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Surprise: College coach says Clowney should play in college

Steve Spurrier AP

There are many people who think South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is taking a huge risk by playing his junior season, since he’s ineligible to enter the NFL draft.

As you might imagine, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, whose mortgage payment rides on the backs of unpaid interns such as Clowney, disagrees.

Clowney himself scoffed at the notion, tweeting “I’m playing lol,” but Spurrier told Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal Constitution he thought the suggestion was off-base.

“Well, I hope he plays this year, and I certainly believe he should play,” Spurrier said. “Now if money was his only goal in life, then he couldn’t play. And he might not get into a car before next year’s draft, so he wouldn’t be in a car wreck and get injured. He would be just very, very careful for a year not to have any kind of injury.

“But Jadeveon likes football. Football players play football. They don’t wait around on this, that or the other. He’s really good about avoiding injuries and so forth. He knows how to get out of harm’s way if there’s a big pileup around a tackle. I think the odds of him getting hurt as not nearly as much as a running back or somebody like that.

“I think he wants to play. I certainly hope and believe he does. I think he should play for South Carolina this season.”

Spurrier said the reaction in the media was understandable, given that it’s the offseason (what are we supposed to talk about, basketball?). But he also disputed the idea that Clowney’s financial security (which he’d enjoy by being a top-five pick, if not higher) was the most important element.

“Most of the guys that say he should sit out, they don’t realize the benefits of being on a college football team, and continuing with your teammates to have as big of a year as you possibly can,” Spurrier said. “The money is going to be there down the road, so why would a person give up the thrill of playing college football?

“Those people have never played football, so they say he should sit out and get the money. That’s the only side of sports they see — the money. There’s a lot more to it than just the money.”

All that’s easy for Spurrier to say, because he keeps getting paid even when Marcus Lattimore’s knee gets turned into spaghetti.

And while there are good and noble intentions for wanting a young man to stay in school, the financial reality is that Clowney is gambling millions on the proposition that his luck is good enough to avoid injury.

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Terry McDonough to get second interview with 49ers

McDonough2MAIN

While many have pulled out, the 49ers do still have candidates for their General Manager opening.

According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Cardinals executive Terry McDonough is expected to have his second interview with the 49ers Saturday.

And since Saturday is the day Falcons offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting Kyle Shanahan can talk to the 49ers, that meeting will presumably take place in Atlanta.

McDonough, the Cardinals vice president of player personnel, has gotten an endorsement from former 49ers coach Mike Nolan, and is one of few known remaining candidates.

Minnesota’s George Paton is also still apparently in the mix, though the Colts want to talk to him as well.

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Johnny Manziel is done with Twitter “distraction”

johnny-manziel.vresize.1200.675.high.90 Getty Images

Not long after former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel sent the President of the United States some advice about social media via social media, he deleted his social media account.

Now, he says he got out of the Twitter business because it was a “distraction” for him as he tries to get back to the NFL.

“Twitter has been nothing but a distraction for me. I’ve said all I can say,” Manziel told TMZ Sports. “Now I need to shut the hell up and work on bettering myself and my situation.”

This came after tweeting at President Donald Trump with the suggestion to forego the notifications, saying it “will drive you crazy.”

Manziel has said he’s sober and wants another chance to get back into the league. And while getting rid of Twitter doesn’t necessarily move him closer to that goal, it could at least reduce one factor which could might slow that progress.

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Bill Belichick: Falcons look faster than almost every team they play

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Vic Beasley Jr. #44 celebrates a sack with Grady Jarrett #97 of the Atlanta Falcons during the first half against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on January 1, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots haven’t faced the Falcons since the 2013 season and Atlanta’s team has changed considerably since they lost to the Patriots 30-23 on their way to a 4-12 season.

Belichick outlined one of the biggest differences he sees in this year’s Falcons team when he fielded a question about the stamp Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff has put on the team. After noting that he worked with Dimitroff’s father when both men were with the Browns and with Dimitroff when he was in charge of college scouting in New England, Belichick noted Atlanta is “explosive offensively” and pointed to how fast the Falcons are playing on defense.

“I’d say the stamp on the team, the thing that I would notice the most is just the speed, the team speed that the Falcons have,” Belichick said during a conference call. “They have a lot of fast guys. Defensively they close up space very quickly. Their linebackers run well. Their defensive line, although they have a couple of big, strong, physical guys in there, overall they have usually nine or 10 players on the field that I would say are fast. They’re either as fast or faster than probably what the average speed of their position is in the league. I’d say that’s a big stamp that he has put on the team.”

Later in the call, Belichick said that he saw similarities between the Falcons defense and the one Dan Quinn ran when he was the defensive coordinator with the Seahawks. That unit hasn’t posted the same kind of results as the Seattle one did on their way to a 28-24 loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl two years ago, but they’ll get a chance at gaining a better result in Houston.

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Colts ask for permission to talk to Eliot Wolf about G.M. job

Mike McCarthy, Eliot Wolf AP

Eliot Wolf got another raise out of the Packers after pulling out of the running for the 49ers job. He may be about to parlay a surprise opening into another one.

According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today, the Colts have asked for permission to interview Wolf for the job formerly held by Ryan Grigson.

The Packers blocked the 34-year-old Wolf from interviewing with the Lions last offseason, but that’s reasonable considering their presence in the same division.

It’s also reasonable to wonder if they’ll be talking to Wolf’s co-worker Brian Gutekunst as well, since he also interviewed with the 49ers.

The Colts are also expected to interview the Seattle tandem of Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, along with Minnesota’s George Paton and internal candidate Jimmy Raye III.

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Saints angering teams by taking Senior Bowl players off site for interviews

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We have our first mildly interesting story to emerge from Senior Bowl week.

Per multiple sources, the Saints have been taking Senior Bowl players off site for interviews. This has been rubbing other teams the wrong way because it takes time to get the players off site, interview them, and bring them back. With limited total time for the interviews, that makes it hard for every team to interview every player it wants to interview.

As one source explained it, many of the players become confused when they are driven away, but they don’t know to say no.

The Saints aren’t breaking any rules, and some of the blame should go to the folks running the Senior Bowl for letting it happen. Regardless, teams aren’t happy about it, and if that’s the biggest problem to emerge from the week in Mobile, Alabama, it’s not a bad week.

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It’s time for the Steelers to get their next starting quarterback under contract

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks with his teammates on the sideline during the second half against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

At a time when it’s fair to explore the message being sent by the Steelers via the leaks regarding Antonio Brown, it’s more than appropriate for the Steelers to explore the message being sent by the comments from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s regarding his future.

In not committing automatically to a return in 2017, the soon-to-be-35-year-old quarterback said, given his age, “that’s the smart and prudent thing to do every year.”

Signed through 2019, Roethlisberger would be walking away from $12 million in 2017, $17 million in 2018, and $17 million in 2019. Perhaps most importantly, he’d owe the team $18.6 million if he quits now, $12.4 million a year from now, and $6.2 million in 2019 in signing bonus money that previously was paid to him.

For that reason alone, it’s unlikely that he’ll be leaving. Nevertheless, the Steelers need to start thinking immediately about a replacement.

For 20 years, the Steelers had a revolving door at quarterback between the careers of Terry Bradshaw and Roethlisberger. They went to only one Super Bowl during that window.

Franchise quarterbacks are very hard to find, especially when a team typically drafts in the bottom half of round one. Still, it’s time for the Steelers to fully evaluate all quarterbacks in each and every draft and decide whether and when to pull the trigger on a Roethlisberger replacement.

Roethlisberger may not like the decision to use a first- or second-round pick on a quarterback. Based on his comments from Tuesday, however, he has no basis for complaining.

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Steelers bring Karlos Williams back for another chance

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Karlos Williams #29 of the Buffalo Bills avoids Demario Davis #56 of the New York Jets to score a third quarter touchdown at MetLife Stadium on November 12, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Now that there’s some mystery about whether the Steelers will have a Big Ben in their future, they can at least take comfort in having a Big Karlos under contract.

The team announced that they signed 11 players to future contracts Tuesday, including large running back Karlos Williams.

Williams was cut by the Bills last summer after showing up for camp out of shape, blaming his condition on sympathy pounds gained with his pregnant fiancee. But he lost weight and gained it back, and they cut him and went on to lead the league in rushing.

When he’s been in shape Williams has been productive, averaging 5.6 yards per carry and scoring seven touchdowns in 2015. Williams was also suspended 10 games by the league in November for a second violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, but the Steelers apparently saw fit to give him another chance anyway. According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the remainder of his suspension has been lifted by the league.

The Steelers also signed nine other players who spent time on their practice squad this season, including running backs Gus Johnson, Brandon Brown-Dukes, and Dreamius Smith, cornerbacks Brandon Dixon and Mike Hilton, offensive linemen Keavon Milton and Matt Feiler, safety Jacob Hagen, and wide receiver Marcus Tucker. They also added former Packers practice squad wide receiver Dez Stewart.

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Mike Tomlin not surprised Ben Roethlisberger is thinking of retiring

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Head coach Mike Tomlin speaks with Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the New England Patriots during the second quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s comment today that he is considering retirement came as a surprise to some people, but not to coach Mike Tomlin.

Tomlin told reporters today that he wants to keep coaching Roethlisberger but will understand if the soon-to-be 35-year-old Roethlisberger decides to walk away.

“Ben said it so you do take it seriously. I’m not alarmed by it, that’s football. Obviously, I’m hopeful he returns,” Tomlin said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Not surprised by that thought process by Ben. We’ll react and plan accordingly. We haven’t met yet. He’s one of last I meet with.”

Although Roethlisberger is still a good starting quarterback, given his age it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see him quit this offseason. Tomlin said the Steelers will plan accordingly for the possibility that they’ll be building a new offense with a new quarterback in 2017.

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Philip Rivers ends search for AFC’s final Pro Bowl quarterback

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers runs off the field after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 37-27 in a game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL had a hard time finding a quarterback to join the AFC team at this week’s Pro Bowl, but their search has come to an end.

Philip Rivers of the Chargers will take the spot vacated by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this week. Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian were previously invited, but recent surgeries meant they had to turn down the opportunity to go to Orlando.

Rivers was the one turning down an invitation the last two years as injuries and personal reasons led him to pass on a chance to play in the annual exhibition. He has played in three other Pro Bowls.

He will join Andy Dalton and Alex Smith in an all-replacement quarterback group for the AFC. Tom Brady and Derek Carr joined Roethlisberger as those initially named for the contest.

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Brandon Spikes sued by Fish Guy

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 28:  Brandon Spikes #51 of the Buffalo Bills warms up before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Getty Images

Everywhere Brandon Spikes turns up, animals seem to end up dying. And this one could again cost him a few real bucks.

According to Melinda Miller of the Buffalo News, the Bills linebacker has been sued by The Fish Guy of Framingham, Mass. for $4,045 worth of care for his tropical fish, some of which did not survive the move to Buffalo.

According to lawsuit filed by Joshua Wolfson (The Fish Guy in question), Spikes did not pay for taking care of his fish, and after two years, he got a court order to garnish Spikes’ wages.

Spikes’ lawyer countered by saying that since some of the fish died upon moving to Buffalo, because Wolfson sold him a $8,000 tank which “proved to be inadequate for the type and number of tropical fish owned by Mr. Spikes.”

Lawyer Thomas Bender also mentioned “the almost instantaneous death” of other fish when Spikes hired Wolfson to move his fish when he was playing for the Patriots.

Spikes’ time with the Patriots ended after he was involved in a hit-and-run incident in which his car was found abandoned, leaving damage which he claimed was caused by hitting a deer. Of course, they never found the deer.

The veteran linebacker is a free agent this offseason. It seems unlikely the Dolphins will be signing him. At least if they know what’s good for them.

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Ben Roethlisberger to evaluate “if there’s going to be a next season”

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts against the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gave an interesting answer on Tuesday to a question about how much longer he thinks he will be playing in the NFL.

During an appearance on “The Cook and Poni Show” on 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger said he didn’t know how much longer he’d be playing and stopped short of confirming that he would be returning for the 2017 season.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

Roethlisberger was asked a follow up to confirm that he was considering not playing anymore which drew a laugh and a repeat of his feeling that it was prudent to evaluate. He said he wants to walk away from his career rather than get carted off and said “head injuries are always a big thing” when discussing some of the things he’d be considering.

Roethlisberger is signed for three more years under an extension signed in 2015 that came with a $31 million signing bonus. Retiring could lead him to pay back some of that bonus while also foregoing $46 million in salary and bonus as well as escalators in the final two years that could lead to a higher payout.

Those are plenty of reasons to keep playing and a tough loss to the Patriots may be coloring his thoughts, but Roethlisberger says, for now, that he’s not sure of anything.

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Steelers may be sending the rest of the league a message about Antonio Brown

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts during the second half against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Last week’s ominous remarks from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin may have been more than a warning to Antonio Brown; they may have been the first step in baiting the hook to trade the star receiver.

“That’s often why you see great players move from team to team,” Tomlin said in the wake of Brown’s Facebook Live fiasco. “Don’t want that to happen to Antonio Brown.”

Maybe Tomlin does. The recent leak to NFL Network reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala, who is embedded with the Steelers, that the team believes Brown cares too much about his statistics and that he was “pouting” after the first touchdown of Sunday’s loss to the Patriots could be regarded as a deliberate effort by the team to slide Brown toward the trading block.

Brown has one year left on a contract that he has outperformed. After the Steelers slid money from 2016 to 2015 and from 2017 to 2016, Brown now expects a market-value deal.

Before the Steelers consider that, why not see whether another team makes a call? Six years ago, the Steelers unloaded Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes after the league imposed a four-game suspension under the substance-abuse policy. While Brown has gotten in no trouble away from the field, the Facebook Live incident coupled with team-leaked concerns about Brown’s willingness to put personal goals behind team goals could be enough to prompt the team to give the tree a mild shake and see what happens.

Don’t be shocked if the Steelers issue a public denial of the report from a media outlet that the Steelers partially own, since they may end up having to continue the relationship with Brown. Even if they do, the message apparently is sent: If you’re interested in Antonio Brown, make an offer.

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Bills hire David Culley as quarterbacks coach

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 16:  Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers coach David Culley talks with Santana Moss #89 of the Washington Redskins before a game at FedExField on October 16, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills hired Rick Dennison as their offensive coordinator last week and they added someone to his staff on Tuesday.

The team announced that David Culley will be their quarterbacks coach. The move represents a change of responsibilities as well as a change in teams for Culley.

He spent the last four years as the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach with the Chiefs. Culley followed Andy Reid to Kansas City from Philadelphia, where he coached the Eagles wide receivers from 1999-2012. He’s also coached wideouts with the Buccaneers and Steelers.

He’s reportedly going to be replaced in Kansas City by Greg Lewis, who played for Culley with the Eagles.

Culley will be working with 2016 fourth-round pick Cardale Jones. The rest of the quarterback group is less certain as EJ Manuel is headed for free agency and Tyrod Taylor, the starter for the last two years, may not have his contract option exercised due to over $30 million in guaranteed money that would kick in if it is picked up.

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PFT Live heads to Houston next week

PFTLive

Houston, hello.

Next week, PFT Live heads to Texas for the first time since two inches of ice coated all of Dallas and beyond six years ago. We’ll be broadcasting every day from the media center at Super Bowl LI, and the guest list already is extensive and impressive.

In no particular order, we’ll tentatively be joined by Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Cardinals running back David Johnson, Washington cornerback Josh Norman, Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders, Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David, Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, Lions defensive end Kerry Hyder, Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian, Giants guard Justin Pugh, Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo, Raiders defensive back DJ Hayden, former NFL receiver Chad Johnson, former NFL fullback and FOX broadcaster Moose Johnston, and four Hall of Famers and counting: Marcus Allen, Dan Marino, John Randle, and Aeneas Williams.

Last but hardly least, the Pardon My Take guys, Barstool Big Cat and my Internet son, PFT Commenter, will be on set for what should be a rollicking (and hopefully no more profane than Tom Curran) segment.

If you or one or more of your clients would like to join the extravaganza, let us know. We’ll be on live every day from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. ET and taping segments through the day.

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NFL: Coming out of the pile with the ball doesn’t prove a clear recovery

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks with referee Terry McAulay #77 during the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Patriots appeared to catch a break during the NFC Championship Game when Tom Brady fumbled on a quarterback sneak and Steelers nose tackle Javon Hargrave came out of the pile with it, but the officials ruled it Patriots ball. But the NFL says there’s no replay that can show whether the officials got the call right or wrong, and so they had to stick with the call on the field.

NFL senior V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said in a video released by the league that coming out of the pile with the ball isn’t proof of recovering the ball.

“Brady takes the ball, he sneaks for a first down, the ball is going to come loose,” Blandino said. “Eventually, Pittsburgh is going to come out of the pile. . . . Pittsburgh 79 does have the football. But that is not evidence of a clear recovery.”

As the NFL sees it, it’s possible that the Patriots actually recovered Brady’s fumble and the Steelers only grabbed it after the play was blown dead.

“If we don’t have video evidence of the Pittsburgh player actually controlling and possessing the ball before the pile ensues, we can’t overturn the ruling on the field,” Blandino said. “In that pile, the officials are telling the players, we’ve ruled down by contact. One player may have it, he may listen to the officials and let go, and another player may grab it.”

On the CBS broadcast, Jim Nantz said that referee Terry McAulay had announced a clear recovery by the Steelers. Blandino, however, says McAulay was just announcing that the Steelers were challenging that they had clearly recovered the ball. McAulay was not saying that had been the ruling on the field.

“Pittsburgh challenged that there was a fumble that that they clearly recovered the ball, and that is what the referee announced,” Blandino said. “The referee announced that Pittsburgh challenged that there was a fumble and that they clearly recovered. He wasn’t saying that the officials on the field ruled a clear recovery for Pittsburgh. The officials on the field ruled down by contact. They didn’t rule on the recovery. There was some confusion as to the announcement, as to the referee saying clear recovery, but all he was saying was what Pittsburgh thought the ruling on the field should have been.”

So while the officials wrongly ruled Brady down by contact when he had actually fumbled, in the NFL’s view, there wasn’t a clear mistake that replay could have fixed.

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