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Cowboys restructure DeMarcus Ware’s contract

DeMarcus Ware AP

Another highly paid veteran has agreed to restructure his contract to give his team more salary cap space.

The Cowboys have restructured the contract of defensive end DeMarcus Ware, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. The deal will convert $5 million of this season’s base salary into a signing bonus, and as a result Ware will make the same amount of money this year as he would have under his old deal, but will cost $4 million less against the Cowboys’ salary cap.

As we noted earlier today, the Cowboys plan to restructure the contracts of several players to create more salary cap space by March 12, when free agency starts.

The Cowboys are tight against the cap and are dealing with the ramifications of the salary cap penalty the league office handed them last year.

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Steelers “more confident and comfortable” with Vick this week

Michael Vick, Daryl Smith AP

The final offensive play for the Steelers last Thursday night saw quarterback Michael Vick sail a pass over the head of wide receiver Antonio Brown on fourth down in overtime.

It was a short pass made more difficult by the fact that Vick was throwing to the right side of the field and the absence of the comfort level that Brown and Ben Roethlisberger have built up over the years. Given how little time the Steelers had to prepare for that game after Roethlisberger hurt his knee in Week Three, it’s not surprising that things were choppy.

The Steelers and Vick are expecting smoother sailing this week. Guard Ramon Foster says that Vick is more fluid when it comes to calling plays and Vick says he feels “so much better” after having more time to practice as the starter. Brown, who couldn’t hold onto a touchdown pass last week, said that the comfort level is higher this time around.

“Last week, it just wasn’t [Vick’s] fault,” Brown said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “There is a lot of blame on me. I left a lot of plays out there. All of us are getting more comfortable, not just him. I am more confident and comfortable this week with him.”

At 2-2, the Steelers can’t afford too much of an adjustment period if they want to have a winning record when Roethlisberger returns to the lineup. That makes the next couple of days of practice important before they hit the field in San Diego on Monday night.

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Jason Garrett had a chat with Greg Hardy about dumb comments

Jason Garrett, Greg Hardy AP

As it turns out, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett doesn’t think Greg Hardy’s “jokes” are funny either.

Garrett said he had a quick conversation with his defensive end, after his first press conference as a member of the Cowboys included unfortunate gun references, and tasteless cracks about the attractiveness of the wives and girlfriends of quarterbacks.

That’s not how we want to operate as an organization, players and coaches in our organization understand that,” Garrett said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We want to distinguish ourselves with our play, not with what we say. We define ourselves by what we do, not by what we say. Greg understands that now and that’s how we’re going forward.”

And to be honest, Garrett’s words are probably worth mentioning to his boss, who had some equally unrefined commentary when asked about Hardy’s comments about Tom Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen.

“When I saw him marry [Bundchen], Tom went up in my eyes 100 percent,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “She’s very very attractive and it shows what an outstanding individual Tom is.”

Yes, because acquiring the company of attractive women is clearly a sign of character, at least among those who view women as objects.

But as it pertains to Hardy, Garrett said he thought his message was received.

“Yeah, he’s very receptive, very respectful, appreciated my comments,” Garrett said. “Hopefully he’ll handle it the right way going forward.”

Based on past actions, Hardy probably understands that as well as teammate Joseph Randle understood directions to not leap across goal lines with the ball exposed, and Garrett’s likely to have to repeat this conversation as well.

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Lombardi says Stafford still isn’t broken

Matthew Stafford AP

When Joe Lombardi became the Lions’ offensive coordinator prior to the 2014 season, he declared that franchise quarterback (at least in compensation) Matthew Stafford isn’t broken. A full 20 games into their time together, Lombardi renewed his vows with Stafford, sort of.

I still don’t think he’s broken,” Lombardi said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I think he’s a good player.”

The numbers suggest otherwise, this year at least. Five touchdowns, five interceptions. No touchdowns for the last six quarters.

“I think Matt Stafford is a very good quarterback that we’re happy to have,” Lombardi said. “I don’t think – of all my concerns, Matt’s not the biggest one. So we’ve got to protect him, we’ve got to run the ball better. He’s going to take care of his side of it.”

It’s not exactly condemnation, but it’s a far cry from praise. And the reality for the Lions (and most teams) is that the quarterback is the guy who makes the offense go. Or not go.

Late in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game between the Lions and Seahawks, ESPN’s Mike Tirico shared some comments from receiver Golden Tate that perhaps reveal one of the problems with Stafford’s overall performance.

“I wish that the Matthew Stafford that we see in the fourth quarter I could see for all four quarters,” Tate told Tirico, “because he loves to close the deal and [has that] great look in his eye. Makes those tight throws in a big spot.”

It’s not exactly condemnation, but it’s a far cry from praise. And at this point in Matthew Stafford’s career, with a second contract that pays him close to market value for high-end quarterbacks, Stafford needs to perform like a high-end quarterback.

The faded dominance of receiver Calvin Johnson makes it harder to do that. But high-end quarterbacks find a way to overcome not having a receiver who commands double coverage everywhere he goes. High-end quarterbacks also find a way to deal with an offensive line that isn’t protecting the quarterback the way it should.

If, as Tate told Tirico, Stafford can find his groove when the game is on the line, Stafford needs to find a way to play that way the rest of the game. Then, maybe he won’t be facing many drives with the game on the line. And maybe his offensive coordinator won’t be declaring publicly that the quarterback isn’t broken.

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Friday morning one-liners

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Sebastian Janikowski #11 of the Oakland Raiders kicks a fifty-two yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at Coliseum on November 24, 2013 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

S Aaron Williams is expected back in the Bills starting lineup this week.

After they named a new one, a look back at Dolphins defensive coordinators through the years.

Patriots S Duron Harmon looks up to teammate Devin McCourty.

A review of Jets WR Brandon Marshall’s first four games.

The Ravens are planning to use Lardarius Webb as a returner.

The Bengals will face Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham for the second straight season.

Browns LB Nate Orchard wants to play with less hesitation.

The Steelers want to establish their run game early against the Chargers.

DE J.J. Watt didn’t do much to help the Texans in Thursday’s loss.

Colts RB Frank Gore was more effective than Watt.

DE Andre Branch feels healthy and ready to boost the Jaguars defense.

Titans S Da’Norris Searcy will see former Bills teammates on Sunday.

CB Chris Harris says he’s focused more on stopping Raiders receivers than meeting up with former defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.

Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub has a lot of history with the Bears.

K Sebastian Janikowski will move into first place on the Raiders list of games played on Sunday.

Injuries make it hard for the Chargers to build continuity on the offensive line.

An appreciation of Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden’s play in the last two games.

The Giants continue a favorable stretch of schedule this weekend.

A vote for Ryan Mathews as the lead back for the Eagles.

Redskins RB Matt Jones discusses how it feels to be tackled by the hair.

Injuries mean that the Bears will have to “make do” on offense this week.

DT Andre Fluellen’s wife expected the Lions to call when she saw Tyrunn Walker get hurt on Monday night.

Said Packers coach Mike McCarthy of DT B.J. Raji, “He’s unique in his physical abilities and measurables. His yoga has really helped. I always get a kick out of him stretching during timeouts out there. It just doesn’t look right or fair, but he’s in great shape. I think the biggest thing is he’s healthy. B.J. is a hell of a football player, always has been.”

A bye week breakdown of Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Terron Ward adds to the options out of the backfield for the Falcons.

Will Panthers QB Cam Newton be an MVP candidate this season?

T Andrus Peat could get a start for the Saints this weekend.

The young Buccaneers offensive linemen feel they benefit from padded practices.

Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson is enjoying his return to punt returns.

The Rams enjoy having music as part of their practices.

49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst says the unit’s made some adjustments in practice this week.

CB Cary Williams is feeling at home with the Seahawks.

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Andre Ellington back for Cardinals

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 23:  Andre Ellington #38 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up prior to their game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 23, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) Getty Images

When Andre Ellington went down with a sprained knee in the season opener, it opened the door to more playing time for Chris Johnson and David Johnson in the Arizona backfield.

Both Johnsons put the opportunity to good use and the Cardinals went 2-1 in the games without Ellington, which might lead some coaches to struggle with how to reintegrate Ellington into the lineup now that he’s healthy enough to return to action. Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin says the backs “better practice and you better practice hard” to get playing time, but coach Bruce Arians is taking a slightly different approach.

“No, it’s not hard, because the young guy [David Johnson] sits down,” Arians said, via the Arizona Republic.

The rookie has shown too much ability to help the offense to sit down entirely, but Ellington’s return and a couple of miscues last week are going to slow things down a bit for him. It shouldn’t slow things down for the Cardinals offense, which has run for at least 110 yards in every game this season and has plenty of options available as they try to keep that streak going.


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Alshon Jeffery on verge of missing fourth straight game

Alshon Jeffery AP

Even though the man who goes by the initial J.C. has been healed in Chicago, his top target remains among the infirm.

According to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune, Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery could miss his fourth straight game this week with a lingering hamstring strain.

Jeffery didn’t practice fully Thursday, and has only participated in two practices since the start of the regular season, following a calf injury that kept him out of the preseason.

I’m just taking it one day at a time,” he said. “It’s a process. As a player, I want to be out there, too. But it’s a process. It’s a long season.

“I miss being out there a lot, but at the same time, it’s a process. But I’ll be back out there soon, hopefully.”

Soon can’t be soon enough, as fellow wideout Eddie Royal missed his second straight day of practice with an ankle injury.

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Thursday night “up there” in Andre Johnson’s career highlights

Andre Johnson, Matt Hasselbeck AP

For the first four games of the season, Colts wide receiver Andre Johnson didn’t have the same kind of impact on the offense that he had when he was a member of the Texans.

Johnson was back in Houston on Thursday night and his productivity returned. Johnson had six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns to help lead his new team past his old team in a game that he said is “up there” on his list of career highlights. While getting the win in his old stomping grounds was “pretty big,” so was playing well after two weeks of not catching any passes at all.

“A lot of people probably thought this was a ‘get back‘ game for me or something like that. It was never like that,” Johnson said, via the Indianapolis Star. “I just wanted to use my role. I was involved a lot more today and I was able to go out and make the best of my opportunities. That’s the way I looked at it. I just wanted to do what I needed to do to help the team win.”

The win leaves the Colts at 2-3 on the season, which doesn’t fix everything that led to three losses to start the year but goes a long way toward setting them back on course for another AFC South title. More performances like Thursday’s from Johnson would be a big boost to that effort.

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Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett? Bill O’Brien can’t decide

Brian Hoyer AP

Texans coach Bill O’Brien has been indecisive about his starting quarterback all year, so it’s no surprise that he remained indecisive after Thursday night’s loss to the Colts.

O’Brien kept Ryan Mallett on the bench and left Brian Hoyer in the game after Mallett had to leave for just a few plays with a minor injury. After the game, he refused to commit to either as the long-term starter.

“Brian I thought did a good job tonight, but we’ll talk about it. I haven’t even talked to the staff yet about it. We’ll sit down and review the film. I thought Brian did a good job though. He went in there, it wasn’t the easiest of circumstances – other than the last play there where he kind of launched it up there. He probably wants to have that one back, but I thought he did a good job. We’ll review it tomorrow and see where we are at that position,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien announced during the preseason that Hoyer would be the starter, but he changed his mind about that during the Texans’ Week One loss, benching Hoyer and putting Mallett in. Mallett has started every game since then, but he’s been benched for Hoyer two games in a row, and in both games Hoyer put up better numbers than Mallett.

Both quarterbacks were cautious with their comments after the game. Hoyer said, “Not my decision to make,” when asked if he thinks he’ll be the starter, and Mallett would say only, “I’ll be ready.”

O’Brien is not ready to make a decision. And if he does make a decision, he may soon change his mind.

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Ryan Mallett said he didn’t realize he was leaving sideline early

Ryan Mallett AP

Ryan Mallett just can’t win with clocks. He gets criticized when he’s late, he gets criticized when he’s early.

The once-again Texans backup quarterback entered another time-related mishap last night, leaving for the locker room after replacement Brian Hoyer’s Hail Mary near the end of the first half, though there was still time on the clock.

I thought the half was over,” Mallett said of the early exit, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “That’s all it was.”

Even coach Bill O’Brien was a little confused by the fact there was one second left.

“So, I know that I thought the half was over, to be honest with you,” O’Brien said. “Then, they grabbed me back and we decided to go to the end zone there. No, I don’t know anything about that.”

While he was celebrating the touchdown, not just pouting, the way some of his sideline body language suggested, Mallett can’t be thrilled about this latest turn. He started last night’s loss to the Colts, and left because of an ankle injury. But after Hoyer moved the team, O’Brien stuck with the veteran, though he said later Mallett could have gone back in.

“It’s not my call,” Mallett said. “I just do what I’m told. I’m not frustrated. I’m frustrated in the loss. Obviously, we wanted to win.”

Of course, the last time Mallett lost the starting job, he responded by oversleeping and missing practice the next day. So when he gets up, somebody read this one to him, OK?

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Matt Hasselbeck left it all on the field, or someplace else

Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck AP

While teammates were quick to praise the 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck’s guts after last night’s win over the Texans, the reality is he didn’t have many left.

Wracked by a bacterial infection, Hasselbeck spent most of his week either in a hospital or on a toilet, making the fact he could relieve an injured Andrew Luck last night amazing.

“Lots of stuff coming out of the attic, then a lot of stuff coming out the basement,” Hasselbeck described it, via Zac Keefer of the Indianapolis Star.

More impressive than his passing stats were his IV numbers, five straight days of them with two bags of fluid yesterday before the game. He was so sick he couldn’t even talk to at the team meeting the night before the game.

“He didn’t look good, man,” offensive lineman Joe Reitz said. “He was sitting there like a zombie.”

“Looked like warmed-over death,” added Adam Vinatieri.

But he spent the day saving every bit of energy he could, and then used it all to beat the Texans, going 18-of-29 for 231 yards and two touchdowns.

“I really had nothing this morning,” Hasselbeck said. “I honestly feel like this isn’t even real now.”

The good news is, the Colts now have a 10-day break, and Hasselbeck apparently is going to need each of them.

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Marshawn Lynch returns to limited participation in practice

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against defensive back Alan Ball #24 of the Chicago Bears at CenturyLink Field on September 27, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Running back Marshawn Lynch returned to limited participation in practice on Thursday for the Seattle Seahawks ahead of Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Lynch was inactive for the first time during his six seasons in Seattle for last week’s 13-10 victory over the Detroit Lions on due to a hamstring injury. He took part in pregame warmups on Monday night but was held out for the game.

Lynch’s replacement, Thomas Rawls, rushed for 48 yards on 17 carries last week against Detroit.

Lynch’s return will be even more pivotal this week as Fred Jackson is recovering from a high-ankle sprain. Pete Carroll said Wednesday that they aren’t ruling Jackson out for this week despite the injury as he’s moving around well and didn’t need a walking boot after the game.

If Lynch can’t play, it could leave Seattle with just one healthy running back on their active roster in Rawls. Fullback Derrick Coleman would be an option to get some carries in a backup role. The team could also look to elevate Rod Smith from the practice squad.

But Carroll was optimistic on Wednesday about Lynch’s chances.

“He did make a lot of progress last week and was able to run around some and all that,” Carroll said. “He’s worked really hard at it so we’ll see if we can get it done.”

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Andre Johnson scores two touchdowns in 27-20 victory over Texans

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Andre Johnson #81 of the Indianapolis Colts catches a pass then runs past Johnathan Joseph #24 , Andre Hal #29 and Benardrick McKinney #55 of the Houston Texans for a touchdown in the first quarter on October 8, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Andre Johnson scored a pair of touchdowns against his former team as the Indianapolis Colts managed to overcome the absence of Andrew Luck to earn a 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

Matt Hasselbeck, playing with an illness of his own, passed for 213 yards and two touchdowns, both to Johnson. Hasselbeck started in place of Luck for a second straight week as Luck recovers from a shoulder injury.

A pair of field goals from Adam Vinatieri and the first touchdown pass to Johnson gave the Colts a 13-0 lead in the second quarter.

Houston’s offense was completely ineffective with Ryan Mallett getting the start at quarterback. Mallett was intercepted on the Texans opening possession and was replaced by Brian Hoyer in the second quarter.

Hoyer’s Hail Mary to rookie receiver Jaelen Strong pulled the Texans to within a field goal, 13-10, at halftime.

It took less than two minutes for the Colts to score again in the third quarter. Frank Gore scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give Indianapolis a 20-10 lead.

Strong and Johnson traded touchdown receptions before Nick Novak’s 49-yard field goal closed the gap to 27-20 with six minutes left.

Hoyer led the Texans into Indianapolis territory before throwing a terrible ball up for grabs that was intercepted by Mike Adams to end Houston’s chances. Hoyer finished 24-of-31 for 312 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in place of Mallett and would seem to be the best option going forward for the Texans.

Frank Gore rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown for Indianapolis. DeAndre Hopkins had a monster game for Houston, catching 11 passes for 169 yards.

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Frank Gore touchdown quickly extends Colts lead

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Frank Gore #23 of the Indianapolis Colts rushes against Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans in the first quarter on October 8, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

It took less than two minutes for the Indianapolis Colts to get back the cushion they lost on the Hail Mary thrown by Brian Hoyer to end the first half.

Frank Gore scored on a 3-yard touchdown run to give Indianapolis a 20-10 lead over the Houston Texans just 1:54 into the third quarter.

Griff Whalen returned the opening kickoff 50 yards to the Colts 44-yard line. Matt Hasselbeck then connected with Dwayne Allen for 21 yards and Andre Johnson for 24 yards to move inside the 5-yard line and set up Gore’s touchdown run.

The Colts had given the Texans seven points to end the first half on a Hail Mary from Hoyer to Jaelen Strong that was poorly covered by Indianapolis. It didn’t take long for the Colts to get the points back.

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Hail Mary likely vaults Hoyer over Mallett

Brian Hoyer AP

The Texans arguably shouldn’t have benched Brian Hoyer after a Week One loss to the Chiefs. The Texans arguably should have benched Ryan Mallett after a Week Four loss to the Falcons.

With a Hail Mary play at the end of the first half of the Week Five game against the Colts, the pendulum has swung sharply back to Hoyer.

The 42-yard bomb to rookie Jaelen Strong, aided by Colts defensive backs who were behaving more like Keystone Cops, allowed the Texans to cut a 13-0 deficit to 13-10, with the Texans showing new life after Hoyer replaced Mallett.

Mallett exited the game after taking a helmet to the flak jacket. He was cleared quickly, but the Texans stuck with Hoyer. And it has worked.

And Mallett is upset. Those who can read lips got an eyeful at one point, with Mallett calling the situation “f–king bulls-t.”

But Mallett had his chance for several weeks to kick-start the team, and he largely failed. It’s now back to Hoyer, who likely won’t come out of the game if/when he takes a helmet to the stomach. Ever.

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Arian Foster re-enters game before concussion evaluation

D'Qwell Jackson, Trent Cole, Arian Foster AP

The NFL still has work to do when it comes to protecting players with possible concussions against the risk of a second concussion.

On Thursday night, Texans running back Arian Foster took a blow to the head in the second quarter of his team’s game against the Colts. Foster then left the field for one play, before re-entering.

On his next play back, he was given a handoff — and his helmet was knocked off during the tackle.

Said Tracy Wolfson of CBS after Foster returned: “Arian Foster basically put himself back into the game. As soon as the trainers were talking about it, he turned around and he just walked about out there. . . . They said to him, ‘You need to come back out here. Do you want us to look at you?'”

Foster instead went to the field, and per Wolfson the independent neurologist assigned to the Texans sideline was reviewing the video of the hit. When the drive ended, the Texans took Foster’s helmet away, evaluated him on the sideline, and then took him to the locker room for further evaluation.

Before leaving the field of play, Foster slammed a tray of Gatorade products to the ground.

It’s good that they got him to the locker room, but Foster never should have gotten back onto the field. If the ATC spotter in the booth is going to have the ability to call a medical timeout, the independent neurologist on the sideline needs to have that power, too.

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Injury gives Hoyer a chance, Texans cut margin to 10

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwrlzmfiote2mteyodnhmdc5mthkmdg2mgnlmdgzytg5 AP

Fifty-two weeks ago tonight, the Colts ran up a 24-0 lead against the Texans in Houston and then held on for a 33-28 win. Tonight, the Colts stopped a promising opening drive by the Texans with an interception on a tipped pass, and Indy opened up a 13-0 lead.

But the Texans have gotten a spark, thanks to a helmet to the midsection of quarterback Ryan Mallett. After Colts linebacker Sio Moore applied the illegal hit to the quarterback who became the starter in Week Two, Week One starter Brian Hoyer re-entered the game — and he then marched the home team down the field.

After missing a couple of snaps, Mallett was trying to get back in to the game. Hoyer then converted a third down, and the Texans kept him in the game, even though Mallett (according to Tracy Wolfson of CBS) has been cleared to return. A chop block penalty caused the drive to sputter, with Houston settling for a field goal.

It’ll now be interesting to see whether the Texans go with Mallett or Hoyer when they get the ball back. As the cliché goes, guys don’t lose their jobs due to injury. Mallett could be losing his not by an injury that knocked him out for a game but by an injury that sidelined him for a couple of plays.

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Daily fantasy litigation already is a reality

images Getty Images

[Editor’s note: FanDuel is an advertiser of PFT and PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. Also, NBC Sports has an equity stake in FanDuel.]

Any company with deep pockets that keep getting deeper by the day becomes a lightning rod for litigation. Throw in a real controversy, and the civil complaints will pile up, quickly.

Via Deadspin, a man named Adam Johnson has filed suit in Manhattan federal court against DraftKings and FanDuel, alleging causes of actions including negligence, fraud, misrepresentation, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and violation of state consumer protection laws. As Kevin Draper of Deadspin notes, it’s the first lawsuit, but it’s hardly the last.

The gist of the complaint is this: Johnson wouldn’t have wagered money on daily fantasy football is he had known “defendants were working in concert to allow employees of DFS sites to play against them.”

Although Johnson didn’t lose big money (he alleges he spent at least $100), the kicker is the request that the case be certified as a class action, with the proposed class including “[a]ll persons in the United States who deposited money into a DraftKings account before Oct. 6, 2015 and competed in any contest where other entries were made by employees from DraftKings, FanDuel or any other DFS site.”

That’s the part where $100 in losses can mushroom, with DraftKings and FanDuel required to scour their contests for evidence of employee involvement and, if the claims are successful, refunding the money spent by customers — along with other potential damages that could make the amounts even bigger, including punitive damages aimed at punishing the violations of civil law and deterring future misconduct.

The smart move for DraftKings and FanDuel could be to take a page from the Pilot Flying J handbook and offer an immediate settlement that pays back all money spent by non-employees of DFS companies in DFS games involving DFS employees. That first would require crunching plenty of numbers and putting together what could be a very large pot of money. But with the industry, which grew too fast for internal or external regulation, immediately recognizing after its first scandal that employees of one DFS company should not be playing in contests offered by other DFS companies, the next logical step would be to work backward and refund money from any contests tainted by the presence of employees of DFS website.

While that may not be sufficient to constitute complete justice, it could be enough to get a nationwide class action quickly certified and settled, especially if it gives the lawyers representing the class a large pile of money for not doing very much work.

Which makes the attraction of class-action litigation a little like the allure of daily fantasy.

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Referee communication a problem as flag on Texans is picked up

Terry McAulay AP

In a bizarre moment in the first quarter of tonight’s game in Houston, a penalty on the Texans was initially called, then waved off without explanation.

Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph clearly committed an illegal contact penalty on a Colts third down incompletion, which should have given the Colts an automatic first down. Referee Terry McAulay announced the penalty, and the Colts’ offense huddled up for the next play.

Then, McAulay told Colts coach Chuck Pagano that there was no penalty after all. There was no apparent explanation given. Former NFL referee Mike Carey said on the CBS broadcast that the penalty was waved off because Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was outside the pocket when he threw the pass. However, it still looked like Joseph could have been flagged for defensive holding.

More importantly, even if Joseph hadn’t committed a penalty, McAulay did a poor job of communicating what had happened. The referee shouldn’t announce a penalty until he has conferred with his fellow officials to ensure that they’re all on the same page. And in a rare occasion when the referee does change a call after announcing it, he needs to make sure he explains the change to both teams, and to the fans. That’s why referees have microphones.

The call was reminiscent of last year’s Lions-Cowboys playoff game, when a pass interference penalty on the Cowboys was picked up after it had been announced. NFL referees need to get better at communicating about why flags are thrown, and why they’re picked up.

After the flag was picked up, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri made a field goal to give Indianapolis an early lead.

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Random PSI checks apparently are more about “the rules” than science


It started as a press conference. It ended like a Cartman dream sequence. Sort of.

The final topic for Commissioner Roger Goodell during his end-of-ownership-meeting media Q&A focused on the NFL’s new practice of randomly checking football air pressure at halftime of games this year. Some thought the NFL is doing it in order to better understand the science of PSI. Instead, it’s all about the rules.

“I think the most important thing we’re trying to ascertain is that the balls in play are within the regulations that were established,” Goodell said. “That’s the core of the issue: Protecting the integrity of the game and making sure the game is played within the rules. We’re a game of rules, the rules need to be followed by everyone and the objective there is to make sure the rules are being followed.”

So will the information randomly collected by the NFL during these random checks be shared with the public?

“I don’t know,” Goodell said. “The most important thing to us is making sure the rules are followed.”

He’s right, but it’s also important to know whether any perceived deviations from the rules are the result of cheating or science. The possibility of the operation of the Ideal Gas Law never entered into the NFL’s thinking when the Patriots’ footballs were being measured at halftime of the AFC title game.

Now, instead of worrying about the rules, the NFL should be using every game as an opportunity to gather data regarding the expansion and contraction of air pressure under various weather conditions.

Or maybe they’ll just assume if the footballs aren’t within 12.5 and 13.5 PSI that there has been another violation of the rules.

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Report: Hasselbeck still sick, “hoping” he can play four quarters

Matt Hasselbeck AP

Stacy Dales of the NFL Network reports that Matt Hasselbeck is still fighting a bacterial infection for which he was hospitalized earlier in the week.

That’s a problem. With Andrew Luck out again due to a shoulder injury, Hasselbeck is again starting at quarterback for the Colts against the Texans on Thursday Night Football.

Dales tweeted that Hasselbeck is on antibiotics and hoping he can play four quarters. He doesn’t have much choice; the only other quarterback on the roster is Josh Johnson, who was signed last week because of Luck’s injury, released earlier this week then brought back as the Colts discovered Luck would probably miss his second game.

Luck is among the seven players the Colts made inactive for the game.

The Texans have a quarterback issue of their own with Ryan Mallett having been benched last week with the team down 42-0. Mallett is starting again, but Brian Hoyer will stay ready in a game the Texans need to win Thursday night. It’s a game that’s suddenly really interesting with Luck out again and Hasselbeck ailing.

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