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Te’o statement claims he was “victim” of hoax

Manti Te'o AP

The statement issued by Notre Dame regarding the fictitious dead girlfriend of linebacker Manti Te’o paints the Heisman Trophy runner-up as the victim of a hoax.

Not surprisingly, the statement from Te’o makes that same claim.

“This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online,” Te’o said in a statement released to PFT and other outlets.  “We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.

“To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone’s sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.

“It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother’s death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.

“I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.

“In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.

“Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I’m looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft.”

His preparation for the draft will include facing plenty of questions from scouts and coaches and General Managers and the media regarding the details of the situation.  There are simply too many accounts of in-person contact between Te’o and his fictitious girlfriend to ignore the possibility that Te’o has staked out the safest harbor in a raging storm.

Indeed, if he were involved in any way in perpetrating the hoax (which the Deadspin story exposing the hoax strongly implies), it would be natural and fairly obvious to now claim that he was the victim.

If we’ve learned anything this week after the Lance Armstrong confession, it’s that everyone is capable of telling some pretty incredible lies, even those who can accomplish some pretty incredible things athletically.

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Cowboys go ahead and print out playoff tickets


Even though the Cowboys are perpetually 8-8, and even though they haven’t won a playoff game since 2009, they’re aiming high.

According to Darren Rovell of, the Cowboys sent out playoff tickets, including for the NFC Championship Game, in packages sent to season-ticket holders.

The Cowboys haven’t made the NFC title game since 1995, but that’s no deterrent to the always-aiming-high marketing strategy of Jerry Jones’ team.

Either that, or they just hate the Earth, and decided to unnecessarily kill a bunch of trees for tickets that will never be used.

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Brady Quinn hasn’t closed the book on his playing career just yet

Brady Quinn AP

While Brady Quinn has been hired by Fox Sports as a college football and NFL analyst, his playing career may not be over.

Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show Friday, Quinn said he had a workout with an unnamed club on Monday.

“It went well,” Quinn said. “In this particular situation, though, they need something to happen in order for me to possibly be there.”

Quinn said Fox would be “flexible” in allowing him to continue to stay ready for another opportunity to play while also working for the network.

The 29-year-old Quinn had stints with the Seahawks, Jets and Rams in 2013.

UPDATE 11:52 a.m. ET: According to The Dan Patrick Show’s Andrew Perloff, Brady worked out for the Patriots this week.

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PFT Live from Saints camp: Drew Brees, Kenny Vaccaro and more

Drew Brees AP

PFT Live is back at Saints camp from the Greenbrier in West Virginia on Friday and we’ve got a jam-packed show coming your way.

Mike Florio will be speaking with several members of the Saints team during the program, including quarterback Drew Brees. They’ll talk about how the offense is shaping up after the offseason departures of longtime Saints like Lance Moore and Darren Sproles and what he thinks about the team’s chances of making a deep playoff run this season.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro, defensive end Cam Jordan, running back Pierre Thomas and wide receiver Marques Colston will also be dropping by the program as we continue to take a look at the state of the Saints heading into the 2014 season.

We’ll also have all the latest news and information from the rest of the league over the course of a busy hour.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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Geno Smith: I’m more confident running with the ball

Geno Smith AP

One of the loudest criticisms of Jets quarterback Geno Smith during his rookie season was that he didn’t make smart enough decisions when he was in the pocket, leading to turnovers or other negative plays that hindered an already weak offense.

In some of those cases, Smith would have been better off tucking the ball away and trying to run for a first down. Smith says he’s better equipped to do that in his second year on the job. In an interview with the Jets’ website, Smith said he knows that doing so could extend drives when receivers aren’t open, avoid turnovers and make life easier on a defense that had to do too much to keep the Jets in games last season.

“I’ve gotten faster. And I’m also more confident with running the ball. A lot of that has to do with just my confidence with my reads, knowing when to put it down to run to get us some extra yards,” Smith said, via CBS New York. “We want to really put emphasis on getting the ball out on time and being sharp and precise with our throws, but if it’s not there, use that extra asset that we have as runners.”

Speaking generally about Michael Vick, Smith called the veteran quarterback a teacher and a mentor and perhaps some of his running skills have rubbed off on his competition for the quarterback job. If Smith is able to make better use of his feet, it won’t help Vick get on the field but it would be a boost for a Jets offense that has to be better this season.

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Senators urge Goodell to reconsider Ray Rice punishment

Unknown Getty Images

Aside from a vocal band of Ravens employees and fans, most of the world thinks Ray Rice got off easy with a two-game suspension for knocking his wife unconscious.

Now, the politicians have joined the chorus.

According to the Huffington Post, a group of U.S. Senators sent a letter to NFL commisioner Roger Goodell asking for a tougher punishment.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin (all Democrats, such that it matters) sent letters to Goodell and Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome asking for more scrutiny of domestic violence.

“The decision to suspend Mr. Rice for a mere two games sends the inescapable message that the NFL does not take domestic or intimate-partner violence with the seriousness they deserve,” the letter read. “Mr. Rice’s suspension reflects a disturbingly lenient, even cavalier attitude towards violence against women,” the senators continued. “We therefore urge you to take two steps immediately. First, reconsider and revise Mr. Rice’s suspension to more adequately reflect the seriousness of his offense. We are also writing to the Baltimore Ravens to request that they impose additional discipline under their own authority, but it is imperative that the NFL itself makes clear that this conduct is truly unacceptable.”

At some point, Goodell is going to have to stop sending out his lieutenants to explain the unpopular decision, and having lawmakers lending weight to the criticism should reinforce how poorly the league has handled this one.

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Allen Robinson out at least two weeks with hamstring injury

Jaguars Rookie Minicamp Football AP

The hits keep on coming at wide receiver for the Jaguars.

Justin Blackmon is serving a lengthy suspension, Ace Sanders will miss the first four games serving a suspension of his own, Cecil Shorts is out for a while with a hamstring injury, Tandon Doss was forced out of Thursday’s practice with an ankle injury and now Allen Robinson is going to be on the shelf. Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union reports that Robinson also suffered a hamstring injury and that he is expected to miss at least the next two weeks while he recovers.

That leaves a chunk of time before the season starts, but the second-round pick is likely to miss a couple of preseason games and practice sessions vital to his ability to make a quick transition to the NFL. Robinson also battled hamstring woes in the spring, further limiting his exposure to the professional ranks and raising some concern that the problem may linger for more than a couple of weeks.

With all the absences, the Jaguars are down to rookie Marqise Lee, Mike Brown, Kerry Taylor and a slew of undrafted free agents at receiver. Chad Henne’s going to have his work cut out for him in the preseason.

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Steelers extend Shaun Suisham through 2018

Shaun Suisham AP

Shaun Suisham has keen kicking for the Steelers for the last four seasons and it looks like he will be around for several more.

The Steelers announced Friday that they have agreed to a contract extension with Suisham that runs through the 2018 season. Suisham is set to make $1.425 million this season, but no terms of the extension were announced.

Suisham made 30-of-32 field goals for the Steelers last season and has made 95-of-109 over the course of his time with the team. He has also made all of his extra point attempts and limited the opposition to touchbacks on kickoffs just over 45 percent of the time.

Suisham has also played for the Cowboys, 49ers and Redskins, but he’s probably wearing his final uniform if he winds up seeing out the entire extension in Pittsburgh.

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Hall of Fame to consider adding contributor category

b89f98982a1f062926bd1ea126f56d7e AP

Seven new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will get their yellow blazers this weekend, but there could be eight members enshrined when the football world converges on Canton again in 2015.

At their board meeting on Friday, the Hall of Fame will consider an amendment that would create a contributors category that would be considered separately from the senior and modern day groups that are currently in place for the voting process. If the amendment is adopted, the maximum number of inductees each year would rise to eight.

There are currently 19 contributors in the Hall, 11 of whom are owners, and Hall of Fame president Dave Baker says that may not be a fair reflection of the contributions that non-players and coaches have made to the game of football.

“Obviously, during the last 30 years there has been more growth in the game than ever before,” Baker said, via the Denver Post. “There are a lot of people who are responsible for that, but unfortunately, what often happens is a contributor gets compared to a modern-day player [on the ballot] and it’s not really a fair comparison. It’s apples and oranges. It’s what happens on the field and what happens around the field that makes that game happen.”

The Hall of Fame voters currently vote on a list of five modern-day candidates and two seniors candidates and it is still to be determined if there would be one contributor up for election each year or if there would be two with the seniors only getting one name in the ring. All candidates need to get 80 percent of the votes from the selection committee to be elected.

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Lovie Smith “pretty pleased” with Da’Quan Bowers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

During the offseason, Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said that defensive end Da’Quan Bowersneeds to prove” that he’s good enough to have a role on the Tampa defense in the 2014 season.

Bowers had no argument with the coach’s assessment and Smith said Thursday that the early results from training camp have been promising for the 2011 second-round pick. Smith said that he has been “pretty pleased” with what he’s seen from Bowers, particularly his ability to play both inside and outside on the defensive line.

“He could help us quite a bit because, as a general rule, we’ll [dress] three [tackles] and three ends and we’ll want our seventh [lineman] to be able to play both inside and out,” Smith said, via the Tampa Tribune. “And that’s what you have in Da’Quan. He’s right in between — big enough to rush inside on third downs and a good anchor outside on first down. So he gives us some flexibility. And I know he’s been injured a lot, but he hasn’t missed a beat since I’ve been here.”

Bowers will need to stay healthy and keep his motor high if he’s going to continue to earn playing time on Tampa’s defensive line this season, but it certainly seems to be there for the taking if he’s able to tap into the talent that made him such a high pick in the first place.

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Jones-Drew finds it “hilarious” that people think he’s getting old

mjd AP

Raiders running back Maurice Jones-Drew is 29 years old and coming off a 2013 season in which he had a career-low 3.4 yards a carry and never looked like he was all the way back to full speed after a foot injury cut short his 2012 season. But he insists that he’s not getting old.

In fact, Jones-Drew thinks it’s “hilarious” that some people don’t think he has what it takes to carry the load in the Raiders’ offense.

“I know what I have left,” Jones-Drew told the San Jose Mercury-News. “I know the work I put in this offseason to get to where I need to get to be able to play at a high level. I stopped worrying about what people were saying.”

Jones-Drew is competing with Darren McFadden for the starting job in Oakland. Although McFadden is only 26, he appears to be slowing down just as much as Jones-Drew: McFadden has been plagued by injuries and averaged just 3.3 yards a carry in each of the last two seasons.

The Raiders need one of those running backs to get back to full speed. If both of them are up to speed, Oakland may have one of the better 1-2 punches in the backfield. But given their recent performances, fans can be forgiven if they think the thought of the Raiders having a great offense is hilarious.

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Tom Brady likes the challenge of Pats’ new secondary

Tom Brady AP

Things are getting a little more heated in Patriots practices, with a new secondary making things a little harder for the offense.

And while quarterback Tom Brady’s a perfectionist, he knows having Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis working over his receivers is making them better.

I think that’s what defenses do,” Brady said, via Tom Curran of “We’ll go into games and say, ‘Look, these guys hold on every play. They grab you, they clutch you, they hold you, but we still have to figure out a way to get open. It’s not flag football. Their hands are going to be on you, and the refs, they’re only going to call it when you pass the limit of where they think the limit is.’ ”

The Patriots were strafed by the Broncos last year in the AFC Championship Game, and then watched the Seahawks outmuscle the Broncos in the Super Bowl. So that was a not-subtle reminder to a defense that has traditionally played off receivers more often.

“I think all of those guys are veterans,” Brady said. “They know how to get away with certain plays. Like [offensive] holding for example – it happens every play, so if you look close enough you’re going to find holding. There is an edge that you can always push it to. If you look at the offensive line, there’s holding on every play. That’s just the way football is. You’ve just got to do it in a way where the refs don’t see it and don’t call it. But that same thing goes for the defensive backfield. If there is a way to gain leverage on a particular route then you’re going to use it. The veterans know how to do it better; they know right where the limit is.”

And that’s testing the limits of Brady’s patience in practice, even if he knows they’ll be better for it.

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John Mara: Giants planned for not having David Wilson

Rashad Jennings AP

There’s a lot of pessimism around the Giants when it comes to running back David Wilson’s chances of playing this season after he suffered a burner in one of his first practices after getting cleared to return to action after spinal fusion surgery, but not a lot of surprise.

The long wait for Wilson to get clearance and the nature of his injury gave the team plenty of reason to plan for the possibility that Wilson would not be part of the mix. Co-owner John Mara said it would have been foolish for the team to proceed any other way.

“I think given what he went through, the surgery he went through, it would have been foolish not to be [prepared],” Mara said on ESPN Radio, via the Newark Star-Ledger. “We signed Rashad Jennings, we drafted Andre Williams, we signed Peyton Hillis again, so we do have some depth there. We have Michael Cox there, so someone is going to have to step up and do it now. Rashad Jennings is a good NFL running back and Peyton Hillis has been a good NFL running back and we’ve got some good young guys behind them, so we do have some depth.”

None of those backs have the same speed and big-play threat that Wilson brings to the table, but Mara’s words suggest that the Giants were looking at those things as a bonus for the coming season. It looks like Jennings will be the starter with Hillis serving as his backup and Williams challenging for short-yardage and goal-line work as a rookie. It isn’t the most imposing group, but may not have to be if Eli Manning and the passing game get back on track.

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Tony Romo might not play in preseason opener

Tony Romo

Even though Dr. Jerry Jones has proclaimed Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo100 percent,” it’s far from certain he’ll play a full preseason schedule.

Via Todd Archer of, Romo said he will play at some point in the preseason, though he’s not sure if he was going to suit up for the Aug. 7 opener against the Chargers.

“You’re constantly evaluating it and you’re constantly, I don’t want to say adjusting because you stick to the plan, but it’s a progression,” Romo said. “It’s leading up to San Francisco [regular season opener]. I am going to play in the preseason, obviously. I think it’s important. The first game, we’ll talk about it as we move into the weekend.”

Romo’s getting periodic days off after offseason back surgery, and everyone says he’s going to be fine. He said it was more of a matter of adapting to a new routine of strengthening his back and supporting muscles,

“It’s just a little unknown so you’d rather play it safe than be silly and just go out and do everything over and over again and all of a sudden have to sit out for a week or so,” Romo said. “I think more than anything we’re playing the long game and I think that’s smart.”

It’s probably early to start the panic, as he didn’t play in last year’s preseason opener either. But until he proves the owner right and shows that he’s 100 percent, it’s reasonable have concern.

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Difference of opinion on Lynch fines

Lynch AP

There’s no dispute that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch returned to the fold on Thursday with an adjusted contract that moves money around but gives him no new dollars, in theory.  (It nevertheless makes $1 million a lot easier to earn, and nudges $500,000 from 2015 to 2014.)

In contrast, there’s a sharp dispute over whether Lynch’s fines in the amount of $30,000 per day will be collected.  One source with direct knowledge of the situation tells PFT the fines will be forgiven.  Another source with direct knowledge of the situation tells PFT the fines won’t be forgiven.

As former Steelers receiver Hines Ward said in June on NBCSN’s Pro Football Talk, teams routinely opt not to enforce the fines associated with training-camp holdouts.  For his own holdout in 2005, Ward said that the team did not collect the money.

Any no-fine arrangement typically entails a no-talk-about-the-no-fine provision, which ensures that other players don’t believe they’ll be able to stay away from training camp without consequence.

In this case, with the Seahawks very concerned about the precedent that would be set by giving Lynch a new contract only two years into his current one, the Seahawks are likely just as concerned about the precedent that would be set by giving Lynch a pass on his fines.

Bottom line?  The Seahawks are forgiving the fines, unless they aren’t.

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Texans add a pair, including former Panthers fourth-rounder

Joe Adams AP

As training camps drag into their second week, teams find themselves needing cover at certain positions.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans signed wide receiver Joe Adams and offensive tackle Brice Schwab.

Schwab spent time with the Bucs and on the Patriots practice squad, while Adams has a little more pedigree.

A former Panthers fourth-round pick from Arkansas, he had explosive return ability, but also treated the ball like it was about to explode. That fumbling problem led him to the CFL, where he played for Edmonton.

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