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Transcript of Andy Reid interview from PFT Live

Former Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid gestures during a news conference with Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt introducing Reid as the Chiefs new coach in Kansas City, Missouri Reuters

[Editor’s note:  Chiefs coach Andy Reid appeared as a guest of the January 9 edition of PFT Live.  A full transcript of the interview appears below.]

Mike Florio: Now that you’re the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, the most immediate question is, will there be a play in the new playbook called the 65 toss power trap?

Andy Reid: (laughing) You’ve been talking to Gruden man.  We’ve got some good stuff in there.

MF: Well, one thing that was obvious to me watching your press conference Monday coach is you seem to be genuinely rejuvenated by this new opportunity in Kansas City.  Talk about how this change has changed you and how you feel after 14 years in Philly now getting started with the Kansas City Chiefs.

AR: Well listen, Mike, I enjoyed every minute in Philadelphia. The fans were passionate, the Luries were tremendous, and it was a good, solid — it was a great organization.  I had an opportunity to work with Joe Banner who did a phenomenal job and Howie Roseman who did a phenomenal job, Tom Heckert, all these guys, you know, the people that you deal with there as a whole, players, coaches, it was a good bunch.  This was an opportunity here to work for one of the great families in the National Football League.  So I’ve sat through all the owner/coach meetings and all that down at the owners meetings, and I’ve looked around the rooms and I understand.  I understand what the Kansas City Chiefs are all about, I’ve been in it long enough to figure it out. So when Clark Hunt came calling, I listened and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  And as he presented his side and I was able to talk to him about my side and what kind of my makeup and how I go about my business and so on, it just seemed to click and work and thus I decided to come here.

MF: And, Coach, there was all sorts of reports and speculation last week linking you to other jobs, most notably the Arizona Cardinals. Was anyone else ever in this seriously or was it all Chiefs from the get-go?

AR:  Well, listen. My wife’s from Phoenix and the Cardinals have a great organization so I, they were interested, I was interested, there was, you know, I’ve got a place out in California close to San Diego and there was some interest there and so, listen, when it was all, and they’ve got a great organization there.  So there were decisions that had to be made.  I would tell you, I just kind of came back to, like I said, there are three or four families in this league that are just, that you’d love to work for as you get old and grey like I’m getting, quickly.  So, this is one of those, one of the franchises and I was lucky enough where they came calling and lucky enough where they offered me a job.

MF: What’s the one thing you’ll carry from your 14 years of experience as a head coach with the Eagles that you think will help you the most as you start your career with the Kansas City Chiefs?

AR: Well, you know, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing really.  Until you’ve walked in a head coach’s shoes, you feel like you really know nothing.  So I’ve had that opportunity to do it and you go, doggone, all those years of experience as a coach, this is so different.  This is a different, different deal as a head football coach in this league.  So, every day from that point on that you’re appointed the head coach, you learn and that’s, it keeps your mind fresh and every day is a new day and it’s a pretty exciting thing.  So, there are only 32 of them in the whole world, man, so it’s pretty exciting.  I would tell you the same thing.  There’s a bunch of things I learned there, I’m going to try to do better here with.  I take full responsibility for the last couple years.  It wasn’t good enough, absolutely wasn’t good enough.  Learned some great lessons, I’m going to bring those with me along with all the other 12 years I was there.  I look at it as sort of 14 great years, I take that, I take all the experience of all 14 years, and try to do a better job.  We didn’t get the Super Bowl ring doggone it, Mike, and you know that’s what we’re all shooting for and we didn’t get it.  I’m going to try to do my best for this organization and allow them, all of us, to get a ring.

MF: The team that you’re with now, at least according to last year’s record, has the longest path to get to the top of the mountain.  When you look at what the Chiefs have, what happened to the Chiefs in 2012, what’s you’re assessment of why they finished 2-14?

AR:  Things didn’t work out.  Whether it was injuries or whatever, it just didn’t work out for them.  Specifically at specific positions, it didn’t work out.  I would take you to the other side of that and I just say good coaches and good players, if you can combine those things you’re going to win a lot of games.  If you can eliminate distractions, if there’s no pulling one way or the other, and this isn’t saying that that’s what happened there, I’m saying in general in this league.  If everyone is pulling in the same direction, front office, coaching staff, players, if you’re pulling in the same direction, when those things get out of whack, normally good things don’t happen.  So, you take those few facets, everyone pulling in the same direction, you take the combination of good players and good coaches, I think those are all important for teams to win.  And normally if they’re not something in those areas there, there’s a problem.

MF: You had a great comment the other day about looking for the next Len Dawson, the only quarterback who has led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl win.  The obvious question in response to that Coach is how do you go about finding the next Len Dawson in Kansas City?

AR: Well you better start by looking at the guys who are here.  And you better start with how many coordinators, well look at skill level, and then how many coordinators have these guys had?  How many changes?  That’s a fragile position right there, man.  If you’re talking about guys that you’re asking ‘Am I going to be a cardiologist or an orthopod?,’ one of those deals, and all of a sudden you’re going to change on them and make them overnight, in one year go from being the cardiologist to the orthopod, that’s a tough thing to do.  So that’s how it is when you have to learn new offenses and new ways, it’s not easy.  But you better analyze what’s there, and then you always keep your eyes open for that position, you’re always going to do that.  So, if you have a great player, you’re going to make sure you have a great backup, and so we’re going to do that.  We’ll look at it in draft, we’ll look at in in trade, we’ll look at it in free agency, we’ll keep our eyes open.  But first we’re going to look at what we have and analyze that.

MF: You’ve got a track record of getting the absolute most out of whatever quarterback you put on the field, you’ve done that consistently.  What is it that you do with a quarterback that gets him to be the best that he can be?  What is it that’s coachable that isn’t already part of that quarterback’s makeup?

AR:  As a coach, we’re here to teach, and to teach you better know your system.  As a coach, I’ve been lucky enough to have the Marty Mornhinwegs of the world, the Brad Childressess of the world, I mean I’ve had some good quarterback coaches of late, Doug Pederson, these are good football coaches, Pat Shurmur, good football coaches that can teach, most of all teach. And so, and then the players have been good players. It’s just a matter of being able to pull it out of that player and try to find what makes him tick and evaluate him the right way.  Make sure you find guys you can work into your system and then have the aptitude and ability, skill and ability, and can think on their feet maybe. You’ve got to do it quick, I mean real quick, and so you’ve got to be able to make accurate decisions in a very short amount of time.

MF: When do you anticipate making decisions about which coaches are going to be joining you as members of the staff in Kansas City?

AR: Doing it right now. Right now. We’ve been interviewing general managers and that process is still going on. And then I’ve made calls to coaches and I’m starting to bring them in here now. We’ve got the first ones on campus right now, so working through that process right now too.

MF: Any names you want to announce? No one’s really watching this, so, you know. . . .

AR: (laughing) That’s what I want to do right here. You are the best, man.

MF: You’ve got that first overall pick in the draft and it doesn’t seem like there are any quarterbacks out there that are worthy of being taken first overall, is that going to be the first thing you do when you evaluate the draft class?  Is there a quarterback that would be worthy of that first selection?

AR:  We’ll look at that position; we’re going to do that. We’ll look at all positions but we’re going look at that position. You’ve got to go through and analyze that, and that’s time right now.  We’re early in the process so we’ve got to get in and do all that, do all the evaluations and that’s a long tedious deal, but let’s get it knocked out.  A lot of the scouts and personnel guys have been doing that throughout the year and then what they do is, they bring the information in and then the coaches are part of the evaluation and then you build yourself up to a draft after having an opportunity to meet with these kids. We’ll see how it goes. Mike, the most important thing is that it’s the right pick.  So, we get so caught up, and you can’t get caught up right now and say you have to have a quarterback. You do that and it’s not the right guy, that’s a problem, that’s a real problem, that sets you back.  So whoever you take at that spot, it better be the right guy, that’s the most important, it doesn’t matter the position, really doesn’t matter, as long as he’s a good football player.

MF: One other area there’s been a lot of discussion on lately, and you played there this year, you go back there next year, FedEx Field. You’ve been there every year since it opened, a lot of criticism of the quality of the surface there. You were there in November, what’s your assessment of the condition, the quality, the overall playing surface at FedEx Field?

AR: The actual field itself?

MF: Yes, the actual turf itself.

AR: Well, Mike, it, it’s not bad (laughs). It’s not bad.

MF: Does that mean it’s not good?

AR: Well, I can’t tell you that it’s, it’s not bad. Listen, those grounds guys bust their tails to make sure it’s right, we played there this year. I’ve found in years past that it’s fine.

MF: But isn’t there a deeper issue that the NFL needs to be looking out now, Coach, that the NFL needs to be ensuring that these fields are always good, that they’re always the same. You’re talking about huge financial investments in the players, you want to keep them healthy, you don’t want them to get injured by anything other than the contact they experience on the football field and we know that’s inevitable, but you don’t what them to be injured by where they’re playing, where they’re running, how they’re setting their feet. Hasn’t the time come for the NFL to say we want the field to be as good as it can possible be in every NFL stadium?

AR: Listen, the field when we played there, it had rained, so there was a weather issues. In the years past the field’s been fine. I don’t know what happened the other day, I actually didn’t have a chance to see the game because I was doing this here.  You’re going to have to make that decision on that.  The one thing that I think people need to know, is that those grounds crew people spend so much time and effort there trying to make it right.

MF: Well, we know you’re going to be spending a lot of time and effort trying to make things right in Kansas City. It’s a new day for the Chiefs, a new day for you, and we wish you all the best. Congratulations on your success, best wishes going forward and we hope to talk to you soon.

AR: Listen Mike, it was my pleasure. Thank you.

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Goodell interview adds nothing to Manning HGH discussion


Last year, Commissioner Roger Goodell passed on an invitation to be interviewed by Bob Costas of NBC during the Super Bowl pregame show, a move that wasn’t surprising in the early days of #DeflateGate. This year, Goodell opted to sit for an interview with James Brown of CBS.

There was limited real estate for the interview, and a chunk of it was devoted to the pending allegation from Al Jazeera that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning used HGH in 2011.

Here’s the question that Brown asked: “The investigation linking Peyton Manning with HGH, and while the source has recanted we know that there are other agencies investigating this. Specifically, what’s the role of the NFL in the investigation?”

Here’s the answer from Goodell: “Well, we are conducting our own investigation. We started that immediately when we got the first reports on this. There are other players, other leagues involved. We will work together in a cooperative fashion to make sure that we get the facts. We’re not going to speculate on what they are at this point in time, but we’re going to take it very seriously as we do anything that impacts on either the safety of our players or the integrity of our game.”

It’s unclear how much more could have been gotten from Goodell, but with a question that came off as a perfunctory checking of boxes, it’s no surprise that the answer felt the sam way. Faced with the standard, basic, what’s-up-with-Peyton-and-HGH? question, Goodell provided the standard, basic hand-crafted-talking-point response.

Not surprisingly, the question carried a bit of the implicit derision that many major media outlets have added to the case, with Brown specifically pointing out that Al Jazeera’s source recanted. Phrasing it that way creates the impression that it was all one big lie, and that there’s nothing to anything that Charles Sly said while being secretly recorded.

But here’s the thing. The excellent item from the Washington Post regarding the mobilization of the Manning machinery to combat the allegations before the story broke includes a report that Sly recanted “without knowing exactly what he was recanting.” So, in order words, Sly said, “I lied when I said all those things to that guy. I don’t know what specifically I said at this point but all of it was a lie. None of if was the truth. Although I’m not quite sure what I said.”

Why does it seem so hard for the media to process the difference between truly recanting and covering one’s ass? According to the Post, two men hired by Manning’s lawyers showed up at the house of Sly’s parents, wearing black overcoats and claiming to be law enforcement officers. Hired P.R. gun Ari Fleischer insists (predictably) that Manning’s lawyers in no way coerced or influenced Sly’s recanting, which happened one day after the men in black overcoats interrogated Sly.

No, they didn’t influence or coerce Sly. They simply showed up at his parents’ house and sufficiently alarmed them to spark a 911 call. Common sense permits the blanks to be filled in from there regarding the content of the ensuing conversations between Sly and his parents.

And when the men in black overcoats talked to Sly, they didn’t tell him to recant. Common sense permits the blanks to be filled in for there regarding what they possibly told him regarding what might happen if the story is published in its current form, based on the things that Sly recanted the next day. Sly could be sued. His career could be derailed if not destroyed based on the extreme lack of discretion that his comments revealed.

So they didn’t influence or coerce. They just stated facts and Sly influenced or coerced the recantation out of himself, with any further assistance.

As a practical matter, the HGH investigation doesn’t really matter at this point, because Manning likely will retire after Super Bowl 50. Assuming the league eventually gets the information it needs from the Guyer Institute (chances are it won’t), a finding of a violation becomes relevant to Manning only if he’s working for another team and the league decides at that point to discipline him for things that he did as a player.

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It’s warm and sunny in Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50


The weather isn’t going to be an issue for Super Bowl 50.

It’s warm and sunny at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and expected to stay that way for the rest of the afternoon as the Panthers and Broncos vie for the NFL title. The condition of the playing field has been issue at times since the 49ers moved into the stadium, but the league put down a new playing surface and field director Ed Mangan said this week that things should be fine.

“I think we’re in great shape,” Mangan said, via the Washington Post.

The PFT team is here and in (mostly) great shape as well. We’ll bring you everything from the game and all of the postgame reactions from both the winners and the losers. It’s been a blast sharing another season with all of you and we’re planning to go out with a bang on Super Bowl Sunday with the readers that have helped us grow over the years.

[Photo: Josh Alper]

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J.J. Watt has a message for his doubters


In the wake of a debate (real or contrived) regarding whether and why Cam Newton is so polarizing, another guy who isn’t viewed as a lightning rod continues to periodically say things that should be drawing 50,000-degree bolts of electricity, but aren’t.

Texans defensive J.J. Watt, universally regarded as a good guy and who has never seen a camera for which he wouldn’t mug, has a history of utterances far more inflammatory than anything that ever has come from the mouth of Newton.

Newton, who draws the most real (or embellished) criticism from a habit of on-field exuberance, has never said anything negative about an opponent, apart from a joking, cartoonish reference to Ndamukong Suh as “Donkey Kong.” (It quickly became a thing — complete with a mind-boggling suggestion of racism — and Newton promptly apologized.)

Watt, in contrast, has wrangled with opponents multiple times, from picking a fight with Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger about photos he posted on social media to scoffing openly at offensive linemen trying to block him offering up a carefully-planned-but-poorly-executed post-game comedy routine comparing Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to a Red Ryder BB gun. He has never apologized; instead, he replied to Mettenberger’s reaction by saying a lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of sheep.

Most recently, during a Saturday night awards show no one ever watches, Watt capped a short speech accepting his third career defensive player of the year award with a stunning lack of grace.

It started the right way, with Watt talking about the great players he emulated while growing up, playing football in the front yard, and expressing hope that there could be kids out there today emulating him. Then it took a turn.

“The funny thing to me is I was a two-star recruit coming out of a high school going into college, and now I have three defensive player of the year trophies,” Watt said. “So screw all you guys who doubted me.”

Let’s stop for a second and consider what the actual or perceived reaction would be if Newton or anyone else said something like that. So why doesn’t Watt provoke the same thing?

Some will suggest that race has something to do with it. I’d like to think it’s not quite that simple, but only because I’d like to think football fans care only about the colors their favorite team wears. (I know I’m being naïve.)

Watt, drafted ten picks after Newton in 2011, entered the NFL with a compelling story. After starting his college career at Central Michigan, Watt made an all-in bet on himself at Wisconsin, walking on and earning a scholarship and delivering pizzas to make ends meet. Despite his imposing size and the ominous brace he wears on his arm, Watt comes off to many as non-threatening. Possibly because he’s always smiling.

You know, like Cam does. But whether it’s because there were no stolen laptops or scathing scouting reports or suggestions that the smile was fake or any other possible factor (including race), Watt gets a pass when making comments for which Newton, if he said the same things, would get ripped through more letters to the editor and more finger-wagging gas bags and more petitions to ban him from cities like Seattle.

My goal isn’t to solve this one. But it would be irresponsible to not at least point out that there seems to be a weird, national blind spot when it comes to J.J. Watt.

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Eagles interested in bringing back Nick Foles

Philadelphia Eagles v Arizona Cardinals Getty Images

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 7-Russell Wilson, 6-Tom Brady, 6-Carson Palmer, 2-Julio Jones, 1-Adrian Peterson

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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