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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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Fitzpatrick offer: Three years, $24 million

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18:  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets looks to throw a pass to Brandon Marshall (not shown) which resulted in a touchdown during the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on October 18, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) Getty Images

The suddenly public (sort of) back-and-forth continues between the Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Two days after the Jets (and, yes, it was the Jets) leaked to anyone who was listening that their longstanding offer to Fitzpatrick pays out $12 million in the first year of a three-year deal, multiple reports (undoubtedly instigated by Camp Fitz) indicate that the deal has a total base value of $24 million over three years.

The $8 million annually average would put Fitzpatrick below all starting quarterbacks not named Tyrod Taylor or not otherwise operating under a wage-scale rookie deal.

The bigger takeaway is that the nothing-personal situation between team and player is quickly getting personal, starting with sympathy OTA absences by receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, continuing with the team’s obvious effort to make Fitzpatrick look greedy, and culminating in Fitzpatrick’s effort to expose the Jets as cheap.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to say what we’ve been saying for most of the last week: These two sides need to go into a room, lock the door from the outside, and work this thing out. If they can’t, they should shake hands and go their separate ways.

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Phil Loadholt “moving pretty well” in return from torn Achilles

Phil Loadholt AP

Tackle Phil Loadholt took care of one obstacle in the way of his return to the Vikings when he took a pay cut earlier this offseason.

He’s working his way through another one during OTAs. Loadholt is back on the field after tearing his Achilles in the preseason last year and says his return to the field has gone smoothly.

“I feel like I’m moving pretty well,” Loadholt said, via the Pioneer Press. “I got some things I’ve got to get better at obviously, but I’m working hard to get better and those things and be ready to roll.”

Loadholt’s pay cut leaves him set to make a non-guaranteed salary of $2.25 million after agreeing to a reduction with another $1.25 million available in incentives. If he’s going to see all of that money, he’ll have to take care of a third obstacle in the form of Andre Smith. The former Bengal signed as a free agent this offseason and will be Loadholt’s competition for the right tackle job.

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Pats unlikely to owe NFL legal fees for Brady case, but . . .

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 3:   A fan shows support Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during a pre-season game with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

With the Patriots getting involved in quarterback Tom Brady’s effort to overturn the four-game suspension imposed against him by filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Patriots possibly could end up picking up a portion of Park Avenue’s legal tab.

The folks at PatsPulpit.com have uncovered a 1997 NFL resolution that arguably makes the Patriots responsible to reimburse the NFL for its attorney’s fees based on the team’s decision to become involved in the case.

Here’s the relevant language: “If any member club . . . initiates, joins, has a direct, football-related financial interest in, or offers substantial assistance to any lawsuit or other legal, regulatory, or administrative proceeding (‘Claim’) against the League . . . each Claiming Party shall be obligated jointly and severally to reimburse the League . . . for all of such party’s legal fees, litigation expenses, and costs incurred in such Claim if the Claiming Party (or the third party that received substantial assistance from the Claiming Party, or in whose Claim the Claiming Party has a direct, football-related financial Interest) does not obtain a judgment on the merits which substantially achieves, in substance and amount, the remedy sought.”

For a variety of reasons, this language probably doesn’t apply to the Patriots in this specific case.

First, it was the NFL and not Brady who initiated the lawsuit. Thus, there is no claim “against the League.” The league filed a lawsuit in an effort to uphold Brady’s suspension.

Second, the Patriots arguably don’t have a “direct, football-related financial interest” in the case. The Patriots won’t lose any money at the box office if Brady serves his suspension. While the suspension could make it harder for the Patriots to get to the playoffs (and thus host playoff games and make even more money), this would seem to be more of an indirect football-related financial interest, a byproduct of the suspension itself.

Third, the NFL will incur only minimal additional expenses as a result of the brief filed by the Patriots, apart from the 0.5 hours that one or two (or more) lawyers will bill to the league for reading the eight-page document. Parties to a lawsuit don’t respond directly to friends-of-the-court briefs, and the arguments made by the Patriots track the arguments made by Brady and the NFL Players Association.

As evidenced by the title to this item, there’s a but. It comes from this provision from the 1997 resolution: “The Commissioner . . . shall determine the amount of said legal fees, litigation expenses, and costs, and such determination shall be final and binding.”

While the resolution doesn’t expressly state that the Commissioner also will determine the threshold question of whether fees are even owed, it’s a safe bet that both questions fall within the unassailable, do-what-I-want discretion of the Commissioner. So even if the arguments favor the Patriots, the Commissioner could choose to pick the team’s pockets for any, some, or all of the legal fees incurred by the NFL from this point forward, and there really won’t be anything the Patriots can do about it.

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Kirk Cousins sees “a great weapon in the red zone” in Josh Doctson

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  (L-R) Josh Doctson of TCU  holds up a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being picked #22 overall by the Washington Redskins during the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Washington’s first-round draft pick, Josh Doctson, has received quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ seal of approval.

Cousins said he has been studying up on Doctson to find out what kind of target he’ll be, and Cousins is already excited about the possibilities for finding Doctson in the end zone.

“I went back and watched some of his highlights from TCU, and he is a special player,” Cousins said, via CSNMidAtlantic.com. “Looks like he can make the contested catch. It’s very natural for him to go up and catch that type of pass. He can run well. He has got great size. I almost thought he was a tight end when he showed up because if his size. . . . Having a guy like Josh could also be a great weapon in the red zone.”

Cousins believes the addition of Doctson gives Washington a very good receiving corps.

“We’ll try to build that chemistry as he’s here and as we can work together and just learn what he does well and what fits him, what he is natural at and try to get him the football,” Cousins said. “We certainly can spread it around with all the talent at the outside positions.”

With Doctson joining receivers DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder, plus tight end Jordan Reed, Cousins sounds like a happy man. For reasons beyond the $20 million he’s making this season.

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Kenjon Barner thriving in Philly, despite absence of Chip Kelly

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06:  Kenjon Barner #34 of the Philadelphia Eagles carries the ball during the second half against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Former Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, a sixth-round pick of the Panthers in 2013 who inevitably landed in Philadelphia via a trade with his former college head coach, is still in Philly even after Chip Kelly has gone. Last year, a strong preseason won Barner a spot on the 53-man roster. This year, a strong offseason could be helping Barner even more.

As explained by Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, Barner’s performance coupled with the absences of DeMarco Murray (also gone), Ryan Mathews (recovering from surgery), and Darren Sproles (absent from OTAs and likely gone, eventually) has put Barner in line to potentially become the team’s starting tailback.

Barner’s receiving talents serve him well in coach Doug Pederson’s offense. It also doesn’t hurt that Barner has high-end return skills, which helped him stick with the team in 2015.

Eventually, it could be Barner and rookie Wendell Smallwood vying for playing time and touches in 2016. At a time when the Eagles seem to be intent on shedding as many former Kelly players as possible from the roster, maybe they relish the chance to get the most out of a Kelly’s former Oregon protégé.

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Browns offensive attitude “starts with the run game”

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 07:  Isaiah Crowell #34 of the Cleveland Browns scores a touchdown in front of Darius Butler #20 of the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 7, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Earlier this offseason, Browns coach Hue Jackson called running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnsonas good as I’ve seen” during his time in the NFL.

Crowell and Johnson said that Jackson’s complimentary words gave them a confidence boost heading into the final phase of offseason work and they may get another from running backs coach Kirby Wilson. Wilson says that while Jackson is working on building a passing attack from the ground up, Crowell and Johnson will be responsible for setting the tone offensively in Cleveland.

“We are going to be a run-oriented football team,” Wilson said, via the team’s website. “Everything starts with the run game, our offensive line and our backs. As coach told us, we are going to be a physically dominant, running football team. … We call it ‘big boy football.’ It is all about attitudes and it starts with the run game. You have got to be able to run it, and you have got to be able to stop the run on defense. We are going to take pride in that, being physically superior than our opponent.”

A run-first approach doesn’t come as a surprise based on the situation at quarterback and wide receiver in Cleveland, but it also fits with what Jackson did in Cincinnati over the last few years. The Bengals ranked in the top eight in rushing attempts in each of the last three seasons, which suggests Crowell and Johnson won’t be lacking for chances to confirm Jackson’s assessment of their abilities.

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Payton agrees with Brees’ decision not to talk contract during season

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 24:  Head coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints watch the replay screen during the first quarter of a game against the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 24, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently applied a deadline for extending his contract, which currently is entering its final year. Once the regular season starts, Brees won’t be interested in talking.

His head coach agrees with that approach.

“Just having seen the interview and his comments, they totally make sense,” Sean Payton said on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “It was the case [five] years back. You don’t want to be, A, as team or, B, as a player focusing on player contracts right during the middle of the season. . . . I wouldn’t say that there hasn’t been a sense of urgency with [G.M.] Mickey [Loomis] and [agent] Tom [Condon]. Those guys are the ones that are in contact and are the ones that are doing it. . . . I just know how Drew is and his focus and his ability to work and concentrate on the task at hand that won’t be altered, and that’s a strength of his.”

The strength of the final year of Brees’ contract becomes a potential weakness for the team, if the deal isn’t done before Week One. Come 2017, his $30 million cap number for 2016 becomes a $43.2 million franchise tender. Which makes it very unlikely that the franchise tag would be used again on Brees, like it was in 2012.

Many will say it’s far more likely that the two sides will work something out long before it’s time to use the tag. Of course, many also thought the deal would be done before Brees’ $30 million cap figure hit the books on March 9.

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Ronald Leary sends unmistakable message to Cowboys

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 14: Ronald Leary #65 of the Dallas Cowboys gets pulled out of the pile during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 14, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cowboys guard Ronald Leary, who has lost his starting job to La’El Collins, wants out of Dallas. The Cowboys have made it clear they want fair value in return for Leary, which means (duh) they won’t be inclined to trade him unless they get fair value.

Leary meanwhile has made it clear that he doesn’t care about what the Cowboys get; he just wants out. The latest tangible piece of evidence comes from Leary stripping all references to the Cowboys from his Twitter page, via the Dallas Morning News.

But here’s the problem for Leary. He chose to sign his one-year restricted free agency tender last month, which puts him under contract for 2016 at a salary of $2.553 million. So while he can boycott voluntary workouts without consequence, he faces significant fines if he stays away from mandatory minicamp or training camp.

Leary had options. He could have, for example, refused to sign the tender and then skipped the offseason program, mandatory minicamp, training camp, etc., hopeful that Dallas would withdraw the tender.

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Doug Baldwin is “most certain” Marshawn Lynch isn’t coming back

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Doug Baldwin #89 and  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate after Lynch scored a fourth quarter touchdown against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 29, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Now that running back Marshawn Lynch is retired, plenty of speculation has emerged as to whether he will unretire. Only days after Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said he won’t predict what the always-unpredictable Lynch will do, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin is willing to go out on a limb, at least as it relates to Lynch’s most recent team.

I’m most certain that he’s not coming back,” Baldwin said regarding Lynch during a Friday appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

If Baldwin is talking about Lynch not coming back to the Seahawks, Baldwin should bet the farm on it. Even if Lynch unretires, there’s no way the Seahawks will want to carry his $9 million salary, especially after taking a $5 million cap hit due to the pre-June 1 processing of his retirement.

That doesn’t mean Lynch won’t decide to return and play for another team, and most speculation has centered on Lynch joining forces with his on-the-upswing hometown Raiders. If the team is indeed leaving Oakland, Lynch could help give the fans something to really remember.

The safest course with Lynch is to expect anything, because no one ever really knows what he’s going to do. There’s a good chance that, at this point on the calendar, even he doesn’t know.

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Peyton Manning was “pretty close” to picking Titans in 2012

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 17:  Former NFL quarterback, Peyton Manning stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images) Getty Images

The late Bud Adams made no secret of the fact that he wanted Peyton Manning to sign with the Titans when Manning was a free agent in 2012 and the failure to land him reportedly contributed to the franchise’s founder and owner’s decision to fire General Manager Mike Reinfeldt after that season came to a close.

Manning wound up signing with the Broncos, of course, and went to two Super Bowls with Denver before retiring in the wake of their Super Bowl win earlier this year. The Titans haven’t had anything close to that kind of success in the last four years, which will likely have some of their fans wondering what might have been after Manning revisited that pursuit at the Middle Tennessee Sports Awards in Nashville on Thursday night.

“I was pretty close,” Manning said of joining the Titans, via the Tennessean.

That decision would have led to a lot of other what ifs around the league including what things would look like for the Titans, Broncos, Texans, Marcus Mariota and others had Manning made a different decision. Those what ifs don’t make for much other than conversation topics to while away an afternoon, but long holiday weekends usually offer an opportunity to do just that.

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Dont’a Hightower wants to “get better,” not talk contract

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 25:  Dont'a Hightower #54 of the New England Patriots reacts after recovering a fumble during the first quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cornerback Malcolm Butler is reportedly planning a push for a new contract with the Patriots and he’s not the only member of the defense who will be dealing with issues on that front in the near future.

Linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower are heading into the final year of their contracts, leaving the Patriots with some work to do to keep everyone on hand beyond the 2016 season. For now, though, Hightower says that he’s only focusing on on-field matters.

“I don’t have anything to do with any of that,” Hightower said, via the Providence Journal. “I’m just out here trying to get better with my teammates.”

Reporters pointed out to Hightower that he does have something to do with whether he remains with the Patriots, which he conceded before adding that “there’s a time and place for everything” and repeated that this is the time to get better.

The only real negative about Hightower’s last two seasons have been injuries that kept him from playing in eight games, but his contributions when healthy have made him an integral defensive piece in New England. That would make it a surprise if a deal doesn’t get worked out when the appropriate time and place present themselves.

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Jets, Giants planning to bid on another Super Bowl

012214-8-NFL-MetLife-Stadium-snow-OB-PI.vadapt.664.high.53 Getty Images

The NFL made a lucky roll of the dice two-plus years ago when it staged an outdoor Super Bowl in New Jersey in early February. With the league apparently getting ready to cozy up to Las Vegas, the league may be ready to gamble once again with the crown jewel event of the year.

According to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, the Jets and Giants have informed the NFL of interest in hosting one of the next two games that will be awarded, in 2018: Super Bowl LVI and LVII, to be played in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

“We have informed them of our interest in both games,” Giants co-owner John Mara told Myers. “We hope to pursue another Super Bowl. We’re not sure yet of the date.”

The last time the NFL awarded a Super Bowl to New York/New Jersey, a blizzard struck the area the morning after the game. Even without snow on game day, organizers erroneously estimated the use of public transportation, resulting in massive crowds trying to get to and from the game.

There’s a long way to go before the folks in New Jersey need to crystallize plans for adding a lot more trains. For now, the potential interest could be more about ensuring that places like Tampa and New Orleans in 2018, when the owners award a pair of championship games. If, as expected, Dallas returns to the table and New York/New Jersey does the same, there will be four cities jockeying for two games, at a minimum.

Then, if Tampa and New Orleans get the games, the Cowboys, Jets, and Giants will get personalized letters telling them to keep trying.

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Sunday morning one-liners

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01:   Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears receives an 11 yard pass in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on November 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Jerry Hughes says he’s happy moving back to linebacker with the Bills.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase likes what he’s seen from CB Byron Maxwell.

A look at how QB Jimmy Garoppolo has fared in Patriots OTAs.

A Ron Burgundy quote gets applied to the standoff between the Jets and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Three takeaways from the first week of Ravens OTAs.

Why didn’t Bengals TE Tyler Eifert have surgery earlier in the offseason?

Bernie Kosar spoke to Browns rookies last week.

Steelers rookies spent some time at the Mel Blount Youth Home.

A social media campaign helped Texans LB Whitney Mercilus find his lost dogs.

Who will join Robert Mathis as pass rushers for the Colts?

TE Nic Jacobs returned to the Jaguars 15 pounds lighter than he was last season.

Titans receivers know they are facing extra scrutiny.

Former Broncos QB Jake Plummer shares his thoughts on the current team.

Chiefs CB Marcus Peters won’t rest on accolades from his rookie season.

LB Bruce Irvin says Raiders rookie S Karl Joseph plays bigger than he is.

Position coach Ollie Watson breaks down the Chargers running backs.

RB Darren McFadden is helping rookie Ezekiel Elliott adjust to life with the Cowboys.

What role or roles will Will Johnson play for the Giants?

WR Chris Givens hopes his speed earns him a spot in the Eagles offense.

Could RB Pierre Thomas return to the Redskins?

WR Alshon Jeffery hasn’t been at Bears workouts, but he sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Saturday’s Cubs game.

Rookie Anthony Zettel is learning from the veterans on the Lions defensive line.

The Packers have given their defense several new pieces to work with this season.

A few things to look for in Vikings coach Mike Zimmer’s third season.

S Ricardo Allen hopes to put knowledge gained last year into action in the Falcons secondary.

Panthers QB Cam Newton is getting his own mobile game.

Saints WR Michael Thomas explains what drew him to Ohio State.

Said Buccaneers K Roberto Aguayo, “Pressure is built from inside. I’m competitive. I want to make every kick. At the end of the day it’s your kick. So I just [say] it internally; ‘I have to make this kick, this is what I have to do.'”

Cardinals DE Chandler Jones needs a more desert-appropriate wardrobe.

Offensive coordinator Rob Boras shares some thoughts on the Rams offense.

WR Bruce Ellington is identified as a possible breakout player for the 49ers.

Seahawks rookie OL Germain Ifedi threw out the first pitch at a Mariners game.

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John Harbaugh: “All good” with Dennis Pitta

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 07: Tight end Dennis Pitta #88 of the Baltimore Ravens is tackled by middle linebacker Vincent Rey #57 of the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Cincinnati Bengals won, 23-16. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

We checked in with one Ravens pass catcher returning from an injury last week and wide receiver Breshad Perriman said he was feeling strong in his return from the knee injury that kept him from playing at all last season.

Tight end Dennis Pitta has been out of the lineup even longer. Pitta last played in a game on September 21, 2014 and has been trying to return from a second dislocated hip since that point. That comeback attempt is playing out in Baltimore’s practices this offseason and Pitta said the on-field activity has been “very encouraging.”

Coach John Harbaugh seems to agree with that assessment.

“He looks like Dennis Pitta to me,” Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. “If you’re asking for a comparison to what he was when when he was playing to what he was now, he’s removed from football for a couple of years and we’re in — this is nothing. As far as the stability of the hip, how he feels about it, running around, making catches, looking like a football player, it’s all good.”

Pitta will be in for different tests in training camp and especially preseason games when he’s taking hits to the hip that’s caused him so much trouble in the last three years. His body’s response to that will determine how far he goes in his return to the field.

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Malcolm Butler wants a new contract

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24:  Emmanuel Sanders #10 of the Denver Broncos makes a catch for a first down over Malcolm Butler #21 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter in the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler is heading into the third and final year of the contract he signed as an undrafted rookie in 2014, and he’d like to be paid more like the Super Bowl hero and Pro Bowler that he is than like an undrafted free agent.

Mike Reiss of ESPN reports that Butler has told teammates and friends that he plans to push for a new contract before the start of the regular season.

Under his current deal, Butler is slated to make $600,000 this year and then become a restricted free agent next year, when the Patriots could keep him with a relatively low-cost tender offer. So he doesn’t have a lot of leverage, with the Patriots able to keep him for the next two years.

The one way Butler could get some leverage is by not coming in to work. Butler did not attend Thursday’s Organized Team Activities, although it’s unclear whether his contract had anything to do with that.

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