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Ayanbadejo plans to use Super Bowl to promote same-sex marriage

Brendon-AyanbadejoX400 Getty Images

The Super Bowl brings intense media attention for the players and coaches.  One of the players plans to take advantage of that attention to promote a concept about which he feels strongly.

Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, according to the New York Times, plans to use the intense media coverage to promote his support for same-sex marriage.

“It’s one of those times when you’re really passionate and in your zone,” Ayanbadejo said.  “And I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought:  ‘How can we get our message out there?'”

Ayanbadejo’s agenda could dust off a disagreement with the message from center Matt Birk, who opposes same-sex marriage.  Ayanbadejo has said that their differing views will have no impact on their relationship as teammates.

His theory could be tested on Tuesday, when both players could be grilled about their respective positions for an hour, simultaneously, at the Superdome.

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Kam Chancellor nursing bone spurs in his ankle

Chancellor AP

Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor certainly didn’t look all that limited against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

However, it appears that the ankle issue that forced him to miss practice last Wednesday and land on the injury report was more troublesome than it seemed.

According to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, Chancellor is dealing with bone spurs in his ankle that had the team considering surgery with the team set for their bye this week. If they had elected for surgery, Chancellor would have likely missed 6-8 weeks. Because the team already used their one reserve/injured-designation to return card on cornerback Jeremy Lane, they would have had to carry him on their active roster the whole time.

Head coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the ankle injury had really affected Chancellor’s play in Seattle’s loss in Week 2 to the San Diego Chargers.

“He’s had ankle issues for some time,” Carroll said. “His ankle really bothered him in the San Diego game. It was on fire. It really got in the way of his play.”

But the team believes they’ve found a treatment plan to keep Chancellor’s ankle problems quieted down to where it won’t affect his play.

“[The trainers] found a couple things that they could do to help him,” Carroll said. “…We didn’t have a great outlook going into the week, we weren’t sure, but it just turned really quickly on Thursday and fortunately he came flying back.”

Chancellor had nine tackles, two passes defended, a forced fumble and a key interception of Peyton Manning in the fourth quarter that preserved Seattle’s five-point lead.

“Man, it felt great today,” Chancellor told, via Garafolo. “Last week, it was bothering me. But this week, it felt amazing. We did some different stuff to fix it up, fix the shoes and stuff and it felt awesome.”

It is still an issue the team will have to continue to monitor throughout the season.

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49ers, Cardinals fans involved in bloody melee

49ers Cardinals Football AP

Following the NFL’s realignment in 2002, the four teams placed in the new NFC West didn’t really have histories that led to heated rivalries between the teams.

The Seattle Seahawks had been a member of the AFC. The Arizona Cardinals had been in the NFC East and the rivalry between the Rams and San Francisco 49ers didn’t feel like it carried over when the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.

Now over a decade into the new alignment, the rivalries on the field have heated up and apparently carried over to the stands as well.

According to Andrew Joseph of AZCentral.com, a massive brawl broke out in the stands during the Cardinals 23-14 victory over the 49ers on Sunday afternoon.

Several fights occurred in that section of the stadium during the game.

In a video posted to Youtube that has since been removed, a group of close to 10-20 fans appeared to be involved in the incident. After some pushing and shoving with punches thrown, a handful of bodies tumbled down a staircase in the stadium as the fight enveloped security as well that was attempting to quell the melee.

In the aftermath, blood could be seen splattered over the stadium’s staircase.

One person was arrested with several others ejected from the stadium.

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Report: Cardinals signing RB Marion Grice

Marion Grice AP

The Cardinals are reportedly adding another reserve tailback.

The club has reached a deal with rookie Marion Grice, a member of the Chargers’ practice squad, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday.

The Chargers selected Grice (6-0, 208) in Round Six of the 2014 draft. He led San Diego in rushing in the preseason, but he was waived on Sept. 1 before being re-signed to the practice squad.

The signing of Grice, once official, will give the Cardinals five tailbacks, with Stepfan Taylor, Jalen Parmele and Robert Hughes the other backups behind lead back Andre Ellington. The signing would also give Arizona 54 players without another roster move, so a corresponding transaction is coming.

The Cardinals’ addition of Grice comes with the Chargers having just two healthy running backs (Donald Brown, Branden Oliver). The Chargers lost Danny Woodhead to a season-ending leg injury in the Week Three win at Buffalo, and starter Ryan Mathews is dealing with a knee injury. San Diego will almost certainly add at least one more back before Sunday’s game vs. Jacksonville.

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Report: Manti Te’o has broken foot, out “multiple weeks”

Manti Te'o AP

Yet another foot injury will sideline Manti Te’o.

Te’o, a starting inside linebacker for the Chargers, will be out “multiple weeks” with a fractured right foot, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday.

The 23-year-old Te’o recorded 10 tackles in the Chargers’ 22-10 win at Buffalo on Sunday. The former Notre Dame star and 2013 second-round pick has been a starter since joining San Diego, appearing in 16 games over two seasons with 80 tackles and four passes defended. According to the Union-Tribune, Kavell Conner is likely to replace Te’o in the lineup.

Te’o has suffered injuries to both feet since entering the NFL last spring. He had right foot surgery in the offseason, and he dealt with a left foot ailment this summer. Te’o’s current right foot injury is a new ailment, and it is one that will not necessitate him landing on injured reserve, the Union-Tribune said.

The Chargers have won two games in a row. They are heavy favorites against winless Jacksonville next Sunday.

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Cutler, Bennett connect for two scores as Bears earn 27-19 win over Jets

Chicago Bears v New York Jets Getty Images

Jay Cutler and Martellus Bennett connected on a pair of touchdown passes and the Chicago Bears held off a second half New York Jets rally to earn a 27-19 victory on Monday night.

The Jets out-gained the Bears by a 414-257 margin but had three turnovers and a muffed punt that turned into a 14-0 hole New York had to dig their way out of.

Despite the deficit, the Jets still had a chance to tie in the closing seconds. Geno Smith led New York on a 12-play, 71-yard drive to get within sight of the goal line, but a fourth down pass from Smith to Jeremy Kerley fell incomplete as the Bears held on for the victory.

The Jets drove inside the Bears 25-yard line on seven different occasions and only came away with one touchdown. The results of those possession: field goal, field goal, touchdown, interception, field goal, field goal, turnover on downs.

The Jets also had a touchdown taken away when a fumble returned for a touchdown by Demario Davis was blown dead by the officials. New York instead failed to score on the ensuing possession.

The Bears secondary took some significant blows as safeties Chris Conte, Danny McCray and Ryan Mundy all left with injuries throughout the contest, forcing Chicago to turn to rookie Brock Vereen and Ahmad Dixon.

Mundy intercepted Smith for a 45-yard touchdown in the first quarter and Bennett hauled in his first touchdown, a 7-yard catch, from Cutler following muffed punt catch from Jalen Saunders.

The Bears added a 13-yard touchdown pass to Bennett and two Robbie Gould field goals.

Ultimately, the Jets didn’t have the ability to score touchdowns despite repeated trips into the Chicago red zone. Smith and Kerley connected for a 19-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Nick Folk converted four field goals (43, 28, 22, 42 yards) for the Jets

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Chris Conte out for Bears, Eric Decker out for Jets

Eric Decker AP

The Chicago Bears are having their depth at safety tested during Monday night’s game against the New York Jets,

Both Chicago starters have suffered shoulder injuries in the game.

Chris Conte is out for the rest of the game after injuring his shoulder in the third quarter. Ryan Mundy also left the game with a shoulder injury, but his return to the game was listed as probable.

Danny McCray and rookie Brock Vereen came into the game to replace Conte and Mundy for the Bears.

Jets receiver Eric Decker’s status for the game was also in question prior to the game due to a hamstring injury. Decker was active for the game but left once again after re-aggravating the injury during Monday night’s game.

Decker caught just one pass for 19 yards before leaving the game with the injury. He was initially ruled as questionable to return to the game but was downgraded to out in the fourth quarter.

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Blown call costs Jets a touchdown before halftime

cutlerjets AP

The officials are doing the Jets no favors as they try to come from behind against the Bears.

With a minute and a half to go before halftime, Jets linebacker David Harris hit Jay Cutler, forcing a fumble that Jets linebacker Demario Davis scooped up and ran downfield for what looked like an easy touchdown. Unfortunately, the officials blew the play dead.

It was reviewed on instant replay and correctly ruled a fumble, but because the officials had wrongly blown the play dead, the Jets didn’t get the touchdown that Davis almost certainly would have scored if the play had been correctly called on the field. The Jets’ offense wasn’t able to do anything after gaining possession, and the Jets had to punt.

Correct that blown call and the bad pass interference call that set up the Bears’ only offensive touchdown, and this game that the Bears lead 17-13 could easily be something more like a 20-10 Jets lead.

The Jets have to overcome both the Bears and the officials in the second half.

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The story behind ESPN’s Ravens story, sort of

Bisciotti AP

ESPN’s bombshell story regarding the Ravens’ mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation landed on Friday at 5:47 p.m. ET, in a spot where information typically goes to not be noticed.

The decision to publish the item in a bad-news wasteland fewer than two hours after Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference has sparked questions in the industry about the thought process behind pulling the sheet off the story late on a Friday afternoon, versus holding it for Sunday morning or — as TMZ surely did with the Ray Rice video two weeks ago — Monday morning.

ESPN’s position is that there’s nothing to see regarding the timing of a story that may not have received the attention and traction it deserved beyond those who closely follow the NFL.  The story was published as soon as it was ready, ESPN contends.  Curiosity about the timing nevertheless exists.

The curiosity is enhanced by some of the circumstances surrounding the final hours before the report was published.  Although ESPN’s reporters worked on the story for 11 days, the first request for comment to the NFL came at 12:34 p.m. ET Friday, via a list of 15 detailed, written questions submitted roughly 90 minutes after the league announced that Commissioner Roger Godless would be conducting a press conference at 3:00 p.m. ET.  The Ravens separately received a list of written questions at roughly 1:00 p.m. ET on Friday.

The NFL declined to answer any of the written questions, and it appears that ESPN did not send anyone to the press conference with the task of posing any, some, or all of the 15 questions directly to Goodell.  Spokesman Greg Aiello told ESPN, “Mr. [Robert] Mueller is in the process of conducting his investigation into the pursuit and handling of evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence incident.  His report will be made public.”

The story initially claimed that Rice watched Baltimore’s Week One game with center A.Q. Shipley, a clear error given that Shipley had been cut by the Ravens and claimed on waivers by the Colts.  The mistake quickly was corrected. Likewise, the contention that Ravens senior personnel assistant George Kokinis believed that Rice should be cut in February is regarded by some in the organization as a mischaracterization of his role and responsibilities.   At least one member of the Ravens organization privately has pointed to these errors as evidence that the entire story may lack full and complete credibility.

ESPN has said repeatedly that it stands by its reporting, reiterating that stance in the wake of the lengthy statement issued on Monday by the Ravens and owner Steve Bisciotti’s press conference.  During his 47 minutes with the media, Bisciotti accused ESPN of essentially rushing the story to publication, pointing to the fact that the reporters spent 11 days working on the story but that ESPN ultimately asked for input from the league and the team only a few hours before the story was unleashed.

Given the potential damage that an inflammatory report like this can do to the broader relationship between ESPN and the NFL, it’s odd to say the least that ESPN opted to push forward at a time when the parties against whom the allegations were made didn’t have a full and fair opportunity to respond to details that took nearly two weeks to compile.  Perhaps ESPN wanted to redirect blame from the NFL to the Ravens in the aftermath of the Goodell press conference.  Perhaps ESPN wanted to make Goodell seem less credible.  Perhaps ESPN simply believed that publishing the story within the hours after Goodell’s press conference would generate the most attention for the story, and in turn for ESPN.

Or perhaps ESPN simply decided that it didn’t make sense to wait for someone else to report the same information ESPN was poised to report.

The timing of the publication has no bearing on the accuracy of the report.  But with the Ravens now issuing a lengthy statement identifying the many flaws that it believes the report contains, ESPN may feel compelled to continue to work the story even harder, in order to prove that the Ravens are wrong, and that ESPN is right.

Ultimately, the tie may be broken by Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is investigating the Rice investigation.

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Jets have pick-six, muffed punt, down 14-0 in first five minutes

ryanmundy AP

The Jets got off to a bad start tonight against the Bears. A very bad start.

On the game’s first series, Jets quarterback Geno Smith threw a pass right into the hands of Chicago’s Ryan Mundy, who raced 45 yards for a touchdown to make the score 7-0.

An exchange of punts ensued, but Jets return man Jalen Saunders muffed his punt, and the Bears recovered. A Jay Cutler deep ball to Alshon Jeffery resulted in a highly questionable pass interference penalty on the Jets, setting up first-and-goal.

From there, Jay Cutler hit Martellus Bennett in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown, and it was 14-0 Bears, barely five minutes into the game.

This one’s a long way from over. But early on, it looks like we could have another prime time mismatch on our hands.

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Bisciotti shrugs at possibility he’d be forced to sell over Rice situation

Bisciotti AP

In the aftermath of Friday’s ESPN report regarding the alleged mishandling of the Ray Rice investigation, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti met for 47 minutes with the media to answer many questions about the report and the investigation.

Informed that a Forbes article has raised the possibility of Bisciotti being forced to sell the team, Bisciotti said, “If they force me to sell, then I guess I’ll sell.”

He then added that, because he doesn’t work very hard as owner of the team, he really wouldn’t have a major void in his life.

Bisciott’s version of the situation, as articulated at the press conference and set forth in the the lengthy statement from the team, could be interpreted as Bisciotti believing that he did nothing that would justify a decision to force him to sell the team.  Ultimately, the decision regarding what the Ravens knew, when they knew it, and what if anything they did wrong will be made by former FBI director Robert Mueller, who is conducting an investigation of the entire situation.

And that’s when things could get even more interesting.  If Bisciotti disputes Mueller’s version of the events, will Bisciotti change his mind regarding whether any employees of the team should no longer be employees of the team?  Or will Bisciotti dispute Mueller’s report the same way Bisciotti disputed the ESPN report?

That’s an angle that, like so many other issues in this situation, the NFL and the Ravens possibly haven’t thought all the way through.  Are the league office and the Ravens prepared to accept Mueller’s conclusion, or will they reserve the right to disagree, like Goodell did when former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned the suspensions imposed by Goodell in the Saints bounty scandal?

Ultimately, Mueller’s investigation could result in many eye-opening conclusions.  At this point, nothing should be ruled out.

Included a possible decision by ownership that Bisciotti should sell the team.  If that happens, it sounds like he’ll go more quietly than Donald Sterling did.

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Reports: James Harrison to rejoin Steelers

James Harrison AP

Less than a month after retiring, James Harrison is set to rejoin the club with whom he’s had his greatest success, per multiple published reports.

The Steelers will sign the 36-year-old Harrison this week, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported Monday.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Harrison will meet with the Steelers on Tuesday and is on track to sign, barring any snags.

Long-time Steelers beat reporter Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also reported that Harrison will rejoin the team after a season away.

And on Instagram, Harrison posted a video suggesting he would be returning to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are in need of outside linebacking depth after Jarvis Jones was placed on injured reserve/designated for return on Monday, and Harrison is well-versed in Dick LeBeau’s defense. The 36-year-old Harrison played 10 seasons for Pittsburgh (2002, 2004-2012), recording 64 sacks. He played 10 games for Cincinnati in 2013.

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Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery all active tonight

Eric Decker AP

Three starting wide receivers were listed as inactive for tonight’s game. They’ll all play.

Jets receiver Eric Decker and Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are all active. They may not be 100 percent healthy — Decker’s hamstring in particular has caused some concerns — but they’re all going to play.

Inactive for the Jets is cornerback Dee Milliner, meaning the Jets’ secondary will have a tough task against Marshall and Jeffery.

The Jets’ other inactives are defensive tackle T.J. Barnes, offensive tackle Dakota Dozier, linebacker A.J. Edds, defensive end Ikemefuna Enemkpali, receiver Walter Powell and offensive tackle Ben Ijalana.

The Bears’ inactives are center Roberto Garza, tackle Charles Leno, linebacker Shea McClellin, cornerback Sherrick McManis, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, defensive end Trevor Scott and guard Matt Slauson.

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Clay Matthews: “Hard to answer” if groin injury will keep him out

Clay Matthews AP

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews wasn’t on the field for the final minutes of his team’s 19-7 loss to the Lions on Sunday because of a groin injury.

Matthews got hurt while trying to avoid a cut block by Lions wide receiver Golden Tate and said after the game that he wasn’t sure how severe it might be. He didn’t have a much clearer idea on Monday either.

“It’s hard to answer that right now,” Matthews said, via ESPN.com. “Obviously I think it’s something I can play with, but you’ve got to make sure you’re operating at a high level. That will be the biggest obstacle, not obstacle but thing to find out, and I think we’ll know more on Wednesday or Thursday.”

Injuries have cost Matthews, who has a sack in three games this year, nine games over the last two seasons and the Packers have suffered when he’s been out of the lineup. Matthews did say that he feels good a day after the game and his condition will be updated once the Packers start practicing later this week.

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Peyton Manning: Overtime rules put a premium on the coin toss

peytoncarroll AP

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning led his team to a stunning comeback in Seattle on Sunday, tying a game in the final minute after it appeared to be lost. Then Manning made a mistake that cost his team the game: He called tails.

After the Broncos lost the overtime coin toss, Manning could do nothing more than stand on the sideline and watch as Russell Wilson led the Seahawks down the field toward a game-winning touchdown. After ending the fourth quarter with a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion pass, Manning never touched the ball in overtime.

As Manning noted afterward, that coin toss loomed large.

It puts a premium on the coin toss,” Manning said. “I called tails at the beginning of the game, and went with it again in overtime. It was heads, and it proved to be a significant call. But that’s the way it is. And you’d like to not leave it to that, leave it to get to that situation.”

For years, overtime in the NFL was true sudden death, with the first team to score winning. The newer rules make the coin toss a bit less important, as a team can’t win with a field goal on the first possession. But the coin toss still matters. Some fans prefer the college format, where teams alternate possessions from the 25-yard line, but winning the coin toss matters in college, too, as it’s advantageous to win the toss, play defense first and then know on the subsequent possession whether to play it safe for a field goal or whether a touchdown is necessary. An auction-style overtime rule, where the teams would “bid” on a yard line to start from in overtime, could eliminate the coin toss but has never really caught on.

The NFL probably won’t change the rules on overtime any time soon, if ever. So players who don’t want to deal with a rule that puts a premium on the coin toss will just have to win the game in regulation.

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Bucs work out Terrelle Pryor

Terrelle Pryor AP

The Bucs may be without quarterback Josh McCown for the next few weeks after he suffered a thumb injury in the team’s blowout loss to the Falcons last Thursday and that may have them in the market for some help at the position.

Field Yates of ESPN.com reports that the team worked out former Raiders and Seahawks quarterback Terrelle Pryor on Monday. Pryor was let go by the Seahawks at the end of the preseason after Seattle gave the backup job to Tarvaris Jackson. He started nine games for the Raiders last season, throwing seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions while also running for 576 yards.

Pryor isn’t up to speed on the Buccaneers offense, obviously, so he wouldn’t be an ideal choice if they needed to turn to someone in a pinch behind Mike Glennon. Mike Kafka is on the practice squad, which likely leaves him better suited to role.

Pryor’s athleticism could intrigue the Bucs from a longer term perspective, however, so we’ll see if anything develops for him in Tampa.

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