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Joe Flacco is the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Flacco passes under pressure from San Francisco 49ers Bowman in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game in New Orleans Reuters

At the end of an exciting, unpredictable Super Bowl XLVII, the Baltimore Ravens are champions of the football world, and Joe Flacco is the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, and completed an amazing postseason in which he had 11 touchdown passes without ever throwing a pick. The only quarterback ever to match those postseason numbers was Joe Montana, with the 49ers in 1989.

On Sunday, Flacco led the way as the Ravens jumped out to a 28-6 lead in a game it looked like they’d win easily. But the 49ers controlled the second half and nearly finished a furious rally before Colin Kaepernick’s last-gasp fourth-down pass into the end zone fell incomplete. The Ravens, who ran out the clock with the help of an intentional safety with four seconds remaining, won 34-31.

Kaepernick was sensational, throwing for 302 yards and a touchdown while running for 62 yards and another score. But Flacco completed an incredible postseason by throwing three touchdowns and no interceptions to win the Super Bowl. If there was any doubt before, there’s no doubt after these playoffs: Flacco is elite. And with his contract expiring after this season, he’s about to make himself a lot of money when he signs a new deal with the Ravens.

Also outstanding for Baltimore was wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who had 104 receiving yards and a touchdown. And Jacoby Jones had two of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history: In the second quarter he fell to the ground as he caught a long pass from Flacco, got up untouched, and raced into the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown. And to start the second half he returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown, the longest play in Super Bowl history.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis didn’t have a particularly impressive game (the 49ers had a lot of success going after Lewis in the middle of the field), but the 37-year-old Lewis is the greatest defensive player of his generation, and he’ll always be remembered for going out a champion.

Beyond what happened on the field, the game will be remembered for one of the most bizarre scenes in football history: The 33-minute power outage at the Superdome that halted the game and left both teams standing on their sidelines unsure what to do. It’s impossible to say for sure that the power outage helped the 49ers, but the Ravens were certainly flat for most of the game after that long delay.

Much of the talk about this Super Bowl will center on that strange situation. But more than just the night the lights went out in New Orleans, this was the night when a lights-out game from Joe Flacco won the Super Bowl.

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LeSean McCoy: Chip Kelly “got rid of all the black players”

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Bills running back LeSean McCoy isn’t backing down from the idea that he and Eagles coach Chip Kelly’s relationship is the reason for his departure, saying Kelly didn’t like or respect stars.

And he doubled down on those comments by making a serious allegation.

In an interview with ESPN the Magazine, McCoy said Kelly was uncomfortable with him, with an uncomfortable reason for it.

“The relationship was never really great,” McCoy said. “I feel like I always respected him as a coach. I think that’s the way he runs his team. He wants the full control. You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That’s the truth. There’s a reason. . . .

“It’s hard to explain with him. But there’s a reason he got rid of all the black players — the good ones — like that.”

McCoy didn’t elaborate, and the Eagles didn’t comment on the statement, which they’re inevitably going to have to do.

McCoy’s statements track along with the accusation/non-accusation of ESPN talker Stephen A. Smith in March, who suggested the same sinister motive.

Kelly’s approach to running off stars seems color-blind, considering the way he openly taunted guard Evan Mathis last weekend, saying no one has offered to trade for him in two years.

But clearly, McCoy has a problem with Kelly that goes beyond skin deep.

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Gregory makes permanent commitment to Cowboys


Five days ago, the Cowboys drafted defensive end Randy Gregory.  Much longer than five days from now, the Cowboys will be part of Gregory.

Gregory’s forearm carries a large tattoo in the shape of the star the Cowboys wear on their helmets.

“This journey is a marathon, not a sprint!!” Gregory proclaimed in the message with the photo that he posted on Twitter.

He’s right.  But a tattoo is permanent, unless someone wants to take much more time than it took to get the tattoo to get it removed.  And in today’s NFL, rarely does a player spend his entire career with one team.

But at least Gregory is likely to be with the Cowboys longer than Stevan Ridley will be with the Jets — and Ridley already has a Jets tattoo.

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Cam Newton’s diploma going next to his Heisman Trophy

Cam Newton AP

As you might imagine, Cam Newton is still a pretty big deal on campus at Auburn.

So much so, that he’s passing on his graduation so he doesn’t take away from others on their big day.

Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, the Panthers quarterback told the school newspaper there that he was skipping the ceremony after finishing his degree this semester.

“Number one, I don’t think walking really solidifies anything for me,” Newton said. “I have pretty much conquered the main reason why I’m here, and all I really need is a degree. Plus, I don’t want to take away anything from the people already graduating. After seeing the response coming from class, I wouldn’t want to take anything away from another person’s [graduation day].“

Twitter photos of Newton are common as he walks through campus, so the graduation selfies would have probably been out of control. But for Newton, the achievement is still as significant as anything he’s done on the football field.

“When I do get my diploma, I’m going to put it right above my mom’s door, so she knows her words were not in vain,” Newton said. “All my awards that mean the world to me are implanted [in her house], and this is no different. If anything, it’s going right along next to the Heisman.”

Newton also said he hopes to put his degree in sociology to good use when he’s through playing, with hopes of opening a day care center.

“As I get more educated about sociology, and education as a whole, shame on me if I don’t use my influence in a positive way,” Newton said. “Someone may look at my situation and say, ‘He may be financially set, but yet he’s bettering himself.’ Maybe I can encourage somebody else who is in my situation or is down and out [to] always strive for a better you and that’s what this was pretty much all about: making myself better.”

And as he does so, he’s letting the rest of the graduates enjoy their moment in the spotlight as well.

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Chris Johnson wants to be a Cowboy

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Some people don’t want to be a Cowboy. Others do.

Veteran running back Chris Johnson does. Via the Dallas Morning News, Johnson recently made his pitch to be signed by the Cowboys in a sidewalk interview with TMZ.

I’d fit good in Dallas,” Johnson said.  “They need it.  Yeah. That’s what we’re trying to do. . . . Dallas, come holler at me.”

Johnson has been working out since being cut by the Jets and then shot in the shoulder. At last word, Johnson still had the bullet in his body.

A first-round pick in the same year recent Dallas hire Darren McFadden entered the league, Johnson had six straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Titans, one of which saw Johnson pass 2,000 yards. With McFadden and Randle at the top of the depth chart, it’s hard not to think Johnson would make them better at the position.

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Report: Giants “in the mix” for La’el Collins

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We’re starting to get more of an idea about the teams that are potential landing spots for La’El Collins as an undrafted free agent and the group reportedly includes the Giants.

Jordan Raanan of reports that the Giants are “in the mix” for the prospective first-round pick who was passed over by all 32 teams many times because teams were uncomfortable drafting him while police in Baton Rouge wanted to speak to him as part of a double murder investigation. Collins had that conversation with police on Monday and is not a suspect in the case.

“We thought about La’El the whole draft because he was sitting up there,” vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said. “But we were gonna pass on that.”

The Giants took tackle Ereck Flowers with their first-round pick, but Raanan reports that they see Collins as a guard at the NFL level. With underwhelming play across the line last season, Collins would join Flowers as a serious contender for early playing time wherever he might wind up if he landed in Jersey.

Should pursuit of Collins progress to following the Dolphins’ players lead and sending former LSU teammates to talk to him, the Giants could enlist last year’s first-round pick Odell Beckham to do some recruiting. The team can’t send any officials to meet with Collins on campus until May 9.

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#DeflateGate investigation still lingers

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The encore for Ted Wells officially has run longer than his debut.

As noted by NFL Media’s Albert Breer, the Wells-led investigation into the #DeflateGate scandal has now consumed more time than the investigation conducted by Wells regarding the Dolphins bullying scandal. In Miami, Wells’ work was done in 100 days; his latest project is at 103 days and counting.

While the two situations have many differences, the Dolphins scandal required interviews of many people and a review of thousands of text messages, followed by an effort to harmonize conflicts in the information provided by witnesses and to explore and explain other incidents that emerged as Wells examined the allegations that resulted in former Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin leaving the team abruptly in late October 2013. The question of whether the Patriots deliberately deflated footballs used during the AFC championship game against the Colts would seem on the surface to entail a far less complex set of facts and a far more narrow universe of potential witnesses and evidence.

In fairness to Wells, the NFL emphasized upon hiring him that there would be no timetable on his work. But did anyone expect that his work would last into May?

Commissioner Roger Goodell has repeatedly said that the report from Wells is coming soon. It’s unclear whether the NFL will release the report publicly before Goodell determines the penalties, if any, that will be imposed as a result of the findings.

Regardless, the ultimate bad-news dump comes in 16 days: The Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. The only thing keeping the report from being released then could be the league’s sensitivity to the perception that it tries to bury bad news into the final hours of the work week.

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Giants try out guy who camped at Falcons facility after he was cut

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Donte Rumph isn’t giving up on his dream, even if it means being thrown out of an NFL facility.

The former Kentucky defensive tackle, who is getting a tryout with the Giants this weekend, has taken an unusual path as he pursues his football career.

Rumph earned a moment of notice last year when he was in camp with the Falcons, as an undrafted rookie from Kentucky who took plenty of abuse. He was called “Cupcake” by assistant coach Bryan Cox while he was lying on the ground injured, which HBO’s Hard Knocks couldn’t wait to share.

But after the Falcons cut him, Rumph did something unusual. He refused to leave.

He set up a shelter which he calls the “Tent of Faith” and moved it across the street to a park after Falcons had security toss him out.

“The ‘Tent of Faith’ is supposed to illustrate strength and courage and being positive regardless of what anybody tells you,” Rumph told Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. “So I don’t care what anybody tells me. I’m going to fulfill my dream and I’m going to try my hardest to fulfill my dream.

“And I’m not giving up.”

While it’s a charming story, there are some troubling turns. Rumph said he went through a “dark depression,” which he’s pushing through as he tries out for NFL teams. He said at one point his agent stopped returning his texts and calls, which hurt for a kid who was abandoned by his mother and raised by his grandmother.

“I was like ‘Wow. Why me? Why am I not good enough for anyone?’ ” Rumph said. “It just caused me to doubt myself, put myself down. It was just like a downward spiral. I fell into a depression stage where I just kind of lost contact with the world and just kind of lost myself.”

He credits his fiancee with helping him find himself and getting back on track. He worked out for the Jets before the draft but wasn’t offered a contract, and also had an offer to try out for the Raiders.

You kind of hope he finds a job, although finding some stability in life would also be good as well

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Old Dominion QB Taylor Heinicke among Vikings rookie free agent signings

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The Vikings know that Teddy Bridgewater is their starting quarterback and they signed veteran Shaun Hill as a free agent to back him up, which leaves them with only the third spot on the depth chart to contemplate in the coming months.

Journeyman Mike Kafka is on the roster, but the Vikings added some competition for him on Tuesday when they made Old Dominion’s Taylor Heinicke one of their undrafted free agent signings. Heinicke passed for 14,959 yards and 132 touchdowns during his college career and will be trying to show that the skills that created those numbers translate to the NFL.

“I can say I’m an NFL quarterback,” Heinicke said, via the Virginian-Pilot. “Now I have to go out and prove it.”

The Vikings also signed former Notre Dame wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, who is the son of longtime NFL defensive lineman Phillip Daniels. He had 49 catches and seven touchdowns in 2013, but didn’t play last season because of academic difficulties.

The Vikings also signed Virginia safety Anthony Harris, BYU wide receiver Jordan Leslie, Tennessee cornerback Justin Coleman, Iowa State center Tom Farniok, Pittsburg State wide receiver Gavin Lutman, Boise State fullback Blake Renaud, Saginaw Valley State guard Jesse Somsel and Boston College guard Bobby Vardaro.

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Bucs put Donovan Smith at left tackle, move Demar Dotson back to right side

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After free agent acquisition Anthony Collins flopped last season, the Buccaneers moved Demar Dotson from right tackle to left tackle for the final weeks of the season.

Dotson spent the offseason preparing to play left tackle again in 2015, but that work may have been made moot in the second round of the draft last Friday. The Bucs added Penn State product Donovan Smith with the 34th pick in the draft and Dotson said that the team let him know that Smith’s arrival meant he’ll be moving back to his old spot on the line.

Right tackle isn’t quite as high profile an assignment, but Dotson said he’s comfortable at the position and comfortable with moves that make the line a better unit than the Bucs had in 2014.

“When I left, there were indications that I was going to come back and start off on the left, so I did train myself, prepare myself to come back and play left,” Dotson said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “Shortly after we got back, they said it depends on who we draft. Then after we drafted the kid from, I’m not sure where he’s from, but the kid, Donovan kid, they said they were going to put me back to right and perhaps put that kid on the left. … I was told that’s going to be a big thing to build through the draft, to get some young guys in there that can come in and compete and make this offensive line better. We struggled in so many ways last year. It’s going to be good competition, with guys coming back that are hungry and young guys coming in that I hope are hungry.”

Smith started 31 games at left tackle while in Happy Valley, so it’s not much of a surprise that the Bucs would see if he can handle the spot before turning back to Dotson.

Smith was joined by guard Ali Marpet later in the second round and both could be starters up front when the Bucs kick off the season in September. With Jameis Winston also a good bet to be with the first team, it’s clear that building through the draft is the offensive plan across the board this season.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

Baalke Getty Images

Trading away their first-round pick pretty much ensured that the Bills wouldn’t have a great draft.

The Dolphins cutting CB Lowell Rose now rather than in August may have been a good deal for him because he was unlikely to make their roster.

Alfonzo Dennard peaked as a rookie and was finally cut loose by the Patriots this week.

A strong draft didn’t do a lot to make Vegas impressed with the Jets.

Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome always earns high marks for his drafting.

Don’t expect the Bengals to get much out of their rookie class this year.

Browns rookie Cameron Erving went from a good player to a great player in high school when he began to embrace early-morning workouts.

Steelers rookie Doran Grant is known for his intelligence.

Most draft graders think the Texans had a mediocre draft class.

Colts G.M. Ryan Grigson has been taking some criticism lately.

Ex-Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew is being sued by a security guard who says he was injured in a melee that Jones-Drew was involved in.

If nothing else, Marcus Mariota is giving the Titans plenty of buzz.

Former Broncos offensive lineman Mark Schlereth says the protection for Peyton Manning will be far better this year.

The Chiefs asked the NFL to schedule their home games around some big events in Kansas City.

John Madden on former Raiders FB Marv Hubbard, who died Monday: “Marv Hubbard was one of the toughest players we ever had. There are people that will have contact and people that won’t have contact but only a few that will have it and really enjoy it. Marv was one of those guys who truly enjoyed the collision. He would look for it.”

Here’s the latest on the Chargers’ possible move north to Carson, California.

Could the Cowboys keep five running backs on their 53-player roster?

The Giants are bringing in a guy who was the subject of some unflattering attention on Hard Knocks last year.

New Eagles WR Nelson Agholor says he’ll work like a guy who has to fight just to make the roster: “I think I understand the way life works. I don’t feel like I’m entitled to anything. . . . Work like a peasant. That’s the mind-set.”

Robert Griffin III got a mixed reception when he showed up to a Washington Nationals game.

Bears undrafted rookie QB Shane Carden is used to proving people wrong.

The Lions are giving a tryout to a car salesman from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Packers TE Kennard Backman is described as athletic and nasty.

Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson is going through workouts from hell to get better this offseason.

The Falcons and Panthers are co-favorites to win the NFC South.

And the Saints are right behind the Falcons and Panthers.

The Bucs expect fourth-round LB Kwon Alexander to make an immediate impact.

The Cardinals think they drafted some blue-collar players. (Does anyone ever draft white-collar players?)

Rams coach Jeff Fisher says his offensive line is fine, which one St. Louis columnist calls “utter nonsense.”

Trent Baalke says the 49ers will always take a “best player available” approach to the draft.

The Seahawks are the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

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Eagles first-rounder Nelson Agholor says he’ll “work like a peasant”

Draft Eagles Football AP

First-round pick Nelson Agholor wasn’t an Eagle long before he met Troy Robinson, a janitor at the Eagles training center. In fact, coach Chip Kelly had Robinson pose for photos with him, as a tribute to the background that got him to this place, at this time.

Agholor’s father, a Nigerian immigrant, works as a janitor at the University of South Florida. And the workmanlike traits were clearly passed down to his son.

“I think I understand the way life works,” Agholor said, via Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I don’t feel like I’m entitled to anything. . . .

Work like a peasant. That’s the mind-set.”

His father worked many jobs, sometimes riding a bike between them since he couldn’t afford a car. His mother worked at a nursing home. And Agholor and his four siblings saw every day how they worked to provide for the family.

“My parents have raised us to be very humble and to understand everything in life you have to earn,” Agholor said.

That’s a lesson coaches don’t mind hearing from their players, particularly first-round picks.

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Buccaneers to have up-tempo offense

Koetter AP

To those concerned about Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston possibly not being in shape, the pace of his new team’s offense could result in plenty of extra exercise.

Via, tackle Demar Dotson said Tuesday that the new system under coordinator Dirk Koetter (pictured) will move quickly.

“[He’s a] guy that just, you know, he loves, loves fast tempo, loves to get the ball up field,” Dotson said regarding the successor to Jeff Tedford.  “He loves to go a lot of no-huddle.  That’s going to be something that’s more different than what we’re used to.  So it’s going to be a lot of up-tempo stuff.  So that’s something he loves doing.  It’s got its ups and downs, but I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

Last year, the Bucs lost Jeff Tedford to health reasons not long before the start of the season, plunging the offense into disarray.  As former Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown has previously told PFT Live, teams have backup quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers — but they don’t have backup offensive coordinators.

This year, the Bucs presumably will have Koetter for the entire season.  Which, regardless of personnel, should help the team be more competitive.

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Add Panthers guard to list of players making a pitch for La’el Collins

Trai Turner AP

The Dolphins aren’t the only team whose players are recruiting La’El Collins (even if the team technically can’t at the moment).

Panthers guard Trai Turner told fans on Twitter he was “doing my best” to talk his former college teammate into signing with the Panthers.

According to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers are “playing it safe until there’s a clear resolution” of the situation involving the double murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Police have questioned him, and said he’s still not a suspect, which is a step short of saying he’s cleared.

That seems to be the stance of most teams, though the Chargers have admitted they’re looking into it, and the Giants are reportedly in the mix as well.

The Bills and Dolphins were the first two names linked, and a group of former LSU players went to Baton Rouge to see him as well, ostensibly for recruiting purposes.

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Emmitt Smith says the Cowboys are fine at running back

McFadden Getty Images

When you hear Jerry Jones talk about the Cowboys family, and their great support system, maybe he means having his former players prop up his questionable decisions.

Just as Hall of Famer Charles Haley has defended the acquisitions of both their dubious pass-rushers, now Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith is taking his turn, saying the group of running backs they’ve assembled isn’t so bad.

The Cowboys let the league’s leading rusher walk out the door in free agency, as DeMarco Murray landed in Philadelphia. Then they failed to draft one.

That leaves them with the enigma that is Darren McFadden, along with Joseph Randle to keep their running game going.

“Darren McFadden, that is a running back you have to respect. You have to remember he played out in Oakland. Oakland doesn’t have what the Cowboys have,” Smith said during an interview on 105.3 FM, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Having an offensive line, and a quarterback like Tony Romo, and some receivers, and a system that makes some doggone sense, he can become a better running back in this system.

“And [with backup running back Joseph] Randle, you can have a nice one-two punch. The one thing with McFadden, if he gets some of those running lanes that I saw DeMarco have last year, and it’s on — he can take it to the house.”

Last year was the first time McFadden played all 16 games, and he managed 534 yards, at a Richardsonian 3.4-yards per carry clip.

Smith may be right. McFadden might finally stay healthy, and he might finally deliver on the promise that caused the Raiders to take him fourth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft.

And Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory might stop making bad decisions long enough to make a prophet of Charles Haley, too.

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Titus Young sentenced to five years probation, inpatient treatment

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Former Lions wide receiver Titus Young pleaded no contest to a felony battery charge last month, which opened up the possibility of three years in jail for someone who has spent the last few years in and out of custody.

Young was sentenced on Tuesday and avoided that time behind bars. Young was sentenced to five years probation and a year of inpatient treatment and therapy. Young has been at the Crosby Center in California receiving that treatment for the last three months and the center’s director and one of his psychologists testified on his behalf at the sentencing hearing.

They testified that Young had been misdiagnosed and mistreated as schizophrenic and bipolar and that they’ve seen better results since he’s come to be under their care.

“We’re not seeing the irritability, the anger, the acting out, the violence,” Dr. Robert Knol said, via the Detroit Free Press. “We have seen cooperation. We have seen a genuine investment in all forms of his treatment, both in individual sessions and group sessions. We’re very optimistic. I predict we’ll all celebrate the restructure of a fine young man.”

Young’s restructure would come too late to salvage an NFL career, but not too late to stop him from doing harm to himself or others. We hope that his continued treatment leads to that result.

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