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Transcript of Tim Brown interview on Pro Football Talk

[Editor’s note:  Former Raiders receiver Tim Brown appeared on Tuesday’s Pro Football Talk (5:00 p.m. ET, NBSCN) to elaborate on recent comments regarding his belief that a late decision to change the game plan prior to Super Bowl XXXVII hampered Oakland’s ability to beat the Buccaneers.  The full transcript of his discussion with Erik Kuselias, the entirety of which will be broadcast on tonight’s edition of The Erik Kuselias Show (7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., NBC Sports Radio Network), appears below.]

EK: Tim, you said the facts are what they are, less than 36 hours before the game we changed our game plan and we go in to that game absolutely knowing we have no shot. Are you saying that Bill Callahan changed the game plan to give your team less of a chance to beat the Buccaneers?

TB: I’m not necessarily saying he did that for that reason, but it happened.  The game plan changed and no matter what we said we couldn’t get him to rethink his thought process. . . .

EK: You understand there’s obviously a difference between making a poor coaching decision, even a colossally poor coaching decision, and throwing the game.  Is this a colossally poor coach decision or are you saying that he was trying not to win the game?

TB: Well, this is what I’m saying, we have history here and the history doesn’t speak well for him. So I think if it wasn’t for his history it would have been exactly that, a very poor coaching decision . . . .  That’s the problem with this situation is because we’ve had that history, it was hard to just say, “Man, this was one of the worst coaching decisions in the history of Super Bowls,” and the guys were even able to go a step further than before because things that they had dealt with before like this.

EK: When was the first time it crossed your mind that this may not just be a bad coaching decision and this may enter the area of intentional sabotage?

TB: Well, it was talked about in the locker room after the game. . . . We were just trying to find a reason why that would happen. Why would you change the game plan so close to the game if you know that the negative repercussions can cost you the game?  If you go out and lose the game with the game plan you had before, that’s cool. You did what you had to do.  Maybe the game plan maybe wasn’t great.  You change it all of a sudden.  You’re probably going to have it in the players’ heads that you’re not going to win a football game.  Your players never want to go into a game knowing that if something starts to go bad — because all it takes is one or two guys to say, “Oh, this shouldn’t happen or that shouldn’t have happened.”  And you can have other guys playing hard.  But in football, you got eleven guys out there at one time, if one of those guys is not doing their job, we got a problem.  That game just got out of hand, obviously were now trying to throw the ball in way we hadn’t practiced all week.  And it became very, very difficult.

EK: So Tim, at the end of the day, you have $10 million tax free if you were right.  And I realize you’re guessing.  Is your best guess that Bill Callahan was incompetent, or that Bill Callahan was trying not to win the game?

TB:  Wow . . . look I can’t say the man was incompetent because he was far from that.  He is one of the smartest offensive coaches I’ve ever been around.  I certainly can’t come back now and call him incompetent.  Any decision you make you have to know that there are going to be positive outcomes and negative outcomes.  So from that standpoint, you only leave me with one other choice.  I’m going to have to take the latter of those two choices.  I don’t think that he was incompetent.  That’s not who Bill Callahan is.  He was a very good football coach.  I would feel better about the situation almost knowing that if it happened that way then I wouldn’t have had a problem with it than thinking that he absolutely had no idea what he was doing.  I’d known him for five years at that point and the one thing you can’t put with Bill Callahan is incompetence.

EK: Have you ever addressed this with him directly, one on one?

TB:  Yeah, I did at the beginning, when we came back in 2003.  Even right up to the Super Bowl, and I got a “hey, that’s just what we decided to do”-type answer, and that was it.  That year didn’t get off to a good start anyway.  It really started to go way downhill after that, so we knew we were in a totally different situation at that particular point and this wasn’t a “hey, lets see if we can go back and do it again,” it was really survival mode, it was just trying to get through the year without somebody getting really hurt.  It was really bad.

EK: There are people who say, “Good for you, you’re right on the money,” and other people who are asking the question, “Why does it take you 10 years to say something publicly?”  How do you respond to that?

TB: I was on the TV, when I was on FOX in 2005, 2006, 2007, I said it there every year.  There was some situation that prompted me to say it ever year.  So I said it the last 4-5 years.  Me and Dallas [radio], we get into a conversation about Super Bowls ever year and my story comes out.  Why it blew up the way it did now, my wife was telling me, “You’ve been talking about this for years, so why today is all of a sudden are people jumping all over this deal?”  So I have no explanation of why this is happening the way it is, but I think it’s a documented fact, if you go back and look at 2005 when I first retired and I was doing that FOX show week in and week out, I said it then.

EK: You were a Dallas kid and you played there and obviously a legend there, and now you’re there as well, look who’s calling the plays for the Dallas Cowboys next year. Bill Callahan is prying the playbook away from the head coach, Jason Garrett.  What did you think when you heard that today?

TB: This guy, if he is in the position of offensive coordinator, that’s perfect for him. Because he can do what he does best, he can come up with plays and call the plays but as a head coach you have a totally different responsibility. And I’ll tell everyone here in Dallas, I think he’ll be incredibly great as offensive coordinator if he’s allowed to run his offense.  Now if he’s running somebody else’s offense that could be more difficult.  But with the receivers, the quarterback, and if they can get a running back that shows up week in and week out, with Jason Witten, I mean this is day one an explosive offensive team.  It’s not going to be the same explosion that you’ve seen, it may be a team that takes nine plays to 12-15 plays to get a TD, he has to find out if he’s going to run his offense the same way he ran the Raiders offense.

EK: OK, new subject.  This is the most direct way I can ask you, why the heck aren’t you in the Hall of Fame?

TB: Man, I have no clue about that. That’s been the most frustrating thing about this, is not really getting an explanation because I’m not a guy that understands something like, “We needed for you to score 105 touchdowns instead of 100 touchdowns.”  You know whatever it is, I mean I understand, but to not know is mind boggling and that’s the frustrating part about this deal, is when they don’t call your name, they don’t give you a reason why. Even my guy who’s in there presenting for me, he said that he’s going around to everybody before hand saying, “Hey, how do we look?” and they say “Good, good, good,” but when I don’t make it and everyone’s in there saying, “I voted for him, I voted for him.”  They don’t have to say they didn’t vote for someone, and they don’t have to give an explanation.  So you don’t know what you have to do and if it has anything to do with my numbers then that’s never going to change as much as I think I can sometimes, I’m not going back out on the field.

EK:  So when you get in, who’s going to present you?

TB: It will definitely be my brother. He was the one who got me into football back in the day and he taught me how to catch the ball and he was really trying to torture me and throwing the ball at me as hard as he could saying, “You better catch every ball,” so it got up to the point where I was catching every ball, and he didn’t want to play catch with me any more.

EK:  Finally, when you get in, top rung of the trophy case, what goes on top spot?  Is it the Heisman Trophy, or is it the gold blazer?

TB: Oh man, I’ll tell you what this Heisman has been with me for a long time.  I think you’re going to have to find another place for this one because one can’t go on top of the other, they’re both incredibly special.

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Antonio Brown says he’ll be fine after taking a knee in the quad

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a catch in front of Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown spent some time on the sidelines during Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, with a leg injury. After the game, Brown explained why he was absent.

He took a knee to the quad from a Patriots defender.

Brown added that he expects to be able to play in two weeks, when the Steelers emerge from their bye week.

For the game, Brown caught seven passes for 106 yards. It wasn’t enough to keep the Steelers from limping into the bye week at 4-3.

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LeSean McCoy: Hamstring felt fine heading into game

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills rushes with the ball against the Miami Dolphins at the Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills saw their four-game winning streak come to an end in Miami on Sunday afternoon and they also saw running back LeSean McCoy leave the game early because of a hamstring injury.

McCoy’s status was a subject of discussion leading into the game with a report that he’d miss the game due to the hamstring injury getting rebuffed before he was listed as questionable for the game. He ran eight times for 11 yards while seeing the most snaps at running back into the third quarter of the game. McCoy said he “felt a little pain” in the hamstring during the game, but that all was well up until that point.

“I felt fine,” McCoy said, via the team. “Every day step by step I slowly progressed and things calmed down. It was a day to day decision. I felt great going into my cuts, warming up, running, cutting, I felt good. That was the only reason I would play if I was 100 percent.”

Coach Rex Ryan said that McCoy was cleared to play in the game and that he wouldn’t have played if the team didn’t think he was 100 percent.

McCoy said he doesn’t think the injury is a “major” one and feels hopeful he’ll be ready for next Sunday’s date with the Patriots. Based on the way the offense performed without McCoy having a big game, that would be as great for the Bills as it might be unlikely given how things went with McCoy’s hamstring this week.

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Who’s the best running back in the NFL?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Jay Ajayi #23 of the Miami Dolphins enters the field prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

With plenty of young running backs getting it done during the 2016 NFL season, it’s a good time to stick a finger in the wind regarding the best of the league’s current tailbacks.

That Monday’s question of the day on PFT Live. Vote for one of the choices in the poll appearing below, make your arguments in the comments, and tune in tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, or to NBCSN at 7:00 a.m. ET for the simulcast.

Joining the show will be the head coach of one of the options listed below: Adam Gase, whose Dolphins have won two in a row and must be taken seriously down the stretch this season.

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Joe Flacco: My shoulder felt good today

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to pass against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Ravens lost for the fourth straight week on Sunday when the Jets turned a pair of Joe Flacco interceptions into 10 second half points for a 24-16 home victory.

Flacco had some success in the first half, but he and the entire Ravens offense flamed out after taking a 16-14 lead into the locker room at halftime. After the game, Flacco was asked if the right shoulder soreness that caused him to miss practice time was an issue during the game.

Flacco said he felt good on Sunday and will take it easy during the bye week in hopes of keeping the issue from lingering in the coming weeks.

“I hope not. I didn’t deal with it today,” Flacco said in his postgame press conference. “I felt good; my arm felt great. I was a little bit nervous early on in the week, just because I wasn’t sure what it was. I was having a little bit of trouble with it, so I was a little bit nervous early in the week, but when I went in on Thursday, I felt pretty good and I felt optimistic that I was going to be feeling ready to go. The last couple days have been great and I felt great coming in throwing the ball, so hopefully I won’t have to deal with it. I’m sure there will be a little bit, but the fact that we have a bye week this week, hopefully I can get over it.”

Flacco’s two interceptions were hardly the only thing wrong on offense that ran for six yards all day. Flacco summed up the unit’s work by saying “we’re not good right now” and the Ravens’ losing streak is likely to keep running as long as that’s the case.

The Ravens have plenty of players in need of healing over the bye week and perhaps a healthier team can be more successful than the one that’s been on display the last few weeks.

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Cardinals and Seahawks still scoreless after a quarter

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) warms up prior to a football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) AP

Some people see a scoreless quarter and see the glass as half-empty.

But the Seahawks and Cardinals have also played quality defense, and kept the pressure on opposing quarterbacks so far.

It’s been hard for either side to get into much of a rhythm, but it’s not necessarily the fault of the offenses.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is clearly not himself as a runner, as was evidenced on an early read option. But his sprained left knee and his right ankle sprain from earlier this year haven’t kept him off the field, either.

The best play of the night so far was a punt by Arizona’s Ryan Quigley, who backed the Seahawks up at their own 1-yard line. You can look at that as a bad thing if you want, or you can savor a difficult job, well done.

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Matthew Stafford makes 100th-game history

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions celebrates on the sidelines late in the fourth quarter of the game against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit defeated Washington 20-17. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Sunday, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford played in his 100th career game. And he has done more in 100 games than any player in league history.

Specifically, Stafford has more passing yards through his first 100 games, with 27,890.

That’s an average of 278.9 per game. He was under that amount on Sunday, with 266.

More importantly, the Lions managed their third straight win, fueled by a late-game drive allowed Detroit to beat Washington.

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Watch Seahawks-Cardinals online

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 16:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks talks with Seattle head coach Pete Carroll before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field on October 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

You don’t need a TV to watch Sunday Night Football. But you do need an Internet connection, if you don’t have a TV.

With said Internet connection and a computer or a tablet, you can stream the game via or the NBC Sports app.

It all gets started soon, with the Seahawks trying to stretch their record to 5-1 and the Cardinals hoping to get above .500 for the first time this year.

Yeah, yeah, yeah the zombie show is on. So record it and watch it after the game.

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Chargers rally from 17-point deficit for overtime win

San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Denzel Perryman (52) picks off Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman) AP

The Chargers don’t play boring games.

They rallied from a 17-point deficit Sunday to top the Falcons in overtime, 33-30, on a 42-yard field goal by Josh Lambo. The Chargers trailed 27-10 in the second quarter and twice trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter.

Philip Rivers threw for 371 yards and Melvin Gordon scored three touchdowns, but the Chargers also needed timely defensive plays. A Denzel Perryman interception in the fourth quarter set up the drive to tie it.

The Falcons went for it on fourth and one on their first overtime possession and got stopped. Falcons kicker Matt Bryant missed a 58-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.

With two rushing and one by passing, Gordon is up to 10 touchdowns on the season. He didn’t score a touchdown last year as a rookie.

The Falcons scored three touchdowns in the second quarter but scored just three points the rest of the way.

The Chargers keep playing close games and have now won two in a row for the first time for improve to 3-4. The Falcons are 4-3 after losing their second straight.

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones caught nine passes for 174 yards but the Chargers limited Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to 273 yards and one touchdown pass and also sacked him three times.

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Aaron Williams rejoins Bills for flight back to Buffalo

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Aaron Williams #23 of the Buffalo Bills leaves the field injured in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images) Getty Images

A scary situation regarding Bills defensive back Aaron Williams has ended with good news.

After being taken to a Miami-area hospital by ambulance after Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, Williams has been released and will return to Buffalo with his teammates. According to the Bills, Williams had a precautionary MRI.

Dubbed as dealing with a head/neck injury, a source with knowledge of the situation told PFT that there was no concern regarding a head injury.

Williams absorbed a big hit from Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry during Sunday’s game. Landry expressed regret regarding the outcome.

“Just playing football, man, just playing football,” Landry said, via the Palm Beach Post. “If I could take that hit back, I would. The guy has a family to feed and this is his livelihood. You never want to see that with anybody. You never want to see that happen to anybody. But it’s football. Injuries like that are not something that sit well.”

Landry was penalized for the block. Whether he’s fined is something that will be determined by the league office this week.

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No Kam Chancellor or John Brown on Sunday night

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29:  Wide receiver Martavis Bryant #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a touchdown against strong safety Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals and Seahawks will be in action on Sunday night and the release of their inactive lists shows that there wasn’t any late good news for either John Brown or Kam Chancellor.

Brown is inactive for the Cardinals as a result of the leg issues that he’s been dealing with this week. The wide receiver learned that they are the result of a sickle cell trait and coach Bruce Arians said during the week that Brown and doctors were working to come up with a solution to the problem.

The Seahawks ruled out Chancellor for the second straight week. The safety has a groin injury and Kelcie McCray is expected to start in his place.

Running back C.J. Spiller, running back Thomas Rawls, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, guard Rees Odhiambo, tight end Luke Willson and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson are also inactive for the Seahawks. The Cardinals will be without cornerback Brandon Williams, linebacker Gabe Martin, guard Cole Toner, defensive tackle Olsen Pierre, defensive tackle Ed Stinson and defensive tackle Xavier Williams.

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Patriots ride LeGarrette Blount, beat Steelers 27-16

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  LeGarrette Blount #29 of the New England Patriots reacts after rushing for a 3 yard touchdown in the second quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers made seven trips into Patriots territory over the course of Sunday’s game against the Patriots, including a pair of drives that started there after Patriots turnovers.

The Steelers didn’t get any points on either of those drives, however, and they only scored one touchdown over the course of the game. The Patriots got over midfield four times during the game and they scored touchdowns on all four of those possessions, which makes for a tidy way of explaining why they’re headed home from Pittsburgh with a 27-16 victory.

They got those touchdowns by riding LeGarrette Blount to the tune of 24 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Blount, who was cut by the Steelers before returning to the Patriots in 2014, kept the chains and the clock moving all afternoon and the Steelers run defense has now been gashed in two straight losses. The Patriots generally kept things on the short side when they did put the ball in the air, although Tom Brady used play action to hit a couple of big gains to tight end Rob Gronkowski.

One of those was a 36-yard touchdown that gave Gronkowski 68 touchdowns on his career. That ties former wide receiver Stanley Morgan for the most in Patriots history.

Landry Jones threw an interception in the end zone on the first of those failed forays into Patriots territory and the inability to get in the end zone will burn, but he didn’t play badly as a replacement for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Jones finished the day 29-of-47 for 281 yards and may have had more luck if Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates didn’t miss chunks of the game as the latest additions to the lengthy injury list in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers go into a bye week now and they’ll hope to have Roethlisberger back in the lineup when they return to work. The Patriots will head to Buffalo to try for a 7-1 record and a little bit of payback for their 16-0 home loss to the Bills earlier this season.

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Trade winds blow regarding Joe Thomas . . . again

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Joe Thomas #73 of the Cleveland Browns cools off during the 4th quarter against the Miami Dolphins on September 25, 2016 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Getty Images

A year after the Browns nearly traded tackle Joe Thomas to the Broncos (unless they didn’t), the question of whether the long-time fixture on the team’s offensive line will be shipped to a contender will once again land in the middle of the league’s radar screen.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a trade is possible this year. However, real obstacles exist to getting a deal done.

The Vikings, for example, would be very interested in Thomas. However, with a first-round pick and more already shipped to the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford and little cap space remaining, it’s a long shot that he’d go to Minnesota. The Cardinals, Giants, and Seahawks have varying degrees of interest in Thomas as well; the challenge would be coming up with what the Browns want (the source says it’s a second-round pick) and the cap space.

If a deal happens, it likely would come at the deadline, after the Browns pay Thomas another $488,000 for Week Eight. And if the Browns opt for a take-what-they-can-get fire sale for Thomas, the Patriots would be interested in providing the landing spot.

Ultimately, the Browns could simply decide to keep Thomas for the rest of the year and then trade Thomas after the season ends and before the draft.

The chances of a trade happening this year currently are regarded as smaller than the chances of a trade were a year ago. With the Browns skewing younger and determined to stockpile draft picks, an eventual trade of Thomas would hardly be regarded as surprising.

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Buccaneers get to .500 with easy win over 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with teammates after catching a touchdown pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) AP

This season has been rocky at times for the Buccaneers, but a trip to San Francisco can make any team look good.

The Bucs took on the 49ers today and beat them easily, earning a 34-17 win that improved the Bucs to 3-3 on the season.

It was a particularly big game for Buccaneers running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who carried 26 times for 154 yards. Backup running back Peyton Barber added seven carries for 67 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that sealed the win. Jameis Winston was solid as well, completing 21 of 30 passes for 269 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception.

The Bucs were aided, of course, by a lousy 49ers defense that sometimes looked like it was playing two-hand touch. The 49ers’ offense wasn’t much better, with Colin Kaepernick making some big plays with his feet but failing to do much of anything with his arm.

At 3-3, the Bucs can still harbor realistic hopes that they could compete for an NFC playoff spot. Tampa might be a year away from real playoff contention, but the Bucs will be playing meaningful games down the stretch.

The 49ers, on the other hand, are 1-6 and may be the worst team in football. San Francisco is a mess.

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League, union dispute whether NFLPA pressed for Josh Brown ruling

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 18:  Kicker Josh Brown #3 of the New York Giants kicks the game-winning field goal against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on September 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Giants won 16-13.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

One lingering question regarding the NFL’s badly unforced error in the Josh Brown case arises from the league’s decision to impose discipline on the Giants kicker before the authorities in King County, Washington concluded their investigation.

Making that question more legitimate is the fact that Brown was arrested in May 2015, and that Brown’s one-game suspension was finalized more than 14 months later. With the media nor the public aware of the arrest, no one was clamoring for a resolution of a coldish case that could have grown a little colder, with no one objecting.

Well, not no one, according to the NFL. Per a source with knowledge of the league’s position on the matter, the league contends that it was receiving pressure from the NFL Players Association to finalize Brown’s case.

The NFLPA strongly disagrees with that characterization, according to a source with knowledge of the union’s approach to the case. Moreover, the NFLPA scoffs at the suggestion that pressure would have even mattered, given that the league has full control over the application of the Personal Conduct Policy, with unfettered ability to take as much time as the league believes it needs to take to reach a reliable, responsible, and complete decision.

In this case, the league waited 14 months to finalize the case. It could have waited another two months to obtain the final police report. It chose not to, opting for a half measure that has created a perception of gross incompetence at best and a bungled cover up at worst.

A true cover up would be incomprehensible in this case, given that it involved a kicker. But the perception exists, and the league’s efforts to control the damage have done little to alter that sense.

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Antonio Brown in and out of game as Steelers try to rally back

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 23:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is pursued by Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots after making a catch in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on October 23, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Steelers offense opened the day without Markus Wheaton and they lost Sammie Coates on one of the first plays, but Antonio Brown was still around so they were OK at wide receiver.

It looks like they might have lost him for at least the rest of Sunday as well, however. Brown went to the locker room in the final minute of the third quarter after getting his leg checked out by members of the training staff on the sideline, but returned on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The Steelers couldn’t convert a third down before kicking a field goal and Brown has not returned to the game since that point. The field goal pulled the Steelers to within 20-16 of the Patriots, but a 37-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski set up a LeGarrette Blount touchdown run and New England extended the lead to 27-16.

The Steelers went three and out quickly, but got the ball back when Julian Edelman fumbled on a punt return. Chris Boswell wound up missing a 54-yard field goal, however. It was Boswell’s second miss of the game and the sixth time in seven trips into New England territory that they’ve come away without a touchdown.

UPDATE 7:11 p.m. ET: Brown returned to the game with a little more than six minutes to play. He has a noticeable limp as he moves around the field, but did add his seventh catch of the game before a Steelers punt.

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