told PFT weeks ago that the problem isn’t the compensation in the first year but the pay to Fitzpatrick in the next two.

Indeed, the fact that the Jets are leaking only the $12 million total compensation for 2016 (which presumably includes a signing bonus spread over all three years) suggests that the last two years of the package don’t mesh with the team’s agenda of coming off as reasonable in the stalled negotiations.

The compensation for the final two years directly impacts the quality of the proposals. If, for example, the Jets are offering three years and $36 million, that’s $12 million per year. But if the $12 million offer for the first year is part of, for example, a three-year, $24 million deal, the pending offer suddenly doesn’t look so good.

Instead of attempting to apply pressure to Fitzpatrick by leaking details that make the Jets seem reasonable, the Jets and Fitzpatrick should get together in a room, shut the door, lock it from the outside, and stay put until they find an acceptable middle ground. Both sides should be willing to yield as to their current positions, since each side needs the other. And both sides need to get this deal done, sooner than later.

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Bears sign Leonard Floyd

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 28: Leonard Floyd #84, Sterling Bailey #58, Jordan Jenkins 59, and Malcolm Mitchell #26 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrate after the game by planting the Georgia Bulldogs flag on the field after the game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bears signed their first-round pick, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, on Friday.

The Bears traded up two spots to No. 9 — specifically to get ahead of the Giants — to select Floyd last month.

An early entry to this year’s draft, Floyd had 17 sacks in three seasons at Georgia. He played both defensive end and outside linebacker in college. The Bears list Floyd at 6-foot-6, 244 pounds.

Lamarr Houston led the Bears with eight sacks last season, their first in a 3-4 base defense, and Floyd was drafted to immediately boost the pass rush.

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Brett Perriman transferred to Atlanta hospital

2 Nov 1997:  Brett Perriman of the Miami Dolphins in action against the Buffalo Bills during a game at Rich Stadium in  Orchard Park, New York.  The Bills defeated the Dolphins 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart  /Allsport

Former NFL wide receiver Brett Perriman has been transferred to an Atlanta hospital, where he’s continuing to recover from a stroke he suffered earlier this month.

Per a release from the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Perriman, 50, was transferred there from a Miami-area hospital. He was admitted into the intensive care unit, but Perriman will soon transition into the hospital’s acquired brain injury unit for evaluation, care and observation.

Initial reports said he’d been hospitalized due to high blood pressure.

His son, Breshad Perriman, was drafted in the first round in 2015 by the Ravens. Breshad Perriman missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury but is progressing well, and he tweeted some encouraging words earlier Friday about his father.

Brett Perriman had a career-best 1,488 receiving yards in 1995 with the Lions. In that season, Perriman and Herman Moore became the first teammates in NFL history to each record more than 100 receptions and more than 1,400 receiving yards in the same season.

Perriman played 10 NFL seasons and played for the Saints, Lions, Chiefs and Dolphins. He was a second-round pick of the Saints in 1988.

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Tony Horton hopes to do more work with Eddie Lacy

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When Packers coach Mike McCarthy fat-shamed running back Eddie Lacy after the 2015 season, the tailback with the bulging midsection eventually landed under the supervision of Tony Horton, the man behind the P90X series of workout videos. Horton has whipped Lacy into shape, and Horton hopes to continue his work with Lacy after the offseason program ends in Green Bay and before training camp commences.

“Ideally, what I’d like to do — he’d have to be in L.A. for it to work — but I’d like to see him play [basketball] one day, [go to] boxing class one day and I could work with him for three as opposed to six or seven like before,” Horton told Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. “It would give him more freedom, and the beautiful thing is he wouldn’t have to relearn everything again. I would really love the plyometric day and the cardio was essential for him.”

Anyone who has ever done P90X knows all about plyometrics and the advice to bring “your little bucket” and the annoyingly compelling “get ready, ’cause it’s coming” warning during the warmup phase. While its value to professional football players is still undetermined, P90X (and the 30-minute sibling P90X3) definitely helps get and keep middle-aged dudes who sit around and type and talk all day long in shape. Or at least in the shape of something other than a pear.

Horton preached more than exercise to Lacy. To get the most out of the program, nutrition is critical.

“We didn’t talk weight. We didn’t talk inches. We didn’t get on a scale,” Horton told Demovsky. “It was about lifestyle and performance and being healthy. He’s genetically gifted. He just had a misstep the last season and a half. So I just redirected him into a lifestyle that’s going to help him be productive and give him more energy and more stamina, and I know how to do those things. And I did them in a way he’s never done them before.”

For running backs who routinely take a pounding during games, it’s important to have some bulk. Lacy clearly had too much last year, and he should be better off for it when the season starts.

And if the changes stick, Lacy will be in position to avoid the thing that happens to plenty of football players when their careers end — the gradual growth of their bodies in the horizontal direction.

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Blake Bortles working to “grow together” with Julius Thomas

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 13:  Julius Thomas #80 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes against  Dwight Lowery #33 of the Indianapolis Colts during the game at EverBank Field on December 13, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Getty Images

For the second straight season, the Jaguars made a splash in free agency by signing a player away from the Broncos.

They’ll be hoping for a smoother start from defensive tackle Malik Jackson than they got from tight end Julius Thomas. Thomas broke a bone in his hand in the preseason, missed the first four games of the regular season and went on to average under 10 yards a reception while catching five touchdown passes.

Thomas averaged 11.8 yards per catch and scored 24 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Broncos and the Jags would like to see something more in that arena in Thomas’ second season in Jacksonville. Quarterback Blake Bortles said that he and Thomas have been working to develop the kind of chemistry that leads to a spike in production.

“We had a chance this offseason to sit down multiple times, watch film and talk about things,” Bortles said, via ESPN.com. “Talk about what he wanted from me and what I wanted from him and how we can quickly get on the same page to grow together. He’s been unbelievable. He’s obviously a freak athlete and he’s continued to prove that and make plays.”

A major statistical leap may not be in Thomas’ future. With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns at receiver, the Jaguars don’t need to force the ball in anyone’s direction to move it in the air. There’s also a hope that the ground game and defense will improve enough to keep the team from throwing the ball quite as often as they did in 2015.

If he can be more productive around the end zone, though, that will likely be enough to make his second year with the team a more successful one.

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Lions giving Taylor Decker a shot at left tackle

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Taylor Decker of Ohio State holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #16 overall by the Detroit Lions during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Lions are likely to leave Riley Reiff at left tackle, where he has started every game but one the last three years. But when Organized Team Activities opened this week, Reiff wasn’t playing left tackle with the first-string offense.

Instead, first-round draft pick Taylor Decker was playing left tackle with the first string. Reiff was at right tackle with the first-string offense.

Decker started 28 games at left tackle at Ohio State, and by putting him there at the start of OTAs, the Lions are showing that they believe he has the potential to start there in the NFL.

When the season starts, however, Reiff is likely to be back in his familiar spot as the starting left tackle, while Decker is likely to line up on the right side.

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Ricky Williams opening a marijuana-friendly gym in San Francisco

Ricky_Williams_107220195_620x350 Getty Images

If you ever wanted to combine your “wake and bake” with your “rise and grind,” Ricky Williams has an idea for you.

The former NFL running back and marijuana enthusiast is launching a weed-friendly gym in San Francisco this fall, according to Time magazine.

Granted, the 49ers better not be caught there, since the NFL and NFLPA’s collectively bargained drug policy prevents players from enjoying that which is legal in two NFL cities.

But if the idea of a little pot with your kettle bells appeals to you, you now have an option.

The gym will be called Power Plant Fitness, and encourages customers to vape cannabis or consume edibles, though there are plans for a smoking area on an outdoor balcony.

“It won’t be a place to get high and just screw around,” said Jim McAlpine, founder of the 420 Games and Williams’ partner. “We are focused on the athletic side, not the cannabis side.”

McAlpine is also pushing some science, offering a “cannabis performance assessment” to determine how marijuana affects workouts.

“We will be helping our members figure out how is best for them to ingest their cannabis,” McAlpine said.

There’s no word as of now whether Williams and McAlpine will also be opening a Taco Bell next door.

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Keenan Reynolds’ service deferred, cleared to play this season

ANNAPOLIS, MD - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Keenan Reynolds #19 of the Navy Midshipmen celebrates after scoring a first half touchdown against the East Carolina Pirates on September 19, 2015 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens were hopeful that sixth-round pick Keenan Reynolds was going to be given clearance to play for them this season, and they got final word today.

The Ravens announced that the former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds has been cleared by United States Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to play this season.

Like all graduates of the Naval Academy, Reynolds has a military service commitment, but that has been deferred so he can play this year.

The Ravens list the versatile Reynolds as a receiver/return man, and his background as a passer/runner/receiver makes him an intriguing chess piece.

“It is a blessing to hear the news from Defense Secretary Carter today,” Reynolds said. “I am truly excited to proudly serve my country while having the ability fulfill my dream of playing for the best organization in the NFL.

“I would like to thank the Navy for allowing me to represent them while taking advantage of this unique opportunity. I would also like to thank Mr. Bisciotti and the Ravens organization for believing in me and giving me this chance.”

Having players such as Reynolds playing their sport at the highest level is also a valuable public relations tool for the armed forces, one that the government doesn’t have to pay for, either.

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Breshad Perriman: The last year made me a better person and player

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 30:  Breshad Perriman of the UCF Knights holds up a jersey after being picked #26 overall by the Baltimore Ravens during the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 30, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman’s rookie season was over before it started thanks to a knee injury suffered on the first day of training camp that was initially shrugged off as nothing serious.

The knee never improved and Perriman wound up missing the entire regular season, something that left him in what he described as being in a “dark hole.” Things didn’t get much better for Perriman in the offseason as teammate and friend Tray Walker was killed in a dirt bike accident and his father Brett was hospitalized this month after collapsing, but Perriman says that things have brightened.

His father is feeling better and Perriman says that staying on top of his playbook while he was injured has helped him hit the ground running now that he’s healthy enough to resume football activities.

“I feel much stronger,” Perriman said, via the team’s website. “I feel like I went through a lot last year, and it made me a better player and a better person. … It’s been crazy. I’ve been through a lot this offseason, but it’s just making me stronger again and just learning to keep faith and pray a lot more. It’s been rough. It still is rough from time to time, but I’m steady getting through it, pushing through it and keeping faith.”

With Perriman back on the field, Mike Wallace joining the team, Steve Smith putting off retirement and tight end Dennis Pitta potentially coming back to join new arrival Benjamin Watson, the Ravens passing game is going to have a different look than it did last season. Assuming they remain on the field, it should be a better one as well.

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How much public money will be available for Vegas stadium?

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With Raiders owner Mark Davis committed to exploring opportunities in Las Vegas, the question becomes whether Las Vegas will provide Davis with the kind of opportunity he wants. And that question hinges on whether and to what extent the powers-that-be in Las Vegas will cough up the cash to build a stadium.

During a Thursday meeting of local tourism experts, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman made clear the reality that things are currently very unclear regarding finances.

“We’re a little bit in the weeds right now talking about the numbers,” Goodman said, via News3LV.

The city’s contribution would come from increased hotel taxes on visitors to Las Vegas.

“Can we afford an increase to the room tax so the tourists still keep coming here?” Goodman said. “Those are the dollars we’re talking about strictly for the stadium and the Raiders.”

The loose formula currently consists of the Raiders and the NFL kicking in $500 million, the Las Vegas Sands paying $150 million, and the taxpayers picking up the remaining $750 million.

By August, more information is expected regarding the taxes necessary to meet the public portion of the project. In theory, a stadium could be completed by 2020.

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