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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 should fine, not penalize, celebration violations

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The ongoing debate regarding the issue of player celebrations in the NFL overlooks a key threshold question: If a player goes too far, why should his team be penalized?

In theory, taking away 15 yards of field position creates a strong incentive for coaches to tell players what is and isn’t allowed, and to enforce it. But why should the team be punished for a player crossing in the heat of the moment a line that has nothing to do with the play of the game, and that creates no harm to the opponent?

The NFL consistently has explained that the rule arises from a desire to not invite retaliation from players who feel disrespected by a celebration. If someone crosses the line in that regard, however, the league has tools for dealing with it. Also, when since T.O. stood on the Dallas star did a player ever take matters into his own hands because of a celebration?

Players should be expected to not react to anything that happens on the football field, and chances are that the temptation to retaliate comes more strongly from direct contact that happens between the snap and the whistle. So vague fear of player retaliation shouldn’t be a reason for restricting celebrations — and it definitely doesn’t justify imposing a 15-yard penalty on the player’s team.

Removing the penalty element also makes the celebration violation less of a talking point on the day of the game. By the time the fine is imposed, the fans will be paying attention to something else.

So instead of obsessing over every little nuance about what is and isn’t allowed regarding conduct that may or may not cause 15 percent of the field to shift, why not simply make it a topic no different than the player wearing non-conforming shoes or otherwise doing things that may get them in trouble personally, but that won’t impact the team?

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Patrick Mahomes, Joshua Dobbs had private workouts for Chargers

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The Chargers know that Philip Rivers will be their starting quarterback in 2017 and he’s under contract for a couple more seasons, but they have started thinking about what comes next at the position.

General Manager Tom Telesco didn’t rule out drafting a quarterback early in the draft when asked about the future at quarterback earlier this month and the team got an up-close look at one that’s expected to be off the board fairly in April’s proceedings. Eric Williams of ESPN.com reports that the Chargers held a private workout with Patrick Mahomes in Lubbock, Texas recently.

Head coach Anthony Lynn, who also went to Texas Tech, attended the workout along with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and quarterbacks coach Shane Steichen.

Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the Chargers also had a private workout with Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who is projected to be a third day pick next month. Getting picked at that point wouldn’t make him the heir apparent for Rivers, but would give the Chargers a prospect to develop as they begin life in Los Angeles.

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Terron Armstead restructures contract

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The Saints have a bit more cap space to play with this year.

Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that left tackle Terron Armstead has agreed to restructure his deal with the team. Armstead’s $5 million roster bonus has been converted into a signing bonus to spread the cap hit out over a deal that runs through the 2021 season.

The immediate impact of the move is that the Saints will have $4 million in cap space available this offseason that wasn’t previously at their disposal.

Any new money added to the Saints’ coffers leads to thoughts that they could apply that to their pursuit of Patriots cornerback and restricted free agent Malcolm Butler. The offer sheet for Butler is only part of the equation, of course, as the Patriots have the right to match and the Saints would have to be OK with giving up the 11th overall pick in the draft if New England doesn’t match.

There’s also a chance the two sides could work out a deal for different compensation, although that can’t happen unless Butler signs his restricted free agent tender or another deal with the Patriots.

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Goodell says he’s “fine” with Trump’s comment on Kaepernick

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President Trump took some credit for Colin Kaepernick’s continued unemployment this week, saying that NFL owners may not want to sign Kaepernick because they don’t want the president to tweet criticism of a team for signing a player who declined to stand for the national anthem. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says Trump is entitled to that point of view.

Asked about Trump’s comment on Mike & Mike, Goodell said, “That’s a comment that he’s going to make and that’s fine.”

Goodell indicated, however, that he thinks teams are evaluating Kaepernick’s on-field abilities.

“Our teams are out there working hard to figure out how they can improve each of their clubs. They’re making the best decisions they can. And they’re going to do what they can to improve their teams and win. That’s what they want to do for the fans. So that’s what they’re focused on and that’s what we’re focused on. Everyone’s going to make other comments, and obviously we’re respectful of those comments, particularly from the president.”

Ultimately, Goodell said, teams build around players they think will help them win.

“I can’t speculate on that,” Goodell said. “The 32 owners, I think their major focus is on winning and whatever it takes to win and they think reflects well on their team, that’s what they’re gonna do. And so I think from their standpoint, they want to win, and they’re putting teams together and trying to find the players and coaches and everyone else who can help create that kind of chemistry that’s going to lead to a winning team.”

It remains to be seen how long Kaepernick will have to wait to find a team that thinks he can help it win.

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NFL plans to speed up Thursday night games

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As NFL ratings declined last year and fans complained that the quality of the game had slipped, Thursday night games drew particular wrath. The league is hoping to fix that.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL is working on improving the quality of Thursday games by reducing the number of commercial breaks.

“I felt the increased commercialization, particularly on Thursday night, where we’re going to have more aggressive changes — we’re going to reduce that,” Goodell said.

Goodell said he didn’t realize how many commercial breaks there were during Thursday games last season and admits there were too many. Goodell seemed to be referring both to commercials from sponsors and to the networks taking time during games to promote their other shows.

“To my surprise last year, we put some more commercialization in there — there were some more spots in that I was not aware of and we saw that and we’re going to get that back out of the game,” Goodell said.
“So many mentions that are not related to the game on the field, we’re going to reduce that, we’re going to take that out.”

Fans will appreciate that. Especially fans who have to get up early for work on Friday morning, and aren’t keen on staying up late on Thursday nights to watch a lot of commercials.

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Roger Goodell: Dean Blandino will have final say on replay reviews

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For the first time ever, the NFL is moving to a rule that will give the league’s head of officiating — not the referee — final say on replay reviews.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Mike & Mike that under the 2017 rules, the replay review will go to head of officiating Dean Blandino, and although Blandino will consult with the referee on the field, it will be Blandino who makes the final decision. Although the NFL has already implemented the procedures that allow the referee to communicate with the league’s officiating office, in past years it was still the ref who had final say.

“We are going to centralize the replay back here in New York,” Goodell said. “Dean Blandino will have the final decision. We think that will move it much quicker.”

Goodell also said referees will be told to announce the replay decision immediately in the stadium, rather than waiting for the end of a commercial break, so that the ball can be spotted and the teams can be lined up and ready for the next play as soon as the commercial break ends.

“We want to get going. We want to be ready to play,” Goodell said.

The NFL has said that a major priority this season is speeding up games and cutting down on unnecessary delays. Streamlining replay is one way to do that.

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Peyton Manning says he has “no interest” in politics

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We still don’t know what Peyton Manning wants to do with the rest of his life.

But the retired quarterback seemed to cross one potential job off his list, saying during a speech in Las Vegas that he had no interest in politics.

Specifically, his name was linked with the seat of Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who is mulling retirement rather than running for a fourth term in 2020.

“I don’t know where that came from. Last week I was going to run a team, this week I going to apparently run for Senate, and next week I’ll be an astronaut,” Manning said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “I have no interest in the political world, but would like to continue serving communities.”

Honestly, Manning’s doing pretty well doing the speaking circuit at the moment, but there will always be speculation about him returning to football in some capacity. His name was linked with the Colts this offseason as a potential executive, and television seems to be there for him whenever he wants it.

But at the moment, he seems to be enjoying talking and playing a lot of golf, as he did at the recent AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Of course, that combination makes him uniquely qualified for certain jobs. All he really needs is a Twitter account.

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Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre can still sling it

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At a time when there aren’t nearly enough quarterbacks to fill all the starting roles in the NFL, Brett Favre is throwing again.

Sort of.

According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Hall of Fame quarterback took a day off from retirement to throw during a workout with Falcons cornerback Robert Alford.

Alford posted a short video on social media of Favre throwing, and there still seems to be plenty of pop in his right arm.

Of course, if Favre was thinking about doing anything more than tossing it around while wearing a pair of khakis, we’d have heard about it by now. Right?

I mean, he’s only 47, and would likely be an immediate upgrade for a few teams in the league, who either don’t have one, or have the money to burn on draft picks who might never become one.

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Thursday morning one-liners

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Bills OL Ryan Groy is ready for any role the team wants him to take.

Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry could be next on their laundry list of deals to do.

Patriots CB Malcolm Butler has people trying to decipher his social media for greater meaning.

The Jets continue to look at QBs after signing Josh McCown.

Most people see the Ravens leaning toward a WR with the 16th pick.

A number of Bengals players are still facing uncertain futures.

Return man Josh Cribbs retired as a member of the Browns.

The RB DeAngelo Williams era with the Steelers appears to be over.

The Texans are still looking for offensive line help.

New Colts WR Kamar Aiken has a chance to make an impact.

The Jaguars adding TE Mychal Rivera gives them some options at the position.

The Titans had a clear focus on improving their special teams this offseason.

The Broncos have interest in a DE Vance Walker return.

The Chiefs brought G Andrew Tiller in for a visit.

Southern Cal’s JuJu Smith-Schuster would love to stay home and play for the Chargers.

The Raiders might still be in the running for LB Zach Brown.

The Cowboys will be taking a long look at LBs in the draft.

The Giants have minimal risk in adding QB Geno Smith.

Former Eagles LB Connor Barwin has no hard feelings about his departure.

Former Washington RB Tim Hightower would be an interesting fit in the backfield now.

The Bears hope getting some guys healthy will make a difference in this offseason.

New Lions RT Rick Wagner said his struggles in 2015 were injury related.

A look at how the Packers could fill their remaining roster holes.

The Vikings were aware of RB Latavius Murray’s ankle surgery when they signed him.

New Falcons G Hugh Thornton is excited about the opportunity.

This is the time of year when people who have never examined Panthers QB Cam Newton have strong opinions about his diagnosis.

The Saints have kept a revolving door of LBs going recently.

Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston’s grandmother passed away.

Free agency helped bring the Cardinals draft board into focus.

The Rams adding RB Lance Dunbar and LB Connor Barwin was all about opportunity.

49ers free agent LB Gerald Hodges is visiting the Seahawks.

The Seahawks still need help on the offensive line.

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Koa Misi expected to be cleared in May following neck surgery, pay cut

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Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi has taken the pay cut which will allow him to stay on the team next year. Now he just needs the medical clearance.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Misi’s agent said his recovery from neck surgery has been good, and that he expects to be ready for training camp.

He’s in the Dolphins’ plans,” agent Kenny Zuckerman said. “If he’s healthy, he’ll be there. He will be [medically] cleared during the offseason.”

The Dolphins must share some degree of confidence that he will be cleared sometime in May as well. Though they carved about $2 million off his cap number, they still guaranteed $1.15 million of his salary, something they probably wouldn’t have done if they were worried about his condition.

After a neck injury which limited him to three games last year, he underwent surgery  and is still working his way back.

The Dolphins have explored signing free agent Zach Brown, to go along with new acquisition Lawrence Timmons and the extended Kiko Alonso. But either way, Misi seems to be hanging around in some capacity.

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Muhammad Wilkerson doesn’t like being called fat

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Muhammad Wilkerson has fired back, but so far, none of the people paid to write about him have followed suit.

After reports that he was out of shape while watching Temple’s pro day recently, Wilkerson posted on social media in response.

According to Brian Costello of the New York Post, Wilkerson posted a video from a gym, dripping in sweat and sending a clear message.

They say I’m fat and out of shape?” Wilkerson said in the video. “Haha. Keep sleeping on me. I’m telling you. I love it.”

Of course, the criticism of Wilkerson began when he signed a huge contract last summer, and failed to follow up on the work that earned it, with just 4.5 sacks last year (after 12.0 in the salary drive).

Of course, the criticism also came from one source, and led to an amusing media slap-fight.

So far, neither of the parties involved have chosen to make it personal this time. But it’s early yet. We have the popcorn ready just in case.

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Bernie Kosar on Dwight Clark ALS diagnosis: “I could make a joke”

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Dwight Clark, the legendary 49ers receiver who later served as general manager of the Browns, announced recently that he was diagnosed with ALS. Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar apparently thinks that’s something to joke about.

Kosar, who has a track record of making rambling and inappropriate statements on the radio, did so again on Wednesday, when he said on ESPN Radio in Cleveland that he suspected Clark may have already had ALS when he was the G.M. in Cleveland and that was why he didn’t succeed in that role.

“We had a bad weekend with Gale Sayers being diagnosed [with dementia] . . . Dwight Clark with ALS,” Kosar said. “I could make a joke about his struggles in picking players when he was here. It almost makes me wonder if maybe it started earlier.”

To joke about someone suffering ALS — as cruel a diagnosis as anyone can ever receive — is shockingly callous. It’s also extremely ignorant to suggest that ALS would affect a general manager’s decision making. ALS does horrific things to the body, but it doesn’t touch a sufferer’s mind. (Stephen Hawking has been making brilliant scientific discoveries for decades while suffering from ALS.)

After people on Twitter told Kosar he should apologize to Clark, Kosar answered by tweeting, “I absolutely Ment [sic] no Disrespect to Dwight!”

Kosar may not have meant disrespect, but his comment was certainly disrespectful. Perhaps it’s time that radio stations stop giving him a platform.

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Which proposed rule change do you most want to see?

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In a matter of days, the NFL will gather all teams, coaches, General Managers, owners, etc. in Arizona for the annual meeting. The sessions include an inevitable tweaking of the rules.

So which rule tweak do you most want to see?

It’s Thursday’s PFT Live question of the day. Cast a ballot below, drop a comment (or something else if your stomach is bubbling), and then tune in for the show.

We get rolling on the radio side at 6:00 a.m. ET, with NBCSN joining the party at 7:00 a.m. ET. Guests include Hall of Fame defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene and PFT’s Darin Gantt.

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Martellus Bennett scoffs at NFL’s training video for celebrations

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The NFL is preparing a training video that will show players which types of celebrations are allowed, and which ones will draw 15-yard penalties. Packers tight end Martellus Bennett does not plan to watch.

In a series of messages on Twitter, Bennett took aim at the NFL and executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent, who announced that the league is preparing the video.

“An educational training video on celebrations? Spend that money on something else like a video on investments or something that will help the players,” Bennett wrote. “Who gives a s–t what guys do when they celebrate. Do something impactful. Y’all wasting guys time with this s-t. Let the players express their individuality and creativity. Y’all gonna make an educational video on how we should talk next?”

Bennett said the NFL wants players to be robots, not individuals.

“An educational video on appropriate celebrations. Not signing up for that class,” Bennett wrote. “See the NFL promotes the logos not the players. The NBA promotes its players. Big difference. NFL knows players wont be around long so they invest all resources into the building team logos for longevity. That’s the constant variable. Except for the QB position. That’s why they’re the Face of the franchise. NBA on the other hand they can invest in the players being the face of the entire league. Look at the advertising of both.”

When that video is shown at Packers training camp, Bennett says, he’ll excuse himself to use the restroom.

“I’m going to be taking a 15 minute dump whenever we’re supposed to watch this ‘educational’ video,” Bennett wrote. “I can feel my stomach bubbling now.”

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Seahawks sign kicker John Lunsford

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The Seahawks had expressed their intentions to add a kicker to their roster to compete with Blair Walsh.

The team announced Wednesday evening that they signed John Lunsford to do just that.

Lunsford was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this week after signing a futures contract with the team in January. Lunsford spent time with the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason last year, appearing in three games. He converted both extra point attempts tried and had five kickoffs with two going for touchbacks.

Lunsford will provide offseason competition with Walsh. Steven Hauschka – Seattle’s kicker for the last six seasons – signed with Buffalo and was not expected to return following the Seahawks’ signing of Walsh last month.

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