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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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NFL: Rams-Raiders will remain in St. Louis

Shaun Hill AP

On Wednesday, there was a report in the Indianapolis Star about the “remote possibility” that Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Rams would be moved from St. Louis to a Monday start in Indianapolis because of the ongoing tension in Ferguson, Missouri.

The report said that Lucas Oil Stadium was ready to serve as a site for the game in the event that a decision was made that it wasn’t safe enough to play as scheduled, but that won’t be necessary. While we don’t know when that tension in Ferguson will ease, we do know that the remote possibility is no longer a possibility at all.

Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com passes along word from a league spokesman that the game will be played as scheduled at the Edward Jones Dome with a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Sunday. That avoids a second straight week with two Monday night games after the Jets and Bills were shifted to Detroit in Week 12 after the mammoth blizzard that buried Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo.

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Will any Thanksgiving records fall today?

OJ Getty Images

As the first of three Thanksgiving games approaches, let’s take a quick look at the history of the best of the best performances on the fourth Thursday in November.

Courtesy of the 2014 Official NFL Record & Fact Book, here are the single-game records from the league’s annual Thanksgiving game.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1929, Ernie Nevers scored six touchdowns for the Cardinals in a game against the Bears.  On three other Thanksgiving occasions, players have scored four times.  Most recently, NBCSN’s Brian Westbrook racked up a quartet of touchdowns for the Eagles against the Cardinals in 2008.

Another record could be a little easier to beat today, but not much.  On Thanksgiving in 1976, Bills running back O.J. Simpson (pictured) gained 273 yards on the ground against the Lions.  There hasn’t even been another 200-yard Thanksgiving rushing performance, with Bob Hoernschemeyer gaining 198 for the Lions in 1950 against the New York Yankees, and Earl Campbell grinding out 195 for the Oilers against the Cowboys in 1979.

Through the air, Troy Aikman passed for 455 yards against the Vikings on the day then-rookie Randy Moss exploded for three touchdowns on three catches.  Matthew Stafford nearly matched that total for the Lions in 2012, with 441 yards passing.  And long before Scott Mitchell went for nearly four spins on the scale, he threw for 410 yards for the Lions in a 1995 Thanksgiving Day win over the Vikings.

When it comes to receiving yardage, Jim Benton of the Browns racked up 303 yards against the Lions 69 years ago on Thanksgiving.  The next highest total came in 2012, with Andre Johnson generating 188 yards for the Texans against the Lions.

Will any of those records fall today?  It’s one of the wrinkles that will fascinate fans and fantasy owners as kickoff approaches.

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Reggie Bush, Riley Reiff out for Lions against Bears

Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

The Lions hoped to have running back Reggie Bush back this week, but his ankle didn’t cooperate.

Bush is inactive for Detroit’s Thanksgiving game against the Bears, making it three straight games that Bush has missed as a result of the injury. He also missed two other games earlier in the year, which may be a contributing factor to the Lions ranking 28th in points scored this season.

Compounding the issues for the Lions Offense on Thursday will be the absence of left tackle Riley Reiff. Like Bush, Reiff was listed as questionable for the game but left off the 46-man roster. Reiff is dealing with a knee injury that knocked him out of last weekend’s lopsided loss to the Patriots. Cornelius Lucas is expected to play in his place.

The Bears had one questionable player on Wednesday, but cornerback Kyle Fuller got the nod in spite of a knee injury. That keeps alive the possibility that he’ll face off with his brother, Lions wideout Corey Fuller, at some point on a day usually spent with family. Linebacker Lance Briggs, wide receiver Chris Williams, linebacker Darryl Sharpton, defensive end Trevor Scott, offensive lineman Eben Britton, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff and cornerback Terrance Mitchell are inactive for Chicago.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, guard Larry Warford, quarterback Kellen Moore, receiver Ryan Broyles and defensive end Larry Webster round out Detroit’s list of inactives.

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Colts make a change at cornerback

Cassius Vaughn, Jalil Brown, Randy Bullock AP

The arrival of Shaun Phillips isn’t the only change for the Indianapolis defense this week.

The team announced that they have signed cornerback Jalil Brown and waived cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.

Brown was released by the Dolphins earlier in the week and will be making his third tour of duty with the Colts. Brown spent time with them late last season and played two games with them earlier this year. Brown also has another spell with the Dolphins and began his career with the Chiefs after they took him in the fourth round of the 2011 draft.

He’ll likely fill the same special teams-centric role that Purifoy played for the team, although there’s a chance he could see time on defense with Vontae Davis, Josh Gordy and Greg Toler all appearing on this week’s injury report.

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Peterson materials due to be filed by Friday

Peterson Getty Images

Next Tuesday, the appeal hearing in Adrian Peterson’s case will commence at 10:00 a.m. ET.  Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Peterson has until Friday, November 28 to submit any materials that he intends to introduce at the hearing.

It’s unknown what, if anything, Peterson will introduce.  Peterson submitted nothing to the NFL before the decision was made to suspend him for the rest of the 2014 season.

What Peterson submits potentially could have a huge impact on the outcome of the appeal.  If, of course, hearing officer Harold Henderson is willing to break from his track record of siding with the NFL in these appeals.

It’s unclear how quickly a ruling will be issued.  In theory, Peterson could be back as soon as December 7, for a visit from the Jets.

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Odell Beckham gives all the love to the glove

Odell Beckham Jr. AP

Making the catch of the year was mostly Odell Beckham.

But the Giants wide receiver admitted he’s not sure if he could have made his now-famous, falling-backward, three-fingered catch without his gloves.

I have no idea,” Beckham said, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.

Beckham’s gloves are Nike Vapor Jets, size XXXL (which may also explain how he catches flying things with one hand), which he’s been wearing since his college days at LSU.

“I definitely told them they were some of my favorites that they made,” Beckham said. “It’s just the way that they fit. They’re a tight fit, they’re very light, and they feel like they’re a part of your hand.”

If the gloves were the secret, everyone would be wearing them, but we suspect Beckham’s hands deserve a little more of the credit.

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Thanks NFL for giving us three great games today

turkey-pic-getty-images-185517752 Getty Images

On Thanksgiving, the NFL enjoys a captive audience.  With a trio of games starting at 12:30 p.m. ET and lasting possibly until midnight, monitors throughout America will be bouncing from CBS to FOX to NBC.

As Costanza said when asked why anyone would watch a show about nothing, “Because it’s on TV.”  Whatever NFL games would be on TV today, we’d all be watching.

But the NFL has given us a trio of great games, involving five of the seven NFC teams vying for the five playoff spots that won’t go to the none-of-the-above NFC South.  It starts with Bears-Lions, a Thanksgiving matchup that has happened 10 prior times.  It continues with the first of two games involving what turned out to be the top two teams in the NFC East, the 8-3 Eagles and 8-3 Cowboys.

And it finishes with the first encounter between the Seahawks and 49ers since January.  That time, it was an elimination game.  This time, it could have the same effect, knocking the loser to 7-5 and making it much harder to get to the postseason.

The biggest challenge for today?  Staying awake for the whole thing after gobbling up plenty of gobble gobble gobble turkey from jive turkey gobblers.

Of course, the NFL’s goal isn’t entirely altruistic.  Bigger games ensure even bigger audiences.  Also, the sense of gratitude that comes from having compelling games broken out from the scrum of Sunday action helps strengthen the bond with customers.

Regardless, it worked.  Thank you, NFL, for choosing great games for the fourth Sunday in Thanksgiving.

The nationally-televised games on Sunday’s slate — Patriots-Packers and Broncos-Chiefs — aren’t too shabby, either.  As to Monday night and the Dolphins at the Jets, well, I guess we can’t have everything.

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Coaching staff wanted Vick, gets Geno instead

Vick AP

There’s no greater sign of dysfunction in a professional sports organization than folks who lack the qualifications to make coaching decisions making coaching decisions.

In the current chase for the title of most dysfunctional organization in the NFL, the Jets have a clear edge over Washington in this category.

In Washington, coach Jay Gruden apparently has the power to pick his quarterback.  In New York, coach Rex Ryan apparently doesn’t.

Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Ryan, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, and the “majority” of others in the organization wanted to stick with Mike Vick.  Instead, Geno Smith will return to the starting lineup.

Vick seems to have the same sense of resignation that prompted the coaching staff to go along with the switch back to Geno Smith.

“I don’t own this organization,” Vick said Wednesday.  “I just play for it.  Why do things happen?  I don’t know.  I don’t ask too many questions.”

The decision to return to Smith possibly arises from a desire to answer any lingering question about whether Smith has a future with the organization.  Or maybe owner Woody Johnson has realized that there are legitimate ways to improve draft position by tanking games down the stretch.  With the Jets eliminated from the playoffs, why not make it easier to climb higher in the pecking order to get the true franchise quarterback that the franchise hasn’t had since . . . since . . . Joe Namath?

Ultimately, the dysfunction that results in the front office and/or ownership overriding the coaching staff could be the only solution to a 4.5-decade failure to get back to the Super Bowl.

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Report: Indy ready for “remote possibility” of Rams game moving

St. Louis Rams vs San Diego Chargers Getty Images

While it seems unlikely at this point, the NFL has at least looked into the chance of moving Sunday’s Raiders-Rams game in St. Louis because of the tension in nearby Ferguson.

According to Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star, a league source called it a “remote possibility,” though Indianapolis would be ready to host the game Monday if need be.

He cited public safety officials saying they’d be ready and concessions workers saying they were “on call,” if the game needed to be played there Monday.

While it’s likely just a contingency plan (one which frankly every team should have in a folder in a locked drawer somwhere), the fact it’s a possibility should underscore the seriousness of the situation in Missouri.

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Sean Payton reminding Saints of past turnarounds

Sean Payton AP

When the Saints won the Super Bowl after the 2009 season, they became the first team to take home a Lombardi Trophy after losing their final three games of the regular season.

That doesn’t mean that every team with championship aspirations should be trying to drop games at the end of the season, but it does mean that good runs can follow bad ones over the course of a year. That’s a message that Saints coach Sean Payton is trying to send to this year’s edition after they dropped three straight games at the Superdome to miss a chance to grab control of the NFC South.

Instead they fell to 4-7 and Payton feels there’s “value to referencing” past turnarounds in New Orleans and elsewhere as a way to keep the team focused on what’s still possible for them this season.

“You’re constantly, as a teacher, trying to do that,” Payton said, via the Associated Press. “You look at some parallels, some comparisons.”

Whether it’s those Saints, a Giants team that saved Tom Coughlin’s job or any of the other moments in sports history when a contender rose off the mat, there are plenty of examples that show it ain’t over until it’s over. This version of the Saints will have to play much better to join those teams, starting with this Sunday in Pittsburgh.

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Thursday morning one-liners

Terrell Suggs (55) AP

Donte Whitner’s not backing off comments he made about Buffalo and the Bills.

The Dolphins aren’t fooling themselves about the late-season danger of the Jets.

Patriots special teamer Matt Slater is thankful for a new contract.

The Jets fans who buy billboards have a new target — owner Woody Johnson.

Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs reached the 100-sack milestone last week.

The Bengals are comfortable on the road.

Browns LB Karlos Dansby is “close” to coming back from a knee injury.

Steelers backup RBs Dri Archer and Josh Harris are ready for their chance to run.

Finding an answer at QB tops the Texans’ offseason priorities (since it didn’t last offseason).

The Colts can’t be sure their running game will carry them into January.

After poking holes in QB Blake Bortles earlier in the week, Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was building him back up.

The Titans added a LB after releasing veteran Shaun Phillips.

Broncos LB Danny Trevathan returned to practice.

The Chiefs will have a tough time replacing S Eric Berry.

Raiders G Gabe Jackson is working his way back to the starting lineup.

Chargers C Chris Watt is the next man up, again.

Cowboys LB Keith Smith is riding the practice squad roller coaster.

The Giants are trying to blitz, it’s just not working.

The Eagles are still giving up far too many downfield plays.

Some Washington teammates were surprised by the decision to bench Robert Griffin III.

The Bears can’t worry about style points today.

Will this be Lions DT Ndamukong Suh’s last Thanksgiving with the team?

Packers WR Jordy Nelson isn’t sure which Patriots CB he’ll draw.

Vikings RT Phil Loadholt expects to be back by training camp.

The Falcons added some WR depth to the practice squad.

The Panthers aren’t expecting DT Star Lotulelei back this week.

Saints TE Benjamin Watson’s Facebook post about Ferguson went viral.

The Buccaneers continue to be hamstrung by a series of, well, hamstrings.

Cardinals DE Josh Mauro made a good first impression.

Rams WR Stedman Bailey has emerged as an option in the passing game again.

49ers RT Jonathan Martin is set to make his seventh start tonight.

The Seahawks are back on top of the league’s defensive rankings.

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Division winners should lose automatic home playoff game

Lynch Getty Images

The NFL’s current structure of four divisions per conference and four teams per division creates a neat, tidy, and symmetrical collection of franchises.  It looks great on paper.  And it makes it easier for the league to craft a scheduling formula that permits every team to play every other team every four years.  It also gives season-ticket holders a chance to see every team in the league once every eight years.  (Unless one of those interconference games gets shipped to London.)

But the structure has its flaws.  To get to the playoffs — and to host a postseason game — a team needs only to be the best of four teams.  No matter how bad any of those four teams are in any given year.

This year, four teams with bad records have congregated in the NFC South, where the Saints and Falcons stand at 4-7, the Panthers have a record of 3-7-1, and the Buccaneers sit only two games back, despite winning only two of 11 games.

The best cure to the problem would come from shifting back to three divisions per conference.  The league used that structure before the Texans joined the NFL in 2002, with five divisions having five teams each and one sporting six.  Now with 32 franchises, four divisions would have five teams, and two would have six.

Having at least five teams in a given division would make it much harder for a team to win a division with a non-winning record.  Which would result in three divisions winners plus three wild cards per conference filling out the postseason dance card.

The next best alternative would be to remove the guaranteed home game in the wild-card round for a division winner.  Give the four division champs plus the next best two teams tickets to the party, but seed them based not on division title but on overall record.

Some would say that would be an overreaction to the possibility that a five-win team will be hosting a playoff game in January.  Actually, it would be an appropriate reaction to a trend that has forced better teams to travel to face lesser teams in the postseason.

Last year, the 12-4 49ers had to play the 8-7-1 Packers in Green Bay.  The home-field advantage was exacerbated by dangerously cold conditions, but the 49ers overcame the inherently unfair requirement that a team with 50 percent more wins had to hit the road.

The prior season, a 10-6 Ravens team launched its Super Bowl run by hosting an 11-5 Colts team.  While the difference in records wasn’t as glaring, the Colts had a better season than the Ravens.  The game should have been played in Indianapolis.

After 2011, the 8-8 Broncos earned a home game against the 12-4 Steelers.  Pittsburgh headed to Denver without safety Ryan Clark, whose sickle-cell trait prevents him from playing at altitude.  If that game had been played at Heinz Field, Clark would have been available — and perhaps Tebowmania wouldn’t have fueled an unlikely overtime win.

The issue bubbled to the surface most conspicuously in 2010, when the 7-9 Seahawks hosted the 11-5 Saints.  After Seattle won, some argued that the outcome validated the structure, since Seattle proved to be the better team.  The truth is that the Seahawks rode an unearned home-field advantage to the win; if the game had been played in New Orleans, the Saints would have been far more likely to prevail.

Perhaps it will take an extreme outcome to provoke change.  If, for example, the Saints finish 5-11 or 6-10 and defeat in the Superdome, for example, an 11-5 or 12-4 Seahawks team, maybe the league will take notice — and take action.  That specific result also would represent the appropriate bookend to the game that first brought the biggest flaw of having eight four-team divisions into focus.

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Michael Bush: I didn’t get a “fair shake” in Chicago

Michael Bush AP

The Cardinals signed veteran running back Michael Bush this week, ending a spell on the unemployment line that started when Bush was released by the Bears in March.

Bush’s departure from Chicago came after two years with the team as the No. 2 behind Matt Forte, but Bush says the 2013 season isn’t one that he really counts. Bush, who ran the ball 63 times for 197 yards, feels like the Bears didn’t make enough use of him during Marc Trestman’s first year as a head coach.

“When people ask me how long I was in Chicago, I say one season because last year, where was I?” Bush said, via ESPN.com. “It has nothing to do with Forte because he played great. He’s a hell of a running back. I just think that I didn’t get a fair shake. And I’m not trying to complain or anything, but if you look at it, maybe two games I didn’t touch the field.”

Bush said he thinks that the limited usage hurt his efforts to get another job after parting ways with the Bears, although he may be underrating the impact that his mediocre first season in Chicago and being 30 had on team’s minds. Bush is fresh at a time in the season when that’s a rarity, however, and that should help him prove that the Bears and the rest of the league overlooked a player who still has something to offer.

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Browns teammates said Josh Gordon needed to “find himself”

Cleveland Browns v Atlanta Falcons Getty Images

Josh Gordon said he felt alienated during his suspension, felt alone.

And some of his teammates think that’s exactly the point.

“You’re going to have that disconnect,” linebacker Karlos Dansby said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “It’s part of it. You have to find yourself.

“It gave him an opportunity to find himself, and it made him a better person, I think. For him to come back and be so energetic and ready to be a part of this process and be a part of this team, I’m glad to have him back. I think it’s a great thing.”

Gordon told the NFL Network that he felt the cold shoulder from some teammates when he returned, like he had a disease they didn’t want to catch.
But he assimilated quickly on the field, and players said they’re obviously glad to have him back.

“We like Josh Gordon the receiver a lot better than Josh Gordon the used car salesman,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “I don’t think he ever lost our trust. He made some poor choices, I’m sure he’ll admit to them. But throughout his suspension, with the things that he did and the way he conducted and handled himself and came back in shape, he proved that he was a new person that had grown up from the situations.”

Thomas said he’s been impressed with the way Gordon has bounced back, and the professionalism he showed during the suspension.

That matters more than whether Gordon’s feelings are hurt, since producing on the field will heal any wounds that were there.

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Seahawks need to solve offensive line issues, quickly

Wilson AP

As the Seahawks prepare to face the 49ers on Thanksgiving night, Seattle coach Pete Carroll would be thankful if he could find a way to get better performance out of an offensive line that gave up seven sacks four days ago against the Cardinals.

We had all kinds of problems,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday, via Terry Blount of ESPN.com.  “We got beat one on one, we had some scheme issues, and we held the ball too long.  To have that kind of an onslaught it took a lot of stuff.”

The good news for the Seahawks is that 40 percent of the offensive line could be different this week.  As noted by Blount, guard James Carpenter could be returning from an ankle injury.  That would send Alvin Bailey to the bench.

Also, with center Max Unger still out, the Seahawks may bench Patrick Lewis for Lemuel Jeanpierre, who had been released in August but who returned after Unger’s injury.

The bad news for the Seahawks is that the 49ers have linebacker Aldon Smith, who produced a pair of sacks on Sunday in his second game back from a nine-game suspension.  Smith now has 44 sacks in 45 career regular-season games.

The Seattle offensive line gets its next test on a national stage, in the annual prime-time Thanksgiving game.  Fail, and they may fall to 7-5 — which could cause the Seahawks to stumble out of the playoffs.

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