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Full transcript of Manti Te’o interview

Manti Te'o AP

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o made a 15-minute appearance in the media room at NFL Scouting Combine Saturday. Here’s the full transcript of his comments:

Te’o (taking the stage and laughing): “That’s a lot of cameras.”

Q: How are you feeling?

Te’o: “ I’m kind of tired right now. A long day, medical exams. It’s all part of the process.”

Q: Are you tired of answering all the questions about the (fake dead girlfriend) incident?

“Yeah, about the incident, I’ve said all I need to say about that. How I’m handling it going forward is doing what I’m doing, focusing on the moment, focusing on football and the combine. Not everybody gets this opportunity to be here. I’m sure there’s

thousands and thousands of people who would like to be here in Indianapolis. Just trying to enjoy the moment.”

Q: How much have you been asked about it by NFL teams?

Te’o: “Quite a few teams asked me about it. Some go to certain lengths, some just ask me, ‘Just give me a brief overview of how it was’ then they get straight to business.”

Q: Why didn’t you play well in the national championship game?

“That’s because I didn’t. That’s all on me. I played hard and so did my team, but Alabama had a great game plan and so did we. They executed better than we did.”

Q: Was the other situation a distraction to you leading up to that game?

Te’o: “No.”

Q: Any teams not ask you about it?

Te’o: “No (laughs). They all ask me about it.”

Q: What are they asking you?

Te’o: “Just tell me the facts. They want to hear it from me. Just tell them basically what happened.”

Q: Do you think it might hurt you?

Te’o: “That I don’t know. That I don’t know.”

Q: Could you summarize the facts?

Te’o: “Just I care for somebody and that’s what I was taught to do. Ever since I was young if somebody needs help you help them out. Unfortunately it didn’t end up the way I thought it would.”

Q: Why wait so long to say something?

Te’o: “It was just a whirlwind of stuff. A 22-year-old, 21-year old at that time, just trying to get your thoughts right. Everybody was just kind of chaos for a little bit, so you let that chaos die down and wait until everybody’s ready to listen.”

Q: Do you understand people might doubt your version of events because it took you so long?

Te’o: “That I don’t know, people doubting because I took a while to come out. From our point of view we wanted everything to come out first and then have my side come out. The way we did I felt worked best for me. I’m very grateful for those who helped me to get through that time. I felt it went as smoothly as it could.”

Q: Have you gotten a sense from NFL people it might affect you in draft?

Te’o: “No, not really. They’ve told me that, . . . they’ve wanted to hear it from me what the truth was. They haven’t really said anything about it affecting me.

“Some guys just talk briefly for 30 seconds and the next 14 minutes is all plays and getting down to business. That’s how I prefer it to be.”

Q: Do you worry how you’ll be treated in the locker room, trouble assuming a leadership role?

Te’o: “No. I think I’ve learned the difference between the things I can control and the things I can’t control. And hopefully by doing the things I can control well I’ll have more favor in the other category. Whatever team I go to, I’m just going to be me, I’m going to work hard, I’m going to do my best to help the team win. And whatever happens happens.”

Q: Can you believe the fascination like this?

Te’o: “It’s pretty crazy. I’ve been in front of a few cameras, but not as many as this.”

Q: “What about when it came out, every news channel, lead story. You surprised?”

Te’o: “I was. It got overwhelming at times. The hardest part and I’ve said was just to see, not necessarily my first name, but my last name. Everybody here, you treasure your last name. That’s what you hold dear. That’s something that when you pass on, the only thing that stays with you, stays here is your last name. To see your last name everywhere and know I represented my family and all my cousins and aunties and uncles, . . .

Q: Are you prepared to deal with this for the next couple years?

Te’o: “Oh, yeah. For me, I hopefully I’m just looking forward to getting straight to football. I understand people have questions, but I’ve answered everything I could. For me I’d really like to talk about football.”

Q: Had you planned to go to the Senior Bowl, did this change your mind?

Te’o: “No. I didn’t get that far. I was still worrying about the national championship. I didn’t get that far.”

Q: Who are some of the teams you’ve met with?

Te’o: “I’ve met with the Texans and I met with the Packers.”

Q: Why didn’t you attempt to go see a girl you cared so much about?

Te’o: “I did. We made plans, obviously it didn’t work out.”

Q: How many more teams do you expect to talk to and which ones?

Te’o: “I don’t know, I’m not sure. I know I’ll be meeting formally with 18 more teams. I don’t know specifically who they are. I’ll find out soon. I’m meeting with 20 total.”

Q: What are you telling teams you bring to the table as a player?

Te’o: “I think what I bring to the table is a lot of heart, a lot of energy and somebody that works hard. Somebody who hates to lose. I always say, ‘I hate losing more than I love to win.’ The reason why I love to win is because I don’t have to go through that feeling of losing. It’s those times where I lose that feeling that will stick with me. For teams I tell them, ‘You’ll always get somebody who’s humble, works hard, doesn’t say much and will do everything it takes to win.’”

Q: Have any lingering regret over all this?

Te’o: “I could have done some things different, obviously, done a lot of things different to avoid all this stuff. But throughout my experience my senior year, I wouldn’t do anything different.”

Q: Has this been embarrassing?

Te’o: “Oh, definitely. For anybody to go through, it’s definitely embarrassing. When you’re walking through grocery stores and you’re kind of like giving people double-takes to see if they’re starting at you ,it’s definitely embarrassing. I guess it’s part of the process, it’s part of the journey. You know it’s only going to make me stronger and it definitely has.”

Q: Have you gotten past the point of being embarrassed about it?

Te’o: “Oh, definitely. It definitely has gone. Obviously I’m here. If I was still embarrassed I wouldn’t be standing in front of you.”

Q: Can you understand what NFL teams are trying to get at?

Te’o: “Yeah, they want to be able to trust their player. You don’t want to invest in somebody you can’t trust. With everybody here, they’re just trying to get to know you, get to know you as a person and as a football player. I understand where they’re coming from.”

Q: Does that make you feel you’ve got a hurdle to overcome in the honesty department?

Te’o: “It could be a hurdle, but it could also be a great opportunity to show who you really are. That’s the way I’ve approached it and it’s been a great growing experience for me.”

Q: Ravens have been mentioned a lot as a destination for you. How much would you like to follow Ray Lewis?

Te’o: “Aw, definitely, whatever team I go to, but definitely the Ravens. Ray Lewis, I’ve grown up watching Ray Lewis. Just watching his intensity, his passion for the game, his love for the game, his work ethic. Everything in a linebacker that you want to be is in Ray Lewis, from leadership qualities, all that. He’ll be definitely missed in Baltimore and in the NFL as a whole.

“If I get to go to Baltimore, it will definitely be some big shoes to fill, but an opportunity I’ll be honored to have.”

Q: What’s different about you now?

Te’o: “For me I’ve learned just to be honest in anything and everything you do, from the big things to the small things. Secondly, to keep your circle very small and to understand who’s really in your corner and who’s not. I think going off of the season my team and I had, there’s a lot of people in our corner. Then when Jan. 16 happened, there’s a lot of people in the other corner. I just learned to appreciate the people that I have that are with me and to just make sure you always try to turn a negative thing into a positive.”

Q: What’s been the toughest moment since all this came out?

Te’o: “I think the toughest moment, to be honest with you, was a phone call that I got from my sister where she told me that they had to sneak my own family in their home because there were people parked out in the yard and stuff like that. That had to be the hardest part.

“And for me, something that I’ve always had a problem with is when I can’t do something about it; I can’t help. To know that my family was in this situation because of the actions I committed was definitely the hardest part for me.”

Q: As a player what kind of challenges can you anticipate at the next level?

Te’o: “The game gets even faster, a lot more complex. What I have to do as a player is I have to remember why I’m playing this game. It’s the same game I played when I was a little kid on the streets, same thing, football’s still the same shape. Obviously people are going to be professionals. This is where the best play. But as long as I don’t stray too far from who I am and what I believe in, I think the journey will be worth it.”

Q: Players have been arrested, had drug issues, does it bother you that you’re under the same scrutiny as guys who have been in jail?

Te’o: “Everybody makes mistakes and one of the positive things about what I went through is I’ve learned to empathize with those who are going through the same thing. Those who are going through some hard times, who are getting attention that they don’t necessarily want. It just taught me to always give somebody the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘You never know, you never know what’s going on with a person.’”

Q: What about the difference between situations?

Te’o: “That’s something I don’t believe I can comment on.”

Q: Did you consider legal action against Ronaiah Tuisasosopo?

Te’o: “I think that’s the worst thing you could do. Both families are going through chaos. There’s not only people camped out at my house, there’s people camped out at his house. I went through what I went through and he went through his own share of stuff.

“I think that’s the worst thing for me to do is to do that. Always try and forgive. If you forgive, you’ll get the majority of the blessings. I always try to forgive and it’s definitely benefited me.”

Q: Are you dating anybody in real life?

Te’o: “No, not right now.”

Q: When your sister called about sneaking parents in, what was your emotion?

Te’o: “Just why? It should never get that way. As people we have to realize that we’re all people, somebody is somebody’s son, somebody is somebody’s daughter. And I try to picture it that way. Would you want somebody doing that to your son? Would you want somebody doing that to your daughter? If not, why do it? Through this whole experience I’ve learned that.

“Since I’ve experienced it, the things I see, the things I do, I try to always think ‘That’s somebody/s son. That’s somebody’s daughter. That’s somebody’s mom, dad. Whatever I do try to base what I do off of that.”

Te’o: “In closing, I’d like to thank everybody for being here. It’s been a hard but tremendous ride for me and my family and the University of Notre Dame. I’d like to thank my parents, my family, my friends, the University of Notre Dame and everybody who supports me. I couldn’t do it without all of you.

“Hopefully after this I answered the things I needed to answer and we can move on with football. So thank you, everybody.”

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Irsay: Luck’s deal worth $140 million over six years

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The Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck managed to conceal from the media Luck’s new deal until it was announced by owner Jim Irsay. They won’t be able to conceal every dollar and cent paid to Luck.

Inevitably, the contract will be filed with the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and the details will be leaked not by the Colts or Luck’s camp but by someone with routine access to all player contract.

The key factors to assess will be the signing bonus, the full guarantee at signing, and the cash flow over the first three years.

For now, the total value has been announced, also by Irsay: Six years, $140 million. That’s an average in total value of $23.3 million and a “new money” average of $24.7 million.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that $87 million is guaranteed, but it’s highly, highly, highly (did I say highly?) unlikely that $87 million is fully guaranteed at signing. At best, Luck has $87 million guaranteed for injury.

The deal is solid, but hardly the “shocking” transaction Irsay once promised. The only real surprise is that Luck didn’t get to $25 million per year in total value, which given cap growth over the past few years is where the top value for quarterback deals should be.

Luck also wasn’t able to tie his salary in the out years to cap growth (it’s unclear if his agents even tried), meaning that at some point over the next six years, if the cap keeps spiking, the deal won’t look nearly as good as it does now.

Bottom line? Luck didn’t push for every penny he could have gotten, trading six years and $140 million for the $114 million or so he could have made by going year to year under the franchise tag through 2019.

For now, the biggest question is when, as a practical matter, he’ll be a year-to-year deal with the Colts — and how much he’ll pocket before he gets to that point.

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Andrew Luck “thankful” for trust Colts have shown him

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzlowq1nwiynwi3ntezzgu0ztyxzmjiyjfmnmi1zdy1 AP

The full financial details of the extension that quarterback Andrew Luck signed with the Colts on Wednesday haven’t come to light yet, but it appears to be as big a deal as expected.

According to multiple reports, Luck is now the highest-paid player in the entire league with Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reporting that he stands to make $75 million over the first three years of a deal that will run through the 2021 season. That’s a pretty good payday and one that left Luck feeling grateful to owner Jim Irsay and the rest of the organization for the commitment they made to him.

“I am thrilled and excited to continue with this great organization,” Luck said, via the team. “I am thankful to the Irsay family and Mr. Irsay for providing me with this great opportunity and the trust that they’ve shown in me. I can’t wait for this season to start.”

Luck and the Colts hope that this season will play out in a better way than 2015, when Luck missed nine games because of injury and the Colts missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

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Colts get Luck signed through 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 08:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws the ball during the game against the Denver Broncos at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 8, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

The first news of an Andrew Luck contract extension comes from someone who would figure to know.

Colts Owner Jim Irsay tweeted Wednesday afternoon that “Andrew has signed through 2021.”

Irsay spoke earlier this year about ideally getting an extension for the team’s franchise quarterback finished before July 4, and both sides can now celebrate accordingly.

There are no numbers attached to early reports regarding the deal, but the deal was likely to make Luck the league’s highest-paid quarterback.

Luck was limited to seven games last season by injury but in each of his first three seasons led the Colts to records of and the playoffs.

The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Luck has thrown 101 career touchdown passes and has twice posted seasons of more than 4,300 passing yards.

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Buddy Ryan’s philosophy: Quarterbacks must be punished

25 AUG 1994:  ARIZONA CARDINALS HEAD COACH BUDDY RYAN GIVES ORDERS FROM THE SIDELINES DURING THE CARDINALS 30-21 LOSS TO THE DENVER BRONCOS AT MILE HIGH STADIUM IN DENVER, COLORADO. Mandatory Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT Getty Images

Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL at a different time, a time when coaches who put bounties on opposing players were labeled tough guys, not banished from the NFL. A quote from Ryan’s defensive playbook encapsulates that well.

Ryan, who died on Tuesday at the age of 85, wrote in his playbook that hitting the other team’s quarterback and hitting him hard was a fundamental part of playing defense.

“A quarterback has never completed a pass when he was flat on his back,” Ryan wrote, via Chris B. Brown. “We must hit the QB hard and often. QBs are overpaid, overrated, pompous bastards and must be punished. Great pass coverage is a direct result of a great pass rush, and a great pass rush is simply a relentless desire to get to the QB. Never miss an opportunity to punish the opponent. We must dominate and intimidate the enemy. If the opponent is worried about you, he is not thinking about carrying out his offensive assignment. If you play aggressive, physical, and smart–you cannot be beaten.”

That’s not the kind of football the NFL likes to promote in 2016. But it’s the kind of football that Buddy Ryan coached in the NFL for three decades.

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Cardell Hayes’ lawyer argues Will Smith’s killing shouldn’t be tried during NFL season

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 28:   Will Smith #91 of the New Orleans Saints dances after a big play against the New York Giants at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 28, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Giants 49 to 24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Getty Images

A trial date of September 20 has been set in New Orleans to determine the fate of Cardell Hayes, who is charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing former Saints defensive end Will Smith earlier this year.

John Fuller, one of Hayes’ lawyers, would like to see the start date for that trial changed. Fuller argued in an Orleans Parish court on Wednesday that “it’s only fair” to avoid trying his client during football season because the timing could bias a jury against Hayes.

District Judge Camille Buras denied the request, although she said she would consider a continuance for other reasons.

“I do not mind continuances when it’s based on reasons, either for complexity reasons or forensic issues that are outstanding,” Buras said, via the New Orleans Advocate. “I cannot in good conscience say I’m going to continue the case because it’s football season.”

Hayes shot Smith and Smith’s wife — he faces an attempted murder charge as well — after an argument resulted from Hayes’ car bumping theirs from behind on April 9. Hayes has argued self-defense and his attorneys have tried unsuccessfully to get video footage from bars and restaurants the Smiths visited before the shooting after toxicology reports found Smith’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

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Report: Johnny Manziel plans to go “completely sober” — Friday

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Maybe Johnny Manziel is taking seriously all the good advice people keep giving him to clean up his act.

At least he says he plans to, after this one sweet kegger he’s throwing in Mexico.

Manziel told TMZ that he’s “going completely sober starting July 1st.”

Of course, that gives him between now and Friday to get it all out of his system, and it seems like plenty of people with him aren’t taking the same pledge. TMZ has photos of a woman holding what appears to be an illicit substance, but Manziel said the drugs weren’t his and he didn’t know who the woman was.

That’s a perfect recipe for sobriety, of course. Just like giving yourself time for one last big blowout before becoming an adult.

And while he can promise to eat right, give up drinking and start “training like crazy,” Manziel’s actions have gotten us to the point where no one should put much stock in his words. The fact he was willing to taunt his father in one of his latest social media posts should tell us all we need to know.

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Jim Caldwell is skeptical of going for two more often

Jim Caldwell, Chip Kelly AP

As teams around the NFL discuss the possibility of going for two more often, Lions coach Jim Caldwell sounds unconvinced.

Caldwell said he’s aware that quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees have said they want to go for two as the default after every touchdown, but Caldwell said that’s more a matter of quarterbacks getting their competitive juices flowing than thinking about it rationally.

There’s not a quarterback in the league that doesn’t want to go for two,” Caldwell said.

Some of us think it makes sense to make going for two the default, while others think coaches should base it on the game situation. Caldwell leans closer to the latter option.

“It just depends on the situation, I think. We’re certainly prepared to go for [two points] every time. We’re certainly prepared to kick it as well,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes you’re going to have to adjust to teams that decide to go after it. I think we discussed that when the rule was first changed. You have to match [the strategy], just in terms of point differential.”

Caldwell’s skepticism may stem from his own team’s lack of success: The Lions are 1-for-6 on two-point conversions in Caldwell’s two seasons as head coach.

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Troy Vincent: NFL is still trying to help “out of control” Johnny Manziel

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 2:  Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League, testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill on December 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. The committee was holding a hearing on addressing domestic violence in professional sports. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images) Getty Images

Many continue to pay attention to the life and times of Johnny Manziel in order to determine whether the story ends with Manziel turning things around — or whether it concludes with a much worse outcome.

Even though Manziel currently isn’t (and likely never again will be) employed by an NFL team, the NFL wants to help him. NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent recently addressed the issue in an appearance on 610 Sports’ The Rob Maaddi Show in Philadelphia.

“It’s what you go to bed every night thinking how do you assist someone that’s really not interested or quite frankly doesn’t want to meet you halfway,” Vincent said. “You can have all the resources and they’re endless, confidential resources in your hometown, the individual club where the players or family members live. They’re there. They’re available. But if an individual is not willing to meet you halfway to get assistance, it’s very difficult because it’s something you can’t make an individual do anything.

“In this particular case, it’s obvious it’s gotten out of control,” Vincent said. “You see his parents. When a father speaks out about losing his son potentially to substance abuse, you know there’s a problem. Johnny’s not returning phone calls. He’s in different states. You kind of see him, you get notice of where he is off social media and that’s a challenge, but we won’t stop. We’ll continue to keep reaching out, letting Johnny know we love him, we care for him and we’re here when he’s willing and wants and is able to accept assistance, we’ll be there for him.”

Vincent said that he has been personally involved in reaching out to Manziel, along with the Browns “from ownership on down, General Manager, head coach, their player engagement director, everyone.”

“Again, we won’t stop,” Vincent said. “We’re just hoping that moment happens where Johnny is willing to accept some assistance and get the help that he really needs to just function as an individual. Forget football. But to really get his life turned around so that he can function as a good citizen and a good young man.”

Setting aside the Manziel angle, the fact that Vincent appeared on Rob Maaddi’s radio show should come as a major surprise to anyone who remembers the nuances of the Ray Rice case. It was Maaddi who reported, on behalf of the Associated Press, that someone in the league office had received the in-elevator video before TMZ published it, sparking a full-blown investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller and, for at least a few days, creating the impression that Commissioner Roger Goodell’s tenure was in danger.

The league, needless to say, wasn’t happy with Maaddi’s report, which ultimately was not corroborated by Mueller’s investigation. The fact that Vincent nevertheless appeared on Maaddi’s show gives hope that the rest of us who have said and done far less antagonistic things will get some of these key employees to appear our own radio shows again, at some point.

The connection also invites reasonable speculation as to how long the two have been acquainted (Vincent provided an endorsement last year to a book Maaddi had written), and whether and to what extent they communicated before Maaddi dropped a bombshell that nearly brought down the league office.

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Longtime defensive lineman Cory Redding retires

Cory Redding AP

Cory Redding, a defensive lineman who has played in the NFL since 2003, announced his retirement today.

The 35-year-old Redding, who was released by the Cardinals in April, wrote on Twitter that he is “leaving the game I’ve played for 23 years.”

Redding played 12 games for the Cardinals last season. His most memorable moment was an interception against the Lions that the 318-pound Redding returned 30 yards.

A third-round draft pick of the Lions in 2003, Redding played in Detroit through 2008. He then played one year in Seattle, two in Baltimore and three in Indianapolis before finishing his career last year in Arizona.

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Justin Hunter: There’s another level I have to reach

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 01:  Justin Hunter #15 of the Tennessee Titans completes a catch in front of Johnathan Joseph #24 of the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on November 1, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Earlier this week, we shared Titans wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham’s feeling that he had a good offseason after coach Mike Mularkey pushed the team’s receiving group to step up their games.

Green-Beckham isn’t the only holdover with room to do more. There’s also 2013 second-round pick Justin Hunter, who ended last season on injured reserve with a fractured ankle. Hunter had 22 catches for 264 yards and a touchdown in nine games before getting hurt, which marked a third straight year that saw his production fail to meet the potential that led the Titans to draft him in the first place.

That’s left Hunter facing a challenge from Mularkey “to step up and be more aggressive” because the coach believes Hunter has the talent to succeed. It’s a challenge that Hunter says he’s ready to accept.

“There’s another level,” Hunter said, via the team’s website. “I am definitely going to have to bring it in training camp. There’s a lot of competition, a lot of people fighting for positions and things like that. You can’t slack off because another guy is coming for your spot. I have to keep grinding.”

The Titans closed their offseason work with rookie Tajae Sharpe on the top line of the depth chart with Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews. Assuming those three and Green-Beckham are healthy, Hunter may need to beat out Harry Douglas for a spot on the roster and another opportunity to show that talent translates to numbers on the field.

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Jake Plummer slams “billionaire a–hole” Jerry Jones over weed policy

Quarterback Jake Plummer of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional Playoff game against the New England Patriots at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado on January 14, 2005. The Broncos beat the Patriots 27-13 to advance to the AFC Championship. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/NFLPhotoLibrary) Getty Images

A number of former and a few current players have been able to eloquently state their cases for research into the use of medicinal marijuana as a pain-killing alternative for players.

And then, there’s Jake Plummer, who is willing to be a little salty when it comes to the collection of NFL owners who have yet to embrace the possibilities their plant of preference offers.

“I have a hard time with it because everybody says, ‘Oh, poor NFL millionaires. Oh, you poor people.’ They don’t understand,” Plummer told BSN Denver. “Maybe they should have a little more to say about the owners that are billionaires, they’re not millionaires; they’re billionaires.”

“Like Jerry Jones, who says it’s ‘absurd’ that there would be a link between brain trauma, football and CTE. Shame on him for saying that, that billionaire a–hole. It’s the worst thing in the world for a guy like that to say. That’s where we’re sitting; grown-ass men are asked to go out there for millions of dollars — which, yeah, it’s a lot of money — bang themselves around and completely f— their lives over for their 40s and 50s. So yeah, poor football players is what I say. If you’re a grown-ass man, you should be allowed to make grown-ass decisions.”

That’s a perfectly reasonable — if slightly coarse — description of the basic struggle between labor and management on this issue.

The former Cardinals and Broncos quarterback has dealt with hip problems and the usual aches and pains since leaving the game after a 10-year career. And he’s willing to admit embracing marijuana in all its forms might be an effective pain-relief plan, as part of a larger point about individual rights.

“They should be able to say, ‘I’m going to have some CBD and puff on this fatty, relax after a football game and take the pain away,’” he says of players in general. “Not get tested for it like [suspended Browns wide receiver] Josh Gordon, who now can’t play the game that he’s been playing since he was a kid because he smokes marijuana. It didn’t derail him or cause him to underachieve from what I witnessed. He dominated the league for two straight years, and now he’s out of the league because he chose an alternative form of medicine.”

Of course, not every player who uses marijuana or wants to is considering the full range of therapeutic benefits. Some of them want to just get high before they head to the airport for preseason games, and the NFL’s hesitance to throw out all regulation is also understandable, given the establishment’s usual openness to change.

But while some are fighting the fight with science and research, Plummer’s willing to say all the bad words to draw attention to his cause, which he thinks can save football and its players.

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NFLPA demands “credible evidence” of PED violation by Harrison, Matthews, Peppers, Neal

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 08:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks onto the field before the start of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field on November 8, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The dance continues between the NFL and the NFL Players Association regarding the Al Jazeera PED allegations, and at this point it’s becoming a mosh pit.

The NFL Players Association has sent a letter to the NFL on behalf of Steelers linebacker James Harrison, in which the union reiterates its request “that the NFL inform him and the NFLPA whether the NFL possesses any credible evidence (e.g., verified documents or verified testimony of witnesses) that warrants an interview of Mr. Harrison regarding a potential violation” of the PED policy.

Although the letter doesn’t expressly take the position that Harrison has no obligation to cooperate until the NFL disciplines him based on “credible evidence” of a violation, the message is clear: Harrison apparently won’t be doing anything unless and until the NFL produces “credible evidence” beyond the remarks contained in the Al Jazeera report.

“Especially in a business where the mere mention of a player-employee’s name can generate ratings for a broadcaster, the NFLPA and Mr. Harrison do not believe that unsupported, unsubstantiated verbal remarks provide ‘sufficient credible evidence’ to initiate an investigation of, and require an interview with, an employee.”

The letter, a copy of which PFT has obtained, mentions only Harrison. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the same letter was sent on behalf of all other active players implicated by the Al Jazeera report: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Mike Neal.

The PED policy seems to contemplate that the player accused of a PED violation won’t be required to provide information until discipline is imposed based on “credible documented evidence” that the rules were broken. The NFLPA apparently is willing to entertain the possibility of a pre-discipline interview if — and only if — the NFL puts the same cards on the table that would be placed on the table if discipline is imposed and the appeal process commences.

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Report: No significant improvement in Jaylon Smith’s injured nerve

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Linebacker Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish walks off the field after an injury during the first quarter of the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Buckeyes defeated the Fighting Irish 44-28.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cowboys were able to get linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round of the draft because fears about lingering nerve damage resulting from the knee injury he suffered in the Fiesta Bowl.

Teams wondered if the issue would keep him from playing in 2016 and if it would limit his effectiveness beyond this year, but Smith’s surgery was done by the Cowboys’ team doctor and his confidence in Smith’s future carried over to the team.

Smith said there was “absolutely” a chance that he’d be on the field this season because “the nerve can come back tomorrow.” Smith’s knee surgery was done by the Cowboys doctor and owner Jerry Jones said he shares Smith’s hope that the knee will improve sooner rather than later.

As of now, though, it doesn’t look like there’s much positive movement. Ed Werder of ESPN reports that there’s been no “significant improvement” in the injured nerve at this point and, as a result, it remains unlikely that Smith will be on the field in 2016.

If that’s the case, the big question in Dallas will shift to whether or not Smith can return to being the kind of player that was projected to be a high first-round pick throughout his career at Notre Dame.

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Are Seahawks overpaying Doug Baldwin?

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 13: Wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks scores a third quarter touchdown past cornerback Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

To the extent that Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin plays better when he’s angry, he needs a reason to be angry. My goal isn’t to give him one, but that could be the result of the words I’m about to type.

Did the Seahawks give Baldwin too much money in his new contract?

The most important numbers — signing bonus, full guarantee at signing, cash flow over the next three years — still aren’t known. But the big-picture numbers suggest top-10 money for a guy who, while above average and for a stretch of last season flat-out dominant, may not be a top-10 option.

It’s easy to call a guy “top 10” in the abstract. When actually listing the players, however, the 10 seats fill up, quickly.

In no particular order, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham, Allen Robinson, Brandon Marshall, and Jarvis Landry would make up the top nine receivers in the league. So who would be the 10th?

Amari Cooper? Alshon Jeffery? Jordy Nelson? Jeremy Maclin? Keenan Allen? Brandin Cooks? Larry Fitzgerald? Emmanuel Sanders? Demaryius Thomas? T.Y. Hilton? Mike Evans? Sammy Watkins? Baldwin?

Apart from where Baldwin fits in the league-wide receiver pecking order is the question of how the investment in a receiver (along with the $9 million per year devoted to tight end Jimmy Graham) meshes with the team’s supposed commitment to the running game. Of course, the $21 million per year paid to quarterback Russell Wilson already doesn’t mesh with a cloud-of-dust-or-at-least-those-little-rubber-pellets approach to offense.

Still, with the passing game now consisting of three highly-paid players, the tailback depth chart currently a smattering of minimum-contract guys, and the offensive line a perpetual work in progress, it’s getting harder and harder to reconcile the team’s desired attack to the picture painted by the money.

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Doug Baldwin recalls humbling start to career after signing extension

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 27:  Wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field on December 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 23-17.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tuesday’s announcement that the Seahawks and wide receiver Doug Baldwin have agreed to a four-year contract extension didn’t come as much of a surprise given how often both sides talked this offseason about wanting to get a deal done.

Telling someone in 2011 that Baldwin would one day ink a deal with $24 million in guaranteed money and a total value of $46 million would have come as more of a surprise. That’s when Baldwin went undrafted after completing his career at Stanford, something that Baldwin reminisced about in a Facebook post after signing his contract.

“It was 2011,” Baldwin wrote. “I was sitting by myself at a small Mexican restaurant across the street from the Stanford campus. The draft had just ended and my name wasn’t called. I sat in my chair unable to move as if my heart had just been ripped out of my chest. I’ve been playing football since I was 7 years old and, in that moment, it seemed like it was all coming to an end. I humbled myself and waited out the lockout for one last shot at my dream. Then … Seattle called and they wanted me. That was almost 5 years ago. This is now. I’m thankful and blessed to formally announce my 4 year extension with the Seattle Seahawks.”

Baldwin’s production hit a new level in the second half of last season as the Seahawks passing offense took off, but he’d been an efficient and reliable target for Russell Wilson throughout his time with the team. Those traits matter more than how he entered the league or the fact that he doesn’t have the ideal size teams look for at receiver and explain why he has a shiny new contract that will keep him in a prime role on the Seahawks offense for the next few years.

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