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Ray Lewis once again dances around issue of Super Bowl XXXIV murders

Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers Getty Images

When attending the Super Bowl, it’s difficult to watch much/any of the pregame coverage.

There’s a specific portion of the Super Bowl XLVII pregame coverage that was difficult to watch for other reasons.

As the network televising the game, CBS had an opportunity to conduct a one-on-one interview of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.  And the assignment predictably went to Shannon Sharpe.  Not only was Sharpe a former teammate of Ray’s in Baltimore, but Sharpe also was the teammate who loudly defended Lewis in the days preceding the Super Bowl they won together, a year after Lewis was accused of double murder following Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta.

CBS knew that the network would be killed (no pun intended) if Sharpe avoided the murder case entirely.  So Sharpe raised it, but he also slow-pitched a softball question on the subject.

Said Sharpe, “A couple of weeks ago, the family of the incident in 2000 — and I’m paraphrasing — but it goes something like this:  ‘While Ray Lewis is being celebrated by millions, two men tragically and brutally died in Atlanta.  Ray Lewis knows more than Ray Lewis ever shared.'”

The obvious question should have been, “Ray, what happened that night?”  But that’s where Sharpe flipped an underhand eephus to Ray.  Instead of being direct on the still-unknown issue of what transpired, Sharpe gave Lewis an open-ended question that allowed the subject of the interview to dictate its content.

“What would you like to say to the families?” Sharpe asked.

“It’s simple, you know,” Lewis said.  “God has never made a mistake.  That’s just who He is, you see?  And if our system — this is the sad thing about our system — if our system took the time to really investigate what happened 13 years ago, maybe they would have got to the bottom-line truth.  But the saddest thing ever was that a man looked me in my face and told me, ‘We know you didn’t do this, but you’re going down for it anyway.'”  (Actually, something much closer to “the saddest thing ever” is the two dead guys.)

“To the family, if you knew — if you really knew — the way God works, He don’t use people who commits anything like that for His glory,” Lewis said.  “No way.  It’s the total opposite.”

Whoa.  Time out.  Is Lewis saying that the fact that he went on to win a pair of Super Bowls and to become a great football player means he necessarily didn’t do anything wrong?  That bad men never rise to positions of prominence and public praise?

Ray needs to read a few history books.  Or maybe just one.  For centuries, murderers and maniacs have become kings and emperors.  They have enjoyed plenty of glory, to the detriment of the objectives of God.

Ray also incorrectly assumes that glory bestowed by man equates to true glory from God.  Time and again, I wrestle with the notion that God cares about the outcome of a football game.  Maybe I’m too much of a cynic.

Or maybe I’m simply on constant watch for false prophets while covering a sport that could easily give rise to them.

Consider Matthew 7:20-23.  “[Y]ou will know the false prophets by what they do.  Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do.  When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God’s message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’  Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you.  Get away from me, you wicked people!'”

I’m not saying Ray is a false prophet.  I’m just saying that his suggestion that success in football constitutes proof of his innocence is one of the absolute strangest things I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

Sharpe then pointed out that Lewis paid a financial settlement to both families.

“The one thing that I said that, because my name was used the wrong way, money is the last thing I’m worrying about,” Lewis said.  “But if money will help those kids out — and not just those kids — any kid that I can help, any family that I can support, I support.  So don’t just take that family and say, ‘I gave money to that family.’  Because I’ve gave money to thousands of families, time and time again, just to find a different way to help someone through a rough time.”

Ray’s words do what the lawyers in the crowd would call “opening the door.”  In all fairness, he should now authorize the release of every pleading, order, deposition transcript, and other document created via the litigation that resulted in what he’s now describing as an act of charity.  If he paid those families simply out of a sense of altruism that has prompted him to help “thousands” of other families, why did he have to be sued and questioned under oath and pursued through a court process before he agreed to pay?

And how much did he pay?

And what did he say under oath when asked the question his friend and former teammate failed to pose:  “Ray, what happened that night?”

Ray, what happened that night?

To his credit, Boomer Esiason of CBS expressed instant skepticism after the interview concluded.  “It’s a complex legacy that we’re talking about here,” Boomer said.  “This is a guy that was involved –”

“How’s it complex?” Sharpe said, interrupting Esiason with a clearly defensive tone.

“Well, I’ll tell you,” Boomer said.  “Because he was involved in a double murder.  And I’m not so sure that he gave us all the answer that we were looking for.  He knows what went on there.  And he can obviously just come out and say it.  He doesn’t want to say it.  He paid off the families.  I get all that.  That’s fine.  But that doesn’t take away from who he is as a football player.  And I appreciate you going down there and asking him that direct question.  I’m not so sure I buy the answer.”

We don’t buy it, either.  But the question wasn’t nearly as direct as it should have been.

Ray, what happened that night?

Now that football season is over, we’ve got plenty of time to wait for an answer.

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Sunday morning one-liners

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Cornerback Jason Verrett #22 of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball after an interception during the second half  of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G Aiken/Getty Images) Getty Images

Changing offensive coordinators takes an excuse off the table for the Bills.

The Dolphins defense didn’t have much tape on Browns QB Cody Kessler as a professional to watch heading into Sunday.

The Patriots don’t mind the extended break after playing on Thursday.

There haven’t been any signs of Jets RB Matt Forte’s age thus far.

The Ravens have tried to keep last year’s finish against the Jaguars off their minds.

A roundtable’s worth of Bengals predictions for their game against the Broncos.

What will be the deciding factors for the Browns on Sunday?

The Steelers like their punters Australian.

Texans wide receivers struggled in Thursday’s loss to the Patriots.

The Colts could really use a win on Sunday.

S Tashaun Gipson expects the Ravens to test the Jaguars deep on Sunday.

Five questions for the Titans to answer against the Raiders.

The Broncos pass rush will try to throw Andy Dalton off in Sunday’s game.

Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill’s is showing why the team drafted him despite serious off-field red flags.

S Karl Joseph has made his way into the Raiders lineup.

CB Jason Verrett has become a leader on the Chargers defense.

The Cowboys haven’t won at home in a while.

Harry Carson thinks this year’s Giants defense can be a special one.

A look at the Eagles’ running back rotation.

A call for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins to relax.

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is on the spot with the Bears.

Injuries are a challenge for the Lions right now.

CB Sam Shields may miss a few more Packers games.

RB Ronnie Hillman is getting his second NFL chance with the Vikings.

Former Falcons P Michael Koenen was on the other side of the most famous blocked punt in Saints history.

The Panthers will be replacing their top running back on Sunday while dealing with replacement backs on the Vikings side defensively.

Any spot on the Saints offensive line is fine with Andrus Peat.

The Buccaneers are still filtering out the bad in QB Jameis Winston’s game.

No Cardinals players have jerseys among the top 10 in sales.

Rams offensive Rob Boras isn’t sleeping much these days.

Are the 49ers catching the Seahawks at a good time?

The Seahawks have done well against 49ers coach Chip Kelly in the past.

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Report: Sammy Watkins won’t play on Sunday

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:  Marquise Goodwin #88 of the Buffalo Bills and  Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half against the New York Jets at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

On Friday, coach Rex Ryan said it didn’t look good. On Saturday, the player declared that he is “[r]eady to go out there and compete at the highest level.”

Sammy Watkins has since deleted his tweet.

The deletion means what it implies; Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Watkins won’t be active, due to a lingering foot problem. He didn’t practice this week because of the injury, which apparently was exaggerated when someone stepped on the foot during a recent walk-through.

Marquise Goodwin, who got behind Darrelle Revis in Week Two for an 84-yard touchdown pass, gets the start. Robert Woods becomes the de facto No. 1 receiver.

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Alshon Jeffery good to go tonight

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 11: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears is tacklred by Bradley Roby #29 of the Denver Broncos after a catch at Soldier Field on August 11, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery is officially listed as questionable for tonight’s game against the Cowboys, but he’s good to go.

Multiple reports say Jeffery will play despite a knee injury.

Jeffery has been the lone bright spot on the Bears’ offense this season, with nine catches for 201 yards on a team that has otherwise been unimpressive offensively.

It’s still unknown who will be throwing to Jeffery, but it’s expected to be backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, as starter Jay Cutler is doubtful with a thumb injury.

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Terron Armstead, Delvin Breaux out for Monday night

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 15: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints passes while tackle Terron Armstead #72 of the New Orleans Saints blocks against the Washington Redskins in the second quarter at FedExField on November 15, 2015 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

As they try to get their first win of the season, the Saints will be missing a pair of starters on Monday night.

Tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and cornerback Delvin Breaux (fibula) are both out.

Several other Saints are questionable: defensive tackle Tyeler Davison (shoulder, foot), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (quadricep), tight end Josh Hill (ankle), defensive end Cameron Jordan (knee), receiver Willie Snead (toe), and safety Kenny Vaccaro (ankle).

Snead told reporters on Saturday that he’ll see how the toe injury feels on Monday.

“I just want to be healthy for the year,” Snead said. “I want it to be gone, and just make sure it’s taken care of.”

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18 games still not a consideration for NFLPA

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 7:    Jermaine Cunningham #96 and  Chandler Jones #95 of the New England Patriots rough up  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after he released a pass during the second half at Gillette Stadium on October 7, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

There’s a belief in league circles that the NFL: (1) still wants to expand the regular season to 18 games; (2) knows it can’t ask the players to expand the regular season to 18 games because of the safety considerations involved; and (3) hopes to entice the players to offer an expansion to 18 games in order to secure other concessions, like neutral arbitrations and a bigger piece of the financial pie.

If that’s the plan, the NFL Players Association doesn’t seem to be inclined to take the bait.

“I just can’t imagine a world where you add two more regular season games at the end of a brutal season that we have,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said on Friday’s PFT Live. “Certainly there’s been no proposal from the owners about increasing roster sizes or doing anything else to make sure that players’ health and safety is first and foremost. I mean look we are still in the middle of or the beginning of an investigation about how doctors handled the concussion protocol for the first game of the season and it seems to me that if you can’t successfully pull off a Hall of Fame game and you have what appears to be enough evidence to convince both parties to conduct an investigation of the concussion protocol, [it’s] probably not the right time to think about adding two regular season games.”

While hardly a kicking open of the door, Smith didn’t slam the door shut and barricade it with furniture. And that’s a smart play. If the NFL is willing to make major concessions and increase roster sizes and take other steps aimed at making the game safer for all players, maybe 18 games can happen. Smith’s point is that plenty of other issues need to be addressed before a two-game expansion of the regular season would be even a possibility.

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Julio Jones questionable, but he says he’ll play

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates with Matt Ryan #2 after a 21-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Officially, Falcons receiver Julio Jones is questionable for Monday night’s game at New Orleans with a calf injury. He didn’t practice on Thursday or Friday, and he participated on a limited basis on Saturday. He nevertheless says he’ll play.

Yes, yes I’ll play Monday night,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t chance it if I didn’t [feel like I was ready]. If I felt like I was going to overcompensate or something else was going to get tore up or it was going to get worse or anything like that. I’m good, I’ve been getting great treatment, therapy and rest — it’s the key.”

Out for the Falcons are linebacker Paul Worrilow (groin) and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (ankle). All other Falcons are good to go for Monday night.

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Patriots in limbo at quarterback position

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts on the sideline during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jimmy Garoppolo has a shoulder injury. Jacoby Brissett has a thumb injury. Tom Brady has one game remaining on his suspension.

So what will the Patriots do at quarterback in Week Four against the Bills?

For now, they’re not saying — as if they ever say anything. T.J. Yates had a workout last week and Sean Renfree visited; one of them could be added, either to serve as the backup next Sunday, or possibly to start.

Few other options exist, if neither Garoppolo nor Brissett can play. Unless they intend to give Julian Edelman a crash course in a position he hasn’t played since college at Kent State, they’ll need to add someone else, if there’s any doubt that either of the two quarterbacks currently on the roster will be ready in eight days.

Whatever they do, coach Bill Belichick will have a plan, and chances are it will work.

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Signs not pointing to Sammy Watkins playing

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15:   Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills gets upended by  Calvin Pryor #25 of the New York Jets  during the second half at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) Getty Images

He’s listed as questionable, which currently means he’s at worst a 50-50 proposition to play. However, coach Rex Ryan made it sound like receiver Sammy Watkins is more doubtful than questionable.

Probably not real good,” Ryan said Friday regarding the likelihood Watkins will play, via Nick Veronica of the Buffalo News. “But we’ll see. If he feels good and he’s up to it, we’ll put him in there.”

Complicating matters is that someone stepped on Watkins’ injured foot during a walk-through this week. He had surgery on the foot during the offseason.

Watkins has six catches for 63 yards and no touchdowns in two games this season.

UPDATE 8:38 p.m. ET: And within 15 minutes of this item being posted, Watkins tweeted that he is “[r]eady to go out there and compete at the highest level.”

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With Antonio Gates doubtful, Chargers call up a tight end

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 28: Harrison Smith #22 of the Minnesota Vikings tackles Hunter Henry #86 of the San Diego Chargers during the first quarter of the game on August 28, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chargers  tight end Antonio Gates is doubtful for Sunday’s game at Indianapolis, with a hamstring injury. In anticipation of Gates not playing, the Chargers have added another tight end to the active roster.

The Chargers promoted Asante Cleveland from the practice squad. To create a spot for Cleveland, the Chargers waived running back Andre Williams.

With Gates unlikely to play, rookie Hunter Henry should get plenty of reps and plenty of opportunities to catch passes from Philip Rivers.

Henry has only one catch in two targets. That likely will change on Sunday, if as it appears Gates doesn’t play.

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Lions cut Aaron Dobson to make room for a linebacker

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 27:   Aaron Dobson #17 of the New England Patriots makes a catch with pressure from  Peyton Thompson #25 of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third quarter at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

Aaron Dobson’s stint as a Lion was a short one.

The Lions, who signed Dobson on Tuesday, announced that they waived him today.

With two linebackers, DeAndre Levy and Antwione Williams, ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Packers, the Lions had a bigger need at that position. So they signed linebacker Zaviar Gooden to the active roster from the practice squad and waived Dobson to create a roster spot for Gooden.

Dobson, the former Patriots receiver, could return to Detroit once the Lions have a spot for him on their roster.

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Twitter’s NFL stream won’t build momentum in Week Four

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Twitter scored an impressive 34-percent increase in average viewership for its live stream of Thursday Night Football from Week Two to Week Three.

For Week Four, count on a 100-percent drop.

The game between the Dolphins and Bengals will be televised only by NFL Network. As a result, it won’t be streamed on Twitter.

That was the arrangement from the get-go, with Twitter streaming only the games televised on NFLN and CBS or NBC.

The exclusivity of the broadcast relates directly to NFL Network’s arrangements with cable and satellite providers. The ability to charge the rate the NFL currently receives hinges on having a certain amount of game content.

This means that, during those weeks when games are televised by NFLN only, they won’t be available on Twitter. Which will make it hard to develop viewing habits on Twitter — and which undoubtedly will result in plenty of complaints from users who dial up Twitter on Thursday night in search of Dolphins-Bengals but can’t find it.

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Jeff Fisher won’t say which quarterback will be inactive

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Jeff Fisher of the Los Angeles Rams attends warm ups before the start of the home opening NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Coliseum on September 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Getty Images

Prior to Week One against the 49ers, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said rookie quarterback Jared Goff would be inactive. Prior to Week Two against the Seahawks, Fisher said Goff would be active.

Prior to Week Three at Tampa, Fisher’s not saying anything.

“Don’t know yet,” Fisher told reporters on Friday. “Have to wait and see. . . . Come to the game.”

Fisher has decided that one of the quarterbacks will be inactive. It will be Goff or Sean Mannion.

The decision to suddenly be circumspect could be a sign that Fisher is thinking about using his second quarterback, if starter Case Keenum can’t get the offense into the end zone. Through two games, the Rams have yet to score a touchdown.

There’s no guarantee Goff would be the next man up. Mannion earned the No. 2 spot on the depth chart before the season began; if Fisher gets fed up with Keenum, Mannion could get a chance to play before Goff would be pressed into service. Once Goff is on the field, it will be hard to bench him for Mannion or Keenum, given the move the Rams made to the top of the draft to get him.

Regardless, if the Bucs are inclined to prepare for a second quarterback on Sunday, they won’t know who that will be until 90 minutes before kickoff.

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Cutler makes the trip, but Bears downgrade two

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 18:  Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass during the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 18, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan.  The Lions defeated the Bears 37-34 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Injured quarterback Jay Cutler made the trip, but the Bears announced Saturday that running back Kadeem Carey and nose tackle Eddie Goldman did not make the trip and will not play Sunday night at Dallas.

All three had been listed as doubtful. Cutler suffered a thumb injury in last Monday’s game vs. the Eagles and did not practice all week.

Brian Hoyer is the presumed starting quarterback vs. the Cowboys.

Goldman, the Bears’ starting nose tackle, is one of several players who was injured in last week’s game. The Bears still list nine players as questionable, including wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, guard Josh Sitton, right tackle Bobby Massie, safety Adrian Amos and linebacker Willie Young.

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Elway on Osweiler: The deals you don’t make at times are the best

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 22:  Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans reacts during the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Getty Images

Brock Osweiler looked like anything but an $18 million per year quarterback on Thursday night as the Texans were shut out in New England, and the guy who nearly signed him for not much less than that noticed.

“A lot of times those deals you don’t make are the best ones,” Broncos executive V.P. of football operations and G.M. John Elway told Dave Logan and Susie Wargin of KOA radio on Friday.

Though Elway was responding to specific question and had a lighthearted tone, he said what he said, and it’ll be interesting to see what Osweiler and the Texans eventually have to say about that.

“Obviously it was a tough night for Houston last night and — but things move on,” Elway added. “You try to make the best decision when you have to make it. . . . Excluding last night, we really felt good with the way everything’s fallen, the way we went into camp, and we’re really excited with the guys who are playing the position for us now.”

Osweiler’s replacement, Trevor Siemian, has one touchdown pass and three interceptions in two games, both at home. On Sunday, the Broncos play a true road game for the first time since December 20, a stretch of seven games without having to entire hostile territory.

The Broncos will be in their own back yard on October 24, when Osweiler returns to town with the Texans. Elway’s comments likely will provide extra motivation; based, however, on what happened Thursday night, they’ll need a lot more than motivation to match up with the defending NFL champions.

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Clay Matthews ruled out as Packers downgrade four

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Inside linebacker Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers in action against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers’ defense is ailing heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions.

Green Bay announced today that linebacker Clay Matthews and safety Morgan Burnett have both been ruled out, after previously being listed as doubtful.

The Packers also downgraded two players who were previously listed as questionable — defensive tackle Letroy Guion and linebacker Datone Jones — to doubtful. Players listed as doubtful hardly ever play.

Packers cornerback Sam Shields was already ruled out with a concussion, so Green Bay’s defense is seriously depleted.

Of course, the Lions won’t have any sympathy, as three of their key defensive players are out as well in defensive end Ziggy Ansah and linebackers DeAndre Levy and Antwione Williams.
For the

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