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Future NFL stadiums could feature less sitting, more standing

Dolphins Getty Images

Our pal Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times has written an article that looks at the various challenges the NFL is facing.  One of the biggest arises from persuading fans to choose to attend games over watching them at home.

Late in the item comes an intriguing prediction about the configuration of future NFL stadiums, courtesy of NFL executive V.P. of business operations Eric Grubman.

“What if a new stadium we built wasn’t 70,000, but it was 40,000 seats with 20,000 standing room?” Grubman said.  “But the standing room was in a bar-type environment with three sides of screens, and one side where you see the field.  Completely connected.  And in those three sides of screens, you not only got every piece of NFL content, including replays, Red Zone [Channel], and analysis, but you got every other piece of news and sports content that you would like to have if you were at home.

“Now you have the game, the bar and social setting, and you have the content.  What’s that ticket worth? What’s that environment feel like to a young person?  Where do you want to be?  Do you want to be in that seat, or do you want to be in that pavilion?”

Plenty of people would choose to be in the pavilion, if the price is right.  (And if the beer isn’t priced quite so high.)

Grubman’s example, with a 70,000-seat stadium becoming a 60,000-person hybrid, reflects another inevitable reality for the NFL.  To maintain the buzz of a full stadium, stadiums may need to get smaller.

“A restaurant isn’t as good if there’s only four people in there,” 49ers CEO Jed York said. “When a restaurant is hustling and bustling, it just feels better, the food tastes better because you see everybody else enjoying it. That’s the same thing for any live event.  Great bands, if you don’t have a great crowd, then the band isn’t quite as good.”

He’s right — and it’s wise for the league to continuously be thinking about ways to adapt the business model to ensure that business continues to thrive, not only on TV but inside each and every stadium.

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Devonta Freeman back to full participation for Falcons

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 11:  Devonta Freeman #24 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes against DeAngelo Hall #23 of the Washington Redskins at Georgia Dome on August 11, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Falcons should have at least one of their top running backs available when they play the Packers Sunday.

Coach Dan Quin told reporters that running back Devonta Freeman would be a full participant in today’s practice, after he was held out of contact yesterday.

Freeman was listed with a hip injury, but that has seemingly cleared up overnight.

The Falcons held running back Tevin Coleman (hamstring) and pass-rusher Dwight Freeney (quadriceps, old) out of practice again Thursday. The Falcons seem to expect that Coleman won’t be ready this week, when they signed two running backs to the active roster.

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Tony Romo in helmet, uniform at Cowboys practice

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02:   Injured quarterback Tony Romo #8 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after defeating the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw the ball at Wednesday’s practice, which marked a step forward in his return from a broken bone in his back albeit one that took place without Romo wearing a helmet, jersey or any of the other pieces of equipment that would have allowed him to be an official participant in the session.

Romo is throwing again at Thursday’s practice, although he’s doing so in a different outfit. Romo is wearing a helmet and jersey for the first time since getting hurt in the preseason.

Before the practice got underway on Thursday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said that Romo looked good on Wednesday and deemed his status as “day-to-day” in terms of when he might be able to move to a fuller workload.

There’s no reason for the Cowboys to officially make it known if they’re sticking with Dak Prescott as their starting quarterback until that happens, although it does appear the day that call will have to be made is drawing closer.

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LeSean McCoy out of practice again on Thursday

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) watches the game from the sidelines, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. McCoy was held to 11 yards and had to leave during the third quarter after he aggravated his left hamstring.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) AP

The Bills kept running back LeSean McCoy in the lineup last weekend despite a hamstring injury that led to several reports that he’d miss the game.

McCoy didn’t produce much against the Dolphins and then had to leave the game when the hamstring flared up over the course of the game. McCoy said he felt good heading into the game and Bills coach Rex Ryan defended the decision to play along those lines, but there might not be as much reason to take things all the way to kickoff against the Patriots this week.

McCoy missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday and that suggests that the results of playing him against New England wouldn’t look that different than they looked against Miami last Sunday. The Bills have said they’ll see how things progress over the course of the week, but the nature of hamstring injuries in general and McCoy’s specific history with such issues make it hard to say pushing it is the right decision.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, safety Aaron Williams, left tackle Cordy Glenn and linebacker Zach Brown also missed their second practice of the week. Chris Brown of the team’s website reports that left guard Richie Incognito is also out for Thursday’s practice, although doesn’t supply a reason for his absence.

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Seahawks still focused on recovery after last week’s overtime tie


The Seahawks as a whole played five quarters Sunday night, but the members of their defense were forced to carry most of the load.

And as a result of guys playing 100 snaps or more in a game, the Seahawks are focusing this week on recovery.

Via Sheil Kapadia of, coach Pete Carroll has ordered his players to get eight or nine hours of sleep, hydrate often, and load up on carbohydrates after last week’s marathon against the Cardinals. His work this week is in conjunction with director of player health and performance Sam Ramsden, who is bringing the sports science and the holiday side dishes.

I’ve been big on sweet potatoes,” Seahawks cornerback Deshawn Shead said. “I love sweet potatoes, so it’s been easy. You don’t have to tell me to carb up on sweet potatoes.”

Shead played 95 snaps in last week’s game, and the alarming part is he was sixth on the team in that category.

Safety Kelcie McCray played 108 snaps, including 95 on defense and 13 on special teams. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright played 102 each. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas played 99.

Sherman said he couldn’t make it from the showers to the locker room by himself, and needed Wagner’s help to get there. He received two bags of intravenous fluid after the game, but said he wasn’t himself on the trip home.

“They didn’t let me lose consciousness, but I definitely wasn’t focused,” Sherman said. “That’s why they wouldn’t let me go for a long time until I got my focus back, and they looked me in the eye, and they just kept saying I wasn’t right and I was looking clammy and stuff like that. But after a while, you get some energy, you get some food in you, you get your stuff back.

“I was too tired to be that concerned. I think other people were more concerned than I was, but I was just trying to get cooled down and get some energy back in me. It was just a blur. I don’t remember being too concerned. I remember them saying something about a stretcher and paramedics, and I was like, ‘Yeah that’s not how we’re going to end this today.'”

That kind of reaction makes you wonder how much they’ll have in the tank when they fly across country again this week, to play at New Orleans in a 1 p.m. start.

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After fateful PSI report, NFL declined to give real numbers to Chris Mortensen

2012 Jaws Cigar Party Hosted By Ron Jaworski Getty Images

The #DeflateGate saga went from an eyebrow-raiser to a finger-pointer the moment ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that 11 of 12 footballs used by the Patriots measured at least two pounds below the 12.5 PSI minimum.

Like the AP report that the NFL received the Ray Rice elevator video before TMZ published it, the Mortensen report of gross underinflation made the retention of  “independent” investigator Ted Wells something that the public not simply would support, but also would demand.

Regardless of how the false information made it to Mortensen (and it undoubtedly came from the league office), the league office refused to correct the record — despite moving swiftly to correct false information in many other contexts, as the New York Times now knows.

“I remember asking people in the league office, ‘Is there stuff we need to clarify?’” Mortensen told Bryan Curtis of The Ringer. “Basically, it was like, ‘Hey, let Ted Wells do his job.'”

That’s a damning indictment of the league’s role in creating the monster and then declining to kill it. Regardless of the work of Ted Wells, the NFL at all times had the PSI measurements at its disposal. The league could have, and should have, told the truth about the PSI numbers.

To his credit, Mortensen never reacted to the fact that the NFL lied to him and then stonewalled him with the kind of anger and outcry that others (e.g., me) would have expressed if burned so badly by a source. Still, to the extent that Patriots fans or anyone else harbor any lingering resentment toward Mortensen regarding the fateful 11-of-12 football report, keep in mind that someone employed at 345 Park Avenue leaked clearly false information to Mortensen, and that someone employed at 345 Park Avenue refused to correct clearly false information at Mortensen’s request.

And so instead of a witch-hunt aimed at proving that the real PSI numbers showed cheating in connection with the 2014 AFC title game when, in reality, they don’t, maybe the league should have hired another “independent” investigator to figure out who breathed fraudulent life into #DeflateGate by lying to Chris Mortensen and then refusing to disclose the truth to him.

No matter how hard anyone tries to downplay the impact of the false PSI numbers on the overall case, #DeflateGate never would have happened without the disclosure of false numbers. If the true numbers had been reported before the work of Ted Wells was concluded, anyone who understands the Ideal Gas Law would have quickly and loudly explained that those numbers fall within the general range of measurements that would have been generated by the natural decline in air pressure after the football were exposed to more than 90 minutes to January air in Massachusetts.

Common sense suggests that the Ideal Gas Law and the deliberate release of air pressure would have combined to create far lower PSI numbers than those actually measured. You know, something like two pounds or more below the 12.5 PSI minimum.

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Panthers left tackle Michael Oher still out with concussion

SAN JOSE, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  Offensive Tackle Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers looks on while taking a drink of water during practice prior to Super Bowl 50 at San Jose State University on February 5, 2016 in San Jose, California. The Carolina Panthers face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on February 7. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Panthers are getting healthier in the secondary, which will help fix their biggest problem at the moment.

But they’re still running short at one key position, which is pretty important in its own right.

According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, Panthers left tackle Michael Oher is still out of practice because of a concussion.

Oher has been out since coming up with concussion symptoms after their Week Three loss to the Vikings, and hasn’t played since. The fact he’s now out a month is a much bigger concern for Oher himself.

But to take the football view, it’s bad news for Cam Newton, as right tackle Mike Remmers has been miscast on the left and Daryl Williams is filling in at right tackle in Oher’s absence. Against a Cardinals defense which was able to keep Russell Wilson off-balance last week, that could be a major issue.

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C.J. Anderson denies telling people he’s done for the year

SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  C.J. Anderson #22 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball as he is followed by  Caraun Reid #91 of the San Diego Chargers during the fourth quarter of a 21-13 Charger win at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson went for a second opinion on a knee injury this week amid reports that he was going to miss multiple weeks while dealing with the issue.

On Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that Anderson has told people that he will miss the rest of the season. A source with first-hand knowledge of Anderson’s status has denied that’s the case, however.

That source would be Anderson himself, who replied to Rapoport’s report on Twitter shortly after it came out.

Anderson added that “we would know later today what’s going on,” so there still seems to be some uncertainty about what the immediate future holds for the running back. For now, though, Anderson isn’t pulling the curtain on his season.

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Four Cowboys rank in top 11 of player merchandise sales

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on before a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the NFLPA released sales figures of player merchandise from March through May, three members of the Cowboys took the top three spots on the list.

The NFLPA has released the list for the period from June through August and the Cowboys no longer rank 1-2-3, but they are still well represented at the top of the list. Wide receiver Dez Bryant still ranks first with quarterback Tony Romo in sixth, tight end Jason Witten at No. 10 and running back Ezekiel Elliott right behind Witten. The period covered in the latest report comes before quarterback Dak Prescott took off in the regular season, so there may be even more representation in the next set of figures.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went from No. 7 to No. 2 in the latest round with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham rounding out the top five. The Seahawks placed five players in the top 50 while the Packers join the Cowboys with four players in that group.

The rankings are based on sales of all officially licensed merchandise, a category that includes clothes, toys, photos and other items emblazoned with the images of NFL players.

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PFT’s Week Eight picks


The good news is that MDS and I both stayed on the right side of .500 last week. The bad news is that it we weren’t very far above.

With 15 Week Seven games, we each went 8-7, splitting the two games on which we disagreed. This week, we disagree on three games.

Hopefully, we’ll be more that slightly above .500.

And by the way I’m still up by two games on the season. Which is all that really matters to me.

Jaguars at Titans

MDS’s take: It’s the annual Thursday night Jaguars-Titans game. That’s sure to bolster the NFL’s ratings. The Titans are actually a better team than most people thought, and the Jaguars are worse.

MDS’s pick: Titans 28, Jaguars 13.

Florio’s take: With the Mr. Spock/Captain Kirk Color Rush debacle returning on Thursday night and in light of the growing discontent of Jacksonville’s owner, it really will be Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.

Florio’s pick: Titans 24, Jaguars 16.

Washington at Cincinnati

MDS’s take: The Bengals’ defense and special teams have been a disappointment, but I like Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to have a big game with Josh Norman in the concussion protocol.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 31, Washington 28.

Florio’s take: Marvin Lewis just beat his most recent offensive coordinator. And now he gets a chance to beat the guy Hue Jackson replaced. The Bengals quietly are putting the pieces together after a slow start; the process continues in England.

Florio’s pick: Bengals 24, Washington 17.

Chiefs at Colts

MDS’s take: Andrew Luck is playing well, but he’s been getting very little support, and no quarterback can do it himself. The Colts’ defense is terrible, and the Chiefs should rack up plenty of points on them.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Colts 21.

Florio’s take: One of the great moments in Colts franchise history came not long ago in a playoff game against the Chiefs. Sunday will prove just how long gone those days are.

Florio’s pick: Chiefs 30, Colts 21.

Raiders at Buccaneers

MDS’s take: I don’t think the Raiders are quite as good as their 5-2 record suggests, and I think the Buccaneers showed last week that they can take advantage of a bad defense. Tampa Bay wins a close one.

MDS’s pick: Buccaneers 24, Raiders 23.

Florio’s take: The Raiders are 4-0 at 1:00 p.m. ET this year. Their biggest regret should be that, after Sunday’s game in Tampa, Oakland won’t have another.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 31, Buccaneers 28.

Seahawks at Saints

MDS’s take: The Seahawks’ offense hasn’t been playing well, but a meeting with the weak Saints’ defense could be just what the doctor ordered.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 28, Saints 21.

Florio’s take: Seattle’s gaudy record conceals deeper concerns about the offense, which hasn’t been the same since Russell Wilson suffered a pair of injuries. The Saints have the offense to outpace Wilson and company.

Florio’s pick: Saints 27, Seahawks 20.

Lions at Texans

MDS’s take: Detroit’s defense is bad, but Brock Osweiler is worse. The Lions will manage to hold Osweiler in check and win what could be an ugly game.

MDS’s pick: Lions 17, Texans 16.

Florio’s take: The Texans win the games they’re supposed to win, and they lose the games they’re supposed to lose. It’s harder to categorize this one, but the home-field advantage gives them the edge.

Florio’s pick: Texans 27, Lions 24.

Jets at Browns

MDS’s take: These may be the two worst teams in the league right now, and if Cody Kessler or Josh McCown were completely healthy I’d pick the Browns to get their first win of the season. But with Kessler suffering from a concussion and McCown still recovering from a broken collarbone, I’ll take the Jets.

MDS’s pick: Jets 17, Browns 10.

Florio’s take: It could be the last, best chance for the Browns to win a game. But for Geno Smith’s torn ACL, maybe they would.

Florio’s pick: Jets 23, Browns 13.

Patriots at Bills

MDS’s take: The Bills dominated their first meeting, but that was with Tom Brady suspended. Now that Brady is back, I’d expect the Patriots to win this game and take total control of the AFC East.

MDS’s pick: Patriots 27, Bills 20.

Florio’s take: The Bills haven’t swept the Patriots during the Brady-Belichick era. That streak continues.

Florio’s pick: Patriots 30, Bills 20.

Cardinals at Panthers

MDS’s take: This may be the Panthers’ last chance to turn their season around, as a loss here would essentially mean there’s no hope of making the playoffs. I think they’ll rally with a big win.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 31, Cardinals 17.

Florio’s take: It’s a rematch of the NFC title game; the loser has little chance to get back there. The winner doesn’t have much more of a shot. It’s the last stand for the Panthers, who played 75 minutes less football than the Cardinals in Week Seven.

Florio’s pick: Panthers 28, Cardinals 23.

Chargers at Broncos

MDS’s take: The Chargers’ offense is playing well, but playing well in Denver is a tall order for any offense. I see a low-scoring game with the Broncos coming out on top.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 14, Chargers 13.

Florio’s take: The Chargers have an excellent opportunity to legitimize their season, shove the Broncos against the ropes, shake up the AFC West, and maybe nail down some votes for their futile stadium effort. They’ll nearly pull it off.

Florio’s pick: Broncos 24, Chargers 23.

Packers at Falcons

MDS’s take: Stopping Matt Ryan and Julio Jones is going to be too much to ask of the Packers’ secondary. The Falcons will put a lot of points on the board.

MDS’s pick: Falcons 35, Packers 28.

Florio’s take: Six years ago, the sixth-seeded Packers took down the top-seeded Falcons, 48-20. That was a long time ago, and the Falcons have new urgency to get things back on track against a still-flawed Packers team.

Florio’s pick: Falcons 27, Packers 23.

Eagles at Cowboys

MDS’s take: In one of this year’s better prime time games, the Cowboys should beat the Eagles and take control of the NFC East.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Eagles 21.

Florio’s take: Has a game this consequential ever had three rookies in such key roles? This one does, and the team with two of the key rookies has the edge.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 27, Eagles 24.

Vikings at Bears

MDS’s take: Jay Cutler is back, and he’s about to get a rude awakening against the Vikings’ defense. This could get ugly.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 20, Bears 3.

Florio’s take: The Vikings have a tough five-game stretch coming up; if they stub their toe in Chicago, things could quickly fall apart.

Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, Bears 17.

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Aldon Smith has applied to the NFL for reinstatement

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Aldon Smith #99 of the Oakland Raiders stands on the field before their game against the Baltimore Ravens at Coliseum on September 20, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Raiders have gotten off to a 5-2 start, despite a defense which has been spotty at times.

They could potentially be getting a big boost for that side for the last month and a half of the season.

According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie said outside linebacker Aldon Smith has applied to the NFL for reinstatement. His one-year suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy ends Nov. 17.

Sources said Smith is out of rehab, and McKenzie said he was working in an effort to coming back to the team.

‘Aldon is doing well,” McKenzie said. “That situation is going to be totally up to the league because he’s been in the program and they’ve monitored him. It’s up to [Roger] Goodell to say yah, nay or when. And he could say no to everything, . . . that part is out of our hands.

“The league will take everything into consideration and Aldon will have to meet with Goodell at some point.”

The Raiders can’t have direct contact with him, but they can keep tabs on him through his agent and other intermediaries.

If the 27-year-old Smith comes back, he’d add an immediate threat to a defense that could use him. In nine games with the Raiders before his suspension, he had 3.5 sacks, but he had 44.5 sacks in 50 games with the 49ers.

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With a loss tonight, will the Jaguars make a coaching change?

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on after the game against the Oakland Raiders at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Kirk-and-Spock uniforms that the Jaguars and Titans will wear for the second time are appropriate, given that the aftermath of Thursday’s game could be a remake of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan has made it clear that, after several years of bad football, he expects improvement this year. Earlier this week, he popped in to the team facility to get answers regarding the team’s unexpected struggles in 2016.

And so it’s reasonable to ask whether a prime-time loss on Thursday night in Nashville will result in Khan making a change at the coaching position. With the bye week gone, the mini-bye that comes after the annual short-week game is the next best opportunity to give an interim head coach extra time to adjust.

While Khan may indeed opt to stay the course for the balance of the season, PFT Planet has spoken loudly in response to the simple up-or-down question of whether Khan should make a change in the event of a loss. The primary in-house option is former Bills coach Doug Marrone, who currently serves as offensive line coach and assistant head coach.

For 2017, the most intriguing option would be former Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin, who led the team to a far more significant date with the Titans, nearly a generation ago. In 1999, the 14-2 Jaguars hosted the 13-3 Titans in the AFC title game, with Tennessee scoring the upset and nearly winning the Super Bowl.

The rivalry, which started in the AFC Central and migrated to the AFC South in 2002, has deteriorated into a punchline. Khan may soon decide to give at least one half of that twice-per-year series some pop.

The decision could come as soon as tonight.

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Goodell sees “tremendous progress” on domestic violence

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 13:  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (L) and Chris Berman of ESPN talk before the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum during preseason on August 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) Getty Images

In the wake of harsh criticism over the league’s handling of the Josh Brown case, Roger Goodell is claiming the NFL has moved in the right direction on domestic violence.

“What you see here is a policy that’s evolved,” Goodell told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. “We’ve learned a lot, but these are complex matters. When you talk to the domestic violence experts, these are difficult matters to deal with. You have rights, you have families that you have to be concerned with, privacy issues. Yes, you want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to address these [alleged incidents] when they happen, but you also want to deal with them to prevent them from happening. I think we’ve made tremendous progress. Can we make more and will we make more? Of course.”

Goodell said Brown’s one-game suspension at the start of the season was solely for one incident that the NFL had information about.

“Here’s the issue, the discipline that occurred on the one game was for the event on May of 2015,” Goodell said. “That was the only one that we were able to get of all the different things that we’ve heard. The decision was made by our team after we had the evidence to be able to support the one game. We knew we would get challenged [by the NFL Players Association] and we were able to uphold it.”

Now that additional information alleging other domestic violence incidents has come out, Goodell said the league is investigating that as well.

“That’s what we’ll do now that we have additional information. We’ll aggressively pursue that and apply our personal conduct policy,” said Goodell.

Of course, Brown has now been released by the Giants, and his reputation has been tarnished to the point that no NFL team will sign him again. Any additional discipline the league hands out is irrelevant.

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Micah Hyde on dealing with Julio Jones: You have to pray

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 14: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons walks off the field after beating the Philadelphia Eagles at the Georgia Dome on September 14, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

The last time the Packers faced the Falcons was in 2014 and they saw a 31-7 lead shrink considerably over the course of the second half thanks in large part to the exploits of Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones.

The Packers held on for a 43-37 win, but Jones had 11 catches for 259 yards in the kind of dominating performance that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him over the years. Packers coach Mike McCarthy thinks there’s “no carryover” between that game and the one the teams will play in Atlanta this weekend, but Jones is just a few weeks removed from a 300-yard game so it’s not like there’s a noticeable difference in his game.

It doesn’t help that the Packers head into the contest with injury issues at cornerback, which may be why defensive back Micah Hyde is hoping for a little help from on high when it comes to slowing Jones down on Sunday.

“The week of [the game], every night before you go to bed, you’ve got to pray.” Hyde said, via the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Game day, you’ve got to wake up, you’ve got to pray. He’s just one of those guys that can get it done in all aspects of the game. Honestly, there’s nothing he can’t do. There’s guys that come along every now and then, you’ve got your Calvin Johnson-type guys, and he’s one of them. He’s the best in the game right now.”

The Packers were able to hold Odell Beckham in check when they face the Giants a couple of weeks ago, but the Falcons offense has been more productive than that one and they’ll be playing on their home field. That may raise the need for a little divine intervention on defense if the Packers are going to have more success about Jones this time around..

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Ryan Fitzpatrick wants the uproar over his comments to “die”

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets leaves the field following the game against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.The Jets defeated the Ravens 24-16.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) Getty Images

After an injury to Geno Smith put Ryan Fitzpatrick back under center for the Jets and the Jets won the game, Fitzpatrick launched into a scorched-earth “nobody believes in me” post-game monologue that overlooked his own role in his benching.

Four days later, Fitzpatrick would prefer that everyone stop talking about the things he said.

I want it to die,” Fitzpatrick told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “There’s no controversy inside this building about what was said. . . . All I was saying was that I believe in myself. I don’t think we need to hang on to that moment, [but] I know it will be hung on to forever. I just felt that it was something that I needed to say.”

While Fitzpatrick’s words will hardly echo into eternity, they’ll stick with him for as long as he’s in New York. Whether he likes it or not.

“I’m human,” Fitzpatrick told Mehta. “I have emotion. Even though my wife might not think so sometimes. Or even though I don’t show it a lot of the time. That was a very difficult situation for me, because I’m a human being. That was a lot of what I was trying to express in that postgame interview too. I’m not a robot even though a lot of times [it] seems like things don’t affect me. There is a human element to it.”

There definitely is a human element, and I always prefer honest, authentic reactions to the standard, canned, lather/rinse/repeat crap. Still, real can also be compelling and/or ironic. Fitzpatrick’s effort to shift blame for his poor performances was both, and nothing he says is going to get people to stop thinking and talking about it.

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Michael Crabtree says he’s not doing the throat slash

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 23:  Michael Crabtree #15 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after making a catch against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game at EverBank Field on October 23, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) Getty Images

Twice this season, Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree has been penalized for a throat slash gesture.

But Crabtree says it’s not a throat slash at all, and hopes to convince officials of this soon.

Via Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group, Crabtree said the celebration was intended with no malice, which he hopes to explain to refs before games start.

“Just talk to the ref before the game or something. I ain’t going to make a big deal about it,” Crabtree said. “It’s a misunderstanding. It’s cool. They aren’t perfect, now. I feel like they thought I was going to do it and they were ready, but I never did the throat slash.

“I’m sure they’ll look at that and if I get in the end zone and celebrate, I won’t get that flag.”

In Jacksonville last week, Crabtree’s touchdown celebration included moving his right hand toward his left shoulder, but he never drew it across his neck, the menacing gesture which the league has tried to stamp out (while giving one-game suspensions to domestic abusers).

After the first such incident (after a two-point conversion in New Orleans), Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said it was borrowed from the Kenny Powers character in “Eastbound and Down.”

With a little luck, Crabtree will someday be introduced to the song “Real American,” and make the tribute complete.

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