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Panthers stadium negotiations “a process”

08-bank-of-america-stad_5b2 Getty Images

When the Panthers recently announced a deal with Charlotte that would keep in the team in town for 15 years in exchange for $143.75 million in public money for renovations at the team’s stadium, there was a sense of finality to the situation.

The finish line, however, remains miles away.

As explained by Erik Spanberg of the Charlotte Business Journal, Panthers president Danny Morrison told the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors that the effort to put the deal in place is “a process.”

Indeed it is.  Regardless of any agreements reached with the city, using public money is a more complex endeavor, especially when the package includes money from the state’s coffers.  The Legislature eventually will must approve of the plan.

In this specific case, the fact that an increase in the local restaurant and hotel tax will generate far more money than the renovations will require creates a political playground for pet projects that would be funded by the excess.  Moreover, the red states remain lukewarm when it comes to using public money for anything, especially when the proposed recipients already are billionaires.

So the deal won’t be done until it’s done.  And until it’s done the Panthers won’t be tied to Charlotte for another 15 years.

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NFL says refs have discretion to penalize players’ snow angels

Green Bay Packers' Randall Cobb does a snow angel after catching a touchdown pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer) AP

Sunday afternoon’s NFL action featured two snow games, and two players deciding to have a little fun by making snow angels. But only one player was flagged.

In Chicago, 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson celebrated a big play by making a snow angel and was penalized. But in Green Bay, Packers receiver Randall Cobb also made a snow angel, and he didn’t draw a flag. What gives?

“I think our officials used some discretion there,” NFL Senior V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network. “We do give the officials some discretion there and we don’t want to take the emotion out, and the spontaneity of the game. When you get to the 49ers game . . . the officials thought it was excessive and they flagged it. . . . I understand the questions about why is one snow angel illegal and one legal. But, again, the officials do have some discretion.”

Blandino added that the 49ers’ snow angel celebration lasted “a little bit longer,” although there doesn’t seem to be any clear standard for how long a snow angel celebration can last before a penalty flag comes out. It would seem that the NFL’s officials should have more important things to worry about than how long a player’s snow angel lasts, but it’s not the officials’ fault that the league has told them to make celebration penalties a priority.

Perhaps some day the league will come up with a clearer standard, such as treating celebrations like delay of game: If a celebration delays the game, it’s a delay of game penalty. If not, it’s not a penalty at all.

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Paul Tagliabue unhappy with performance of Rooney Rule

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Former Commissioner of The National Football League, Paul Tagliabue attends the 3rd Annual NFL Honors at Radio City Music Hall on February 1, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images) Getty Images

A full 13 years after the NFL fashioned the Rooney Rule, the Commissioner who presided over its development and adoption isn’t happy with its performance.

“I don’t think the Rooney Rule has done as much as anyone hoped it would,” Paul Tagliabue said at the 2016 Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, via Danial Kaplan of SportsBusiness Daily.

Tagliabue later elaborated, in comments to Kaplan.

“What is it, five out of 32?” Tagliabue said regarding the number of minority head coaches currently in the NFL. “Everyone feels, I am sure, that it would be nice if there was more talent rising to the top.”

The current minority head coaches are Todd Bowles of the Jets, Marvin Lewis of the Bengals, Hue Jackson of the Browns, Mike Tomlin of the Steelers, Jim Caldwell of the Lions, and Ron Rivera of the Panthers.

The Rooney Rule primarily requires that at least one minority candidate be interviewed for all coaching and G.M. jobs. The problem in most cases is that owners decide who they want to hire before firing their current coaches or General Managers, and the challenge comes from getting the owners to slow down and broaden the lens before making offers.

There’s also a question as to whether the Rooney Rule currently represents anything more than an effort to check boxes. Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, for example, said earlier this year that only two of his four interviews from the last hiring cycle were legitimate.

The league can only do so much to compel teams to consider minority candidates. The goal should be to embrace the manner in which owners make hiring decisions, and to ensure that, when formulating a wish list, minority candidates have a fair chance to show up on it.

Requiring at least one minority interview helps, because it gets the names of minority coaches into the media and creates a sense of inevitability that the coach will get an opportunity to run his own team. This dynamic would become even more significant if the NFL addressed the under representation of minority coaches at key positions like offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

NFL teams often gravitate toward coaches who know how to spot and groom quarterbacks; unless more minority assistant coaches are honing those skills, they won’t get into the conversation of potential head-coaching candidates.

With too few minority head coaches at the college level, another potential reservoir of talented candidates never becomes fully developed. But with the NFL chronically treading lightly when it comes to its relationship with the stewards of pro football’s free farm system, don’t count on the NFL to start twisting arms to get college football to do a better job when it comes to considering minority coaches.

So while the situation is better than it was 13 years ago, Tagliabue thinks it’s not nearly good enough. The NFL, which has a natural desire to not make the problem seem as bad as it is, tends to never make similar remarks, at least not publicly.

Hopefully, efforts are privately being considered to develop qualified minority candidates and to get their names in front of owners not after current coaches and General Managers are fired but before the moves are made, when the owners are quietly figuring out who they want to hire next.

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Odell on officials: Even Stevie Wonder could see calls they miss

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24:  Stevie Wonder performs "Visions" during the opening ceremony of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on September 24, 2016 in Washington, DC. The museum is opening thirteen years after Congress and President George W. Bush authorized its construction.  (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images) Getty Images

After Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham complained about the officiating in last Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, quarterback Eli Manning suggested he take a different tack with officials and “kill them with kindness” if he wants to get calls in the future.

Beckham appears to be taking a different approach. While he admitted that “no calls are going to be made because of what I say now,” Beckham couldn’t resist taking another shot at last Sunday’s crew.

“Like I said, everybody knows what’s going on, on the field. Everybody can see it. Even Stevie Wonder can see it,” Beckham said, via “It just, it is what it is. You can’t do anything about it. There’s no point. I don’t know why, I shouldn’t have even brought it up. It’s always a lose-lose situation, bringing something up. Either you’re speaking out on it, and now you’re trying to defend yourself, or the other way around, and you’re complaining. Either way it goes, I should have never brought it up. It’s really irrelevant.”

Relevant or not, it’s now three days after the loss to the Steelers and the Giants have another big game coming up against the Cowboys this weekend. It might be prudent for Beckham to not worry about a thing other than his play in that game since the Giants will be left without playoff options other than a Wild Card spot if they lose to Dallas.

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Jeremy Maclin set to return, Karl Joseph out for Raiders

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Karl Joseph #42 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after intercepting a pass by Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 9, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Chiefs expect to have wide receiver Jeremy Maclin back for Thursday night’s game against the Raiders, who will be without one of their defensive backs for the AFC West clash.

Maclin was not given an injury designation on the team’s injury report for the game after being listed as a full participant in practice on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Maclin has missed the last four games with a groin injury, but his absence from the report leaves him in line to be part of the effort to move into first place in the division.

The Raiders won’t have safety Karl Joseph as part of the effort to keep Kansas City out of the top spot. Joseph has been ruled out because of a toe injury. Defensive tackle Stacy McGee and linebacker Shilique Calhoun will also miss the game while linebacker Cory James, defensive tackle Darius Latham and guard Kelechi Osemele are all listed as questionable.

Defensive linemen Dontari Poe and Kendall Reyes are questionable for the Chiefs, although two days of full practices for both players suggests they’ll play on Thursday.

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Rex Ryan seems less ambivalent about Tyrod Taylor

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Khalil Mack #52 of the Oakland Raiders tips a pass from Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Buffalo Bills during their NFL game at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on December 4, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Bills coach Rex Ryan has quickly changed his tune about Tyrod Taylor.

After comments from Monday regarding Taylor’s future with the team that seemed lukewarm and ambivalent, Ryan reversed course on Wednesday, a bit.

I think Tyrod’s had a lot of really good games for us,” Ryan said, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “And then, like our football team, maybe he’s had some games that aren’t quite to that level. But that’s how I feel about him.”

Taylor has taken plenty of criticism in recent weeks, culminating with his performance against the Raiders.

“I can tell you this: I believe that Tyrod Taylor is an outstanding quarterback, has a chance to be an outstanding quarterback,” Ryan said.

Ryan apparently was trying to put to rest the extent to which folks were reading into his earlier remarks, which created the impression that the team isn’t sold on Taylor.

“Let’s just let this play out,” Ryan said Monday. “We feel pretty comfortable with Tyrod. There’s a lot of factors that go into everything. . . . I’m not going to go into a list of them. You guys can figure it out.”

One big factor is that the Bills will guarantee more than $30 million to Taylor if he’s on the roster in March. So they have to be sure he’s the guy before they allow those payments to vest.

Another big factor, as hinted via Ryan’s words and made a little stronger upon hearing and seeing him deliver them on Monday, is whether Ryan is the coach and Doug Whaley is the G.M. If ownership decides to blow up the football operation, a new coach and/or G.M. may not want Taylor, especially in light of the various other options that could be available in March.

That’s the reality. First, ownership must decide who’ll be running the team. Then, those folks must decide whether to make a major commitment to Taylor or to commit those $30 million elsewhere.

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Justin Pugh intends to play, give Cowboys “another loss” this week

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 11:  Rueben Randle #82 of the New York Giants celebrates his first down as teammates Justin Pugh #67 and  Ereck Flowers #76 congratulate him in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium on October 11, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Giants left guard Justin Pugh has missed the last four games with a knee injury, but he believes his absence from the lineup will come to an end this week.

Pugh got in a week of limited practices before being ruled out last week and said Wednesday that his knee is feeling great. As a result, he has “all intentions of going out and playing” against the Cowboys in Sunday in a game the Giants must win to keep their chances of winning the NFC East alive.

The Giants beat the Cowboys in the season opener and Pugh is expecting the same outcome this time around.

“We know them very well and it should be exciting to get back out there and be able to give them another loss,” Pugh said, via Bob Glauber of Newsday.

The Cowboys likely have a different opinion of how things will play out at the Meadowlands this Sunday and they’ll have wins over every team they faced this season if they are able to win for the 12th straight time.

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Nick Perry out this week with a hand injury

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 10: Outside linebacker Nick Perry #53 and defensive end Datone Jones #95 of the Green Bay Packers react to a play against the Washington Redskins during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at FedExField on January 10, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

Oh, look, just what the Packers needed — another linebacker injury.

Via Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Packers outside linebacker Nick Perry will be the latest at his position to miss time, because of a left hand injury.

He has a significant hand injury,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He will not be available this week. We’ll reassess on Monday and see where we are for Chicago.”

Perry leads the team with 8.0 sacks, and has been one of the few consistent players for them on defense. They’ve had so many inside linebackers hurt that Clay Matthews has had to move inside at times, and they had been trying to limit veteran Julius Peppers‘ snaps.

Perry was injured early in last week’s win against the Texans. He came back for a handful (as it were) of snaps with a large club-like cast on his hand before coming out for good.

“I don’t know the specifics of how long they think it’s going to be, but I know talking with Nick, he wants to go,” McCarthy said. “So that’s why we’re going to look at it Monday, and see where he is.”

They’ve struggled on defense with him, and facing the Seahawks without all hands on deck (as it were) is not what they needed.

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Broncos expect Justin Forsett to contribute this week

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 23: Justin Forsett #30 of the Detroit Lions looks for yards during a run against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field on October 23, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan Detroit won the game 20-17. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos just claimed running back Justin Forsett off waivers on Tuesday, but they’re not wasting any time getting him involved in the offense.

Forsett practiced today and coach Gary Kubiak says he will play on Sunday against the Titans. Kubiak said he sees Forsett splitting carries with starting running back Devontae Booker. Kubiak said Forsett, who previously played for him in Baltimore, showed at his first practice that he still remembers the offense.

“Picking up guys who can come in, get in the huddle today, run plays and pick up blitzes and all that, that usually doesn’t happen. So that’s a good thing for us,” Kubiak said.

Forsett, who is now on his seventh NFL team, said he doesn’t think he’ll have any problem being ready right away because he has always approached his career that way.

“I’m here to play and contribute so when my number’s called I’ll be ready,” Forsett said. “You never know when your opportunity’s going to come but you can control how prepared you are when you get that opportunity.”

The Broncos think Forsett is already prepared and will make a difference for the remainder of the season.

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Kiko Alonso at practice after Monday thumb surgery

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:   Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers drops a pass as  Kiko Alonso #47 of the Miami Dolphins defends during the first half of a game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso broke his thumb on Sunday and had surgery on it Monday, but that’s not keeping him from joining his teammates at practice this week.

Alonso suited up for practice with a cast on his right hand to protect the thumb and went through the stretching period with the rest of the team. He did not appear to be doing much else during what Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald called a “light practice” and coach Adam Gase said that the team will be “taking it slow” with Alonso.

Gase also said that the thumb may not be the main stumbling block to Alonso’s presence in the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. He’s also dealing with a hamstring injury that the coach indicated is a bigger concern in regard to his status at the moment.

Mike Hull would get the start in place of Alonso in a game that the Dolphins need to win if they’re going to avoid following up a six-game winning streak with a second straight loss.

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Browns rookie safety injured on bye week, out for season

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20:  Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers avoids a tackle by Derrick Kindred #30 of the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns rookie safety Derrick Kindred broke his ankle while away from the team last week and is out for the season.

A fourth-round pick last April, Kindred made five starts and had played in all 12 games. Browns Coach Hue Jackson said Kindred suffered the injury while working out.

Jackson told reporters that Kindred would be placed on the non-football injury list. Later Wednesday, the Browns signed safety Trae Elson.

Kindred had been starting at safety alongside Ed Reynolds. Second-year player Ibraheim Campbell is listed behind Kindred on the team’s unofficial depth chart.

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Luke Kuechly practicing on Wednesday

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 30:  Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers takes the field before their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Getty Images

The word on Tuesday was that Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was scheduled for an evaluation on Wednesday to see if his recovery from a concussion had progressed far enough for him to return to the practice field.

It seems that the evaluation went well. Kuechly is in uniform with a helmet at Panthers practice for the first time since he sustained the head injury on November 17.

Kuechly likely still has other steps in the concussion protocol ahead of him before he’ll be given the green light for a full practice or a return to game action, but it will be a big step in that direction as long as Kuechly doesn’t have further symptoms after stepping up his activity level.

Kuechly’s concussion was his second in the last two seasons, but there was never a sign from the team that they were considering shutting him down for the rest of this season due to that history or their 4-8 season. That suggests he’ll play again this season as long as he gets fully cleared.

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Jordan Reed does some work at practice

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Jordan Reed #86 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) Getty Images

If the Redskins are going to make the playoffs this season, they’ll need to finish strong in the final four weeks and having tight end Jordan Reed on the field would make that a likelier outcome.

Reed suffered a separated shoulder on Thanksgiving and didn’t play in last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals, but he took a step toward returning to the lineup on Wednesday. Reed did individual work as the team had their first day of on-field work ahead of this weekend’s trip to Philadelphia.

John Keim of reports that Reed caught passes and showed no obvious signs of discomfort.

The Redskins also got left tackle Trent Williams back in the mix after the end of his four-game suspension and the offensive line may be bolstered even more by center Kory Lichtensteiger. He’s been on injured reserve since late September, but practiced on Wednesday to start the clock on a 21-day window to bring him back to the active roster.

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Marvin Lewis says he talks to Bengals owner daily

Marvin Lewis, Mike Brown AP

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he’s not worried about anything anyone says about his job security.

Because he speaks with the guy who decides it on a daily basis — Bengals owner Mike Brown.

I have one stop shopping,” Lewis said, via Katherine Terrell of “I talk to Mike every day. And I don’t have to hear from someone else what they think, . . . . because it’s what he thinks.”

“I report to Mike and that’s all that really matters that way. We have the candid conversations we have all the time. It’s just the way it is.”

Of course, this year those conversations haven’t been as fun, since the team has fallen well short of expectations, on the verge of ending a five-year streak of playoff appearances. They sit at 4-7-1 entering the final four games, and only winning out will help them avoid their first losing record since 2010.

Brown doesn’t have the same kind of day-to-day control over the team he once did, delegating much of that power to his family. But he’s still the boss, and Lewis said that the one-year extension he got last year (which covered 2017) is all he needs to hear.

“We reassured it last January the day after we lost in the playoffs,” Lewis said.

One more year is far from a mandate, but Lewis said he’s not fretting about the future.

“I think the thing with Mike is that he’s been in this business a long time. And he takes every loss as hard as I do or anybody else does here. And it affects him,” Lewis said. “But on the other hand, he trusts me to move the football team in the right direction. . . . that’s the commitment that he’s made to me . . . and that’s the commitment I’ve made to him, to get his football team in the playoffs and through the playoffs all the time and be world champions. . . .

“As long as I’m going to do this here, that’s what my goal is. Anything short of that, I’d be wasting time worrying about it other than spending time worrying about how to beat the next team.”

And if he needs to know any more than that, he can just ask tomorrow.

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Jameis Winston campaigns for Mike Evans, Cameron Brate

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Cameron Brate #84 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers in the fourth quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on December 4, 2016 in San Diego, California. The Buccaneers defeated the Chargers 28-21. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Getty Images

The election happened nearly a month ago, but the effort to harvest votes hasn’t.

Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has opted to lobby for a pair of his teammates in the Pro Bowl voting process.

“[I]f Cam Brate and Mike Evans don’t be on your Pro Bowl ballots, you got something wrong,” Winston said, via “Is Cam still leading the NFL in touchdowns [among tight ends]? Cam Brate has to be on your Pro Bowl ballot. I think that would be good for him. I think would be big for him. He would really enjoy that.”

While Brate may enjoy making it to the Pro Bowl team, he probably wouldn’t enjoy playing in the game — apart from the risk of an unnecessary injury (see Eifert, Tyler). The Super Bowl teams don’t play in the Pro Bowl, and that’s the best excuse for any player to have when it comes to ditching the All-Star game.

Jameis also made a general pitch for his offensive line. But he didn’t make a pitch for himself, which is admirable.

I’ll do it for him: Vote for Jameis. Who, like Cameron Brate, should hope that he’s not available to play in the Pro Bowl because he’ll be on his way to Houston.

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Jets bring back Khiry Robinson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 25: Khiry Robinson #29 of the New Orleans Saints spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jets waived veteran running back C.J. Spiller on Tuesday and they made a move to bring in another former Saints back on Wednesday.

The team announced that they have signed Khiry Robinson to their 53-man roster while also promoting Brandon Wilds from their practice squad. Kick returner Jeremy Ross was also waived on Tuesday.

It’s Robinson’s second time signing with the Jets. He signed as a free agent in the offseason while he was still rehabbing from a broken leg suffered while with the Saints last season. He played in one preseason game, but was waived/injured after hurting his leg again in that game.

Robinson had 186 carries for 766 yards and eight touchdowns over three years in New Orleans. Wilds, who spent the summer with the Falcons before making his way to the Jets’ practice squad, has not played in a regular season game.

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